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Toyin Awesu-Uhuegbu On Her Career Journey & Going Global

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Toyin Awesu-Uhuegbu is a seasoned strategic communications professional with over 14 years of experience helping organizations use communications as an innovative business tool to reach diversified stakeholder groups. She is currently the Vice President of Marketing & Corporate Communications for The Africa Channel (TAC).

The Africa Channel and its production arm, TAC Studios, showcase the African continent’s most outstanding television series, specials, documentaries, feature films, music, biographies, and cultural and historical content. The channel’s mission is to open a daily window into African life, and in the process, help demystify Africa for viewers globally. 

In this conversation with 9to5Chick, Toyin shares salient lessons from her career journey that have helped her go global in her career as an African woman.

Hello Toyin, please share why you decided to develop a career in marketing and communications

I’ve always been interested in communications since high school where I wrote several articles for magazines and newspapers. During my last semester at Temple University in Philadelphia, I took a class on branding and marketing for print media and this encouraged me to build a career in that space. At Temple, I majored in journalism.

After college, I launched my Avenue Report Magazine – a lifestyle and luxury magazine for Black men. I knew I wanted a career in marketing and branding and not journalism. After that, I went to West Virginia University for a Master of Science degree in Integrated Marketing and Communications. I chose this program because I wanted to merge my communications and writing skills with marketing and, at the time, gain a deeper understanding of this new phenomenon called social media.

During the course of my career, I have used my marketing and communications skills to reach marginalized and underserved communities in Nigeria and the United States. 

Which lessons have contributed to your career success?

The first lesson I learned is to be very observant in new environments. I observe every organization’s internal activities to identify what’s working and areas that need improvement. This has helped me work effectively to achieve an organization’s goals.

Then I learned to “do the assignment first.” Even when I had ideas about alternative ways to do things, I learned that sometimes it’s okay to do the assignment first and then talk about my recommendations with my supervisor after. There is always a reason or goal to be achieved and from your access level, you might not be privy to that information. 

Lastly, it’s also important to build relationships with colleagues in other departments. This gives you more insight into the business or project from their perspective and also helps you build allies. 

You are quite passionate about projecting Black stories to the world, what’s the main reason for this?

I am passionate about telling Black stories because we are defined by our collective stories across the continent and the diaspora. I believe it is important that we tell our stories from our perspective and control the narrative the world sees and is influenced by.

We agree! As African Women, how can we better tell the stories that project our narrative? 

As Africans, we can better tell our stories when given the platform to tell them on a global scale. The onus is on decision-makers in the media and government to financially support the development of businesses within our communities to do this. It is also imperative to give African women a seat at the table by providing and investing in platforms or outlets that can make their stories go global. 

You’ve done a good job so far! What more can we expect from you or TAC in your new role as Vice President of Marketing & Corporate Communications?

I will continue to be an advocate in my space so expect to see me in places that empower the Black diaspora and build stronger connections in Africa. At The Africa Channel, that is the crux of our existence. We have been supporting content creators in Africa since our inception and we will continue on that mandate. 

One piece of advice for African women seeking to build a global career in marketing and communications?

My advice is simple: keep investing in your skills and stay up-to-date with developments in the marketing and communication industry. How we communicate may be evolving but the purpose of communication remains the same. Having a strong understanding of this will help you be the most effective in how you approach your work. I also advise you to find the skill sets within the marketing, digital media, and communications space that you enjoy the most and hone in on that. You do not have to be a jack of all trades.  

Lastly, leverage social media to project your work and build your brand. Don’t let imposter syndrome get to you. You have to do the work, invest in your skills, amplify your work and be ready whenever the opportunity comes.

 

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9to5Chick is a career development hub dedicated to equipping professional women with the skills to thrive in the workplace. It is a community of today’s working women who want to advance their skills, progress in their careers, make powerful career moves, and connect with like-minded women.

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