MAKING MAGIC HAPPEN AT UBER! #SpotOn

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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!

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The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks. – Mark Zuckerberg

In this edition we take a peek into the mind of a digital strategist, a shrewd planner, David Ole (Director of Planning and Insights, Sponge Nigeria) who feeds on insights daily.

The first time I met with David I didn’t need a soothsayer to announce to me that I was conversing with a man living out his interest. His soothing and calm nature quickly projected his ability to see through the needle’s eye. A thinker who tackles every problem headlong with the confidence that there exists a solution,

Having been able to proffer solutions to clients like MTN, Reckitt Benckiser Coca Cola, Diageo, First Bank among others, he provides profound and useful nuggets that has kept him thriving in the industry which I believe would be of great help to you.

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

How did you come to develop interest in Strategy and Planning?

I’ve always been passionate about solving problems and was fortunate enough to identify this early in my career which led to my interest in the Marketing and Communications industry. After graduating with a degree in Business Administration, I had a brief stint in Brand Management Consulting before jumping neck-deep into digital. This was very early in the game when the market was still getting used to the idea. I joined the team at Web Liquid as one of the founding members and at the time was on the Client Services team.  I was exposed to strategy formulation process and thoroughly enjoyed it which led me to make a case to the business as to why I was a better fit for the strategy unit. They bought the idea and I have never looked back since.

What’s the most challenging and equally exciting project ever handled?

 There’s just so much plus more everyday which makes it really difficult to select one. I’ve been privileged to develop strategies across Web, Mobile and Social for some of the biggest brands in the world such as Reckitt Benckiser, First Bank, Coca Cola, Diageo, MTN amongst others.  I’m always happy to talk about how we were approached by one of Nigeria’s leading banks to formulate and implement their Social Media strategy.  We successfully did this and they went from zero to top three banks within their first three months of engagement. Another exciting one is a Digital Activation designed for Reckitt Benckiser with the objective of connecting with millions of mothers in Nigeria via their mobile device. The local team received global recognition for this. Today, one of my key projects is building valuable connections between brands and content creators.

 

Do you think creativity is learned or innate?

I think you have to combine both for it to be truly impactful. Yes, there is natural ability but it has to be nurtured either within a formal or informal environment. The ultimate key is continuous learning and improvement.

 I’ve always been passionate about solving problems and was fortunate enough to identify this early in my career which led to my interest in the Marketing and Communications industry.

What has been your mantra or guiding principle over time?

Not so much a mantra but three things I hold really close; the first is to think deeply at all times because there’s always a solution/answer – no problem is impossible to solve. Second is to approach every challenge as an opportunity for growth.

Finally, find people that are equally as passionate or perhaps more passionate to collaborate with. It would go a long way in helping you achieve what you set out to do.

 

As a strategist, how do you get your ideas?

The first step for me is to define what it is I am trying to achieve. Is it a problem that needs a solution or opportunity that needs to be explored? A clear definition is an important step in the right direction. Once this has been done, next would be to get as much context as possible. Is there an audience? You need to find deep human truth – insight. Insight is the trigger that helps you find your road-map.

 

Your top three most inspiring quotes would be?

This is another challenging one – I’ve probably heard so many quotes, it’s difficult to pick just three. I always reflect and go back to “Start with why” which is a two-edged sword in a way since it’s actually the name of a book and iconic speech by best selling author and speaker, Simon Sinek. All of Muhammed Ali’s quotes are also quite iconic. I consider him one of the world’s greatest speakers.  You’ve got to love this one  -“I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was”.

 think deeply at all times because there’s always a solution/answer – no problem is impossible to solve.

What are the skill sets you think a lad interested in strategy and planning should possess?

Planners are logical thinkers with the ability to relate research findings to creative solutions. As such, a mix of analytical and communication skills to present their findings, in addition to marketing and consumer research experience would come in handy. You also need to have strong numerical ability with good data skills. Since teamwork makes the dream work, the ability to work well as part of a team is a plus. Ultimately, I believe the greatest assets for a Planner are curiosity and resourcefulness.

