For this segment of Women In Marketing we chat with Adaeze Raji who is the Marketing and Communications Manager at Mazars Nigeria. Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of tech in the workplace and certainly, in the remote work setting, Adaeze touches on the importance of setting priorities. Let’s learn more about her
LET’S GET PERSONAL
THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR WOMEN IN MARKETING SERIES, ADAEZE. LET’S START ON A LIGHTER NOTE. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR MEMORIES GROWING UP?
Born in Nigeria, my earliest memories hmmm.
It has to be with my three brothers growing up as an only girl in a male-dominated household – I strived to do EVERYTHING I could to prove I was just as strong. I found myself playing football to roughhousing and climbing unfeminine heights.
My mum had to make tremendous efforts to reach me on the effeminate side; I’m mighty glad she did, LOL.
WHAT WERE YOU LIKE IN YOUR HIGH SCHOOL/COLLEGE YEARS?
I was going through a period of self-realization. One could argue that I was rebellious but I was focused on schoolwork which I would say helped me maintain a healthy balance.
IF YOU COULD BE ANY ANIMAL, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
An Eagle – Always rising like cream to the top. Consistently ‘going high’ and never ‘low’ with sharp eyesight quick enough to see clearly in situations.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULD FEEL NO SHAME FOR NOT SHARING!
It’s a Nigerian dish – Pounded yam and Oha soup with goat meat. No guilt, no shame. I love that meal! Keep your washed fingers away puh-lease.
IMAGINE WAKING UP $10 MILLION RICHER TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
Not today? LOL
On a serious note, I will start a foundation to support single moms and widows in Nigeria – one that helps them start a business and supports them through growth and break-even with about 2 million of that amount.
I would give to my faith a small percentage. I would Invest 5.5million and make my family smile with what’s left (they deserve it).
WHAT IS THE ONE INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T FIND ON YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE? ANY HIDDEN TALENTS PERHAPS? PREVIOUS WOMEN IN MARKETING CANDIDATE, DR. LIEZEL BYGATE SAID THAT SHE IS AN EXPERT HULA-HOOPER!
I was a karate kid. My mum wanted all of us to learn self-defence. I have a deep love for aesthetics, making over drab.
CAREER AND WORKPLACE
WHAT ENCOURAGED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN MARKETING? AFTER ALL, MOST OF US GREW UP WANTING TO BE DOCTORS, RIGHT?
Well, marketing did have a stigma around it (In this part of the world that is) so I never once pictured myself in it. I did love to communicate and read which made me bag a degree in it.
However, one of my bosses noticed how I had a natural ability to cross-sell our products & services to clients while I resolved issues via mail. He allowed me to dabble professionally in it. From there on, there was no going back.
So imagine my joy to discover I could blend my love for communication with my passion for marketing? I was hooked for life!
GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK OF HOW YOU TYPICALLY START YOUR DAY. ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!
Nobody, not even my 2-year-old (who I love to bits) messes with my sleep because the caffeine in all its finest brew and glory cannot give me a come-back from the grouch or lack of awareness that situation brings out of me, lol.
So I regulate my sleep time to ensure I get at least 6-7hours daily from cat naps to full-on under-the-covers bedtime but, I digress…
#Teamtea or better still #Teamsmoothie…(Mostly option C) …Being the beautiful rebel I am.
HOW BEST DO YOU MAINTAIN A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
I always prioritise.
What is most important at that moment? What can I delegate without hurting optimum output? I write- out, sit and plan. I also have routines, which has helped me a lot as a toddler mum. I never let anyone mess with my daughter’s delegated nap, bath or bedtime because it’s just as important to her as it is to me, especially in a pandemic.
Plus, while I ensure that I give my best at work and to my family, I never forget to take a beat for myself and breathe.
They (work & home) can all only get from me how much I have availed myself. Even though I don’t have it all figured out, because some days I find my work and life blur as you cannot tell a 2-year-old not to scream because mummy is on an important zoom call… or on a day I had to take my daughter to work because I had no choice and my care structure for her fell through, you realize it is just as important to have a great work environment that allows you change your work hat to mum hat without having anyone wince or treat you different just because, especially if you have proven to be an asset.
And finally, to have a husband who understands how important your career is he can go out of his way to let you be a boss without feeling like a bad mum.
