Nyika Smythe is the Managing Director at Match Sync Marketing and our very first entry from Jamaica. Nyika actually wanted to be a Doctor. With her first job in Pharmaceutical Sales, she got exposed to different aspects of brand management and subsequently fell in love with Marketing. Welcome to this edition of Women In Marketing.
LET’S GET PERSONAL
THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR WOMEN IN MARKETING SERIES, NYIKA. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR MEMORIES GROWING UP?
I was born in Kingston, Jamaica. I spent much of my childhood in Saint Lucia and a few of my teenage years in the United States. Some of my strongest memories from my childhood include playing with my sister and cousins in Jamaica, going to the bookstore with my mother in Saint Lucia to select a book of my choice, and going to the library in Ohio to borrow books, CDs and movies.
I spent a lot of my childhood reading books; those memories are most prominent.
WHAT WERE YOU LIKE IN YOUR HIGH SCHOOL/COLLEGE YEARS?
I was quiet and shy when I was in High School and less so in the latter part of high school and university. For the most part, I was friendly, but I definitely wouldn’t call myself popular.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULD FEEL NO SHAME FOR NOT SHARING!
Do I have a favourite meal? Hmm, I’m not so sure. My grandmother passed away this year; she made the most amazing stewed peas. Stewed Peas is a traditional Jamaican dish made with red beans, coconut milk and salted beef or pig’s tail. If someone else made it the way that she did, I would probably have difficulty sharing.
IMAGINE WAKING UP $10 MILLION RICHER TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
That’s an interesting question!
First, I think it would depend on the currency (smile). But some things come to mind. I think that I would gift some of it to Breast Cancer research; my sister is a survivor, it means a lot to me. I would make sure my parents have relaxed and interesting early retirements, where they could get some things off their bucket lists.
I would buy lots of property because it’s a good investment and I would help my sister pay her mortgage! I would also set up a scholarship fund for some people to go to university (young and old.)
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, ANASTASIA HAMEL SAYS THAT SHE CAN BREATHE FIRE!
Hmm, I am geeky about fonts and I love making spreadsheets…about everything. I love personality assessments of all kinds and I can confidently say that I am an I/D, ENFP, Questioner (That’s from DISC, Myers Briggs and The Four Tendencies).
In terms of hidden talents- I enjoy writing poetry and very short prose.
CAREER AND WORKPLACE
WHAT ENCOURAGED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN MARKETING? AFTER ALL, MOST OF US GREW UP WANTING TO BE DOCTORS, RIGHT?
It was very much a long and winding road.
You’re right. I wanted to be a doctor; I was even a Sciences student all of high school and my first degree. About the time for university, I had considered Clinical Psychology but it was easier to remain in the path ahead of me than to try something different. My first job was in a Customer Care centre and I remember liking the part where I got to interact with consumers. My first big job was in Pharmaceutical sales. It was here that I got into brand management and consumer behaviour. Doing that job inspired me to apply for my Master’s in Integrated Marketing Communications.
GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK OF HOW YOU TYPICALLY START YOUR DAY. ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!
I usually start my day by checking my emails and reflecting. I’ve been wanting to start a new habit of doing online courses in the morning. I think that it sets the pace for the day quite well.
I’m a rebel when it comes to Coffee vs Tea! It depends on my mood. I love a good black tea- Earl Grey and Lady Grey are my favourites. I also enjoy a good almond milk latte.
THE PANDEMIC DISRUPTED OUR ROUTINES AND DAILY COMFORTS. HOW BEST DO YOU MAINTAIN A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
It’s quite hard, to be honest. I like what I do, A lot. So I find myself googling things and making notes on my iPhone or even reading books on Consumer Behavior or Behavioral Economics in my downtime. I usually remind myself of the importance of downtime to my creativity and it helps to have things that I enjoy that are not work-related, like exercise, talking to family and friends, watching romantic comedies on Netflix, playing design games on my iPad and reading fiction.
YOU HAVE A MASTERS IN INTEGRATED COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE EMERSON COLLEGE. TERTIARY EDUCATION, AS WE KNOW IT, TOOK A DRAMATIC TURN DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. HOW DO YOU FORESEE THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION CONSIDERING THE INCREASING POPULARITY OF ONLINE EDUCATIONAL SITES SUCH AS COURSERA AND GOOGLE SKILLSHOP THAT HAVE DISRUPTED THE TRADITIONAL MODEL OF LEARNING?
I think that Education is one of the industries most disrupted by the pandemic. The popularity of online learning is here to stay and that the work-from-home orders were part of that tipping point. I think that savvy education brands will move with the tide and leverage education via digital touchpoints. In Advertising, we have had to shift from traditional media types to digital platforms; why should learning be different?
In my opinion, it’s still sharing messaging that you hope will resonate with your audience.
WORKING FROM HOME/HYBRID MODEL OF WORKING MAY SOON BECOME A REALITY FOR MOST ORGANISATIONS GLOBALLY. WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON REMOTE WORK AND WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF YOUR CHALLENGES AS WELL AS WAYS YOU’VE MITIGATED THESE?
