In today’s world, rather than job-hopping, ensure you are constantly learning and reinventing yourself so that you can remain relevantFunmilayo Falola
Funmilayo is Wema Bank’s Head of Brand & Marketing Communications. A seasoned marketer, Funmilayo speaks on the importance of mentorship as well as why it’s important to set priorities in the context of establishing a work-life balance. We are honoured to have her on for this segment of Women In Marketing. Let’s explore her story
LET’S GET PERSONAL
WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FONDEST MEMORIES?
Christmas time growing up was great because I spent them with my family in my village, Abeokuta. The entire family was always together, there was no school, there was always a lot to eat and so much fun. My birthday as well is one of my fondest memories because it came right after Christmas and I always got the biggest piece of chicken!
WE WOULD ALL LOVE TO WIN THE LOTTERY RIGHT? IF YOU WON $10 MILLION TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
Invest it into my pet project called “Poised & Positioned” which is about creating an avenue to support and encourage women to balance advancement and wholesome living, ensuring they live their best lives. I’ll travel the world as well.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULDN’T SHARE WITH ANYONE!
Anything with meat but I love communal eating.
WHAT MADE YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH THE WORLD OF MARKETING? WHAT PARTICULAR MOMENT IN TIME PUSHED YOU TO PURSUE THIS CAREER? AFTER ALL, WE ALL WANTED TO BE DOCTORS GROWING UP, RIGHT?
When I finished secondary school, I didn’t want any of the regular jobs, I wanted something different so this led me to study political science.
I loved to talk, I loved watching Tv and I was always fascinated by how they brought the ideas to life, at some point, I thought I wanted to act.
I had a stint right after university at a PR firm, just before the government-mandated work experience “NYSC” so I moved back to the PR firm right after that and I haven’t looked back since.
IF YOU COULD BE ANY ANIMAL IN THE WORLD, WHAT ANIMAL WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?
A tiger. They’re smart, calm and they go all out when they’re determined to do something. You also do not want to provoke a tiger.
WHAT’S THE MOST INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T LEARN FROM YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE ALONE?
My love for books and pictures of nature I think, however, my team says I seem to know a little about everything and that I’m a storyteller.
ENTERING THE WORKPLACE
GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK OF HOW YOU TYPICALLY START YOUR DAY. ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!
Team tea all the way! I wake up at 5 am, check on everyone in my house then I go out for a run for about 30 minutes/2 hours. Watch the news while I take a cup of tea, no milk, no sugar, shower and head out for the day.
HOW BEST DO YOU STRIKE A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
Is this a trick question? Lol
There’s no balance per se, it’s just knowing when to shut down from work and face the other aspects of my life, knowing the resources and support I need.
Also knowing how and when to prioritise.
YOU OBTAINED YOUR MBA IN MARKETING FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS (GIRL YOU FANCY!). ACCORDING TO GLASSDOOR, IT HAS BECOME SEEMINGLY EASIER TO APPLY TO WORK FOR COMPANIES LIKE GOOGLE, APPLE AND STARBUCKS AS THEY DO NOT REQUIRE APPLICANTS TO HAVE A DEGREE. HOW CAN YOUNG WOMEN UTILISE THE INTERNET TO UPSKILL THEMSELVES PARTICULARLY IF THEY CANNOT AFFORD TO OBTAIN A FORMAL EDUCATION?
Even with all the formal education, I have acquired, the informal training has come in very handy and up to date, seeing as they constantly evolve and stay relevant to the times we’re in. The internet is an amazing tool if used properly, there are significant resources for learning every topic imaginable. If you can think of it, you can find it on the internet and you can learn more about it. To ensure you upscale, you must:
- Identify your topic of interest
- Identify the requisite training/education needed, paid or unpaid
- Take notes and engage in hands-on practice
- Identify and join communities with like-minded people
- Share your knowledge with other people
- Never stop learning, there’s new information on the internet every day.
JOB HOPPING IS A COMMON PHENOMENA ESPECIALLY IN THE DYNAMIC WORLD OF ADVERTISING AND MARKETING. WHAT’S YOUR OPINION ON JOB HOPPING? DOES IT HURT OR AID ONE’S CAREER?
I think it has its pros and cons.
There is a need to know when it’s time to move, gain more knowledge and specialize and there’s a time when you have to stay and learn properly.
In today’s world, rather than job-hopping, ensure you are constantly learning and reinventing yourself so that you can remain relevant.
FOR OUR INTERVIEW WITH YAEL TAMAR FROM SOLIDBLOCK, SHE REMARKED THAT WOMEN ARE MOST LIKELY TO OCCUPY THE CMO ROLE AS COMPARED TO THEIR MALE COUNTERPARTS. WITH WOMEN CONTROLLING OVER $20 TRILLION IN GLOBAL SPENDING, WHY HAS IT BECOME INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT TO HAVE FEMALE CMOS IN YOUR OPINION?
