From Factory Worker to KPMG #SpotOn
It is a mistake to think that moving fast is the same as actually going somewhere.
― Steve Goodier
In this November edition of #SpotOn, Femi Oke delivers profound insight into the role having a clear vision and determination play in career pursuit, having began his journey on an almost bleak pedestal.
Femi Oke is presently the Digital Content Specialist for KPMG South Africa, where he expresses the once unknown desire in him. His career journey is a quick reminder to the reality that direction is very much important than speed.
Enjoy the chat but more importantly apply these truths to your life.
Who is Femi Oke?
I am human, I make mistakes and I admit it. I’m constantly growing and looking out for avenues to develop, not just myself but whoever I can assist. My day job, I am a digital content specialist with KPMG South Africa. My career actually started with the then SmithKline Beecham, Oshodi (now GlaxoSmithKline – GSK) as a factory worker; I was also running my BSc. Mass Communication with the Lagos State University (Anthony Campus).
On completion of my degree, I got an offer with Megavons West Africa Limited, a West African Publishing firm as an Editor, upon which I later joined KPMG Nigeria in 2008 as a Proposal Development/Communication officer.
I joined KPMG South Africa in 2013 working with the Global Africa Practice where we work in aiding international investment across the African continent. Strategically, we help companies through the investment life cycle of entering, operating or even exiting a market.
Digital marketing is key to business development, that’s what I currently do for our Sub-Saharan offices across the continent. My role is aimed at building and projecting the KPMG pan-African brand, building delivery capacity across Africa, and providing strategic enablers for growth, all digitally.
How did growing up affect your choice of career?
Seriously, I had no career plan. I was just a casual worker in a factory after completing my high school and all I wanted to do was make money. The factory wages was N500 per week and my goal back then was to impress the factory manager so I can be converted to a full staff and earn a bigger salary (N17,000 monthly I think). However, I started having a glimpse of the future after a chat with a GSK manager (Mr. Soji Oladejo) who asked me about my future plan. I gave an unimpressive answer and he advised me to take a part time degree course in Lagos State University.
I decided to do a degree course in Mass Communication but still had no vision of where or what I want to do. However, in my pen-ultimate year at the university, I got a job as an editor with Megavons and I realised how I was able to interpret all I learnt in school in the real world. I guess God was looking out for me, that’s the turning point for me, I realised I could do more, I have a chance at a better life, I can influence people with my output.
I worked with Megavons for 3 years, then KPMG came calling.
What are the life lessons you’ve learnt while working at KPMG?
If there is anything KPMG has taught me, it is that you can be anything you want to be. Whatever course or discipline you might have studied in school is relevant to a particular or more sectors in the real world (Healthcare, Digital, Telecommunications, Government & Infrastructure, Financial Services, Energy etc); KPMG’s training, skill enhancement, leadership helped me in juxtaposing classroom experience with the need in the real world. At KPMG, you just need to ask yourself what impact you want to make in the society and to yourself, the firm gives you the platform to achieve much more.
What has been the most enlightening project ever handled?
Working on the multi-million dollar Africa high growth market project stands out for me; besides this, managing all KPMG’s digital communication for the World Economic Forum on Africa is another project that gives me great delight.
Do you think creativity is learned or innate?
Depends on your definition of the word as well as circumstances you come across. How do you respond to situations/crisis? An inborn ability to be creative is not enough for today’s business; you just don’t stop learning. Business schools teach creativity as it relates to diverse business; education boosts creativity, adapting it to real life situations makes it innate. It’s not just about what you know, it’s now about marching up with top trends and meeting expectations.
What can you say motivates you and keeps you going?
The fact that I have not done enough. Every mountain I conquer, I see it as a call to a higher challenge. Just take a look around you, you see motivations to do more.
How do you think Nigerian brands, startups and individuals can thrive in this recession?
Sincerity of purpose is key. I see people calling for “buy Nigerian made goods to save the Naira,” let us, the consumer- ask ourselves, besides Nigerian food, what other Nigerian made stuff do we patronise? Let the so-called manufacturers ask themselves, what the quality of product they turn out is. Let the Government sincerely state if it has made business climate easy for local productions/local content. If all stakeholders can sincerely answer the above, then we are at the starting point.
It’s easy to go on social media, condemn one another, cat-fight then log out to face reality. I have worked in Western, Eastern and Southern regions of Africa, if we can learn from a particular country, Rwanda, we have much to gain.
Your top three most inspiring books would be?
- The Bible
- How to Win Friends & Influence People – Dale Carnegie
- The One Thing – Gary Keller
What are the fundamental skills you think a lad interested in Digital Communication should possess?
The power of dynamism. Be receptive to change as the world is not constant. What I know as a digital communicator today might not be relevant for tomorrow. If you want to go into digital communication, be constantly ready for change, ready to be misunderstood and read wide. A lot of digital platforms and Apps are being launched every day and Silicon Valley is looking for the business angles in all of these developments. Know as much as you can, be ready for the next hip career.
Your candid advice to Nigerian youths?
It’s not about where you are, it’s about what you do!
WATCH OUT FOR THE NEXT EDITION OF #SpotOn