 

In your opinion, what opportunities lay bare for young Nigerian entrepreneurs in the Digital space?

The world is evolving to an increased reliance on data-driven decision making. My advice would be to explore the value they can provide in this area. Also explore ways to deepen connection between brands and their consumers. Programmatic is going to increase in dominance. Content is going to grow. Consumers will demand less intrusion and more participation in determining how we promote brands. The opportunities are endless. We are all set for an exciting ride.

Kindly share your thoughts and feed backs at the comment box.

X-raying the Prospects of Digital in Nigeria #SpotOn

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You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.― William Faulkner

I guess it’s not too late to wish every one of us a happy new month.

In this edition of #SpotOn astute and brilliant IT professional who is presently redefining, exploring and pushing the frontiers of Digital in Nigeria, has shared some really salient points as to the future of digital in Nigeria and how young minds can leverage on this relatively new trend.

Olusegun Martins who is the Head of Digital and Technology in arguably Nigeria’s largest Advertising agency, Insight Communications, has really taken his time to provide success nuggets for Digital natives whose disruptive culture and insatiable urge to break free from the norm and build a viable enterprise keeps them mobile. Personally I think this is the most honest and sincere advice for Nigerian start-ups.

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

  • Are Nigerian brands really exploring the opportunities Digital offers? 

I think a number of Nigerian brands are beginning to embrace digital in a way that wasn’t happening just a few years ago.

When I look at digital I tend to look beyond digital marketing alone. I look at digital from the way businesses are able to use digital technologies to enhance their business offerings and customer experiences. An example is how all the banks have embraced technologies like ATMS and online banking. How Insurance companies are now offering services online that you can pay for with your ATM card. How traditional retail outlets are expanding to offer online access to their inventory like what Yudala is doing. How businesses can leverage on this fast changing trends that technology has made possible.

Digital marketing on the other hand is simply a subset of digital. It is however the subset that most brands/companies choose to focus on. From the work that I do daily, I see brands that historically spend 100% of their budget on “traditional advertising” making shifts of as much as 60% – 70% to digital already, I mean these are brands that you would consider “safe” and “traditional”. And I am talking both big and small brands. Digital is extremely flexible and brands are beginning to see this. One good example is Pepsi’s Long Throat campaign which arguably was the biggest digital/integrated campaign in Nigeria in 2015, the Pepsi team got it right with that campaign, it not only translated to increased conversations around the brand but incredible sales increase too. Several new mobile phone brands are entering the Nigerian market these days and solely advertising online.

While digital is cool, what you really want as a brand is focus on the consumer if your consumers are on mobile, if they are on social networks, if they are online then you should be using digital channels. My advice is not to do digital for digital sake but to focus on the customer and have the right mix of channels to ensure your message gets through all the noise out there.

 

  • Where do you see Digital Marketing (Nigeria) in the next 5 years? 

In the world of digital 5 years is a long long time but I will risk some educated guesses based on current trends. In Nigeria, I think it would be fully led by mobile and social media. It’s really a no brainer. As much as 80-90% of all web traffic in Nigeria is already from mobile devices.

Facebook recently released data that shows 100% of their 16 million users from Nigeria, is from mobile. Nigeria and by extension Africa is a fully mobile continent and in 5 years I expect to see mobile taking a significant share of advertising spend. While the focus is more on browser based mobile ads right now, in app mobile ads will be big in coming years.

We spend most of our time on mobile devices within chat windows like Whatapps, BBM, Facebook messenger, I expect instant messaging to be a big marketing channel in not just Nigeria but emerging markets too.

The concept of the digital agency will also begin to vanish as they get swallowed into “agencies”, what we will have, will be more of technology driven digital production houses. Globalisation would fully have taken its course in Nigeria as brands will be able to work with the best talents from across the world via the internet. Agencies and brands who do not innovate will struggle at this point.

