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9 Oct 2016
Unbelievable!!!! Popular Nigeria celebrity bags academic certificates every year and still targets more
Phoebe Larry-Izamoje is a Brand Manager with Reckitt Benckiser. Responsible for managing the Dettol brand, she discusses her career with Kemi Lanre-Aremu
What are your qualifications?
I have a second class upper honours degree in Accounting and Finance from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom. In addition, I have a master’s degree in Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Management from Imperial College Business School, London
What is your work history?
I have been in brand management for almost four years and I have managed both national brands and an international brand.
What inspired your career path?
My parents did. Watching them run their own businesses at a young age, I knew I would be going down the commercial path. My flair was already in business management. So far, I have been able to contribute my skills to grow brands while also contributing to several businesses and it includes the ones I have worked for and ones I was opportune to advise while pursuing my master’s degree.
How would you describe working in brands and communications?
It is fantastic! This is what I dreamt to do and it is what I am doing now. The ability to know what consumers need (whether they ask or not) and provide. The fact that you make several changes based on economic factors, competition etc., just to make sure you are still able to attend to consumer’s needs and influence their purchase habits, is truly wonderful. Brand management is like parenting. You are given a baby and your task is to make the baby the most popular, the most talked about and the most wanted baby in the country irrespective of the fact that there are thousands of babies that may share similarities with yours. Your task is to make your baby stand out and make him or her number one.
What skills are necessary to succeed in this field?
A good brand manager must have excellent analytical skills, be a good listener, have the ability to respond adequately to research results, have apt people skills, be an excellent communicator both verbally and in writing, and be passionate about their product/s. Also, a good brand specialist should be able to set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based goals) as this is imperative in planning for brands. The person must have creative/ innovative skills and must be able to work with tight deadlines and be flexible. This is needed when critical decisions have to be made for brands. It is an imperative skill for the FMCG industry
How do you ensure that you continually improve yourself?
I love to acquire knowledge. Michael Scott says, “The day we stop learning is the day we die.” I have signed up to several marketing and brand communication daily alerts. I get to know what’s going on across FMCG’s both in Nigeria and abroad. I’m also a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing in the United Kingdom where I get updates on FMCG’s in the UK and learn from practising marketing professionals. I also try to stock up on certificates. Since I attained my master’s degree, I have also attended a short-term course at Harvard University on Marketing Strategy. I have one on Brand Management in a Fierce Economy from Lagos Business School, among others. I partake in online courses as well. My target is to get at least a certificate every year.
What do you consider before taking up a new employment?
There are several factors to consider when taking on a new employment. It also depends on the level you are in life. Some of these factors include:
Location: Location should also be well-thought-out and traffic conditions should be considered when deciding on location as well. I will not advise any one to work in an organisation that will make them spend over two hours in transit (four hours to-and-fro). It might not be worth it.
Working hours: If you are about to start a family, (a new mum for example) you cannot accept an 8am to 7pm offer. This work hour duration will probably fit young unmarried adults. You have to pick what will suit your lifestyle, so you can be less distracted and give your best shot at work.
Remuneration: Remuneration and how often this is paid should also be considered. Some people receive fantastic offers but when they get the jobs, they realise that the company is not able to pay “the fantastic salary” on a monthly basis due to one thing or another. Ask questions from present and past employees before making any decision.
Training: Knowledge and training is also another factor. You have to choose an organisation that is interested in your growth and invests in training opportunities for employees.
How do you define success?
Success, to me, is the ability to exceed targets set. Emphasis on the word ‘exceeds.’
Have you had to give up anything in order to be successful?
Like I said, success is a journey I think I have just commenced. There is so much more on my to-do- list before I attain a particular age. In the meantime, I just use my time wisely. I find out if any activity is the best to do at a particular time. If it’s not, then I give it up. I constantly reflect and prioritise. I go through my days counting hours. There is no time to waste as there is so much to be achieved.
What motivates you?
The target I set for myself on what to achieve before a certain age motivates me! Every birthday, I tell myself I’m a year closer to my target age. I ask myself what I achieved the previous year and how far I have gone, why am I at the point I am and what more I can do. Young entrepreneurs/business managers also motivate me.
Are there people you look up to?
My parents. Both of them are hard-working and I watch their every move. I see how these moves have turned to achievements. All I want to do is emulate and do better than they have done. My fiancé and my sisters have exceptional drives and are leaders in their own areas. I learn a lot from them.
What advice do you have for youths who want to pursue a career in your field?
Be humble. Learn to start small. The most impactful and smartest directors are those who have gone through different fields and worked hard from level to level till they reached the top. It is okay to start as an executive and then grow to be a manager. Most people want to start as senior managers immediately. If you are thinking of pursuing a career in brand management or starting your own business, go for it, take every risk and make the mistakes. This is the time to do everything you dreamt of. Start now. In Richard Branson’s words, “I had no idea how to run a business. I just started one and learnt how to do it along the way.” Mark Zuckerberg said, “The biggest risk is not taking any risk.” In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed is not to fail in taking risks.