My opinion on remote work is that it depends on the goal. There are times when a community is crucial to team building and idea development. Similarly, there are times when people are more productive alone and at home. I think a flexible/hybrid approach is best.
That said, there are potential challenges with remote work. You can feel disconnected from colleagues which may lead to a lack of motivation or inspiration. For me, remembering to make time to engage with work colleagues has helped to mitigate that challenge.
ACCORDING TO A REPORT COMPILED BY MCKINSEY, THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC HAS HAD A NEGATIVE EFFECT ON WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE. THE REPORT FURTHER ILLUSTRATES THAT WOMEN HAVE INCREASINGLY BECOME MORE EXHAUSTED AND SUFFER FROM BURNOUT AS COMPARED TO THEIR MALE COUNTERPARTS. IN YOUR OPINION, HOW CAN ORGANISATIONS PROVIDE THE NECESSARY SUPPORT FOR WOMEN AS WELL AS MOTHERS?
I think that both women and men would benefit from organisational support when it comes to mental wellbeing. I advocate for options like on-site counsellors, discounts for therapy or even encouraging restorative play at work.
2021 AND BEYOND
ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, HOW HAVE YOU BEEN SINCE THE START OF THE PANDEMIC? ANY PIVOTAL MOMENTS IN YOUR PERSONAL OR PROFESSIONAL LIFE YOU CAN SHARE WITH US?
Like most people, I have been challenged by the change the pandemic has produced. The fear can be insidious and there was difficulty in processing that at first. Like many entrepreneurs, there was the concern that contracts would drop as some businesses were cutting costs and others closing down.
Perhaps this environment called for more creativity and more innovation and I saw it as a challenge.
There was also a large part of my work life that was fairly social. I would go to a popular cafe and work with other entrepreneurs; we had something of a club. Since the pandemic and the shift to work-from-home, there was a time when I missed that camaraderie. I’m grateful to have found it in some other ways, but I still miss my work-buddies sometimes.
KNOWING WHAT YOU KNOW TODAY AND IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
I would tell my younger self to be more patient and to lean into the parts of us that make us different. I spent much of my earlier life trying to fit in out of fear and a desire to be liked. Now I wish I had spent more time embracing my quirkiness and not conforming.
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS?
My professional bucket list includes things like doing another degree (I guess that’s personal too) and getting a coaching certificate. My personal bucket list includes things like visiting other continents, learning another language or maybe learning to play an instrument.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR SHEROES?
My mother is one of my “sheroes.” She’s faced failure, she’s faced adversity and she is one of the strongest people I know. I’d like to think that I get any of the grit I possess from her. She’s also taught me everything I know about grace and faith.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
I’m currently reading (and listening to) ‘Indistractable’ by Nir Eyal and a fun little book by Jasmine Guillory. I never thought that I would say this when e-readers just came out, but I am definitely on team e-reader. I also enjoy audiobooks.
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
I’ve been enjoying “StartUp” and I have favourites like “The Crown, “Emily in Paris,” and “Ozark.”
WHAT WOULD YOU COME BACK AS IN THE NEXT LIFETIME CAREER-WISE? DO YOU THINK YOU MISSED A CALLING?
In my next lifetime, career-wise, I think I would be a coach of some kind. I don’t think that I have missed that “calling” because I try to incorporate it into my client experiences.
WE ABSOLUTELY LOVE HOW FORBES CURATES THEIR MARKETING-CENTRIC CONTENT. HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO READ THROUGH THEIR CMO NEXT 2021 FEATURE? WHILST ON THE TOPIC OF GREAT MARKETEERS, WHEN YOU RETIRE ONE DAY, HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED AS A PROFESSIONAL?
I have had a chance to read that feature. I love being able to see what others are doing in the space and getting a glimpse of their creativity and innovation. When and if I ever retire from this industry, I would like to be remembered as a Marketer that was curious and committed to learning.
Curiosity plays a pivotal role in my life; I think so much of life would be a lot better if we were more curious. As for the learning part, it can be so easy to become complacent. I strive to learn a little bit about a little bit every day.
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
It’s been more than a year since I’ve seen any of my parents or my brother and sister. I am grateful for technology because we FaceTime all the time and have very active WhatsApp groups.
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
Be curious, don’t restrict yourself or put yourself in silos, explore your creativity and embrace new ideas. I spent some of my professional life being afraid but it’s true what they say when they “closed mouths don’t get fed.”
Failure is a part of the experience; even if you don’t win, you win. You grow and learn in the process. I consider that a win.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME NYIKA. WE HOPE THIS INTERVIEW WILL INSPIRE FUTURE LEADERS AND OTHER WOMEN IN MARKETING. HOW CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOU AND YOUR COMPANY ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
I am on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook (although slightly less active). My company, Match Sync Marketing, is also in these spaces.