FeaturedHN Q&AHNQA

‘I want to be remembered as an authentic woman who built others and lived her life on her terms.’- Funmilayo Falola

Funmilayo Falola is a consumer marketing expert with over 20 years of experience in applying creative marketing & commercial strategies to drive brand and company growth.

Passionate and resourceful, Funmilayo loves collaborating with stakeholders to identify audience interest, develop go-to-market plans, and improve capacity for investment in line with business priorities.

Among other certified degrees in Design Thinking, Change Management, and Leadership Strategies, Funmilayo holds a Post Graduate Degree in Marketing from the University of Leicester, and an MBA from the University of Lagos, Nigeria.

Restricting life to achievements and laurels strips it of its beauty and sometimes makes us lose focus on what’s important.

An outgoing and passionate marketing professional seeking to improve customer experience, Funmilayo has hands-on experience in brand management, advertising, public relations, and event management. Her passion for effective communication and natural drive for success motivates her to deliver high-quality work.

Read our Q & A with Her and be inspired.

In Three Words, how would you describe Funmilayo? I will say I am passionate, resourceful and a lover of everything beautiful – I know this isn’t a word 

Share a little bit of your background. A daddy’s girl, a church girl, Married with kids,  Studied political science as a first degree, went on to study marketing. Loves to read, travel and write.  

What do you consider your greatest achievement in your life so far? I believe that life is beyond achievements. Does your life have a purpose? Do you have family and friends that give your life the meaning you crave? Do you have a job that sets your mind alight? If you have these things, then you have all, really. Restricting life to achievements and laurels strips it of its beauty and sometimes makes us lose focus on what’s important. Those are my thoughts. 

What would you say are some of the practical steps you have taken towards ensuring consistent growth in your career? Interestingly, I recently wrote a piece on young professionals and how to communicate purpose. 

I found my purpose and I am working towards that, very diligently if I may add. I enjoyed studying Political Science and was looking forward to a career in it. I made the switch to Marketing, having found my calling working as a rookie PR executive right out of university. Eighteen years later, I’m still glad I made that switch. I’m a Brand and Marketing Communication Strategist and I love my job. 

I took a diploma in Marketing when I wanted to make a switch to marketing. I read books a lot to continually enrich my knowledge. I make sure that I get a certification every 3 years in my field.  

I learn a lot from my younger colleagues, to keep me in tune with youth culture and trends and I consume a lot of media. I try to study successful people who have achieved great things in my field. I watch their path to success and take relevant lessons to apply in my own life.

Tell us about your journey to being the Head of Brand and Marketing Communications of Wema Bank where you manage both the Wema and ALAT brands.  I started out with FCB Redline, a PR company, and then moved on to a full-service Advertising agency – Centerspread FCB where I honed my skills in advertising, & PR. Moved from there to ZK advertising where I learned strategy and stakeholder management. From there I moved to FirstBank, started out with Brand Management, learned event designing, and more about strategy.

I also learned a lot of social and soft leadership skills. At Wema, I learned leadership in my first few years and now I am enjoying lessons on diversity and technology. I believe that every place where I have worked has prepared me for the next place and the sum total of it makes me who I am today. 

What inspires you? Life and people. I have never been one to mince words, so I am particular about the people and ideas I surround myself with. If we cannot be brutally honest with each other, why are we in each other’s space? People that challenge me – whether at home and at work – give me a reason to continue to think outside of my comfort zone. 

I enjoy photography, it speaks to the artist in me. I have learned to stop, appreciate scenes around me and capture them. You can never tell what will drop in your mind when you are staring at a waterfall. 

What advice can you offer to younger women looking to take up a career in Marketing and Corporate Communications? Hmm… The purpose is not necessarily the skill set that keeps you employed. After all, it’s possible for anyone to pick up skills through active or passive learning. You’ll know your purpose when you find it. It feels natural, leaves you unfulfilled until you exploit it, and ultimately enriches other people’s lives. 

In integrated marketing communications, look and feel, tonality, and messaging must be consistent for a brand to stand out from the competition. By the same token, we best communicate our differentiation from the crowd if our likes, shares, connections, and entire digital footprint remain consistent with our purpose.

You also need to be prudent with your funds. And this is not because I work in a bank. For younger people, research shows that inaccessibility to funds can be one of the stumbling blocks to expanding your skills or achieving the goals you have – whether it’s an MBA or a short-term paid course, or a trip to Hawaii, etc. This means that you need a good savings culture. For instance, ALAT by Wema is designed to help young professionals achieve their personal and financial goals. 

Beyond savings, crowdfunding is another method to boost your chances. when you’re fulfilling your purpose, you find people who are willing to rise and support you. When I had to go to school, I needed to pay my fees of ₦6000, I had saved ₦4500  and needed to raise the balance. I had colleagues and friends raise it for me through crowdfunding. 

What is the most important life lesson you’ve learned so far? Enjoy life! I am a firm believer in working hard and enjoying life just as much if not even more. Enjoy the small and simple things with the same ferocity you would enjoy the larger-than-life aspects. 

I have started a list of 40 things I want to do before next year, and I have been crossing off that list for about six months. I am enjoying myself.  As young professionals, the drive to succeed can sometimes cause you to forget that there is actual life to be lived. I learned this a few years ago and I have never gone back. 

Where do you draw strength on days when you feel no motivation to get things done? I go back to my source – God. We are called, first and foremost, to God Himself, through Christ. Only then can we truly give ourselves to our secondary calling, which is to live and serve out of the gifts which God has given us, wherever we find ourselves.  Given this, I would pray first and then do something I enjoy – watch one of my tv series usually crime and investigation, have a chat with my kids – you’d be shocked how those kids can make you change perspective or hang out with my friends and eat some awesome food. 

What is your take on “Women Supporting Women”? Ah, it’s important! So, my very first boss was a woman, a very strong woman, I have also been privileged to have more female bosses than male bosses and they’ve all been strong women who have always supported me. Sometimes their support seemed & felt very tough but today the push and the support have molded me and taught me how to support others around me.  

Celebrating another woman’s triumphs or success will never take away from your shine; to me, it’ll add to it and create more light. Women supporting women means we show and extend genuine support to one another. It’s human to feel competitive sometimes; it’s ok to feel a little green-eyed, but we have to reel in those negative emotions and not let them dictate our relationships with one another. 

Time travel or teleportation? Time travel so I can relive all my fun times 😂 

What would you like to be remembered for?  That’s a powerful one. I want to be remembered as an authentic woman who built others, lived her life on her terms, and made an impact by encouraging people to find their purpose and live it. I cannot think of a stronger mission than that.

Connect with Funmilayo here.

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