I arrived at Moyosola’s home a few minutes after 9 am last Thursday. Our conversation took place over two plates of half English breakfast, two cups of coffee, and homemade fruit smoothies.
Moyosola Kara is the director of marketing and communications at Eze Wholesale – a YC-backed startup on a mission to simplify the wholesale electronics trade market. She’s an ambitious straight-shooter who is serious about taking breaks and carving out time to reconnect with herself and the people in her life.
I’m bringing Moyosola to Centre Stage because she’s had an unconventional but rewarding career as a marketing and communications specialist. Her experience working with businesses across multiple industries has equipped her with valuable skills that are needed in today’s digital economy.
Tell me the last good book you read
I just finished Untamed by Glennon Doyle. I also read a really good book by Elaine Welteroth. She was the youngest editor in Conde Nast’s history and the second African American person to be made editor-in-chief at Teen Vogue.
You have described yourself as a homebody who enjoys the occasional getaway. How are you able to marry your introverted personality with your role as a communications executive?
Being able to switch into extroverted comms mode provides a nice balance. If I had a job in a quiet little cubicle, I would probably be miserable. I get my fix from my job. I get my fix when I interact and engage with my team, and with customers. Human interaction is very important, especially because we are still recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown.
Tell me about school. What did you study? Where did you go?
I did not study marketing or communications (surprise surprise). I have a Bachelor of Commerce in Law (BCom Law) and it’s a program that is only offered in South Africa. I started off with studying economics, but after my first year and learning more about what economists did for a living, I realized that I didn’t want to go down that career path.
So, you changed your degree?
Yes, I did – at the start of my second year. Here’s the truth: initially, I thought I was going to enjoy the law aspect of the program. I mean I enjoyed speaking, had gone through Toastmasters, and being a lawyer seemed like a viable career option. I was wrong. In the end, I realized that I didn’t want to be a lawyer.
Wow. How were you able to figure out your career path?
I didn’t know what I wanted to do or what kind of career I wanted to pursue. It wasn’t until my time at Elizabeth Arden that I figured out my passion: talking to customers and connecting them to their favourite brands or businesses. When I was in South Africa, Elizabeth Arden was typecast as a beauty brand that catered exclusively to white South African women. Black South African women bought their perfumes, but make-up and skincare? No chance. When Elizabeth Arden was ready to change that image, I became fully immersed in trying to figure out our campaigns and how to speak to this new target audience.
So you kind of fell into marketing and communications?
Basically. I didn’t realize until years later that what I was doing at Elizabeth Arden was marketing. And I loved it.
How are you able to wear both hats? Especially because marketing and communications (comms) are two different departments?
My career in Nigeria started in PR. Then I worked in digital marketing, media, marketing, before finally settling down in a communications role at 54gene. My learnings have prepared me for where I am right now and given me the skills I need to wear both hats effectively well.
How do you find alignment between the two?
I’ll admit that although they are significantly different, there are parts of marketing and communication that are interwoven. For me, it’s about finding synergy in those interwoven parts. My job is to set key goals and metrics for each department and ensure that we are all working towards achieving them with maximum efficiency. Sometimes, it gets tricky.
Well, comms is heavy on messaging and storytelling. While marketing is more tactical and strategic with a lot more moving parts. And obviously, because we are in a fast-paced social media and technology age, digital marketing is hot right now and isn’t what it used to be three years ago.
How are you able to keep up with the changes?
Social media is my new learning ground. You’ll be surprised by how much you learn on Twitter, Youtube, and Medium. On the marketing side, I follow themarketingtopic on Twitter and I’m also subscribed to Marketing Brew. I also enjoyed reading Clueless To Designer – it’s a beginner’s guide to product design written by Mitchelle Chibundu. Mark Manson also writes a newsletter that I’m subscribed to and enjoy reading every now and then.
How are you applying what you are learning on the job?
My role at Eze is vastly different from my role at 54gene. With Eze, I’m dealing with markets outside of Africa which means I have to learn how to speak the marketing language for those markets. I have to draw inspiration from marketing leaders who understand what Eze is trying to do in the wholesale ecosystem.
What would you say to aspiring and working communications and marketing professionals?
Firstly, prioritize storytelling. Eat, breathe, and live storytelling. Explore how different brands are telling stories and motivating their customers to buy a product or engage with their posts on social media.
Secondly, study consumer behaviour. What is driving people to spend money? What are your customers’ pain points? Who are you selling to?
Lastly, invite empathy into your work. Tactics are important but if you don’t know how to connect with your audience on a deeper level, you will lose them to a competitor. A growing number of young buyers are paying attention to businesses that care about promoting social change and impact.
Moyosola’s tip: Empathy and storytelling go hand-in-hand.
What does good leadership look like to you?
I believe that leadership is about paying attention to your people. It’s important to be kind, empathetic, and supportive. I think not enough is said about managers who support their team members. You need to move away from just doling out tasks to going over and beyond to arm your team with the tools and resources they need to succeed. I’m dedicated to ensuring that my team members are developing their skill sets and getting access to the training they need.