By Bizna Brand Analyst
This past week, we caught up with Safaricom’s current Head of Digital Media, the gorgeous Muthoni Maingi. She’s young, she’s sharp and she’s bold. Basically, she’s the person your mother wishes you would become. Through ladies like her, the world has learned that digital media is not just a crotchety geeky man’s empire. Women are making a huge impact too.
You are barely 30 but you have achieved so much. You are a success story no doubt. So straight up, what’s our secret to making it big early in life?
I just turned 30 this July and I have to say being flexible and open to opportunities is my strongest trait. I graduated with a degree in Journalism. If you had asked me in 2009 when I graduated where I would be in 6 years I would never have said it would be leading digital marketing transformation for two of Kenya’s telecommunications firms, or having owned and run a business for 4 years that would have over 40 clients in across Africa. Having hit third floor, now more than ever I am eager to push higher heights but I am not defining what they will be strictly. I am open to growth and ambitious and tenacious enough to believe that I can do anything that I put my mind to well.
Compare working at Airtel to working at Safaricom
The speed and competitiveness of working in the telecommunications industry locally is the same across the board. While at Airtel, I wasn’t only in charge of Digital, I also led their Brand Assets and Experiential efforts. The teams that I led were also smaller and when I started out the Brand team was a 2 person army. However, we had a lot of leadership support that allowed us to achieve a lot while I was there. We trained the whole HQ on digital strategy and how it could transform their individual roles, we hired and onboarded an agency that was fully dedicated to social customer care in addition to increasing capacity of our digital agency into content marketing and digital experiential. This resulted in Airtel being the top social media brand in Kenya according to Africa Brand Index while I was there as well as being the only African brand being featured as a Social Devotion Master by Socialbakers.
Working at Safaricom, which is one of sub-Saharan Africa’s most valuable and innovative brands is an exciting rollercoaster! My role is tasked with bringing to life some of the most exciting digital initiatives on the continent such as Little Cab, BLAZE Kenya and Ready Business. In addition to driving best practice application of digital strategy. The leadership team at Safaricom is really digitally savvy as well, so ensuring that I am always bringing my A game to the table and closely working with partners such as Google, Facebook and Twitter to keep it fresh and sharp is a great learning curve for me.
What are some of the challenges the Blaze campaign has faced so far?
BLAZE Kenya is an amazing brand! It was created in consultation with hundreds of youth across the country. I think for me the greatest learning curve has always been ensuring that we stick to the consumer journey conceptualized to move consumers from comments and engagement to purchase. Initially, there was a slight deviation but this was rectified and the consumer rewarded us accordingly with a better understanding of the sub-brand and its propositions.
Do you think major Kenyan companies are doing enough digital advertising?
I think that Kenya is a vibrant economy as far as the internet is concerned. Small businesses especially do a lot really well online, I am regularly inspired by their content marketing and conversion efforts online. I think what is needed is more capacity building overall in terms of hard digital skills, to help small businesses and brands to do much more online. As for the corporate giants, they do quite a lot of interesting stuff too. Besides digital tends to grow and move exponentially so I would say that it is the most vibrant and innovative section in marketing even locally.
What has been the proudest moment of your career?
I am a passionate believer in the power of the mobile phone and the internet to change people’s lives. As a Founding Director of the Bloggers Association of Kenya, being a judge of its last chapter and going through over 4000 blogs was a proud moment. Being a part of the beginning and growth of such an amazing organization that has trained hundreds of people on social media and blogging and recognized so many of them nationally really meant a lot to me.