Babara Omwayi is Spark Communication’s CEO and she joins us on this segment of Women In Marketing. Although she wanted to be a air-hostess growing up, she followed her brother’s footsteps who is a seasoned marketer. Let’s learn more about Babara
LET’S GET PERSONAL
THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR WOMEN IN MARKETING SERIES, BABARA. LET’S START ON A LIGHTER NOTE. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR MEMORIES GROWING UP?
I was born in Kisumu City, Kenya. Some of my fondest memories are the birthday parties that my late mum would arrange every year. I also enjoyed time spent with my dad as he drove his Land Rover around sugar plantations back in the village. I remember this one time we got into a tractor with him that was on its way to harvest cane. Those are such wonderful memories.
WHAT WERE YOU LIKE IN YOUR HIGH SCHOOL/COLLEGE YEARS?
I loved arts, drama festivals.
IF YOU COULD BE ANY ANIMAL, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
Lioness. I like being in charge of my jungle.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULD FEEL NO SHAME FOR NOT SHARING!
Pork ribs and rosemary potatoes.
IMAGINE WAKING UP $10 MILLION RICHER TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
The first thing I would do is tithe and then go on a short holiday with my family. I will use this time away to plan on how to plough it into my business for expansion and innovation projects.
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 love cooking, dancing and watching movies and series on Netflix.
CAREER AND WORKPLACE
WHAT ENCOURAGED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN MARKETING? AFTER ALL, MOST OF US GREW UP WANTING TO BE DOCTORS, RIGHT?
Growing up, I wanted to be an air hostess and at some point, that changed to a news anchor. So I went and studied mass communication. My elder brother Allan was by then a seasoned marketer and after my graduation, I ended up following in his footsteps.
GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK OF HOW YOU TYPICALLY START YOUR DAY. ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!
I typically wake up between 4.30 – 5.00 am. I start my day by doing my devotion and praying. Then I will prepare my family as we all begin the day. It is our tradition to have breakfast together before parting ways for the day.
HOW BEST DO YOU MAINTAIN A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
I believe more in work-life integration, as opposed to work-life balance. I avoid picking calls in the evenings after work so that I can spend quality time with my husband and children. I take breaks from work when our children are on holiday. I catch up with my reading during my lunch break. My weekends are for my social life and taking care of the home. Sunday is our day of rest and Church.
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?
One needs to have a tribe of mentors who can guide you and help you chart your path. I am blessed to have so many mentors along my career path and personal life.. These are great women who have held my hand and lifted me in so many ways. I have also been privileged to have reverse mentors who have infused my life with very fresh perspectives.
WHAT’S YOUR SMARTEST WORK-RELATED SHORTCUT OR PRODUCTIVITY HACK?
Focus on completing one task at a time.
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?
When one is starting their career, there is no harm in trying out jobs before you settle and getting to understand what suits you. However, one needs to find stability in their careers especially in middle-level management going up. As an employer, I would be keen on hiring someone with a stable career track record who will be patient to grow with and within the business.
FOR ITS 2019 MOST INFLUENTIAL CMO’S REPORT, FORBES LISTED 31 WOMEN OUT OF 50 CANDIDATES (19 MEN). IT APPEARS THAT MORE WOMEN OCCUPY CMO ROLES COMPARED TO OTHER C-SUITE ROLES. WHY DO YOU THINK THIS IS THE CASE?
Women are very analytical and attention to detail. They are also great problem solvers. These are key traits for a successful marketer in a senior role.
REPRESENTATION OF WOMEN IN MARKETING, PARTICULARLY, IN SENIOR ROLES IS ON THE UP. IN YOUR OWN OPINION, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES THAT WOMEN STILL FACE DESPITE THESE CHANGES AND HOW BEST SHOULD THESE BE ADDRESSED?
The greatest challenge remains that of gender stereotyping as men are perceived to perform better in some roles compared to women. To overcome this, more women should continue taking up these positions and delivering on the same. Over time, the perception will change.
Women still have the fear of raising their hands and presenting themselves when the opportunity arises. Sometimes we second guess ourselves and our abilities .We need to position ourselves strategically in organizations by being ready to serve. A good mentor or a coach can help shake off the fear.
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?
Most companies never saw the need to work from home before covid-19. The pandemic forced everyone to stay at home and working from home became the only available option. I guess with the new year, companies will access and see the impact of working from home during the last couple of months compared to having to go to the office which also has its benefits.Proper planning of the same needs to be done and clear boundaries set
WORKING FROM HOME IS AWESOME! MOST OF US CAN AGREE. HOWEVER, IT IS NOT WITHOUT ITS 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?
Working with a strict schedule of normal working hours which vary from company to company. Reducing screen time or online meetings. It is also crucial to create healthy boundaries where employees are not called or emails sent past working hours. Finally, giving employees time off work.
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?
Innovation is coming up with a new concept that would excite/interest your consumer. This should not be limited to technology. For one to innovate, it is crucial to understand the needs of your consumers and work toward giving solutions. Something innovative therefore addresses the needs of its consumers, its practicality, usability and well-executed.
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?
Marketing will be more data driven inorder to get to understand the consumer and their needs as opposed to the correct one shoe fits all approach.Thanks to technology, consumers can easily be profiled from what they do, age, where they go , likes etc, This information aids marketers develop campaigns and programmes that addresses individual consumers
We also need to embrace technology more. Consumers are now online and on their mobile phones most of the time and brands should find a way of speaking to them on those platforms.
2021 AND BEYOND
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Babara, you are enough. I Am proud of you
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?
Am trying to incorporate exercise in my daily schedule. task On the work front, working towards meeting and addressing the needs of our customers..
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS?
Learn to play the violin.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR SHEROES?
My late mother Elizabeth. She was an iron lady. On a corporate level, I admire Indra Nooyi
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
Currently reading ‘Act Like a success, think like a success’ by Steve Harvey
WHAT WOULD YOU COME BACK AS IN THE NEXT LIFETIME CAREER-WISE? DO YOU< THINK YOU MISSED A CALLING?
I Am right where I am supposed to be.
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
Masha and the bear, Nadya’s time to eat and Greenleaf(waiting for season 5).
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
My good friend Angela Onyach is in the US and my Uncle Paul back in the village.
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
Be patient , everything takes time.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME BABARA. WE HOPE THIS INTERVIEW WILL INSPIRE FUTURE LEADERS AND OTHER WOMEN IN MARKETING. HOW CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOU AND YOUR COMPANY ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
Thank you too for this wonderful opportunity to be featured in your magazine.
Please follow me on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn using Babara Omwayi. You can also follow spark communication on FB-@sparkcommunicationltd, Instagram-@sparkcommunicationltd, Linkedin- @Spark Communication and Twitter- @Sparkkenya. Our website is www.sparkcommunication.co.ke