Oluwanifemi Kolawole: Marketing. What comes to mind when you think of marketing? A quick search on Google tells you is the business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research, and advertising.
All these and more embody Everest Nwagwu's career journey, the man we is currently the product marketing manager for Canary Points Corporate Services, a company specialised in financial services.
Leading up to the Everest we have now was a content writer, a content marketer, digital marketer, an entrepreneur, and someone will believes he can convince people to take action.
Welcome to Expert and African where we spotlight African tech specialists and their journey from newbie to expert.
In this episode, we talk about Everest Nwagwu, a Nigerian Marketing expert whose thirst for challenge and excitement led him to learn the ropes to become a professional product marketer with experience in seven industries under 10 years.
Everest Nwagwu: What inspired me was seeing what I can do with media and seeing how powerful I can use my words I'm a marketing expert, started from content writing, content marketing, digital marketing, and now currently, on product marketing.
Oluwanifemi Kolawole: Everest has had a constant attraction to media, and he's particularly intrigued by what it can do. He sees himself as a persuasive communicator and it's on this premise that he decided to chart a course.
Driven by the famous Martin Luther King Jr. quote...
Martin Luther King Jr.: " If you can't fly, run, if you can't run, walk, if you can't walk, crawl, but by all means, keep moving."
Oluwanifemi Kolawole: ...everest, is hardly not involved in a project at every point in time.
Lagos-born Everest grew up as the last of five children in a conservative Nigerian home. For someone who was a smart kid, always looking for perspectives during conversations, studying a course in pure sciences, should it have been an option, but that's the route he was advised to go nonetheless.
Initially, aiming for medicine, Everest ended up studying human physiology at the University of Lagos, but he had quite a busy undergraduate period doing what he loves. Asides from his regular academic work, he found expression for his interest in content creation, by representing his department in debate competitions contributing to the school magazine, serving as an editor, and occasionally featuring on his university radio station.
While at that, he also tried his hands at politics.
Everest Nwagwu: From then I'd seen the power of media. So from there I saw that with media I can do much more. So apart from writing and talking, which I'm very good at, I felt, I think I need to go and see what's more I can do with this.
Oluwanifemi Kolawole: Soon. He was able to put a name to his new attraction —marketing— something he had no formal background in.
Looking at the trend of things you could already guess what Everest's post-university days would look like. He decided not to practice physiology, but went on to explore more in writing and marketing.
Everest Nwagwu: I've always been interested in, communication, marketing and business as a whole. Growing up in a family that values, hard work and also business. I felt like, how else do I want this to be part of my life. Marketing was what came close because the tools of marketing you can't remove media communication out of it. Those are the things that comes naturally.
Oluwanifemi Kolawole: Everest was wise not to depend on his natural tendencies and the skills he'd picked up in the university. Rather, he immersed himself in courses on digital marketing, management, and the intricacies of running a business.
However, he had to start from the basics in the job market. By the way, learning has been a recurring theme throughout Everest's career journey. For every role he took, he did at least a corresponding course. Some in brand management others in product marketing and business management. In fact, he's currently undergoing an online MBA.
Spoiler alert! In less than 10 years, Everest has taken on content and marketing roles at seven different companies. And two times as an entrepreneur. My bet is you're wondering why and how he was able to do that.
Everest Nwagwu: Transitioning is not easy but I'm an adventurous person. I'm curious about finding out what is more. Because I’m a project-focused, solution-driven person, if a work place is not challenging me enough with a lot of problems to solve, I will get to a point where I feel like I need to go and look at something else.
Oluwanifemi Kolawole: But that's not all. He believes that changing jobs can be the fastest way to climb career ladder, especially when you are armed with the appropriate skills and talent.
2015 was when he got his first job in content writing at Infinix. After which he took a role as a digital marketer before becoming a digital marketing officer at the same company. All of this happened under a year, and six months.
At that point, he felt he needed to move as it appeared he had reached his peak at the company with respect to what he brings to the table. So he moved to do a few months at a marketing agency for the same role. But he yearned for something more.
In the process of grounding himself in marketing, Everest's business instinct kicked in. In 2017, he co-founded a healthtech startup called Doctors' Hub with a friend, the idea, was a telemedicine platform but this pulled through because of funding. So he moved on to found another platform called Yes Mama to provide health information to pregnant women living in rural areas in various Nigerian languages.
Everest Nwagwu: What we do is that we go to health centers, gather phone numbers of people at different trimesters, put it on our database and then send them voice messages.
Oluwanifemi Kolawole: These voice calls are essentially to remind these pregnant women, depending on the trimester they are, about antenatal appointments and dietary instructions. It also continues six months post-delivery. Everest considers this a more successful endeavour than the previous one. Yes Mama got its fair share of recognition and funding in 2018. A grant from the British Council. And an award from the Royal Commowealth Assembly. Even though this was catching on, he still felt a need to get a grounding in the corporate world.
His next move was to Ekulo Group of companies as a brand manager. This company specializes in importing and manufacturing FMCGs.
