“Focus, believe in yourself, block the noise, be a little more quiet and listen more!” – Lolu Desalu

There’s something about a strong, smart woman who knows how to hold her own any given day. Lolu Desalu, the Head of Marketing at the Filmhouse group, is one woman to know! Not only is Lolu a force to be reckoned with, you’ll definitely learn a thing or two just by watching her work. We’re pleased to publish this interview from this back story and we hope her Q&A inspires you to believe in yourself and stay focused on your path.

  • Introduce yourself and what you do?

My name is Lolu Desalu, I’m lucky enough to be fantastic at something I love uncontrollably; Advertising & Sponsorships. I strongly believe that Empathy is the key to great marketing.

I serve a team of 17 people within 6 spheres of the Marketing department of Filmhouse Cinemas; the design team, the sales team, digital marketing, brand marketing, the media marketing team and events management.

I’m married to a gentle giant who much like my Father thinks I’m the best thing since sliced bread.

  • Your background, How did that very particular background prepare you for your current work?

I have worked in the advertising and marketing industry for about 10 years and studied Marketing and PR for my undergrad at the University of Hull; I diverted from Marketing for my MSc in Logistics Engineering but I came right back.  My first job was in Marketing and every job since has been in Marketing.

I’ve had the privilege of working in some great organisations and with so many Fortune500 brands, with my job at Time Inc. being one of my favourite but nothing has prepared me for my current role like my first job post MSc which was a 6 months unpaid internship and my first job at an advertising agency after moving back to Nigeria about 5 years ago. They were both underpaid roles but I worked above and beyond my job description. I didn’t think I had a choice really, I was just starting out and if I wanted to be respected and climb up quickly, I had to apply myself a little more than others. I learnt hard work and I learnt that impossible really is nothing. Two mantras I live by at Filmhouse.

  • What are the key strategies in your role in pushing the Filmhouse Brand?

Being deliberate about positioning and how the brand is perceived. This seemingly small thing is a big success factor in all 6 areas of my role.

  • Was there any specific training you needed in your line of work?

Maybe not training but Film business education. It’s a wide subject matter, three years in and I’m still learning,

  • What is it like being a female in your industry?

A lot of people assume it’s hard but I think it is what I make it and it is what I say it will be, when I wake up every day. I feel quite blessed to be taken seriously and to be trusted to do my job adequately. Although, I have had men tell me in external meetings that they’re surprised I’m not a mean person because apparently it’s tough for women and they expect us to be a little bit more mean. It’s important that we stop pushing the narrative that it’s harder for women to be taken more seriously. It is causing women to automatically be defensive when there’s no need to be a lot of the time.

  • Do you feel the need to work extra hard to prove yourself as a woman in this male dominated industry?

I used to feel the need to work extra hard to prove myself but it’s a trap. Once people realise you’re trying to prove yourself, you automatically become more susceptible to being manipulated. Now, I just work extra hard to achieve my goals

  • How do you manage your day?
  1. My notepads, I write everything down.
  2. I have surrounded myself around enthusiastic, passionate and goal oriented people and that helps to keep me motivated even when I don’t feel great
  3. A lot of water on days when I haven’t had enough rest. Coffee has a diverse effect
  4. I avoid dairy during the day
  5. I take 5 minute breaks to read inc.com, WSJ, Variety and forbes. It’s perfect for a little relaxation, rejuvenation and motivation
  6. I say 30 sec prayers about the slightest things that disturb me
Lolu Desalu – Head of Marketing, Filmhouse
  • You have built one of the biggest brands, Filmhouse is an everyday part of our lives, how have you managed to be consistent.

To an extent, consistency forms a major part of my Job description as it is an easy metric for performance to be measured by. However with in depth research we are able to guide our strategy. Determining who we are trying to reach dictates how we actually reach them.

We are constantly driven by the feeling guests take away with each experience and this starts with the way Filmhouse Cinemas is positioned in your mind, before you even step in to any of our sites.

  • What is the most interesting part of your work?

Working closely in partnership with some of the biggest and best companies in the world and brainstorming with my amazing team members. If you’ve seen marketing teams in films/sitcoms during their brainstorm sessions, that is just a tip of an iceberg in comparison to ours. It’s seriously one of the best parts of my week.

  • How does your work impact society at large?

We’re in the business of creating stars. We’re substantially adding to Nigeria’s gdp. I think and hope that we’re showing school leavers that the business of film is serious business and that opportunities abound.

  • What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively?

I talk to other people from different industries and mine and I research new innovations in film or in marketing. Sometimes, rest helps. When I feel extremely mentally exhausted, I know it’s time for a little break.

  • How does Filmhouse make working easier?

Filmhouse is one of the most understanding and forward thinking companies I have come across in Nigeria. My managing directors have allowed me to be myself professionally and explore (with reason). They support and get behind my ideas 100%, The Film Gala being one example out of many. I couldn’t ask for better.

  • What’s the working environment like working at Filmhouse, and is there a girl squad and culture?

Absolutely a girl culture, maybe not a squad, I think without knowing it, we’ve made it a point to encourage and look out for each other. The men often joke that we’re feminists. We compliment each other, we recommend each other and we help each other. We also bicker and fight like actual friends but at the end of the day, as far as work is concerned, we have each other.

  • What advice would you give your younger self?

Focus, believe in yourself, block the noise, be a little more quiet and listen more, and most of all, it is good to be kind no matter what.  

  • What advice would you give to females attempting to start out in your industry?

Be bold, learn the ropes, learn the art, learn how to fail and lastly, be kind. Your kindness and charm takes nothing away from how strong you are.

Connect with Lolu Desalu on Instagram.

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