Melanie Ayoola:’Tranter’s journey began with our ability to handle complex projects for major clients.’

It is said that being unforgettable requires being unique and authentic. Where the tech world is concerned, Melanie Ayoola stands out. Her relentless spirit and determination position her as both a visionary and a leader. Since beginning her current role at Tranter IT back in 2017, she has demonstrated an admirable ability to challenge the status quo and inspire innovation in the industry.

As a distinguished professional, thinker, and technology leader, Ayoola has served as the Group Executive Director at Tranter IT over the last few years. Assuming this position, she oversees the company’s strategic initiatives, which provide IT solutions and support amongst other services. Heavily influenced by innovation, Tranter IT partners with top OEMs across the globe to deliver and develop solutions that solve business problems. Her diverse work portfolio further extends IoT Africa Networks where she serves as the Executive Director of Sales and Marketing. IoT Africa Networks is a company within the Tranter Group; it has served as the exclusive Sigfox Operator (SO) in Nigeria since 2019. As it stands, they are currently deploying the Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) which will provide a national infrastructure to facilitate the growth and penetration of IoT and Industrial IoT countrywide.

Her wealth of experience spans about two decades, marked by her expertise in crafting and executing impactful marketing strategies. In an industry that interestingly requires tons of creativity, she has earned her stripes while inspiring an upcoming generation of aspiring women in tech to raise the bar consistently. During this reign, Ayoola achieved a 60% increase in channel building across Nigeria, drove process improvements, achieved organizational growth, championed branding, augmented sales, and enhanced marketing communications.

In contemporary society, women are certainly at the forefront of visionary leadership. In the same vein, she is challenging traditional norms to drive substantial change in this industry. Since taking on her role at Tranter IT in 2017, she has successfully spearheaded several transformative efforts, contributing significantly to the organizations under her purview. This same visionary leadership played a key role in achieving market dominance for the ManageEngine suite of IT automation software applications in Nigeria. It now stands as a partnership that has empowered organizations all over Nigeria to optimize their IT infrastructure, streamline operations, and enhance productivity.

Ayoola’s dedication to fostering strategic partnerships along with her expertise in sales and marketing position her as a respected figure within and outside the technology industry. These qualities make her the blueprint of what can be achieved when talent, ambition, and perseverance harmonize with one another. On that note, she has also led IoTAfrica Networks into achieving growth since its founding in 2019, rolling out the Internet-of-Things network to key economic players in oil & gas, real estate, agribusiness, and utilities industries. Her incredible commitment to corporate evolution and her ability to navigate complex markets to bring about market stability underscores her contributions to the sustained growth and diversification of Tranter IT’s portfolio. Today, Tranter IT provides optimum IT support, enhancing the businesses of organizations of different sizes and structures spread across Nigeria, including GTCo, UBA, Sahara Group, IBEDC, Honeywell Flour Mills, Interswitch, and Spectranet, among others.

Ayoola’s ultimate vision extends beyond corporate success; she champions inclusivity, particularly for women in business, emphasizing their pivotal role in driving innovation. In navigating a predominantly male-dominated sector, she fosters collaboration and proactive problem-solving. Her approach to a healthy work-life balance demonstrates her commitment to her mental and physical well-being, setting a precedent for sustainable leadership. Above that, she holds a degree in Advertising and Marketing Communications from Bedfordshire University and an Executive MBA from Lagos Business School. She is also a member of the Computer Society of Nigeria, a distinguished body of professionals in the technology ecosystem in Nigeria.

Her story not only motivates those who come across it, but it stands as a testament to the impact one determined woman can make. Melanie Ayoola is here to remind us all that when you aim for the stars, you better make sure that it is impossible to miss.

What sparked your interest in technology; was it something that you always felt drawn to?
I had never been into gadgets. I’ve never been big on electronics or being a guru or a whiz at doing anything online for example. However, my training taught me to always solve problems and not to cry over spilled milk or make a mountain out of a molehill.

So naturally, when I got to understand after studying advertising and marketing communications in university, that IT was all about making things simpler, and easier, and solving problems for organizations that were doing impressive things in the economy, in society, employing people, and being the heart of the progress of a country or a state or a community. It was a no-brainer for me because the thing I hate most is to sit in a problem and not find the solution.

I’m a huge lover of industry. I love textiles, I love raw materials, I like operations, I like production, I like management, I like process, I like standards, I like order. All these things I just mentioned are massively impacted positively by technology.

How did your educational background or early career experiences shape your path?
I studied advertising and marketing communications, and in the beginning, I had no idea that it would be so diverse from statistics to PR to consumer psychology to business process, to standard marketing operations, to branding. The course was amazing in the sense that as somebody good at very many things from drawing to construction to mathematics to English and so on, that aspect of my education highlighted to me that I am multi-talented and that my knowledge is multifaceted and I can apply my knowledge in multiple areas which gave me the strength that made me well suited to be executive director of multiple departments today.

