Ogo Onwuzurike currently holds the position of Country Manager at Truecaller in Nigeria. In this pivotal role, she spearheads Truecaller’s go-to-market strategy, overseeing the comprehensive operations expansion in Nigeria. Her primary focus is on fostering collaborations with ecosystem partners, service providers, and local businesses to elevate Truecaller to a household name among both consumers and businesses in the region.
With an illustrious track record of propelling businesses to build successful market penetration strategies and scale SaaS products across Africa, Ogo stands out as a recognized leader in the industry. With over a decade of diverse experience in sectors such as banking, payments, fintech, and SaaS, she has lent her expertise, working for renowned companies including GlaxoSmithKline, Philip Morris International, Interswitch, and MetaMap. Ogo holds a degree in communications from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and a postgraduate diploma in digital business from the Emeritus Institute of Management.
Commencing her career as a management trainee at GSK, Ogo completed rotational assignments in various functions, such as sales, marketing, supply chain, and brand management. Her journey led her to Philip Morris, where she progressed from Territory Development Executive in 2016 to Regional Sales Manager in Lagos in 2019. In 2020, she transitioned into the tech industry, joining Interswitch as Business Development Manager for Emerging Markets. This experience ignited her interest in digital transformation, digital ecosystems, platforms, and digital business.
As part of her many achievements, she won the Region of the Quarter Award for the First and Third Quarters of 2022 and received accolades as the highest-growing region, even with competition with Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Americas Regions.
Ogo conducts high-level conversations with C-suite executives to reshape market penetration plans and drive successful product campaign outcomes. Read our conversation with her about the outstanding work she does at TrueCaller.
Tell us about your professional background. How has your journey in the business development and technology industries shaped your perspective and goals? Though somewhat accidental, my journey in the business development and technology industries has been fascinating, with each chapter shaping my perspective and goals in unique ways.
From GSK and Phillip Morris to Interswitch and Metamap, each role honed my ability to identify opportunities, build relationships, and navigate complex sales cycles. Witnessing the power of technology in transforming industries firsthand ignited a passion for its potential to solve problems and create value. It also equipped me with much-needed people and relationship skills and clearly articulated my ideas.
Currently, as Country Manager for Truecaller, this pivotal role allows me to draw upon all my past experiences. Leading Truecaller’s operations in a country brimming with tech potential is both exhilarating and challenging. It’s about understanding the local market and nuances, forging strategic partnerships, and ensuring Truecaller’s innovative solutions empower and connect lives. It’s not just about the tech but about how it serves and empowers people. This has shaped and evolved my life goal of solving everyday problems, leveraging technology, and contributing to a better Nigeria.
Could you share a personal mantra or a guiding principle that has been instrumental in your career, especially in navigating challenges and embracing opportunities? One of the most impactful articles I’ve come across on LinkedIn is James Michael Lafferty’s piece titled ‘Are You a Winner or a Champion?’. In the article, Lafferty delves into the distinctions between winners and champions. He argues that the defining trait of champions is what he terms ‘A sense for the historic.’ Simply put, it’s the recognition that a given moment might be unique and irreplaceable—a historic moment in one’s life. Champions elevate their performance in such instances, refusing to accept failure. They don’t entertain thoughts like, “Maybe I’ll get another chance next year.” Instead, champions steadfastly reject losing during these pivotal moments. While everyone faces setbacks, champions stand out by refusing to falter in significant life junctures. We all lose in life. Everyone. But champions don’t lose in these big life moments.
This resonated strongly with me and has evolved as one of my philosophies over time. One of my guiding principles, “Measure twice, cut once,” embodies the importance of meticulous preparation.
Daily preparation and an acute awareness of critical moments form the foundation for my approach to tackling significant challenges and have been instrumental in spotting opportunities and ensuring success in those pivotal moments of my career. It also grounds me during challenging times.
Your role as the Country Manager in Nigeria for Truecaller involves reshaping market penetration plans. How do you adapt your strategies to the unique dynamics of the African market, especially in the context of technology adoption and consumer behavior? As you’re aware, the African market, especially in Nigeria, is a dynamic and constantly evolving landscape that often challenges traditional business norms. Despite the intricacies, Truecaller tackles a persistent issue that spans across age groups and socio-economic strata, significantly impacting vulnerable segments of society on a broad scale—specifically, the issue of phone scams.
In navigating this dynamic environment, our commitment extends to continuous adaptation and fostering social awareness regarding scams and how users can safeguard themselves and their finances. We are also partnering with key players in the mobile technology ecosystem to continue to drive value and safety for the Nigerian consumer. Additionally, we are exploring the localization of app content and materials in various local languages. This strategic approach is designed to encourage ongoing community feedback and interactions, ensuring that our solutions remain pertinent and resonate with the diverse needs of our user base in Nigeria. Furthermore, we are heavily invested in research, leveraging local expertise, addressing privacy concerns, and actively engaging with our community in Nigeria.