The balance is very dependent on the structure you have around you. Choose wisely on all sides.
YOU OBTAINED YOUR BA IN MASS COMMUNICATION FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF NIGERIA. YESSS GIRL! ACCORDING TO CNBC, RESEARCH CONDUCTED BY GLASSDOOR FOUND THAT COMPANIES LIKE APPLE, GOOGLE AND IBM (AMONGST OTHERS) OFFER WORK-FROM-HOME JOBS THAT DO NOT REQUIRE ANY FORMAL EDUCATION. IN YOUR OPINION, HOW CAN YOUNG WOMEN UTILISE THE INTERNET TO UPSKILL THEIR THEMSELVES PARTICULARLY IF THEY ARE NOT ABLE TO AFFORD A FORMAL EDUCATION?
Absolutely. The world is evolving; the rules are changing. Formal education is so Important but, if you can’t make lemonades then make lemon pie.
There are a host of online learning sites for little or nothing. Furthermore, you can get certified with pretty words that pronounce you an expert*wink*, so make the most of what you can and then eventually, when you do make the money, get yourself a formal or semi-formal education.
School opens you to a network that you cannot pay for and no knowledge is a waste.
SABRA MWAURA WAS A FEATURE FOR OUR WOMEN IN MARKETING SERIES. SHE MADE A FEW GOOD POINTS ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF MENTORSHIP FOR WOMEN. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON MENTORSHIP?
Pay it forward when possible.
Women have had to do so much to get to where we are, from being recognised for top positions, taken seriously, given a seat at the table and as huge or little as making a mark, we worked hard to get here. So once you do get to the top, make an effort to make it even easier for other women aspiring to. There’s enough room at the top, believe me.
Mentor as many younger women as you can. If you aren’t mentoring any, please start. So much of what you may think is basic or common may be the ‘eureka’ moment for a woman finding her way. So please share that basic information and dish out the wisdom nuggets as much as you can. It goes a long way!
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?
It is a common phenomenon in the career world where most believe it is ‘dog eat dog’. Our industry is no different.
Hurt or aid depends on your ‘why’ as well as your ‘goals’. However, too much of anything, from as basic as having an excessive sweet tooth to as important as job-hopping is never good. Be strategic, have a timeline, focus on your goal and your why – nobody else’s. Even if you do get hurt, don’t dwell on it – renavigate.
BRANDS AND ORGANISATIONS HAVE BEGAN ESTABLISHING A VOICE IN AS FAR AS SOCIETAL TOPICS ARE CONCERNED. SOCIAL MOVEMENTS AND TOPICS SUCH AS BLACK LIVES MATTER, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION AS WELL AS COMMUNICATION IN EDUCATING THEIR AUDIENCES ABOUT COVID-19 HAVE BEEN THE AGENDA FOR A LOT OF ORGANISATIONS. IN YOUR OPINION, WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT FOR BRANDS TO HAVE AN ‘EAR ON THE GROUND’ APPROACH? WHY IS IT GOOD FOR BUSINESS?
There is an African adage that goes something like “when two elephants fight, the ground suffers”.
People are your clients & Customers are indeed king if you are not conscious no matter how big a brand you are. People can hurt and kill a brand that took you long to build. Your brand must have a personality that is relatable and empathetic or it can all become nothing.
I would name a few brands that have had to pay for lack of empathy or even worse indifference, but I represent a brand and cannot be seen sitting on the table with a judge’s wig in tow. I will say this much; it is not only good for business, but it can also make or break a brand if you do not take the approach.
ONE OF THE LEARNING CURVES FOR MOST ORGANISATIONS SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE PANDEMIC, IS THE SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION OF DIGITAL INFRASTRUCTURES TO FACILITATE REMOTE WORK. FOR TECH PLAYERS IN SILICON VALLEY THE TRANSITION WAS RELATIVELY SMOOTH WITH THE LIKES OF FACEBOOK AND TWITTER DESIGNING A FUTURE WHERE THEIR STAFF MAY POTENTIALLY WORK REMOTELY FOREVER. THE ARGUMENT THOUGH, IS THAT THIS IS LONG OVERDUE. IN YOUR OPINION, WHY HAVE COMPANIES TAKEN SO LONG TO IMPLEMENT REMOTE WORK OPPORTUNITIES?
I can speak for what I have seen and experienced.