Because a large part of solving a problem is in the framing of it, women, by their very nature can articulate and define the challenges to find the simplest form of resolution. Women think differently from men. Women tend to be more empathetic and because the business of marketing is about human beings-the consumer-his needs, preferences, perceived value etc, we can feel and connect with the emotions of the consumer and the business at the same time.
Empathy is a superpower, women have it and this makes them excellent marketers and leaders. We can see things from the employees and customers point of view..
Gender diversity in the leadership pool means a greater diversity of thought, which, in turn, leads to improved results and greater business benefits.
SYSTEMS AROUND REMOTE WORK AND VIDEO CONFERENCING ARE INCREASINGLY BECOMING STAPLE IN MOST ORGANISATIONS. ACCORDING TO VISUAL CAPITALIST, ZOOM IS NOW WORTH MORE THAN THE 7 BIGGEST AIRLINES IN THE WORLD AT A WHOPPING MARKET CAPITALIZATION OF JUST OVER $40BN. SUFFICE TO SAY, REMOTE WORKING IS AN ASPECT OF MODERN-DAY WORK THAT HAS BEEN LONG OVERDUE. IN YOUR OPINION, WHY HAVE MOST ORGANISATIONS STRUGGLED TO CONVERT TO THIS WAY OF WORK?
While newness can be exciting, change is difficult.
It is hard for organizations to get used to new ideas and ways of doing things. Most large organizations have invested decades, people and money into building the systems, structures and processes that have helped them grow into the establishment that they are today.
Switching to an unfamiliar work terrain would, therefore, come with some struggles. Also, because tracking performance, monitoring progress and measuring results is pivotal to organizations, and these variables are difficult to measure under a remote working environment, organizations will struggle to convert to remote working.
REMOTE WORK HAS COME WITH ITS OWN SET OF CHALLENGES, PARAMOUNT TO THIS IS THE FACT THAT EMPLOYEES ARE NOW ‘ALWAYS ON’ WITH WORK CARRYING OVER EVEN BEYOND WORKING HOURS. IN YOUR OPINION, HOW CAN ORGANISATIONS MANAGE THIS BETTER TO PROTECT THE WELLBEING OF THEIR EMPLOYEES?
This will start with the understanding that the employee’s wellbeing relates to all aspects of their work life. In as much as longer hours may give the sense of being productive, the problem, however, is that in the long term, long working hours aren’t the road to higher productivity.
Studies have shown that regular after-hours work eventually leads to job burnout and decreased productivity. The last thing an organization need is for its people to come back to the office burnt out and tired. There is a need to encourage employees to set boundaries and take care of their well-being.
SHERYL SANDBERG MADE AN INTERESTING REMARK IN HER KICK-ASS BIOGRAPHY ‘LEAN IN: WOMEN, WORK, AND THE WILL TO LEAD’ THAT “SEARCHING FOR A MENTOR HAS BECOME THE PROFESSIONAL EQUIVALENT OF WAITING FOR PRINCE CHARMING”. SHE IS ILLUSTRATING THE NOTION OF WOMEN HAVING TO SEEK APPROVAL OR VALIDATION, ESPECIALLY FROM MEN WHO ARE AT MOST TIMES THE MENTORS. WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON MENTORSHIP?
Mentorship is an integral part of the business and professional setting in Nigeria.
Essentially, it is not limited to only humans, it is a part of life. When a lioness gnaws its cub, it is simply mentoring them on how to initiate a kill. This is hardly any different from finding someone with expertise in your chosen field who is willing to impart knowledge to you.
In my experience, having a mentor is like having a trusted and experienced advisor – someone who shines the beacon for you to follow. Sometimes, a mentor can act as a consultant, a counsellor or a cheerleader. In either case, a good mentor plays diverse roles to support one’s career growth.
What is beautiful about mentorship is the guidance, information, knowledge and networking opportunities that a mentor brings. It is an opportunity that helps to avoid some entrepreneurial and career mistakes. They set disciplinary boundaries that are necessary for personal and career growth. They offer encouragement and unfiltered opinions where needed and above all, for all the good they can offer, they are free.
However, no rule of thumb stipulates having a mentor as a sure way to scale the heights of career success, especially for women. We can take learnings and draw experiences from other senior colleagues, co-workers or friends from outside our work environment. In agreement with Sheryl Sandberg, women should not be sold on the idea that a mentor will play a messianic role in achieving Utopian bliss in their careers.
While mentorship can help one grow faster, it is not the Holy Grail for women. What is to show women what type of mentorship they should take on, the benefits that can be derived and if it is propitious to seek out a mentor at all.
BCG PUBLISHED ITS INNOVATION REPORT FOR 2020 AND AT THE CORE OF ITS SELECTION CRITERIA ARE COMPANIES THAT HAVE SUCCESSFULLY MARRIED ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN THEIR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES. ACCORDING TO YOU, WHAT MAKES SOMETHING INNOVATIVE? HOW DO YOU DEFINE INNOVATION AT Wema Bank?