Looking at the Truecaller website recently, stated that although it was designed to identify who was calling, today, it is being used to fight crime and help loved ones. In the wake of recent scams through message platforms and sports betting apps where people have lost huge sums of cash from their bank accounts, how does Truecaller contribute to enhancing security and protecting users from such fraudulent activities? As a brand, we have become synonymous with caller ID and spam detection worldwide. Our mission is to build trust everywhere by making communication safer & more efficient. Truecaller is a user-driven application that derives power from an active community of users and is an essential part of everyday communication for over 368 million active users. On a global scale, we receive roughly 5 million user reports daily, and this in turn allows us to identify and block over 50 billion unwanted calls annually. That’s a lot of time saved and many potential scams thwarted for Truecaller users.
Can you share any specific instances where Truecaller has played a crucial role in preventing or addressing cybercrimes, particularly in Nigeria? There are probably too many such instances. Social media is awash with stories of how we have helped identify scam calls and prevented users from giving out sensitive financial details to scammers. From a user standpoint, being able to view comments by other users on spam-marked numbers is very appreciated. A particularly fun example was where a Truecaller user was able to string a scammer along because he knew the caller was a scammer. Unfortunately, millions of people are not that lucky every day, which is why we continue to sensitize and educate the general public.
With the increasing reliance on technology for financial transactions, what advice would you give individuals to protect themselves from emerging cyber threats and scams?
- Keep yourself updated on the latest cyber threats and scams. Follow reputable cybersecurity news sources to stay informed about new tactics employed by cybercriminals.
- Do not click on unknown links that you receive via SMS. Especially if it is related to financial matters. If in doubt, it is better to call the financial institution that the SMS is from or visit their website directly instead of clicking on the SMS link.
- Beware of urgency and emotional manipulation: Scammers often create a sense of urgency or exploit fear to pressure you into quick decisions. Take a step back, breathe, and analyze the situation calmly before taking any action.
- Never share sensitive information like your customer ID or username, passwords, credit card numbers, or any other financial information over a phone call or SMS. Bank officials, financial institutions, or regulators will never ask you for this information.
- Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on your accounts whenever possible. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second verification step.
- Never download mobile applications from unverified and unknown sources, especially not from a link you get or if someone calls you and asks you to download something.
- Do not fall for offers made by people who claim to represent a company, especially if they are calling from personal phone numbers.
- And, of course, give Truecaller a try. It’s completely free to use for as long as you want. It’s the perfect first line of self-defense against scams, and it’s right in your hands.
What challenges and opportunities do you see in the technology landscape, especially in Nigeria, and how are you navigating them? If you view the challenges from a long-term lens, therein lies opportunity. Inadequate technology infrastructure, cybersecurity concerns, a huge digital disparity, and access to digital literacy between urban and rural areas as well as socio-economic groups. But in the long run, it presents an opportunity for a rise in tech adoption, mobile technology adoption and penetration, as well as digital literacy. As a company, we are focused on solving and investing in robust cybersecurity measures and educating users about online safety to build trust and confidence in using digital tools such as Truecaller.
Truecaller has garnered recognition as the world’s number one Caller ID identification and Spam Protection App. What factors do you attribute to this success, and how do you maintain a competitive edge in a global context? Over the years, we have remained resolute in our mission. While there are many problems to be solved in our world today, as a company, we are laser-focused on building trust everywhere by making communication safe & efficient. Privacy is integral to our culture and processes at Truecaller. We are committed to privacy and care deeply about the data users share with us. Users can provide a few optional permissions and edit their profile in the application at any time, access the personal information associated with their account, rectify it if it is inaccurate or incomplete, or deactivate their account. At no point are users’ names or phone numbers sold to third parties. Our success is also highly attributable to an active community of over 368 million active users.
Looking ahead, what trends or advancements in technology do you foresee shaping the future of secure communication and data protection, and how can our readers position to stay at the forefront? We are seeing trends, of course, especially in AI and machine learning. Zero-trust security is also becoming a trend, where trust is never assumed and verification is required from everyone trying to access resources. It is also gaining prominence.
Homomorphic Encryption and Secure Multi-party Computation (MPC): These technologies allow computation over encrypted data without decryption, preserving data privacy. This opens up possibilities for secure collaboration and data sharing without compromising sensitivity.
On a personal note, what advice would you give aspiring female professionals in the technology and business development space, particularly those looking to impact the African market? This may sound cliché, but the most significant opportunities for impact come from solving the biggest problem areas that affect our society. So, my advice would be to take up opportunities that come with some complexity and challenge. If it’s easy, don’t do it. Be a lifelong learner; the world of business and technology is constantly changing. Finally, measure twice, and when those big life moments present themselves, cut once.