We cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change. – Sheryl Sandberg

In this edition of #SpotOn, one of the very few Nigerian ladies who have been actively exploring and pushing the boundaries of tech in Nigeria Ebi Atawodi delivers profound insight into her corporate itinerary at Uber and the drive that keeps her going.

Ebi Atawodi comes with over a decade of marketing in the digital technology space. Ebi joined Uber as General Manager for Lagos and is now Uber’s General Manager for West Africa. She was previously Head of Corporate Communications and High Value Sponsorships at Etisalat – the fourth and fastest growing telecommunications company in Nigeria, 12th in the world. She created the Etisalat Prize for Literature – Africa’s most prestigious literary prize.

Prior to Etisalat she worked various roles/projects for Nokia, FirstBank, Booz & Company (now Strategy& Afren), GlaxoSmith Klein, Channel 4 and Bupa.

She holds a Bachelors with Honours in Electrical Electronics Engineering from the University of Nottingham and Masters in Computing Science from Imperial College London with a focus on Artificial Intelligence and Infographics. Ebi is a competitive Hobie Cat sailor and passionate scuba diver (PADI rescue diver).

Enjoy the chat but more importantly apply these truths to your life.

1.  Having had over a decade experience in Marcomms, What can you say motivates you and keeps you thriving?

Being able to create things out of nothing has to be my biggest driver. I’m obsessed with a challenge – the bigger the better, and through that journey I learn more about myself, my strengths, weaknesses and uncover new adventures.

2.  What are the fundamental lessons you’ve learnt working at Uber?

Some key things I’ve learned include being able to hustle, make magic and get things done. At Uber we need to ‘always be closing’, i.e. -always be hustling. This industry and company moves at an incredibly fast pace and we need to be ahead of the curve. I have also learnt to make magic happen – this includes going back to the basics, and that being said, the third fundamental lesson learnt would have to be that having something done, is better that it being perfect. Sometimes there just isn’t time to fuss over the details!

3.  With your exposure to tech, what are the evolving trends you believe youths can leverage on particularly in Africa?

One of the areas we really have not fully maximized in Africa is the wealth of knowledge on the Internet. I really would like to see young people focus their efforts on self-development first from basics like grammar and literature to more complex topics like mathematics and logic. The depths of the Internet are limitless and communities like Andela and CCHub are championing the next frontier of education.

I believe the future of technology will be founded on some key things; Robotics, AI, Neuroscience, Biotech, 3D Printing


4.   As a lady, how do you thrive in a male dominated environment?

I have read Lean In cover to cover 🙂

5.  What are your most important quotes/nuggets?

  • The only thing that can stop you is yourself
  • ‘We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.’ – Aristotle
  • It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul. – Invictus by William Ernest Henley
  • Je pense, donc je suis (I think, therefore I am) – René Descartes

6.  What is the role of mentorship in achieving a dream?

I think the concept of mentorship has taken a different meaning. A mentor isn’t arranged or designed, these things just fall into place. I believe it is important to surround yourself with people – peers and other leaders – who inspire you, challenge you, call you out/keep you in line and most important strive to see the very best version of yourself.

7.  Your top three most inspiring books would be?

I have an endless list of fiction books from Pride and Prejudice to A Fine Balance. For non-fiction

  • Persuasion: The Art of Influencing People
  • The Four Hour Work Week
  • Lean In (Of course)

8.  Is there any gap or divide you have observed amongst the present youths and what do proffer as a solution to it?

One of the things I have noticed the world over is a tendency to look for shortcuts. We are in a generation of instant gratification largely fueled by the Internet. Believe it is important to remind our generation that nothing easy is worth it and nothing worth it is easy.

Watch Out for the next edition of #SpotOn!


Where Does Change Begin?

fb_img_1473411772326The present administration rode into power on the mantra of change and many Nigerians did buy into it because the insight was apt but more importantly Nigerians were in dire need of change. But barely 16 months into power it seems this mantra has turned against them biting them at the back, as the only change the people believe they have experienced is a downward slide and an overburdened standard of living.

While some critics are of the opinion that these current mishap is majorly an administrative failure others hold firm that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is just a child born in a turbulent time claiming that there is a global economic crunch which includes Nigeria, not also forgetting the large scale of corruption that exists in the country.

Recent report from the National Bureau of Statistics reveals that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in real terms, declined by 2.06% at the close of the second quarter of 2016. This implies that for the first time in 20 years the Nigerian economy has plunged into a recession.

The Nigerian economy is presently in a state of comatose and a heightened brouhaha, with various multinationals daily suspending or closing down their companies due to the daily free fall of the naira against the US Dollars and many companies in the private sectors are also quietly laying off hundreds of their staffs.

I believe the government is developing innovative ways to combat this menace and providing sustainable solutions to the economic crunch the country is experiencing.

As one of the ways to salvage this situation the Federal Government has initiated a National Re-orientation campaign tagged ‘Change Begins With Me’. The campaign was set up to primarily entrench the values of accountability, integrity and inculcate positive attitudinal change amongst Nigerians. It is expected to trigger positive change that will boost Nigeria’s image, enable the country gain acceptability and command respect in the comity of nations.

According to the Minister for Information and Culture, “The campaign is not a replication of the War Against Indiscipline which the Buhari-led administration initiated in 1983 but that it would achieve the same goal using a different mean”. Noting that what is wrong with Nigeria is not limited to the elite, the political class or the civil service, rather the change we want must address all issues and target every strata.

An objective look at these initiative in relation to the present economic condition of Nigeria provides two different perspective. First is a deeply thought out and well-crafted declaration of incompetency on the part of the ruling party. One would recall that during the campaign season there was a lot of promises and ‘we will do this’, ‘we will do that’ if only you bring us into the helm of affairs but a cursory look at those promises prove that 90% of them are yet to see the light of day top amongst them is the provision of 3million jobs in the first year in office.”

A Nigerian columnist puts succinctly “Change does not begin with the average Nigerian. No, it begins with those who promised us change a year ago. They go into office and Nigeria turned out to be animal farm where clueless pigs replaced clueless animals.” She brings to bear that before Nigerians accept the new initiative there should be some display of integrity by the government and not some intellectual manipulation.

Second perspective is an admonition and a truth that change cannot be accomplished in isolation but a joint, mutual and harmonious effort. A re-orientation that change is essentially achieved if it goes through a bottom-top approach, quelling the perception that the government would perform magic overnight.

According to the president of Nigeria. “The campaign is all about the need for us to see change not merely in terms of our economic, social progress but in terms of our personal behaviour on how we conduct ourselves, engage our neighbours and how we relate with the larger society.

I strongly believe that change begins at both level for while the government is trying to educate and sensitize the populace on the need to lead a responsible life which would one way or another impact the progress of the nation, they should also live up to expectations and be an ardent doer of what they preach.

What are your thoughts?