Monday, 29 May 2017

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INTERVIEW: MO ABUDU ON A HOT SEAT, ON SPECIAL WOMEN’S INTERNATIONAL DAY AT GOOGLE NIGERIA- PART 1

By: Lolia On: 9:52:00 pm
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  • I went through this and thought I should make it readable and share with those that are yet to go through it. Its in 4 parts and i 'm sure you'll really enjoy it ; there's so much to learn from it. Just take your time and read through. you can click on the link at the end,Part 4, to view the video. 


    This is an interview with Mo Abudu, by the country manager for Google Nigeria – Juliet Ehimuan, at google Nigeria office, on Special International Women’s day - march 8th, 2017.


    MO discusses her Pan- African TV Channel,EbonyLife Tv, her record breaking latest film “The Wedding Party” and being bold as a female entrepreneur.


    JULIET: The theme for this particular talk is ‘being bold as an entrepreneur’, and I think Mo exemplifies boldness in entrepreneurship. So once again thank you for being here.

    MO: Thank you

    JULIET: So, I’ m going to start by reading her profile and then we‘ll get into the conversation.

    MO: Thank you for inviting me Juliet, it’s good to be here, really. 

    JULIET –  fantastic. Mo Abudu has achieved success in various fields; first, as an Executive in ExxonMobil for nearly a decade, as the promoter behind the Protea Hotel & Oakwood Park, as well as the Founder of Vic Lawrence & Associates, one of Nigeria’s leading Outsourcing firms.

    She entered the world of media as the Creator and Hostess of “MOMENTS WITH MO”, earning the accolade of ‘Africa’s ‘first lady of chat’. The show was the first of its kind to be syndicated across Africa, with an impressive guest list that includes Hillary Rodham-Clinton, President Muhammadu Buhari, and Christine Lagarde, amongst others. 

    3 years ago, she launched the ebony live TV, which is Africa's first global black entertainment and lifestyle network for premium homegrown entertainment. And in 2014, she started ebony live films.

     A debut film 50 and her 2nd film- the Wedding party in partnership with the afrique film collective, both premium and prestigious international  film festivals and broke box office nationwide. I think that deserves a round of applause.

    Mo is highly sought after for her in-depth knowledge in the African and global creative industry. She has spoken at the University of Cambridge – Judge Business School, Wharton School of Business, Harvard University and New York University Stern School of Business amongst others.

    Mo has received int‘l recognition by Forbes as the first African woman to launch a pan-african TV channel, as well as Africa's most successful woman.

    MO: heee

    JULIET: She has also been recognized by CNN as Africa’s queen of media, who conquered the continent. So, Once again, welcome Mo..

    MO: Thank you for having me.

    JULIET: It’s really great to have you here.



    MO: It’s good to be here, in the Hot seat.


    JULIET: In the hot seat, absolutely, switching roles.
    So, a lot of people have dreams, right? A lot of people struggle to make the junk required to achieve those dreams, especially when it involves going into a new space now. That’s something you’ve done quite a few times in your career.

    From the early days you left the security of paid employment to set up an HR Consultancy firm – Vic Lawrence & Associates. Subsequently you started a talk show – Moments with Mo, which was new territory for you. What inspired you and gave you the courage to take those initial steps?

    MO: uum, when I decided to leave ExxonMobil, it was a really big junk for me because, yes! There is nothing like working in Oil & Gas in Nigeria. I mean, it’s a job for life, so to speak, unless you do the undo-able.

    But If just go to work & do the normal thing today, you get paid well, you get your pension, you build a nice house, and everything really is going to be just fine. 

    But I think that as an Entrepreneur or for me, there was this unsettling feeling, there were certain things that I felt that I have to do. And I think when that solemnly comes, it can be obsessive.

     It can almost be as if it’s an addiction of some sort, you know. You just feel you have to do everything within your power to achieve that particular obsession.

    So, yes I had a great job. And the other day, it was actually the birth day of the P.A to the old MD of ExxonMobil. So, she had invited me to come and it was just last Friday. And I went alone to Exxon and saw all my old colleagues there and I was thinking to myself – waoo. It could have been a really comfortable life, but I decided otherwise.

    And the thing is that when you decide otherwise, there are no guarantees about that decision that you have taken. You don’t know how it’s going to turn out. So, at times, you’re like, my God …what about if I had gone wrong?

    But I think sometimes we need to take those steps. Because what really happens if it goes wrong? What is the possible worst thing that can happen? The possible worst thing that can happen is go and get another job!

    So, I think once you understand that you are not afraid of what the worst outcome can be, and you then look at the positivity of what the upside can be, and once you are prepared.

    I think preparation is important. You can’t just go into wanting to leave paid employment without having a secured plan about what you are going to do once you have left paid employment.

    So, before I left, I was kind of working on the two sides of the strings at the same time – I had started Vic Lawrence already. Working with Exxon Mobil, you have to declare everything absolutely. So I declared that I did have an interest in a consulting firm. We were doing some business. I did employ some staff to look after for me.

    So, when I could see that there were many more possibilities, and I can’t achieve those possibilities by staying in a 9 to 5 job. I then had to decide about resigning. I was warned about resigning. I was told that, "listen, you can go to Houston."

    First of all I had gone to Houston for a 3 months out station sort of work opportunities, hmm some shelter.  So, I had all these opportunities there.

