Introduction: 0:00 - 2:01
Backstories: 2:01 - 4:03
What you need to get into growth and marketing: 4:03 - 8:16
How to survive in a growth and marketing role: 8:16 - 12:48
Oluwanifemi Kolawole: Career professionals don't reach great heights without dedicating time and resources to achieve their goals. And as concepts and ideas evolve with increasing tech adoption, they must consistently upskill to remain relevant. Current global job market trends suggest that anything tech-related is representative of a lucrative career.
We could also put it that higher remuneration is mostly a great motivator. However, people's fascination with tech also stems from its mild entry barrier and unlimited free learning resources that facilitate self-learning.
You might have also noticed that the people we've featured on Expert and African have had unconventional career trajectories, that scream, "anything is possible if you put in the work!" And that's why my favorite part of handling this series is listening to tech specialists tell impressive stories of how their early experiences prepared them for what they currently do.
This week on Expert and African, where we get up close with African tech specialists and their journey from newbie to expert, I explore the career trajectories of three experts that are doing arguably well in the growth and marketing space. Saze Ibraheem, the head of marketing for Art X Collective, a cultural management company with over 10 years of experience; Everest Nwagwu, product marketing manager at Carnary Point Corporate Services, a company specialised in financial services; and Victor Ekwealor, a creator cum growth expert.
We would draw from their experiences to highlight attributes you need before considering growth and marketing as a career.
But first, backstories.
Interestingly, these three individuals have quite differing beginnings. More like their interests stemmed from different realities.
Saze's privileged background and early exposure to knowledge were instrumental to her routinely taking up daring initiatives. For a while. She struggled to define what she was good at and put a name to it. But it all came together when she met someone in the professional world.
Saze Ibraheem: I am exceptional at understanding how the user uses your product and what they want your product to solve for them. In hindsight, someone should have said marketing is what creative people do. But no one ever told me.
Oluwanifemi Kolawole: With her penchant for business, she could have considered a career as a financial analyst or a business consultant or other similar roles relevant to her economics degree.
But when it eventually became clear, Saze sealed it with a postgraduate degree in integrated marketing communication from New York University.
On the other hand, Everest as an undergraduate was confident he could convince people to take any action. And realizing early where his unique skills would be best used, he dumped his physiology degree to chase marketing head on.
For Victor, his first five years as a journalist and content creator opened the doors of growth for his confident entry. And his transition was easy because he had garnered experience early in his career.
So, what do you need to get into growth and marketing?
First, you should know this, the global market for marketing services, including content marketing, digital marketing, and influencer marketing is a multimillion-dollar one. In fact, Statista puts the worth at approximately $475 billion.
Besides, the career path has come to stay. And with practitioners in most companies and industries, there's an increasing competition in the space.
So with that out of the way, you should know that growth and marketing roles require an understanding of a company's product and an ability to inspire excitement among the team and customers.
Marketing specialists' KPIs include growing the user base and expanding reach through brand awareness, online and offline creative marketing campaigns, and identifying business opportunities across different channels. This means that soft skills like research, analysis, and telling convincing stories, all come to play.
Now if you have little or no mastery of communication, it is one you might want to consider picking up before considering growth and marketing.
If anything gave Everest his starting confidence, that was it.
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 two things that comes naturally.
Oluwanifemi Kolawole: Creativity and adaptability are other skills you need.
Victor for instance, spent his early years crafting narratives by telling the stories of African tech businesses during this time in media tech, as a journalist. He said his success at that time wouldn't be possible if he hadn't developed the skill of understanding context.
Saze, on the other hand, has an artistic side that's always finding expression. This gave her the creative wherewithal to think up and execute ideas.
And that brings us to projects management which is another requirement when considering a career in marketing. Take a moment to get an idea of what these three personalities have to juggle on an average day,
Everest Nwagwu: It has diverse products, which made it exciting for me. It gave 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.
Oluwanifemi Kolawole: That was Everest while at his third job at an FMCG manufacturing company.
While Saze's roles has are launching new products, sealing partnerships and leading marketing for large events, Victor does growth consulting and helps companies to grow and retain customers.
what this shows is that marketing and growth experts multitask a lot. So their project management skills come in handy when keeping track of the multiple tasks they juggle simultaneously. Tasks scheduling and supportive teams also contribute to their successes.
And then, we have leadership skills, which can't be overemphasized. Victor encourages a high level of delegation, and Saze is at her best identifying exceptional team members and giving them opportunities to thrive.
So now that you are in, how do you survive?
First, adapt. Contrary to what was obtainable a decade back, proven success in digital marketing has become an important requirement to remain relevant in growth and marketing rules. Saze got into digital marketing when it was quite unpopular and one needed to do a great deal of convincing to get any team to consider it important enough to justify any investment.
To address that, she went ahead to start a digital marketing business.
Saze Ibraheem: I was honestly an accidental entrepreneur. I became an entrepreneur just cause nobody was doing what I wanted to do. People just did not understand this. At a time I even pitched to ad agencies at the time. They're just like, what is this?
Oluwanifemi Kolawole: Secondly, upskill. Everest also wanted to test himself by moving from marketing physical product to digital product. And for a start, he went to a health tech startup to be a community partnership lead. It was overwhelming, but he picked up lessons. He has applied in ed tech, media tech, and currently fintech.
Of course, he took relevant courses to give him more leverage.
Thirdly, be deliberate about your career trajectory. Saze, Victor and Everest have all been intentional about their career trajectories and played in more than one industry for different reasons.
For Saze, her story is part of her attempt to satisfy her thirst for knowledge.
Saze Ibraheem: I am eternally curious. I always want to know why. Yes. . I ask a lot of questions cause I'm actually genuinely interested. I'm very excited by learning and just understanding even more. And I think that voracious love of reading, knowing more, researching has just gone on and continue into my life where I go into new sector but then I am exceptional at understanding how the user uses your product and what they want your product to solve for them. That is the special sauce that I bring to the table.
Oluwanifemi Kolawole: During our conversation, she reflected on the stops she made before letting her artistic side take over and lead her to her current role. Her stops saw her spend time in automobile manufacture, finance, eCommerce, Internet service, and media,
Everest, on the other hand, made an impact at seven companies under nine years spending an average of one year at a company. The industries include phone manufacturing, marketing, consumer goods, health tech, edtech, media, and fintech. He was constantly driven by the need to conquer something at every point in time.
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 conquer something else.
Oluwanifemi Kolawole: As with most success stories, time plays a key role and Victor's case is no different. It took him five years to perfect his content creation, product development, and product strategy skills before taking on growth.
Finally, like the popular Disney cartoon character, Pocahontas, who said, "to be safe, we lose a chance of ever knowing what's around the river bend," Everest is driven by a need to go and look for something else.
Be like Everest, be driven.
Thank you for listening to your Expert and Africa. This episode was adapted, narrated and produced by Kolawole Oluwanifemi. You can reach out to me at [email protected]
For most stories on startups in Africa, visit techpoint.africa.