Hence, how I understood the value of IT and built interest after 7 years of working in operations in agriculture, marketing, and sales, and later consultancy in hospitality and then business development in Events, I understood the value of time management and efficiency and the immense importance of the finer details behind the scenes of meeting customer demand and growing market share.

Tranter IT is one of the longest-thriving IT companies in Nigeria. Can you share some of your proudest moments since taking on your role as Group Executive Director?
First off the year-on-year growth Tranter has seen is such a motivator! We have grown by over 200% in revenue in the last 5 years. We have almost doubled in size to nearly 500 across the group.  It has taken the dedicated application of all my years of marketing experience and the willpower to succeed in people management to get us here. We have successfully maintained the decades of skills and beautiful minds that supported the vision of achieving channel growth of over 100 resellers in 2023 in our manage Engine it automation channel has given us the platform to reach the entire nation as well as meet the demand to increase the support we give to hundreds of IT services companies who are our proud revenue partners and a significant part of our success.

Since I became ED working with sales and marketing initially, I am always pleasantly surprised at how well stakeholders know our brands, Tranter may be over 20 years old but even the newer brands such as IoT Africa feature as recommended for transformation projects.

Having our first public sector workshop in April and getting 3 times the attendance planned both in Abuja and Lagos showed me that I’ve become quite the b2b event planner. The reception was overwhelming and the traction was extremely motivating.

This year, Tranter celebrates 20 years of service. Can you describe how the company has grown and evolved over the years?
Tranter’s journey began with our ability to handle complex projects for major clients like Shell Petroleum and Development Company. By applying operations research methodologies, we achieved an enormous SLA, which laid the foundation for our support business. Our growth has been driven by a commitment to excellence, innovation, and a deep understanding of our clients’ needs. Over the years, we have expanded our services and capabilities, always aiming to exceed industry standards and provide exceptional value to our clients. Several factors have been instrumental in our growth and success.

First and foremost, our commitment to excellence and high standards in service delivery has earned us the trust of major clients. We’ve always focused on understanding our client’s needs and providing tailored solutions that drive their business forward. Innovation has also been a cornerstone of our strategy—we constantly seek new ways to improve our services and stay ahead of industry trends.

melanie ayoola

Our ability to adapt to changing market conditions has been crucial. For example, when economic challenges arose, we intensified our monitoring, escalation processes, and communication within the organization to maintain performance levels. This adaptability ensures that we continue to meet our clients’ expectations, regardless of external pressures. Furthermore, our emphasis on professional development and team collaboration has fostered a culture of continuous improvement.

I’m surrounded by a talented and dedicated team that shares my passion for innovation and excellence. Together, we’re driving growth and making a real impact in the tech industry. Our channel team’s commitment to delivering exceptional results is unwavering. They truly embody the Tranter IT spirit, and I’m constantly impressed by their tireless efforts to exceed our partners’ expectations. I’m constantly inspired by our resilient sales team, comprised of strong-minded and talented individuals who continue to motivate me with their unwavering enthusiasm and potential. They push boundaries, strive for excellence, and consistently raise the bar, making me proud to lead such a high-performing team.

Lastly, our strong relationships with clients and partners have been vital. We view our clients as partners and work closely with them to achieve mutual success. This collaborative approach has helped us build long-term relationships that have been key to our sustained growth.

Under the Tranter Group, you also serve as the Director of Sales and Marketing at IoT Africa Networks. Can you tell us a bit more about that role and your experience?
As director of sales and marketing in IOT Africa Networks Limited, it has been an interesting journey as we pioneered IOT in Nigeria. When you are the first mover in the market, you often have to start everything, inform everyone, and inform every industry, which we did with countless webinars and presence at several exhibitions and seminars. And yes, it cost a lot, it took a lot of investment. But as a company that describes itself as an innovator and a promoter of cutting-edge innovations in tech and information technology, it’s only right that we pave the way for a new industry to be comfortable enough and for a new industry to be validated by demand. And demand can only be created by sensitization and this we have done successfully.

We put in a huge amount of manpower effort, connectivity as well and sensitization demos POCs, and where we say we have a huge amount of knowledge across agriculture, oil and gas, real estate, and logistics concerning how IOT can play a huge role there and having on-boarded over 45 OEMs since 2019 and being part of the Sigfox Zero-G community has connected us internationally and these things are promoting our the company and the group in the international space and there’s no value you can place on that because when you play internationally you become very attractive to investors and when you create a market you facilitate the learning you facilitate the understanding needed by several industries. Proud is not a good enough word. It’s immense fulfillment knowing that you are furthering the ability of the Nigerian private and public sectors to see and get data and visibility from non-computerized assets and from remote areas which is where most of our challenges come from and in industries that haven’t taken technology as seriously as the financial sector for example.

