Move Back to Nigeria is a new series on BellaNaija. The aim is to encourage young and not-so-young professionals in the diaspora who are trying to make the decision of whether to move back to Nigeria. In collaboration with the brilliant team at MoveBackToNigeria.com, we hope to bring you a weekly interview with individuals who have successfully made the leap, considering the leap, as well as those who have tried it and realized it is not for them. The idea is to share their successes and their challenges as they made the decisions they did. A lot of Nigerians in the diaspora have questions about making a change at home in Nigeria. Many suggest really good ideas on how to make things better; others would like to contribute to making a difference back home but are just not sure where to begin. Movebacktonigeria.com is the fastest growing online community of Nigerian professionals living, studying and working in diaspora.
We bring you an interesting interview featuring Remi Dada this week. He is a digital marketing professional at Google Nigeria and moved back to Nigeria only recently. He has a unique and refreshing take on his experiences so far and the much touted opportunities in Nigeria.
Thank you so much for taking the time out to speak with us, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
Thanks for having me! I work at Google and my passion is getting African brands to take their marketing online. I currently spend a lot of time training the top brands on how to fully take advantage of Google’s social products such as, Google+ and YouTube. There is a lot of monotony in the Nigerian marketing space, and my goal is to introduce those crazy out-of- the box internet solutions that would excite our Nigerian brands.
I believe it is a very exciting time to be in Nigeria because our internet revolution is coming very late. And for this current generation who did not get to experience it abroad in the 90s, we truly have a unique opportunity to be a part of it again!
What was your educational background like?
I hold two degrees; a Bachelor Of Science In Architectural Studies, and a Masters of Business Administration from the University Of Illinois Urbana Champaign and Howard University respectively. I studied architecture at the University of Illinois, and three years later I studied marketing at Howard.
Considering the obvious fact that architecture and marketing are not exactly related, what prompted the switch?
I’ve always been that creative kid who spent his weekends creating comic books, and weekdays dreaming up characters and storyboards. I felt school in Nigeria was the harshest punishment for me because it did nothing to stimulate my creativity. Finally, in secondary school I found a class I actually liked, technical drawing. When I got to college I continued along the same path and decided to study architecture because it was similar to technical drawing, and it also helped that I happened to be good at it. After college I practiced architecture professionally, and was lucky to get to work on some truly amazing projects around the world. An awesome three years as an architect went by so fast, and I began to realize that the things that once got me excited about design did not quite do it for me anymore. At that point, I felt like I needed to advance my career, and decided to pursue an MBA. Pursuing an MBA was an opportunity to get that much needed business education that would allow me to become a more financially responsible designer.
But something interesting happened in business school. I got my eyes opened to so many new possibilities on how I could use my skills as a designer to solve business problems. I gravitated to marketing because it allowed me to use my creativity to do just that. It is a common marketing saying that “Every thing is designed. Few things are designed well.” While at business school, this saying resonated so much with me that by the time I graduated I was confident that my eight years of being trained to think outside the box as an architect would pay off in the marketing world!
So you still worked in design after business school?
My love for design isn’t something that I can just switch off, so a lot of things I do now are built upon my skills as an architect. For example, while I was at business school I was going through a very exploratory phase of my life, and in that spirit I started a company called Rd Square. Rd Square is a small design-consulting outfit that works with small businesses to help design their marketing collateral, such as websites, logos, flyers, and banners.
After I graduated from business school, I was careful not to accept job offers that were not pointing my career in the right direction. It was a tough decision not accepting tempting job offers from companies such as Oracle. But what kept me balanced was the fact that I was making some decent headway with Rd Square, and non of my current job offers would really be moving career forward, if anything they would be distractions.
I finished from business school and set up shop at Nexus Labs, which is an incubator for start-ups in Chicago. It was both the most adventurous and scariest time of my life. Everyday I walked a thing line between success and failure. But once I learnt how to pick myself up after setbacks, my entire perspective on failure and the fear of failing changed.
