Tell us about yourself.
I am Oluwasola Obagbemi, a wife, a mum to two adorable children and a Public Relations and Communications professional with over 10 years of experience.
I started my career at Red Media Africa as a Communication Associate working closely with Chude Jideonwo and Adebola Williams for seven years, where I developed competencies in Public Relations, event management and business development. I left RED as the Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Senior Account Manager for various brands before joining Andela (a software engineering company) in 2018 as the Communications Manager for Nigeria.
Six months after leading PR efforts with my fantastic team that significantly increased the brand’s visibility and awareness, I was promoted to build and lead the comms team in Africa. As Senior Comms Manager for Africa at Andela, I worked with the best team across Uganda, Kenya, Egypt, Rwanda, Nigeria and Ghana to tell the Andela story to Africans and the world. I transitioned from Andela in 2020 to my current role at Meta as the Corporate Communication Manager for Anglophone West Africa.
I also hold a master’s degree in Communications Studies from the University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana (2012-2013), with a major in Public Relations and Advertising. I am also a certified member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) and a certified management consultant and a fellow of International Management Consultants (FIMC, CMC). I am very passionate about the girl child, and I have championed causes to promote equality and inclusion for women. I am also a very vocal advocate for women rising to the peak of their careers while having a work-life balance.
It’s interesting to see how far you’ve come; please tell us what your experience being the Corporate Communications Manager for Anglophone West Africa at Meta has been like.
It’s interesting when I hear people say, ‘Sola, you’ve indeed steadily climbed through the corporate ladder’. However, thinking about it now and looking back, I am very grateful for the opportunity to have worked with the best team members throughout my career journey.
About my experience in my current role, I have always loved the Meta brand (formerly called Facebook), I was the senior account manager for the brand when I was on the agency side at Red Media Africa, so it’s been rewarding to be a voice for the brand in my region and overseeing the brand’s external communication in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Gambia and Liberia. I have loved every bit of my days here since I joined in 2020. I feel privileged to be a part of the team leading the drive to connect communities and empower creators and entrepreneurs doing fantastic work across Africa.
I look forward to telling more stories of African content creators and small business owners leveraging Meta’s technologies to scale their businesses or earn a living.
What are the significant challenges you’ve faced while climbing this ladder of success?
People don’t believe me when I say I struggle with imposter syndrome, but I am forever grateful for my husband’s role when I go back to doubting myself and asking how I got here in the first place. I am one of those that actually “Do it afraid”. My major challenge is not paying attention to the hard work I put in when delivering on anything I have committed to doing and just doubting and asking myself how I got here.
The good thing is, I am wiser now; I have grown past that and am now in a phase of self-realization and confidence that I am incredibly great at what I do, and I strive harder every day to be a better version of myself.
Another major challenge I have faced not in my current role but previous jobs is always to show the value of communication and strive to get a seat at the table, especially when decisions are being made. The same applied when I was on the agency side; the primary struggle was having the smallest budget for PR while looking at the enormous figures for other agencies when activating on the same campaign. Grateful that I work with a company that knows the value of comms, understands why there is a need to have a seat on the table and appreciates the hard work we put into building the brand image and reputation.
What part of your job do you enjoy the most?
Searching for stories of Africans that have not been told and pitching to have them profiled on a global map.
I love telling untold stories, and I do that almost daily. Sometimes, I go back to some of the campaigns we’ve worked on, and I smile watching the videos because these stories keep me going and keep my fire burning.
If you were to transit into any other occupation, what would it be?
Now, this is a tricky one, maybe acting.
I studied Dramatic Arts as my undergrad at Obafemi Awolowo University and majored in acting. I got the award of the best upcoming actress of the year when I joined my first year and have played several lead roles, including “Karina” in Ola Rotimi’s “Man Talk, Woman Talk”.
I love stage plays; I love acting on stage, and I love memorizing my long lines. I am a thespian, but I haven’t just had time to follow through – maybe I need to go and sit down with Lala Akindoju. When I go to TeraKulture to watch the stage plays, a part of me keeps saying this can be done as a side hustle, but I don’t know that I have the time for that now.
If I one day must take a break from Communications, I bet you will see me on screen/stage acting or teaching drama.
You’re a mum and a lovely wife. How have you been able to balance work life as well as family life?
Again, I get asked this a lot, mainly because I spend a better part of my spare time helping my circle of mentees.
The one thing that has helped me is getting a support system that works for me. The one thing that I know is that I have a goal of developing an identity and personal interests outside of work. I am not great at multitasking, even if my husband thinks I am the best multi-tasker in life. I tune in and out of each phase and get all the help I can get to make me perform optimally at home. In the last three years, I have learnt to outsource the work that doesn’t need my attention and supervision so I can have quality time to spend on the things that genuinely make me happy and irreplaceable.
People say there isn’t a work-life balance, but I want to continue to advocate for women and let them know that career doesn’t have to halt because of motherhood and vice versa. With the help of God, a unique and supportive partner and the right support system at home – you can single all, and before you know it, you are winning on all fronts.
What would you say to your younger self?
Thank you for staying laser-focused on what you want out of life from your second year in university.
Thank you for doing all those internships across PR and Advertising companies, for not taking the fascinating teaching job at that private secondary school and for just going straight for your master’s because you already knew you wouldn’t like book again.
Thank you, young Sola, for creating your standards without being bothered about what was happening around you. In the end, it turned out just OK; all your worries about not wanting to disappoint mum and dad are now a thing of the past.
The world is your oyster, and the sky is the beginning. Reach for the stars, baby girl. Finally, you can build solid relationships virtually; oh yes, you can – wait till the pandemic, you’ll see what I am talking about.