Under your leadership, how have you built a stronger brand presence and increased brand recognition to establish IoT Africa Networks as a leader in its industry?
Certainly. We are committed to expanding our market presence, both locally and internationally. By entering new markets and industries, we can drive growth and create more opportunities for our clients and partners.

IoT Africa has been instrumental in our growth and diversification. It provides end-to-end IoT solutions for industries such as real estate, oil and gas, manufacturing, agriculture, logistics, and utilities. Our focus has been on delivering solutions that address specific pain points in these sectors, such as diesel tank level monitoring and gas monitoring.

Marketing these solutions and developing materials to sensitize different consumer segments have been challenging but rewarding. We have invested heavily in webinars, advertisements, and participation in events to create demand and curiosity for our products.

Our efforts have paid off, with government budgets now including IoT solutions, indicating a growing recognition of the importance of IoT in various sectors. We have also expanded our reseller network significantly, from just a few resellers to over a hundred, and continue to build strong relationships with our channel partners.

Can you expand on how technological advancements are allowing companies to contribute to the food and agriculture sector in Nigeria to promote economic growth?
Of course, for those involved in exporting, a very thriving business, technology is crucial. With IoT, farmers can monitor grain in silo storage, ensuring it’s not moldy or poorly stored, which could otherwise lead to investment loss. For instance, IoT solutions help track storage conditions, giving exporters confidence in their yield quality.

Additionally, IoT addresses food insecurity issues caused by bandits and rustlers in Nigeria. Farmers can monitor their farms remotely, improving security through fencing and alert systems. If someone tampers with the fence, the system alerts the farmer immediately.

Moreover, we have introduced collar monitoring devices for livestock, showcased during exhibitions, to combat cattle rustling and enhance animal husbandry. These IoT-enabled collars and subdermal trackers monitor the health and location of livestock, preventing widespread disease and loss, and alerting farmers to trespassers through behavior changes in the animals.

Another significant development is in pest and disease prediction, which is still in its nascent stages. Smart weather stations can predict pest and disease outbreaks, guiding farmers on preventive measures and the appropriate use of pesticides. This proactive approach helps maximize yields and reduce crop loss.

IoT also optimizes resource use with temperature and soil moisture sensors. These sensors prevent unnecessary irrigation, saving costs on fuel and manpower. By ensuring soil moisture levels are adequate, farmers avoid overwatering, which conserves resources and reduces expenses.

What do the next 5 years look like for the Tranter Group? Can you share with us some of the plans you envision in terms of their impact in Nigeria?
The next five years are critical for us. We plan to specialize further in industry-specific IoT solutions, especially in agriculture and IT security. We aim to increase training programs for Nigerian youth to close the skills gap and prepare them for the future.

Expanding our services across Africa and the rest of the world is another major goal. We want to leverage our extensive network and alumni, which includes over 300 people from before my tenure. Our focus will be on strengthening our presence in Nigeria and beyond, using our network to create impactful change. Our alumni are key to our strategy. They act as ambassadors, helping us forge new partnerships and expand our market presence. By maintaining strong relationships with our alumni, we ensure a continuous exchange of knowledge and opportunities, which is crucial for our long-term success.

In summary, our focus is on leveraging technology to enhance productivity and security in agriculture, expanding our services across Africa and the world at large, and continuously developing the skills of Nigerian youth.

If you doubt yourself, seek guidance from mentors but always believe that you have what it takes to start.

Melanie Ayoola

Inclusivity is very important to you. How do you see the IT industry evolving soon, particularly regarding the role of women?
Inclusivity is crucial, but it’s not just about filling quotas. It’s about recognizing and utilizing the unique strengths women bring to the table. Women have an exceptional ability to grasp complex concepts and drive change, which is vital as IT and IoT become integral to business operations.

At Bulls Eye Digital Manpower, we promote the development of women in tech, recognizing their growing contributions and the need for flexible, well-paying job opportunities. The IT sector offers immense potential for women to achieve financial independence while balancing other responsibilities.

How do you see the Titans of Tranter contributing to the evolvement of women aspiring to enter the Tech industry or walk similar paths as yours?
Although I feel my career is just beginning, I aim to create platforms that offer opportunities and support for others to achieve their goals. We are building multiple channels and representing global brands to empower Nigerians and drive economic growth across Africa.

My advice to young women is to be relentless and authentic. Trust your vision and intuition. If you doubt yourself, seek guidance from mentors but always believe that you have what it takes to start. Don’t hold yourself to the same standards as others; recognize your unique strengths and embrace them. Women are critical to the ecosystem, and our differences should be celebrated, not suppressed.