Fascinating stuff! Tell us about your move back to Nigeria and your current role at Google. How did it all happen?
I believe that if you want to know how a lion hunts, you would not go to the zoo but you go to the jungle. I had always been interested in learning about the Nigerian consumer and how to create different products that would suit their needs. The trick is not to find customers for your products, but products for your customers. Nigeria for me was that jungle, a place I needed to go to, to better understand the Nigerian customer.
However, I did not want to make the decision to move back to Nigeria on a whim. I wanted the right opportunity that would allow me to hit the ground running. Naturally, I started exploring different opportunities in Nigeria, and fortunately for me after shopping my resume around the right opportunity with Google came along.
Can you tell us what your role at Google entails?
To keep it simple, I work in the marketing team, and my job is to grow the adoption of Google+ in Nigeria. I work with Google’s social products such as, Google+ and YouTube, and I do everything within the scope of my job to make businesses, celebrities, and brands successful online.
This is perfect for me because it gives me the opportunity to push the envelope and show marketing agencies all the awesome results they can achieve if they embrace the Internet and integrate it with their marketing campaigns.
Sounds like an exciting job. Would you say your marketing background led you to this role?
Yes, I would say my interest in marketing played a part, but ultimately what led me to this role was staying focused on what my interests were. To be honest, there are certain things I suck at doing, for example I would make a horrible accountant because I find numbers too boring. This is why it is important for me to stay focused on my strengths and interests.
You seem pretty much covered on the work front and so, on a lifestyle note, how have you found the move back to Nigeria?
Nigeria has its unique problems, but I won’t go to deep into them because we are all familiar with the usual suspects such as, electricity, traffic, security, and infrastructure. But if you are fortunate enough, it is possible to reduce your stress level. For example, I made sure that I lived near my work place because I know that traffic in Lagos can be extremely stressful.
On the other hand, Nigeria also has its good sides. You just have to put an effort to carve out the type of lifestyle you want. As long as I am out with the right group of friends, I can find fun activities such as, watching live plays, jet skiing, playing soccer, movies, and dinners.
Unfortunately, I have found the nightlife in Lagos to be pretty disappointing, given the limited options of clubs and bars to go to.
That’s interesting, considering the popularity of the Nigerian party scene. On the flip side of this, what have you found to be the most positive thing about moving back?
It really is nice to be amongst friends and family. I can now see my childhood friends and parents anytime, and I no longer have to wait till Christmas holidays to hangout with them!
In addition, there are so many smart and young Nigerians who have recently made the move back, and they are doing amazing things here in Nigeria. I make a conscious effort to link up with them, share experiences, and get inspired about some of the amazing projects they are working on.
On a final note, from your vantage point as someone who has moved back to Nigeria, do you have any words of wisdom for people potentially considering such a move?
To anyone considering a similar move, I would say do your due diligence, and have a clear idea of what you want to do in Nigeria. People want to know if there are opportunities in Nigeria. The answer is yes. But I also tell them to ask themselves these questions.
Do you have the connections and skill sets to take advantage of these opportunities?
Can you survive financially without a job offer on ground?
Are you okay with moving back into your parent’s house while you sort your self out?
If you can confidently answer “Yes” to these questions then I would say you should definitely move back. But if you are not sure of your answers, I would advice you to take some more time and secure some of the needed resources.
Follow me on Google+ +RemiDada
Thanks for speaking with us and best wishes moving forward!
The primary objective of MoveBackToNigeria.com is to connect Nigerian professionals with various opportunities in Nigeria, ranging from recruitment drives to information & support regarding relocation processes, financial & tax advice and much more. Move Back To Nigeria also features social interest topics such as what’s on, where to live, how-to survival tips and so on. Consistently engaging with and featuring Nigerian professionals in weekly interviews, Move Back To Nigeria regularly publishes social interest articles relevant to the general public. Everyone is welcome to their online discussions & fora and you are invited to air your views & suggestions on the topical and trending matters section.