Joy Obinyan is teaching people how to breathe life into their brands and we love it

We are addicted to telling stories at RED | Africa. We do this in as many forms as you can imagine, not just because we have the talent and skill, but because we know the streets, and know what the streets are saying. Therefore, we know the brightest individuals across industries – the ‘undergees‘ who make things happen. The ones you can’t avoid in your team. The ‘brand speakers’, the market leaders, the influencers.

It is, for this reason, we caught up with the Head, Business Management, CentrespreadGreyJoy Obinyan. ‘Joy has over 13 years of experience in Advertising, Human Resource Management and Marketing Communications. She started her career as the Executive Assistant to the Managing Director, transitioned into HR Management and later into core Client Service. In addition to her responsibilities as a team lead of a strategic business unit comprising artists, writers, client service managers and producers, she is responsible for running the public affairs suite which includes Training, Conferencing, Overseas Travels and Community Relations.

This is how our conversation went:

Your experience spans business development and customer relations. You also specialize in Brand management, marketing and HR. That’s a lot! Can you tell us how it has been for you through the years since after 2014?

My pioneer status at Verdant Zeal really opened me to a lot of roles that needed to be filled because the business was a startup. However, once the company had stabilised, I then found my true north in Brand Management. It certainly wasn’t a piece of cake; from managing the organisation’s talent pool, hiring and firing, to generating revenue for the business, the key lessons all those roles taught me was the value of getting the best out of people through clear communication and emotional intelligence.

Being a Client Service manager is like being in a long-term relationship; for better for worse. I choose to deal with impossible deadlines, an assortment of characters and unrealistic client expectations. It has indeed been a ride that I have loved and wouldn’t trade for anything.

COVID-19 came, and operations, in our personal lives, in our professional spaces had to change. You lead a team of business managers, was there at any point you had to rethink your leadership styles that translate to steady growth?

Yes, and this is in an evolving state. With most things being virtual, there was the need to tailor team management to individuals focusing on their strengths and empowering them to take more ownership for their clients.

Specifically, what are the personal principles you adopted as soon as COVID-19 started redefining the new normal?

More Empathy – putting myself in the shoes of others who may be saddled with personal obligations can sometimes get in the way of productivity.

No Excuses Allowed – Whether working remotely, everything is possible with a little creative thinking.

Schedule Everything – From time allocations for work, exercise and recreation, never allow for time wastage.

It was definitely strange to many companies when the pandemic came. Too many questions were raised, one most prominent was ‘how do we navigate this period, where customers/clients prefer physical meetings to establish a certain level of trust’. Tell us, how is CentreSpreadGrey responding to this and other questions, putting into consideration that customer/client needs have begun to lean away from what was obtainable?

We adapted to this ‘new normal’ quite early as we had commenced a work-from-home policy from mid-March, which included virtual meetings from early on in March. To give some perspective to the global pandemic, we published two editions of our Jankara Series – an in-depth look at brands and their responses during the pandemic, which captured brand activities globally and locally with recommendations on how brands should approach communications and engagement during and post COVID-19.

What are you doing differently to navigate this period and come out unscathed?

Paying keen attention to my mental health. I deliberately engage in activities that connect my mind and body to an eternal supply of positive energy.

On the job, we have simplified many things by streamlining our processes, making workflow more efficient and approvals quicker.

If you were in a 100m professional race, where would you say you are now?

50metres in… we still have some ways to go.

What if you were asked how your post-pandemic will be like?

Go to work and hug my desk… but seriously, I would connect physically with friends and acquaintances at our regular hangout spots.

Do you have those ideas you cannot really voice out because you are in a conservative environment? What are they, we are anxious to know them?

None… I try to speak my truth always.

Sell yourself. Imagine you were standing in a room of 50 and someone points to you to do personal selling.

I am a Business Manager, Writer, Digital Marketer and Project Manager with a range of experience garnered from years in Advertising, Marketing, ICT and Education sectors. With over 13 years’ experience in varying roles, I have been able to hone my skills in Strategy Planning, Event and Conference Planning, Digital Marketing, Communications Mapping, Compliance and Operations Management, Project Management, Personnel Management, Negotiation and Vendor/Supplier Management. A member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK with a Masters in Business Psychology from the University of South Wales, UK.

I have played an active role in civil society, policy and agenda-setting by my pioneering role in Verdant Zeal’s thought leadership series called the Innovention Lecture Series. From 2011 – 2018, I held the position of Project Coordinator for The Innovention Series, an annual public lecture, hosted by Verdant Zeal Group, which became a rendezvous for politicians, professionals and stakeholders across sectors to dialogue on national, economic and social issues. Specific involvement/contributions were;

  1. Program design,
  2. Logistics planning,
  3. Speaker profiling and selection,
  4. Publicity,
  5. Itinerary Planning and travel coordination,
  6. Scheduling and guest protocol.

Some of my freelance and CSR projects include consultation for the M.A.D.E Forum, a coaching platform, primarily targeted at women, which enables individuals live intentionally and the Children’s Development Centre, a school focused on the care and education of children living with autism.

I am also an engaged member of the fit fam tribe and a food lover keen on discovering every recipe possible to exploit the potential of potato.

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