5 years is a long time in digital so no one can say for sure, imagine getting into an Uber in future and you get a screen within the ride that re-markets to you based on your online browsing habits. Things like Virtual Reality, Autonomous Cars, IoTs will always be in focus but I doubt they would be fully adopted in Nigeria in 5 years but then again, you never know

  From the work that I do daily, I see brands that historically spend 100% of their budget on “traditional advertising” making shifts of as much as 60% – 70% to digital already

  • Your background (Education) is in sharp contrast with your present interest (Digital Marketing). Where was the tipping point? 

lol. You know how the education system is in Nigeria. Let’s just say my focus then was to become a graduate quickly. Knowing what our education system is like, I knew I had to do something on the side that would guarantee me a good life in future. I focused on technology and went all out for it. In-between classes in UI (University of Ibadan), I taught myself everything I know in the technology space.

It was still a relatively virgin territory then so I was able to stand out. I proceeded to validate my technology knowledge with relevant certifications and the rest is history.

Over the last couple of years I have been able to work in both technology and digital marketing capacities. I have been fortunate to head technology and digital for some of the biggest businesses in Nigeria within that period. So it’s not really about what you read in school, that’s just a paper, at the end of the day it comes down to passion and perseverance, you get to determine what you want to do with your life.

 

  • What can you say has been your drive and motivation over time?

Having to study education in school, I knew I had been dealt a very tough hand and I would have to work extra to succeed so while others partied after classes, I focused on learning new skills. I am like a sponge, I read and learn just about anything. I often kid my friends that give me a month and I can be decent in any profession. Lol.

  •  What was your most challenging project executed? 

As head of technology for 8 multi-billion naira companies in Nigeria, project comes by the dozens. I am currently working with my team to fully integrate digital into everything we do at Insight, so far it’s been a fun project that is already recording huge successes.

 It’s not really about what you read in school, that’s just a paper, at the end of the day it comes down to passion and perseverance, you get to determine what you want to do with your life.

  • Your top three most inspiring books would be? 

This is going to be a tough one because I read a lot of books. Some of the top ones that come to mind for me now are

  1. Paid to Think by David Goldsmith – A real gem of a book
  2. How to build a billion dollar app – George Berkowski – Priceless book, I am always referring to it.
  3. The new IQ – Tracy and Ross Alloway
  4. And a bonus one – Spreadable media – Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford and Joshua Green

 Having to study education in school, I knew I had been dealt a very tough hand and I would have to work extra to succeed so while others partied after classes, I focused on learning new skills.

  • What’s your advice to young start-ups moving into the digital space?

  Most of the young lads I get to encounter these days don’t care much about the 9 to 5 and understandably so, technology and the internet has empowered us. Some of them that do have a 9 to 5 job are seriously disengaged and their bosses are struggling to understand why.

My advice is if you feel so passionately about your idea, before you go all in, validate it. Validate it beyond your family and friends. Don’t start building an app because your mum and sisters say they like the idea, go beyond them. Don’t be afraid to talk to other people about your ideas.

It’s extremely though to start and manage a start-up, you need a lot of passion and perseverance to make it. If you are in it just for the money, you are most likely to abandon ship early at the signs of struggle.

Pick a mentor(s), intern where you can get some experience, spend loads of time on Slideshare, Quora and YouTube. Read, read read. I can’t even say that enough. Read books about founders and writers in the start-up space that snipers you, learn from their mistakes.

Nigeria is a bloody tough place to start a business, it’s not for the faint of heart. You practically have to provide everything yourself so it’s tougher to start-up from here but several people are doing that. At this stage talent simply isn’t just enough, passion and perseverance is key, staying power.