Innovation is a new way of doing things. This may sometimes involve new technology, but not always. Sometimes it is just finding a new way to do something. There are a few times when it involves the introduction of something that seems completely new in the sense that the need for it may not even yet be widespread or even known at all.
At WEMA Bank, innovation is about finding new ways to meet customer needs. We are also curious enough to explore ways to meet untapped latent needs of customers. This could be done through new, cutting edge technologies and products or reimagining processes and services to make customer interaction seamless.
AT THE TIME OF PUBLISHING, THE DIGITAL MARKETING INSTITUTE ESTIMATED THAT THE INFLUENCER MARKETING INDUSTRY WILL HIT THE $10BN MARK BY 2020. WHETHER B2B OR B2C, IT’S EVIDENT THAT BRANDS AND ORGANISATIONS HAVE HAD THEIR SUCCESS WITH THIS MODEL OF MARKETING. HOW WILL THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AFFECT THIS INDUSTRY GOING FORWARD AND DO YOU BELIEVE THERE IS STILL A PLACE FOR INFLUENCER MARKETING?
Although we can assume that several budget cuts have happened and the budget for marketing might have shrunk, notwithstanding, COVID-19, has given rise to “unfiltered” or less-scripted content, the rise of TikTok and the popularity of “everyday influencers”. The lockdown phase allowed everyday underdogs and relatable individuals unwind and gain popularity using various social media channels.
Brands like pretty little things and Fashionova encouraged models to style and capture the outfits in relatable moments from their living space. There’s a very interesting case with a Twitter user who made a funny video, it got so much engagement and popularity that this same user is on billboards and TV commercials influencing Guinness Nigeria. I’m not sure at the point of creating the video, the dude had the intention to become a major brand influencer.
But it came from such a pure and relatable place that it went viral and today the brand is reaping the rewards because that one regular non-celebrity fellow is influencing for the brand.
Consumers are now looking for more relatable people, not the celebrities or known faces, but unscripted, everyday people that are realistically impacted by the brand.
So yes, there’s still a bright horizon for influencer marketing that should encourage brands and content creators to churn out less scripted content.
HOW DO YOU LEVERAGE DATA TO INFORM YOUR DECISION-MAKING?
The world is being overrun with data. In planning my go-to-market strategy, rather than starting from scratch and hoping a new strategy works, I do more of what has worked and less of what may or may not work, all based on the data collected previously.
I look at my objectives and prioritize by asking myself what goals I want to improve, find relevant data, draw conclusions from that data, take a look at the historical data collected to try to identify patterns and plan my strategy. It is always important to note if the data-driven decision had a positive growth impact on the business. If yes, great and if not that’s okay.
Sure, the decision might not have had an immediate impact, but at least now you know what doesn’t work and sometimes, that’s equally as important as knowing what does work.
2020 AND BEYOND
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING? (WHAT DO YOU READ, AND HOW DO YOU CONSUME INFORMATION? PAPERBACK VS EREADER?)
I am currently reading ‘Surrounded by Idiots: The Four Types of Human Behavior and How to Effectively Communicate with Each in Business (and in Life)‘ by Thomas Erikson. I love to read Christian fiction, my favourite writer is Francine Rivers, I also read light-hearted fiction such as comics, graphic novels and comedies. I read a few business books focusing on understanding consumer behaviour or organisational character. I am a paperback girl, love to feel and hold my books. I try to read a book a month.
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
The Bling Ring
The Irish Man
Back to the future again
AS WE LEARN TO LIVE WITH COVID19 IF YOU COULD REPLACE THE HANDSHAKE AS A FORM OF GREETING, WHAT INTERESTING NEW GREETING WOULD YOU INTRODUCE?
Lol- maybe a side hug/ bum bump
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
Reinvent yourself by investing in yourself, seek knowledge and explore new things. Don’t limit yourself.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Don’t limit yourself – Be bold & Explore
WHAT CHALLENGE IS ON YOUR PLATE? WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PAIN POINTS YOU ARE TRYING TO OVERCOME IN YOUR LIFE WHETHER PROFESSIONALLY, PERSONALLY OR BOTH?
Changing the misconception that Marketing is an easy job.
How to come up with numeric ROI
Big data & its impact on content marketing
Helping younger women navigate career advancement & wholesome living
WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR AWESOME WOMEN IN MARKETING TO PROFILE. WHO WOULD YOU LIKE US TO INTERVIEW IN FUTURE? (PROVIDE US WITH CONTACT DETAILS OF A WOMAN/WOMEN YOU WOULD LIKE US TO FEATURE.
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS (PROFESSIONAL AS WELL AS PERSONAL)?
Creating a consumer community program in the financial services space
Build a lead nurturing ecosystem for Nigerian businesses
Travelling the world using the alphabets – visited countries starting with A, U, N, D, F, G, T, S
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FEMALE HEROES?
Funmilayo Ransome Kuti