Tampiri Irimagha-Akemu, the Managing Director of Sesema PR Agency has worked in different sectors like Oil and Gas, Logistics, Non Profit Management to broad based consulting, before opting for a career in public relations. Tampiri has an EMBA from CEIBS (ranked top 10 international Business school by Financial Times), specialising in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Languages and Literature, and Certificate from Gordon Institute of Business Science while she is also a Global Affiliate of the Chattered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), and has several professional certifications in HR – ACIPM, SHRI, Quality (ACQI) and Management (CMI). The mother of two teenage boys speaks with TAYO GESINDE on her journey to the top.
I grew up in a Christian home. My dad was a deacon and he later became an elder. My mother too rose from deaconess to an elder. Our home was always opened to a lot of Pastors, Reverends and Bishops right from the eighties. All the International speakers that came to our church to minister always stayed in our house. It was a Christian background, we were always going to church. My dad was an entrepreneur. He had his own electrical shop, he was into light fittings, timber merchant and so many things at a time. I think I got my business acumen from him.
Working in a male dominated field
I don’t necessarily agree that any field is male dominated. First and foremost we are all humans before male or female, so, I see no barriers or limitations in any male dominated field or profession. Once you are passionate and talented, you can thrive in any field you find yourself. Maybe at some point there were more males in the industry but right now, even from the last competition we did, most of the eligible candidates were female. Of the five finalists, four were female. The PR industry is a creative industry as such everyone can be a part of it. We are a top PR agency one of the pioneer firms in Nigeria for about 15 years, founded by a woman and still relevant and faring well in the industry on the corporate and the agency sides. I must say that fate also played its role. However, I have been able to stand at par with my counterparts and achieve great feats. I believe women thrive better in a creative field, so we should step out and take the bull by the horn and take up management role and show people our capacity and what we can do.
The road to success
When I hear pay the price, I kind of feel it is sexist because a lot of time, men are not asked the price they paid, they are just told well done for getting to this point. For me, I feel it is really just passion and balancing your perspectives very well or what you want out of life. If you are hardworking, focused and committed on what you want to do, you don’t have to give up on anything. In all front, I am happy, I am married, I have children and I am doing a job that I want. And once you have a good family support system. you will be able to do what you have to do. The only thing, which I believe is the same for all gender is that be focused, engage in self-development and always seek to learn and gain knowledge is always a win-win. I know it is not easy for women when they are married and they have children, yet at some points you have to make some sacrifices but it is for a number of years, if you are still consistent and building yourself and you go the extra mile, you will surely get to the top.
What distinguishes Sesema from other PR agencies
Sesema PR is constantly evolving communications campaigns that focus on positioning our clients head and shoulders above the rest. Our commitment to values such as timely service, quality standards, delivery on promise, all round customer satisfaction, honesty and integrity has been the framework on which our success is hinged.
Most defining moment of my career so far
There are several highlights, Sesema has constantly groomed top, excellent PR minds that are hunted by big brands. Seeing them go out and add value is always a big moment, mentoring and continuing to groom creative exceptional PR minds through direct employment; our competitions and forums. The responsibility of managing Sesema PR; carrying on the legacy of my late business partner and PR Amazon, Alima Atta, is a trust I don’t take lightly.
Why people think women are difficult to work with
Women are generally regarded as difficult to work with but I will say this is usually misconstrued because women are highly effective, perfectionists in nature and goal oriented. A woman’s natural instinct makes her goal oriented which propels her colleagues to align and this is oftentimes interpreted wrongly. Our team is predominantly female as we have more qualified female PR professionals whenever we put out a job advert. Recently, during our completion of the five finalists four were female.
Why I am passionate about mentoring and youth empowerment
At Sesema PR, we are constantly seeking ways to improve the environment in which we operate. This is evident in our level of commitment to CSR projects. Over the years we have carried out value-laden Corporate Social Responsibility projects. Recently, we organised a corporate communications pitch competition, which is our own way of encouraging youth talents that are passionate about public relations. Earlier on, we also introduced Emerging Entrepreneur; a project that focuses on promoting fast rising entrepreneurs who have challenged themselves to continuous growth and expansion in their businesses, thereby encouraging more youths to be entrepreneurs.
Also, I am in one of the Committees for Women In Successful Careers (WISCAR), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) founded by Amina Oyagbola. What we do is we mentor young girls. I have someone I am mentoring as well.
How I have been combining my career with the home front
I had to find a balance so that my career and family life will run smoothly; it all revolves around planning and setting goals. Progress and growth is continuous and the God factor is key. Impossible is nothing! I can’t stand it when people say you can’t do this….. I believe it’s possible to have it all with God on my side. I also have an amazing team that deliver exceptional work, this helps to reduce my stress level.
Nigerian women from Independence till date
The Nigerian women have developed tremendously in the last five decades. A lot of women now manage and head top positions in various sectors, we are more vocal and have good role models internationally and locally to aspire to. From Ibukun Awosika to Mosun Belo-Olusoga and so on. Also, there is an awareness of women empowerment, gender sensitivity with lots of women centered groups, NGOs and development programs. It’s our time to take over the world!
What women as home makers can do to survive recession
For a woman to survive in this recession; she must try to boost her income by monetizing her hobbies asides the regular 8-to-5 jobs and also live within her means. Cut off wastage and extras. They should develop a strict saving and budgeting routine.
Advice to young girls out there
To the young girls out there; nothing is impossible. They need to constantly develop themselves and believe in their dreams. You are enough! Self doubt and low self esteem hinders anyone from stepping up and stepping out. They need to surround themselves with people who will support them, encourage them to keep going. They must be prepared to work harder than they ever thought possible but always remember what inspired them in the first place. Have a can do spirit and positive attitude, seek out a mentor and you will realise that the sky is not the limit but the beginning.
For budding entrepreneurs, start where you are, Start small and grow big, be consistent and don’t give up! You don’t have to sacrifice one to achieve the other.