    I had opportunities to grow there. And my MD said, “Don’t leave”. I just said, “I have to leave.” And I just took that crunch, knowing that okay, once I’m out of ExxonMobil, I have no alternative now than to absolutely do everything within my power to make that transition work. So I did plenty of notice – I had 6 months notice.

    While I was doing that, I was still trying to build up on the other side- to the finding of office and finding staff to get Vic Lawrence on the right footing. So, it can’t be scary.

    You can’t just leave, you should have a plan. There were no guarantees that it was going to work. But I always believe that with a great plan, if you’re ready to work hard,

    putting  God first, I do believe that you will get the results that you need. Of course you’re going to be challenged, you’re going to go through many, many new things and people are going to say no to you.

    But for me, each time I hear no, I’m like, I’m one notch closer to a yes, because I totally believe in the law of averages. Everybody cannot say NO. At some point; you’re going to get to that yes. It’s that yes that will help me break even that month. I‘m gonna to pay my salaries that month.

    At some point you have to understand that you can’t go into business thinking that you gonna make some huge profit as soon as you set up that business. That business has to grow.

    You gonna look at the fact that you may not be able to take extensive holidays. You may not be doing the things you do whilst you are fully employed- one of the sacrifices you are ready to make to make that business work.

    Sometimes we are not ready for the sacrifice. You want to continue living the life that you led when you were being paid in 9 to 5 - there was a big company car and there was this and there was the other. You may have to just take a step back to see what those things are and you’re gonna just say, “well, I can’t do that for now”.

    So, Emm, yah don’t know if I’ve answered the questions well?

    JULIET: Absolutely, very, very well. Well talking about making it work, right? 
    With Vic Lawrence Associates that was an area of your expertise; you were head of HR, Exxon Mobil, that’s a part that is a bit more familiar for a lot of Entrepreneurs – setting up a business in your area of  expertise. But that does not guarantee success.

    Mo: It doesn’t.

    JULIET: So, what were the things you put in place to make it work?

    MO: Well, the first thing I did was to get a small office. I made sure that I employed some few experts that I could afford at the time.  Because one thing I find about going into Entrepreneurship is that sometimes the best people that you want, you can’t really afford them.

    Because they themselves want to become Entrepreneurs and then want to do other things. So, you have to sort of comb the market to find the best people you can and offer them the necessary incentives for them to come on board as part of your team.


    So that was really important for me and being an HR person I knew that it was important to have the right team in place.

    So, it’s about having the right team. It was about having the work environment that I thought was attractive enough for clients to visit. It was about setting up all those processes and procedures. Making sure you have a phone that is working, a letter head, an email address.

    Those days it was only hyperia.com. So, our email address was vic@hyperia.com.  Not like today. It’s incredible how things have changed. But at one point in Nigeria, all you had to do to get an email address was to go to hyperia.com. So, we had vic@hyperia.com.

    Set up all the paper work and then you start the cold calling. You then start running your business. You then start going out for business meetings. You then start trying to persuade everyone to come on board to do business with you.

    What I used to tell my team then was, you can’t go in there day one and expect they gonna give you that business.

    There has to be a period when you go out there, find out what their needs are and keep going, and keep going back. Until at some point, they gonna pick up some small, small crumbs that may turn into "prove yourself" and they gonna trust you more, and they gonna trust you more.

    I think that’s basically what we started doing. We just made sure we were just out there every day, covering every possible opportunities that we found with all the banks, with all the Telecomms, with all the FMCG’s, even the public sector.

    So, we were just basically out there. We were just reaching out to everyone. humm, what I noticed was, it was important for me to be the chief marketing officer of the company. You can employ someone to do that work, but ultimately, a lot of things boils down to what you are also doing in trying to make things happen at the same time.

    JULIET: I can see what your point is all about, as an Entrepreneur, you own the vision, right? And you are the chief marketer.

    MO: And you gonna get everyone else to buy into that vision and own the vision and take responsibility for the achievement of the vision.

    JULIET: and then, you set up Moments with Mo which was…….

    MO: No, before then, there was the Protea Hotel & Oakwood Park.  So, whilst I was busy with Vic Lawrence, what I had found was that, there weren’t really  training and conference facilities in Nigeria.

    We’d used the Sheraton hotel in Ikeja, we’d used the Eko hotel. We even used the place-TCC Ogere which is outside of Lagos, on your way to Ijebu. emm, in those days, there were no phones, there were no mobile phone and today the world has changed.

    People don’t know how lucky they are at times in setting up a business in the Nigeria of today, versus the way it was like back then. I would have a team in TCC Ogere, I‘ll be dialing the number to get through to them- may be after a hundred tries. I would get through with some land line that starts with 860 or whatever it was in those days.

    We did a lot of training there. So, for me, the challenge then was, okay you’re going to focus on training and development, but where are all the purpose built centers for this? Eko hotel then could be running one expo event going on and you have the training on one end. People can’t concentrate.

    The same thing happens at Sheraton hotel. TCC ogere was very far. I started thinking about putting together a center.  At least a center that you could actually sleep there and you could also have the training center there.

    One fine day I was at a Cocktail, which is why it’s actually important to go out to network. And then I bumped into a trainer. This man is a lovely old man that has been in Nigeria for about 50 years. He’s actually set up a center at KPMG and he’s been like a mentor to me over the years now.

    To be continued….

    Click here to continue.





      










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