Years ago, it would have been next to impossible to work from home for my dad, who had a computer sitting on his desk and no mobile phone. Or, my mum who had to be available to sign physical documents.
Beyond the evolution of that lifestyle, we just got accustomed to the rat race of running out in the morning and heading home exhausted. Furthermore, there is the issue of accountability which makes it easy for me to walk to my team and ensure they are putting in the hours and finally there is the undeniable expense of rent and internet. The company pays a lot for that structure and I’m sure I would like to see that it is being used.
WORKING FROM HOME IS AWESOME! MOST OF US CAN AGREE. HOWEVER, IT IS NOT WITHOUT IT’S SET OF CHALLENGES. EMPLOYEE WELLNESS HAS TAKEN A SIGNIFICANT STRAIN WITH PEOPLE WORKING LONGER HOURS AS A RESULT OF EMPLOYEES BEING ‘ALWAYS ON’ AND NOT BEING ABLE TO SWITCH OFF. HOW CAN EMPLOYERS GUARD AGAINST EMPLOYEE BURNOUT OR IN THE WORST EVENT, LOSING THEIR BEST TALENT?
Have a cut off time for reaching out to staff outside the usual work hours except in rare cases where it is unavoidable. The onus, however, lies on the staff to set those boundaries as well.
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?
When it’s an original with a unique identifier that differentiates it from its existing counterpart.
HEMAL THAKKAR, BRAND MANAGER FOR BURGER KING INDIA IS A RECENT WOMEN IN MARKETING FEATURE. ONE OF THE KEY AREAS SHE IDENTIFIED FOR CONTINUED GROWTH IS THAT OF INFLUENCER MARKETING. WHAT DOES THE FUTURE OF MARKETING LOOK LIKE ACCORDING TO YOU?
The Future of marketing is what we make it. As a brand manager, I would create a collage of real-life ordinary people raving about my product; it gives it life. The concept of influencer marketing is great but it is all dependent on your target audience. It can do the work but it rarely appeals to me these days because I know you are being paid to tell me to use a product you are probably not using. So Pass!
2021 AND BEYOND
ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, HOW WAS YOUR 2020? ANY PIVOTAL MOMENTS OF YOUR PERSONAL OR PROFESSIONAL LIFE YOU CAN SHARE WITH US?
I got to spend more time with my family. It was my greatest wish as I didn’t want to be an absent mum. I got to stay away from Lagos traffic plus, I started a new job which I thoroughly enjoy more often than not lol (I hope my team doesn’t see this). The pandemic had its perverse blessing.
KNOWING WHAT YOU KNOW TODAY AND IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
It’s 2021 and you are doing okay, breathe.
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?
Pain points? Trying to balance it all daily. Some days are better than others.
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS?
To work with a big brand like Nike (Their ads take my breath away every time) or with my present organization at group level, which is the epicentre just to see and experience how the broth is made from start to finish.
To sit with or run a foundation with Elon Musk.
To go skydiving.
Breakfast by a waterfall.
Wake up with zero worry.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR SHEROES?
Ukonwa Kuzi Orizu (Global chief marketer Amazon), Ngozi Okonji-Iweala (DG World Trade Organization) & Melinda Gates.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
I’m a paperback girl.
The ‘1-page marketing plan’ by Allan Dib (Don’t mind the name, it is over 200 pages of impressive content).
‘The four (The hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook & Google)’ by Scott Galloway (Brilliant author).
WHAT WOULD YOU COME BACK AS IN THE NEXT LIFETIME CAREER-WISE? DO YOU THINK YOU MISSED A CALLING?
Marketing but with more focus early on.
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
“The monster called the global economy”.
On tough days I binge watch “Friends” or “The big bang theory” for the millionth time.
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
My friends from Primary school: Sope & Adeola
WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR AMAZING WOMEN IN MARKETING TO PROFILE. WHO WOULD YOU LIKE US TO GET IN TOUCH WITH?
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
You are in the right place. Anyone who makes money for the company is an asset. Work hard, upskill and never let a ‘no’ pull you down. You win some, you lose some. That’s just life.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME ADAEZE. WE HOPE THIS INTERVIEW WILL INSPIRE FUTURE LEADERS AND OTHER WOMEN IN MARKETING. HOW CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOU AND YOUR COMPANY ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
Adaeze Raji on Linked in