Harri Obi has a big dream and other interesting things he says in an exclusive interview with YellowLyfeStyle

Harrison Obiefule personifies the Igbo spirit and is naturally enterprising and ingenious. One of his favourite things is going on casual dates, meeting new people, and learning a few things about them. Not a fan of needless outings, he would rather just take a course or read books. He has evolved from being a political science graduate to working in broadcasting and diving into marketing communication. At the university, he had a clothing line and got several awards on multiple occasions for being the best-dressed student in the university.

He is a trained martial artist, with a speciality in Krav Maga, Kickboxing, boxing and Muay Thai styles of fighting. Currently, he is the PR and Marketing Manager for FTX in Africa, with dreams of becoming the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of a global brand.

Harri shares his journey from his early days of being an On-air personality (OAP) to his metamorphosis into a Tech Bro, as they are popularly called in Nigeria.

Let’s ride!

YellowLyfe Style: Tell us a little about your journey towards being a tech marketer. Has it been something you always wanted to do?

Harri Obi: Getting into tech wasn’t part of my plan. I was in broadcasting for four years, where I worked on exciting shows and as an OAP on radio. Then, I moved into the marketing communications industry, where I worked for an influencer marketing, creative, digital and PR agency. I had been in the Agency system for a few years, and I wanted something refreshing. I wanted to move to the client-side, but I wasn’t actively looking for that gig. However, when the opportunity to join FTX Africa showed up, I wasted no time because I saw where they were headed, and I wanted to be a part of it. It’s a young company moving at a swift pace, and you could quickly feel the impact of your work. I wanted to experience that and have an effect, and I wasn’t wrong. It has been excellent. FTX Africa is the fastest growing cryptocurrency company in the world. We are just two years plus, but already a 40 billion-dollar company.

YellowLyfe Style: What do you think is the biggest challenge for a Tech marketer?

Harri Obi: The industry is fast-paced. One minute as a marketer, you are trying to do some sort of communication campaign around a new product, and the next minute, there’s a new feature or upgrade. As a marketer, you would have to start planning to market or promote that feature or upgrade, but you also have to learn how it works if you want to communicate effectively. You can’t sell what you don’t know. That can be difficult because you need to study and understand the product end to end. The industry isn’t waiting for anyone, and you would get left behind if you were not up to date. It’s a welcome challenge, though, but that’s the biggest challenge.

YellowLyfe Style: As a PR person, what’s the most challenging PR crisis you have ever worked on?

Harri Obi: Wow… I probably would not share that with you. Before I got my current job, I worked as the creative and strategy lead at a PR agency. The agency is the official communications agency for Facebook in West Africa. As you well know, Facebook is one of the biggest companies globally, so there is always a fire to quench. That was basically where I cut my teeth handling a communications crisis. We were always on alert for anything that would harm the brand, so immediately, we would draft possible solutions to the crisis. Over here, we have not had any crisis. This is primarily because we are a very regulatory compliant crypto exchange. However, I always have to be on my toes, anticipating where the problems could come from and the best possible solutions. If it spills over, what would be our approach to it from a communications point of view? So I draft a crisis communications plan.

Read also: Creativity and Collaborations will change Africa | Tobi Oreoluwa, Street Church Convener

YellowLyfe Style: Fair enough! Though you didn’t really give us the details. Give us an example of when you anticipated a PR crisis and your communications plan worked or didn’t work?

Harri Obi
Harri Obi

Harri Obi: When I was working on Facebook, there was a time when another competing platform had some communications issue that could potentially boil over to us, and I saw that it might affect us, so I started monitoring conversations online, including those that mentioned us and I anticipated where the next leg of the conversation would go to, and I put it in a document (the conversations, the situation what was happening and the solutions to it, the possible outcome and how best to approach it). Every standard organisation has a crisis management/communications plan and approach. When triggered, we know who to report to and what to plan and do next. Facebook being an organised account, already had one of those and how they approached it. The company where I currently work also has an approach to it. When something happens, we have a meeting immediately to analyse the situation and develop possible solutions. When I was working with Facebook, I was working for an agency and had to interface with the communications manager for Facebook in the region. But now, I work in that role in my current job. I interface more with the global team directly.

YellowLyfe Style: What are the necessary steps to get into Tech Marketing?

Harri Obi: I don’t think there is any full proof approach. It’s just about interest. I know of someone who wanted to leave advertising and marketing and move into product marketing. She quit her job and started taking courses, following tech and product managers, shadowing them, and taking internship positions. So within a few months, she changed. The approach would not always be the same, but I would advise that the person is intentional about it, gets appropriately trained, and takes courses. After that, gain practical experience at it, it could be internships or shadowing someone, marketers within that stage. Then you can start applying for entry-level jobs.

YellowLyfe Style: What do you see as the future of tech in Nigeria?

Harri Obi: Nigeria is already an important market for the tech ecosystem as it regards talent needs. Primarily, we have a large young population, and many global tech companies are coming here to do business. Nigeria is already an important space and market for the global tech industry, and I only see this growing. In the future, Nigeria will be one of the worldwide tech markets for the global tech industry because we have an active young population.

YellowLyfe Style: What are the most likely challenges a young tech enthusiast or anyone starting in the field is most likely to face?

Harri Obi: The general problem with being a young tech person in Nigeria is that society doesn’t even understand what we do. For example, if you work remotely, are constantly working with your laptop, and your generator is always on, people naturally think you are a yahoo boy. It’s not their fault, though. Many of them grew up when everyone had to work in an office, but those times are fading. Another issue would be remuneration. Some local tech companies don’t pay so well, and that’s why you see a lot of Nigerian talents wanting to work with foreign tech companies. Finally, the lack of training infrastructures for those coming into tech. However, I think that’s already being solved because there are many online courses that you can take now. These are the three issues that one might face.

YellowLyfe Style: You have a great sense of fashion. Any fashion icons of inspiration?

Harri Obi: I don’t look up to anyone at the moment. Growing up, I used to look up to a few people in fashion because I was active in the whole fashion space. It used to be David Beckham and Ebuka. At the moment, I don’t even invest in dressing as I used to. I just know how to put pieces together.

YellowLyfe Style: How do you unwind? What do you do for fun?

Harri Obi: I don’t. I’m not an outgoing person. I would instead just use that time to take a course or read books. I would rather be home working or reading or taking online courses. There are always online courses for me to take. I’m currently taking a class on brand management in Marketing school, and I have so much to do.

YellowLyfe Style: What should we expect from you in the future?

Harri Obi: Expect growth, expect promotions. Expect growth from the brand I currently work with great campaigns. My dream is to become a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of a company.

YellowLyfe Style: What’s your favourite quote?

Harri Obi: Aquila non Capit muscas

Eagles don’t catch flies. Always see yourself as an eagle. As a big brand, for example, or as someone important, don’t waste time with minor or little things. I have a dream of where I want to be, so I try not to spend more time doing irrelevant things. I think globally and internationally. When minor distractions come, I try to let them go.

Author avatar
Aderonke Adebayo

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