Every successful entrepreneur has to start somewhere. For Jennifer Obiekwugo, a Founding CEO, it began from three things: Competitive spirit, Reinvention, and Resilience. With the forces of gender biases and steep learning curves, Jennifer has defied convention and expectations, carving out her path in the tech and digital marketing industry. Through an exclusive interview, we delve into the life and career of Jennifer Obiekwugo, a woman who refused to take ‘no’ for an answer.
Jennifer’s early life in Lagos laid the foundation for her competitive spirit. She attended Queens College, a prestigious institution that initially challenged her academic prowess. Her humble beginnings in a private school had seen her consistently topping her class. Still, Queens College proved to be a rude awakening. Jennifer recalls her first position there as 48 out of 64, a moment that ignited her competitive drive. The spirit that would prove invaluable in her future endeavors.
After completing her schooling in Lagos, Jennifer continued her educational journey at the University of Ghana. She pursued a degree in Information Technology, a choice that laid the groundwork for her future career. Following graduation, she took her first steps into the professional world as an intern. From there, she initially delved into software development and IT training. However, it was her transition to client acquisition that marked the beginning of her true calling; “problem-solving”.
She narrated, “I started to go for project bidding. I found myself being pushed into projects that were difficult, projects I had failed for like a year or two years. You know how these things are done sometimes in some environments. They give it to the junior staff. I found myself in a lot of that, and when I succeeded in making things work, I realized that maybe I’m a problem solver after all. So the turning point for me really was this particular project that we went to bid for. I went to my senior colleague, and there was a competing company. Their service charge for the software development was about 2 million naira, and our charge was 18 million. And this was not inclusive of the software licenses. My manager looked at me and said, “take this presentation.” I was scared. I was like, “You threw me in deep waters.” But I realized later that it was because he had confidence in me. I delivered, and I won. So that day, I was like, “Okay, you were made for this.” That was a turning point for me.”
Jennifer’s path was not without its fair share of obstacles. Her father had hoped she would become a doctor, but Jennifer had a different vision for her future. Her mother’s support was instrumental in her journey, and her resilience was a driving force. Jennifer recounts her ability to face adversity and rejection with unwavering determination, a trait that became the cornerstone of her success.
One of the defining moments in Jennifer’s career came when her business faced a tumultuous period. Her digital marketing agency, initially known as Feman Digital Agency, saw significant growth but also internal turmoil. A falling out with her business partner led to a bitter division that caused her to lose several multinational clients. This turbulent period could have spelled the end for her business, but Jennifer’s unyielding spirit helped her rebuild and emerge stronger than ever.
Jennifer emphasising the importance of networking, said, “your network is not just a buzzword; it is a currency. Your ability to leverage your network during challenging times demonstrates your power to build meaningful connections.” According to Jennifer, “My mentors and some other influential figures played pivotal roles in my journey”.
For Jennifer, as for many female entrepreneurs, the journey came with the unique challenge of balancing motherhood with her role as a business owner. The responsibilities of raising a toddler and the demands of her growing business often left her feeling exhausted. However, she looked to the strong women who came before her, finding the strength to persevere and adapt.
Jennifer’s entrepreneurial spirit hit its stride during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the world turned to digital solutions and e-commerce, Jennifer’s digital marketing expertise became a sought-after commodity. This period marked a significant turning point in her career, solidifying her position as a leading figure in the industry.
A pivotal decision in Jennifer’s journey involved choosing between buying her first car and renting office space for her business. She opted for the latter, making a significant sacrifice to advance her dream and business growth.
Beyond her career, Jennifer is known for her social nature. She strikes a unique balance between being sociable and introverted. Her ability to connect with others, engage in meaningful conversations, and her innate kindness are characteristics that define her as a person.
She offers sage advice to young aspiring entrepreneurs, emphasizing self-belief and the power of execution. She highlights that ideas are abundant, but what sets an individual apart is their ability to bring those ideas to life. She underlines the importance of planning, execution, and the invaluable asset of a strong network.
Overcoming gender stereotypes, business setbacks, and personal challenges to become a thriving entrepreneur, Jennifer was made to beat the odds and we can only imagine the heights she will reach in the years to come.