If anything stood out for Everest here
Everest Nwagwu: It has a diverse products, which made it exciting for me. It gave me a broader idea of marketing. So I'm doing activation, market storm, market survey coming up with a go-to market plan. I was doing partnership, signing brand ambassadors and influencers So it was full blown marketing for me.
Oluwanifemi Kolawole: After a year and a few months of creating impact in the company, Everest began to feel a void, again.
Everest Nwagwu: I wasn't using technology to solve solutions and I felt like I'm becoming one, those traditional brand managers, those people that they can make anything happen. But when it comes to using digital skills, they will not be so good at it
Oluwanifemi Kolawole: Getting ahead of this limitation, Everest got a role at a Nigerian healthtech startup, LifeBank in 2019 as a communication and marketing lead. He played a role in making blood donation mainstream among Nigerians with the launch of the blood donor app.
His stay extended to the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns in 2020, a period he admitted to have stretched his capabilities, he considers it both overwhelming and rewarding.
Everest Nwagwu: So it was a whole lot of things happening and I felt, man, I moved from brand management. signing influencers, going to do activation in clubs and markets. And here I am wearing hand gloves and face masks and making sure people are getting tested. But it was fulfilling for me at that point, because seeing that we could be of service that time, it was really an amazing thing. Then getting this partnership and even getting willing government to work with us.
I led partnership with the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMER), which we now built the first drive-through COVID testing center in the whole of west Africa. So that was big.
Oluwanifemi Kolawole: And yet again, Everest was ready for another challenge. His next stop was at Opera Advertising as a key account manager. Within a year, he was able to serve different key clients by helping them generate large sales numbers and get new companies to sign up for the product.
Everest Nwagwu: I got an offer at Lagos Business School to lead marketing
Oluwanifemi Kolawole: He found moving from selling FMCGs, to selling digital products, and later to selling MBAs as fulfilling as he's able to gather valuable experiences from various industries.
Talking about the mark he made there....
Everest Nwagwu: Their entrance test used to be physical. I felt like this is not sustainable. So the first thing was to move the entrance test to a digital platform.
Oluwanifemi Kolawole: With that out of the way, Everest accepted his current role as the product marketing manager at Canary Point Corporate Services. Everest is responsible for different products, which are majorly financial services. He's involved with user acquisition, customer retention, and the likes.
Interestingly, Everest couldn't come to decide on a win that encompasses his entire journey so far, but his successes revolve around how his efforts have converted to massive numbers at the different companies he worked. He's particularly proud of the impact of his startup, Yes Mama.
Meanwhile, Everest shares a lesson he’d picked up drawing from his career journey.
Everest Nwagwu: Definitely I know that at one point in my career, I would have to build my business. I'm going to identify those people that are solution providers. And I'll provide them with enough problems to provide solution. And when I run out of problems I'll say, okay, great, you've conquered these, go ahead and conquer somewhere else.
Oluwanifemi Kolawole: A typical day has Everest either working from home or the office. In the mornings, he sorts out his emails first, then he checks his notes for his daily schedule. Usually he has meetings with different teams for updates. After which he reports to his boss, that leaves him with attending to external parties, like media partners and third party vendors for the rest of the day
Although he has nothing against to-do lists, he thinks they do not entirely help you prioritize your day. In place of a to do list. Everest uses his notes to form a guide of how he plans to run the day. Because it leaves room for other activities he didn't plan for when they come up.
Since his day includes a lots of call making and emails, he proposed a hack to avoid being overwhelmed with tasks.
Everest Nwagwu: One major hack is reducing the number of tabs on your system. Works like magic. So if you have 50 tabs open on your system, you are distracted. So grouping your tabs makes it easy. You group a tab and say this tab is for internal meetings, this tab is for external meetings, this tab is for completed projects. So it's easy to click on grouped tabs and work under that tab and then have it done.
Oluwanifemi Kolawole: And then there's another one that helps with productivity. Although it may not work with every role.
Everest Nwagwu: I don't ake personal calls during work hours. When I mean personal calls, I mean maybe your friend randomly wanted check up on you and say how are you doing. If it's during work hours, you usually get an automatic message that says oh please drop me a text. So the text message will determine if I need to call you back or not.
Oluwanifemi Kolawole: He's of the opinion that balancing work and life is dependent on the culture of your workplace. And he's been fortunate to find himself in work environments that encourage people to have a life outside work
He's looking forward to a time when he will be able to teach people how best to run a business, and he's already working towards getting professional certificates that put him in the right stead to become an authority. A good step in that direction is becoming one of the mentors on ADPList, a global meeting place for mentors and mentees,
Everest remains in touch with a philosophy which he says will stay with him for a long time.
Everest Nwagwu: Get the right skills, then you can negotiate. Always arm yourself with the right skills and talent. It is only then that you can negotiate.
Oluwanifemi Kolawole: Thank you for listening to Expert and African. This script was adapted by Oluwanifemi Kolawole. Research and interview by Oluwanifemi Kolawole. Produced by Muyiwa Matuluko. This is a production of Techpoint Africa. . If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe, share, and drop a review. For more stories on startups and innovation in Africa, please visit techpoint.africa.