Don’t be afraid to ask others for help too. Meet people, network, mix with other start-ups and learn from each other. While many of the start-ups in Nigeria are playing in the ecommerce and retail space, it really would be great to see solutions that solve real Nigerian problems like malaria, traffic, bad roads, power and related things. Don’t be too quick to get funding, bootstrap as much as is possible

Olusegun martins writes at www.martins.com.ng

Kindly share your thoughts and feed backs at the comment box.

Success Has Its Secret Recipes #SpotOn

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The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand. -Vince Lombardi

It is not every day you come by a smart, passionate and intelligent young lady thriving and leading in a male dominated industry.

In this edition of #SpotOn Google certified professional Modupe Ogunyemi, Head of Digital and Mobile Marketing, Konga Online Shopping, has out of her busy schedule shared inspirational and vital success recipes that has guided her over time and has kept her flourishing in the Digital sphere.

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

  1.  What has been your secret recipes to success over the years?

I would say determination, faith, boldness, willingness to take risks and refusing to settle for less. It definitely is not an easy ride to the top and I am still very much on the journey but these are my guiding principles. It also is very important to continue to self –innovate and add value to yourself.

2. Have you ever failed at an endeavor before and how did you handle it?

Someone said, show me a man who has never failed and I will show you a man who has never tried. Of course I have failed; not once, many times. You cannot let the fear of failure stop you from doing something, just do it! If it works, fine, if it doesn’t then you’ve learnt one more way of not doing it. That experience is valuable beyond words. So I think it’s okay to fail, as long as you don’t stop there and give up. You have to get up each time and keep going. Do you know how many times the Wright Brothers tried before finally inventing the aeroplane?

3.  How do you stay afloat in a male dominated industry?

Oh really? I didn’t realize I was in a male dominated industry, hahaha. To be honest, I don’t see gender at all. I only see a collage of smart people who are steadily making their way to the top and I choose to be one of them. Life is a choice, you either choose to get ahead or you choose to remain behind. If you let all sorts of issues deter you from your goal, then you are choosing to remain behind.

 You cannot let the fear of failure stop you from doing something, just do it! If it works fine, if it doesn’t then you’ve learnt one more way of not doing it.

4. What are the most important life lessons you’ve absorbed while at Konga Online shopping?

Hmmn, I think this question is better answered much later than now, when I would have spent a longer period at Konga. I’m still relatively new there so I’m still absorbing albeit at a fast rate as it’s a place that is filled with incredibly smart people which I love because iron sharpens iron.

5. How did you come to develop interest in Digital and Mobile marketing?

I’ve always been fascinated with the internet. Back in the days of dial up internet with Multilinks, Starcoms and co, I had my own personal subscription outside of the office and I would spend hours and hours just browsing. I used to wonder if there was a way I could turn this hobby into a job but I didn’t study computer science so I didn’t know how. Then I went to the UK to study and I became exposed to an entire digital marketing industry that I didn’t know about before. I realized that I didn’t need to have an IT background to have a career woven around the internet. So I was very excited and I looked for training opportunities after I completed my Masters. It was a very deliberate career pivot for me from traditional media to digital media and I have enjoyed it thoroughly. Mobile is simply an onward extension of my foray into digital marketing. While I was still working in the UK, I noticed how the dynamics of site traffic were shifting slowly but surely into mobile. Mobile traffic was beginning to decimate desktop traffic and so it was only logical for me to try and understand that channel.

Life is a choice, you either choose to get ahead or you choose to remain behind. If you let all sorts of issues deter you from your goal, then you are choosing to remain behind.

6.  Your three most inspiring books would be?

Ah! I read a lot so it’s hard for me to pick a top three. But if I must pick I would say:

  • The Master Key System by Charles Haanel,
  • Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill,
  • The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

7.  What’s your candid advice to budding individuals?

Know what you want in life. That is my singular most important advice to young people. Know what you want and work towards it. You will achieve success faster if you have a clear and definite purpose in mind and you are working towards that goal.

Watch Out for the next edition of #SpotOn!