With ten years of experience in media and communications and influencingy, Deola Adebiyi has witnessed the evolution of the media and communication industries in Nigeria and contributed her quota to the rise of the influencing as a viable career path for young professionals who are looking to strike out on their own. After stints working with Hello Nigeria and the Guardian Newspapers, she spent 5 years going it alone as a freelancing influencer before making a career pivot to work at Bamboo, a Nigerian investment fintech.
We sat with her for #MCNWorkLife to discuss the triumphs and trials of building a career as an influencer, switching between paid employment and freelancing and the importance of working at a company that prioritises their employees.
Hi Deola, some of our readers might know you from your fun videos on IG and Tiktok but could you give us some more insight on what you do for work?
My name is Deola Adebiyi – I’m a communications professional specialising in content strategy. I’m also a YouTuber and I create content about my life, the things I get up to and the hidden gems of Lagos. I like to spend my free time spending time with loved ones, listening to music, watching anime, swimming and going to raves.
What did you want to be growing up?
So many things. At one point when I was a child, I wanted to be a doctor but then I saw blood and changed my mind. I wanted to be a teacher, an astronaut, a gardener but as I grew up and entered secondary school, my focus shifted into writing as I realised I loved writing. I joined the press club and by the end of secondary school, I knew I wanted to work in journalism and communications.
What career path are in you now?
I’m currently in the communications and marketing career path as a communications senior associate for Bamboo, a FinTech based in Nigeria.
How long have you been on this career path?
Combining my years in journalism, PR and digital marketing, I would say I’ve been on this path for almost 10 years.
What’s a typical day like working at Bamboo?
A typical day for me involves checking and answering questions from users on social media and in our communities, creating content that goes on our social media channels, writing scripts for videos and working with various members of our team to execute campaign tasks.
What’s the culture like for women in media and communications?
There is a general misconception where people assume ‘communications is a easy job’. Because that misconception persists, when you’re a woman working in comms, you have to deal with the existing biases against women added to the stereotypes around my choice of career. People assume you’re not working a serious job and as such, they can make asinine demands on your time. A family member once said that my job makes sense as I won’t be too busy to take care of my husband. Can you imagine?
What is the thing you like the most about what you do?
I love that I get to learn something new everyday. Working and creating content for Bamboo is learning about finance, the stock market and everything related so I can talk to our customers in a way that they get it. I have to get it first so the learning part is my favourite part. Also, coming up with strategies and campaigns gets my creative juices flowing and I love any opportunity for me to get creative with my work.
What is the thing you like the least?
It’s hard for me to say because I like everything about my job but if I had to say, I would say reporting and analytics. My weakness are numbers so reporting numbers and calculating conversion rates are no fun for me.
What is the one challenge you think women in comms face the most?
When it comes to working in social media and communications, people tend to look down on you because they see it as an “easy job”. They see it as ‘is it not just to post on Instagram?’. They don’t see the strategy, ideas and brainstorming that took to come up with that post. It’s way bigger than that and the communications team is basically the lifeline of a business. I saw a TikTok where someone said working in marketing is like getting a mini business degree and I never agreed more with anything in my life.
Is there any personal anecdote that you have from work that you think best illustrates what it is like working in your field as a woman?
When I was working for a certain newspaper, one of the journalists told me I was too pretty to be the online editor – that my looks and voice were better suited to sales.
Same place – someone once entered the online newsroom and asked to see who was in charge (aka me). When one of the writers pointed to me, he couldn’t believe I was in charge and asked to see the ‘oga of the online newsroom’. I stood up and said I was the oga and he still couldn’t believe it. I guess he was expecting a man but saw me and just couldn’t fathom it.
Do you believe in work buddies?
Oh yes. You need someone to bounce ideas off, vent to and help you out when you need it. Work buddies are necessary for your growth and sanity at work.
What’s your stance on ‘work spouses?’
What even is a work spouse anyway? If you’re single, I guess it’s fine as long as you have boundaries. If you’re in a committed relationship, your partner may not like it. If it’s okay within the boundaries of your relationship, then you do you. Personally, I never had a work spouse and I don’t think I ever will.
Can you give us a tip you swear by for successfully managing a work/life balance?
I would say establish your boundaries early on but it also helps if the company you work for prioritises work/life balance. I’m lucky that I work for an organisation that prioritises it so that takes a lot of the pressure off me. We don’t call each other after 5pm or weekends (unless it super urgent) so if you work for a company that wants you available 24/7, creating boundaries isn’t the only problem you’re facing.
A bonus tip – try and have a healthy life outside of work. Fill your free time with things that serve and fill you up. Embrace hobbies and use them to relax and give your brain time to rest. I love to swim and watch anime so I spend my weekends doing the things I love so when I resume work on Monday, I’m refreshed and ready to take on the week.
Do you have any advice for younger women who want to do what you do?
You don’t need a comms degree to work in comms. One of my colleagues has a degree in economics and the head of our department has a degree in international relations. Start building a portfolio and sharpening your skills by doing pro-bono work for your friends and family.
For example, do you have a friend that has a fashion line? Help them out by suggesting content for her pages, writing emails to her client list, creating copy etc. Do you like to write? Start a blog and write to work on your writing skills. Figure out what niche of communications you want to work in and start creating a portfolio of what you have done to get the job you want. This will help you build your skills and a portfolio. Many entry level jobs don’t require you to have a portfolio as they know you’re just getting started and have a lot to learn but showing you have practical experience is always a plus.