Nonye Mpho Omotola is a Global African Communicator passionate about the growth of Africa’s economy by expanding brands and telling the African story across sectors. With over 15 years strategic professional experience gained in the UK, South Africa and Nigeria, she is managing director at Africa Communications group.
She also sits on the Brand Counsel of Brand Africa; an inter-generational movement to create a positive image of Africa She has contributed to a number of African media titles including Forbes Woman Africa and interviewed notable women such as Dr Okonjo Iweala former Minister of Finance Nigeria, CEO FamFa Oil Mrs Folorunsho Alakija, Chichi Maponya Brand SA Chair and Mo Abudu CEO EbonyLife.
In this interview, Nonye tells us about growing up, definitive markers of adulthood, highlight of her career journey so far and gives tips for youngins looking to cut their teeth in PR and Brand communications. We hope you enjoy this conversation we had with her as much as we did.
Hello Nonye. It’s great to have you on LLA. Can you tell us a bit about Nonye Mpho Omotola? (we love the goofy stuff too lol) – My children say I’m funny. I speak in different accents at times. I can bring a story to life imitating the characters. I’m half South African, half Nigerian born in England and moved to Northern Nigeria at the age of 11. I am very passionate about communication and how brands are communicated to their stakeholders. I am an African enthusiast. Africa is a very beautiful continent and there so many perceptions around it that do not portray it right. I have challenged myself to use my passion, communication to shift and own the African narrative.
Your name is everything! A fusion of different ethnicities and it exudes a clout that is intriguing. I am particularly interested in the name ‘Mpho” what does it mean? The name Mpho was given to me by my mother from Lesotho and it means “Gift”. My father is Ibo from Eastern Nigeria and my husband is Yoruba from Ijebu Ode.
Great! So, what was growing up like? Where you the extroverted girl that had the mic, the lights and attention everywhere she went? Or the introverted, calm, melancholic, intellectually curious, I-had-rather-not-be-seen-/noticed-girl? I’d say that growing up I was a mixture of both and I am still the same. Except, growing up, I was a bit shyer. I’ve come out of my shell based on life experiences, learnings and the desire to succeed. My personal growth has enabled me to speak assess the environment and act accordingly.
So, how did your childhood experiences, impact on the woman you have become today? More so, can you say these experiences shaped you for what you are doing today? I always wanted to be an achiever. I was raised predominantly by my father, my inspiration. When I was younger, he always told me that it is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation. To those who know me personally, they would attest to my authenticity. Being the first child pushed me to be my best so as to be an inspiration to my siblings.
Still on experiences, can you share one experience you have had in your adult life that you consider really life defining? Becoming a mother. The realization that I was responsible for another life.
Let’s talk about your professional background. You are quite spirited about Africa, the growth of its economy and you use brand communications as a vehicle to showcase that. Why the specific interest in communications? And how did you start in this field professionally? The power to impact and influence change.
We live in a world where globalization is at its peak and this is changing almost every industry. The main driver for this stage we are in is communication. The importance placed on this field urged me to delve deeper and find ways to contribute to different societal aspects, through communications.
What recommendations do you have for someone looking to cut her teeth professionally in PR and Communications? You must be creative. The PR and Communications industry has more or less the same characteristics as the field of entrepreneurship, you not always going to get a positive response from people. You need to be emotionally strong for rejection and have the will to get back up and continue. Perseverance together with Creativity and strategic thinking is very vital in this industry. Thinking about how to strategically simplify the process to communication but getting the word out on all touch points.
What has been the highlight of your professional journey so far? I’ve had many highlights over the years and being able to interview Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija CEO Famfa Oil and Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala former Minister of Nigeria for Forbes Woman Africa. Meeting Wole Soyinka, Michael Jackson and Graca Machel. Also, being awarded a World Brand Award in India as well as handling the publicity for the first THISDAY concert.
And the downsides- career mistakes you have made/ things you could have done differently? I’ve taken on a lot of learnings throughout my career which have propelled me further. Not sure I would have done things differently except to seize everyday.
Moving on from career, what is your take on feminism and female empowerment? Do you think the impact of these ideologies are being felt especially in Africa? It’s 2019, times have changed. Equality is something that should come to us naturally in our respective societies. We need to empower women so that they are confident in themselves. It is good to see a number of young women entrepreneurs springing up across the continent and taking leadership roles. We however need much more as well as having successful older women mentoring and providing capacity skills. The opportunities are there we just need to grab them and have support whilst doing so, Societal change will take a bit more time as women are still seen as inferior.
Let’s talk about fun and recreation generally. What does it for you when it comes to unwinding and having a good time? Having a glass of wine, paired with a crafted menu and sharing lots of laughter with family and friends especially my husband.
As an advocate for young girls and women, what would you say is the most limiting belief females struggle with? Females struggle with believing in themselves. We live in a male dominated society that makes it hard for women to succeed. Young girls have been taught the patriarchal ideologies, this has posed a challenge for them to break out of their shell because of the learned behavior that has become part of their belief system. The fear of the stigma in society breaks their confidence and their ability.
Your greatest pet-peeve? Untidiness and Lack of integrity – your word must be your bond.
2 fashion pieces you cannot do without? Handbags and sunglasses.
What would you say to your 25-year-old younger self? Life is not perfect. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Take each experience that you come across and learn from it to enjoy and live your best life.
The Leading Ladies Africa Series is a weekly interview series that focuses on women of African descent, showcases their experiences across all socio-economic sectors, highlights their personal and professional achievements and offers useful advice on how to make life more satisfying for women.
It is an off-shoot of Leading Ladies Africa, a non-profit that promotes women empowerment and gender inclusion for women of African descent.
Do you know any woman of African descent doing phenomenal things? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we just might feature her.