Malobi Akpan-Ita has never met a creative challenge that she backed away from. Her desire to see every passion she has to its fullest expression has led her to start a podcast, host events in partnership with some of the biggest brands in the country, to consult for entertainment brands and even manage recording artistes. All of this is amazing on its own, but Athenian when you consider Malobi does all this while building a career in Nigeria’s demanding corporate scene.
We caught up with Malobi for #MCNWorkLife to discuss balancing her passions with her corporate work, her advice for young women who want it all and where she gets her bad ass time management skills from.
Hi Malobi, thank you for doing #MCNWorkLife. But for our readers who are meeting you for the first time, you could please introduce yourself?
I’m Malobi Akpan-Ita, a brand and marketing executive by day and little miss do-all at other times. I work in the creative industry as a stage, event and talent manager, I also dabble in music marketing. I’m a podcaster as well, and I sing for money in my spare time. I’m a millennial, from Delta and Akwa Ibom, born and raised in Lagos Nigeria.
What did you want to be growing up?
I wanted to be so many things as a kid. First an actress, then a wedding planner, and finally a lawyer.
What do you do now?
There’s a lot I do, but my 9-5 job is as a brand and marketing executive in the financial services industry.
How much time have you devoted to developing your career as a brand and marketing executive?
I’ve been in this career path for 8 years and some
How did you get into this field?
To be honest my dad put me on. He retired in the financial services sector himself, and as soon as I was done with school he helped me get a few job interviews, and when I got in I fought hard to get posted to the department I was interested in.
What’s a typical day in your work life like?
I get to work for about 8am, attend meetings usually till about 12pm, and spend the rest of the day responding to requests and churning out creative content (which is what my job role entails). I’d like to say I close at 5 but typically I’m at work till about 8pm.
Are there any cultural stereotypes about your line of work that have made it easier or more difficult to do your job?
None to be honest. I think because I don’t work in core banking, I’m not looked at as a “banker” by the general public
What is the thing you like the most about what you do?
My job encourages a lot of out of the box thinking. I love that my weirdness and eccentricities are embraced.
What is the thing you like the least?
The frequent, long meetings
What is the most difficult challenge you think women in your field face when trying to advance in their careers?
I think people expect women to all want the same things, and think the same way. We are typically put in a “mother and wife” box when we become of age, even when we don’t want those things. Men are never put in those boxes.
Do you believe in work buddies?
Yes! I do! They’re an important part of your work support system, especially in toxic or unpleasant work places
What’s your stance on ‘work spouses?’
LOL. Been there, done that, do not recommend.
Are there any similarities between your work in the creative industry and your 9 – 5 as a brand executive?
Yes, I do a lot of the same things in both spaces. Communications, events planning and management, public relations and talent management are key parts of my job, in both corporate and creative spaces.
Has your experience in corporate influenced how you go about pursuing/monetizing your creative interests?
It has, for sure. The creative industry does not have the level of structure that’s obtainable in corporate. I’ve definitely been able to improve on my operational efficiency as a creative because of my corporate experience. Working with corporate organizations has also given me a level of professionalism and discipline that I may not have been able to attain as a creative.
Do you ever feel tempted to just quit the corporate world and face your creative pursuits full time?
Every day, MCN. Every single day.
Why haven’t you taken the plunge yet, Malobi?
To be brutally honest, I haven’t made the transition because I’m afraid of the change and all it comes with. I love knowing that I get paid on a certain day without fail. My corporate job also has a well defined growth and development path, and for me that means a lot. Lastly, have you seen how difficult it is to break out and start making real money as a creative? It’s safer for me to keep doing both jobs at the same time, at least till I become rich and famous.
Can you give us a tip you swear by for successfully managing a work/life balance?
I think it’s important to find something you genuinely love and make a habit of it. It doesn’t have to be your main job or even a paid gig. For me it’s everything else I do for work, in the creative industry. It’s what keeps me sane, knowing that at least one thing I love that I can always return to as a de-stresser. It’s just an added advantage that I’m now able to also monetize the things I love.
Do you have any advice for younger women who want to do what you do?
Be strong and of good courage LOL. More importantly make sure that you continue to see the value in the work you do. That’s what keeps you going when you’re drained, knowing that there is something in it for you, and for the people who are affected by the work you do.