Kelechi Nwankpa, the Abia State-born business expert, in this interview by TOLU OLAMIRIKI, discusses her activities in digital business, challenges, the activities in her company, its comparative advantage and other sundry issues.
What is your background
I am 29 -year-old Kelechi Nwankpa, the only girl and last born in my family from Abia State, I have four elder brothers.I am a graduate of Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State, I went further to get my MBA in Information Systems from Dublin Business School, Dublin,Ireland, lastyear, l was issued an honorary Doctorate Degree in Business Administration with specialisation in Real Estate from London Graduate School,CommonwealthUniversity,London. I have always desired and wanted to be my own boss. My father is a successful business man and my mentor. He inspired my entrepreneurial journey. At a young age, l knew what l wanted, I knew I was going to become a successful entrepreneur and it was my desire to leave a legacy and have a huge positive impact on people and my generation. Through God, perseverance and passion, I was able to get to where I am now.
I started my career as an undergraduate scouting for supplies. It started with getting a contract to supply a construction project a trip of sand in the city of Ile-Ife. My partner and l went to form a construction company that we grew from supplies of one trip of sand to a full blown construction and real estate development company with several building
projects to our portfolio. We started small, but to the glory of God, we’ve been able to sustain the business to make it a reference point in the industry.
What influenced your choice / profession
Project23 Digitals is a digital marketing consulting firm with offices in Dublin and Lagos. The company is focused on improving brand visibility and helping companies gain competitive advantage leveraging digital strategy and the wide network of people on the internet.
Growing, my phone was my best friend because my siblings are way other than me so l did not really have a playmate. So l resulted to always be on my phone. Surfing the internet, researching, make friends and networking online. During the Academic Staff Union of Universities’(ASUU) strike in my third year as an undergraduate, while my mates went home for the holiday, l stayed back to learn a skill in website design and development. As time went on, l noticed l waa internet savy, l did it for fun, people would contact me for business ideas development, help them with strategies online, and l said to myself, why not put to hobby and passion to a great use? So, l decided to monetise my knowledge. And in a short of period of time, we have helped business especialy in the real estate and fashion business to make millions on the ROI of their business adopting our digital business strategy.
How did you start the journey of becoming a CEO ?
Passionate entrepreneurs usually start a company because they want to fulfill a vision. And then, they take action to make that vision a reality. When their vision and action smash together like the two tectonic plates, it forces the entrepreneur to rise up and take charge as the CEO of their company. Without realising it, they’ve transitioned from a startup entrepreneur to the CEO of a fast-growing company.
Without knowing what to expect, this process can be painful, messy, unpredictable, and lonely.
Many entrepreneurs find themselves lost in this process because unfortunately, nobody really teaches you how to be a CEO. And I’ve experienced this first hand.
Since 2010, I have started and grown three companies across Nigeria.I am currently the CEO and founder of Project23 Digitals, the leading digital marketing company with several projects and millions of naira revenue, I’ve also co-founded De Sure-fraimz Total Investment Limited, a real estate development and marketing company, I founded N-REID:(Nigerian real estate investment for diaspora), A real estate consulting firm that promotes investment for foreign investors and genuine property investment for Nigerians in Diaspora looking to come home and settle. My MBA from Dublin Business School, helped shape my natural entrepreneurial passion,gave me structure and network to effectively manage my team and businesses.
What were the challenges you had initially and how were you able to surmount them?
Starting from the scratch with out network or finance was the biggest challenge l ever experienced. I had to work twice as hard. I could enter any office and talk to anyone
In the course of my entrepreneurial journey, sexual advances from men has also been a challenge. Almost every business deal that a man was in charge, and he askes me out and l turn him doesnt always go through, so l suffered alot of rejections for that, series of disappointments and set backs.
I over came these challenges by praying fervently, l cant take away the God factor from my success today. My Mothers constant support and words of encouragement and most of them all was my consistency and determination to succeed.
How has the company faired in meeting its set out objectives?
The secret to setting objectives is making the objectives not only realistic, but also attainable. We set our objective using S.M.A.R.T mindset. To set objectives that can be successful, you need to think long term, and then plan out howto achieve them in shorter-term goals and activities. We always set out to achieve our objectives usng the S.M.A.R.T goals strategy we put in place.
What programme is your company presently involved?
During my last trip to Nigeria during the COVID-19) , jobs were lost, the unemployment rate tremendously increased, we saw the huge opportunity for wealth creation on the digital space. As a result of these problem, we launched a digital marketing masterclass that aims to solve the unemployment problem in Nigeria. The masterclass offers students the opportunity to work on real life projects with some of our partner companies. As a result, by the end of the intensive training, our students will be skilled to gain employment, start up their own digital marketing agency, get their first clients, become freelancers, among others.
What are the company’s competitive advantage?
Our company’ core competitive advantage is providing unique digital solutions that is suitable for your business, our process is transparent and we put the needs of our clients first. We also get involve in several corporate social responsibility in our community that strengthens our customer intimacy. Our clients satisfaction is parmount to our business growth and success.
What are your sources of inspiration and your role models
My inspiration comes from God first,He constantly gifts me with ideas, it just comes naturally and He gives me the strength and resources to follow through with it.
My parents are my major role models. My father built his businesses from the scratch and l admire that so much about him. I got my entrepreneurial spirit from him, My mother on the other, has always been my support system. She is also the best manager l have seen in my life. I look to her a lot and l always tell her l wish l can be as good as she is in her managerial skills .
How do you handle difficult and challenging moments, issues
I am surrounded by love, great and amazing people. Been the only girl and last born among four brothers, I always have emotional support systems.
My fiance taught me to always shut down when things gets difficult and tough for me.
He is always there for me to walk me through the challenges and issues . Not being alone is a huge advantage in helping me beat difficult situations. 10: What do you do outside work ( unwind and health routine ).
I love to travel round the world, experience new and different culture, l love sleeping, and l also love to netflix.
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