TWB: Thank you for speaking to TWB (The WorkBooth Magazine); this is an honor for us. Kindly take us through your professional journey? And most importantly at what point did you know that you wanted to develop a career as a Marketing Professional?
Saidat: Thanks for speaking with me. I started my career about 18 years ago in the advertising industry and that was the start of my love affair with the marketing field. I spent about two years in Strategic Planning at LTC-JWT and then about a year at Insight. Both advertising agencies shaped the steps I took in my career. It was a great feeling of pride and excitement to see the work you have done behind the scenes leading to one advert or the other being exposed on TV, radio, newspaper or on outdoors board.
After a while, I wanted to be on the client-side of the business to get a broader marketing point of view, not only the communication aspects. I was keen on getting more involved in front-end decision making and brand strategy. Thankfully, I got the opportunity to do just that and spent the longest stretch of my career with the MTN Marketing team. I spent about 13years at MTN working through trade marketing, consumer segments and brand communications until 2017 when I joined SPV as the Group’s Business Director.
TWB: What are some of the unforgettable moments in your career? Moments that you describe as turning points?
Saidat: I’d say these were moments when I had the opportunity to work on projects where we pushed the envelope a bit and got great results or impacted the lives of our customers directly.
One of those was when we first started SMS-based promotions. We were approached by an Italian-based vendor with the idea and I and the team had to work directly on this. The output was amazing! It was the first time we hit a billion naira within 90days that the promotion ran. We got a chance to impact lives too; winners emerged from all works of life and over the years, I have had the opportunity to lead similar projects.
We have also had some fantastic campaigns and services we launched, some of which became the basis for best practice across other business operations. These were such moments.
TWB: With the benefit of hindsight, are there things you would do differently if you were to start afresh?
Saidat: For the most part, I would do the same thing again; the one thing I would do differently perhaps takes more deliberate steps and investment in training and self-development much earlier in my career. The thing is that no one would do this for you. The earlier one charts the course and makes the commitment, the more likely you’d grow faster.
TWB: You currently function at a directorship level, please share with us how you have prepared for this role and what are the critical skills that upcoming professionals require to transit to C-suite?
Saidat: Over the years, I have focused on building a reputation of being a professional that can get the job done! I’ve tried to build skills and capabilities that would advance me to the next level. I believe you must stand for something, like any brand worth its weight in salt. Of course, you need to work with other people to get anything done. I wanted to understand the business side of things beyond marketing, be at the forefront of the decision making and take the responsibility for an entity as a whole not in part. It felt like that was the necessary next step in my career journey. This led me to take the decision to pursue an MBA, one from Nanyang Technological University Singapore – an internationally recognized global institution. I believe this gave me additional skills I needed for the new role I was aspiring to embrace.
TWB: Technology is disrupting businesses across different verticals; how do you think African businesses should respond to this disruption?
Saidat: I would say embrace it; technology gives us the opportunity to leapfrog into the greater frontiers. With the world being a global village, we do ourselves a disservice, otherwise.
TWB: In your view, what do you predict as some of the challenges that Professionals in Africa will face in the next decade?
Saidat: Like many other professionals worldwide, the landscape is changing. There is a need to adapt to these sometimes tumultuous changes. As one industry morphs into something new, we need to be more adaptable to such changes through insightful market scanning and positioning ourselves and our organizations to capitalize on the opportunities that these changes might present. We need to tell our African business stories and expose ourselves to the larger world view through global training and development and adapting the skills and insights gleaned for Africa. We cannot afford to fail in this. It’s not an option.
TWB: In 30 to 40 years, what kind of legacy do you want to be remembered for?
Saidat: That’s very simple, for me I’d like to be known for my professionalism and ability to help people whom I come in contact with, achieve their goals.
TWB: As a female executive, what advice would you give to young women and upcoming female professionals about aspiring for greatness and advancing in their careers?
Saidat: We need to do the work and remove mental barriers that can hold us back from truly achieving our potentials.
Thank you for your time once again and we wish you success in your future endeavors.