28 March 2022
Welcome to #WiMMeets - a series of short interviews with marketing leaders from across Africa and around the world. The series will present a different side to senior professionals with the aim to share the things that matter to them and inspire others.
In this interview, we sat down with Zara Abbey, the CMO at SnooCODE:
With over a decade of experience in the Film, Marketing & Advertising, and Tech industries, Zara draws on her multidisciplinary knowledge to craft quality strategy and communications for diverse audiences – from persuading emergency services around Africa to adopt more efficient technologies to educating citizens on pursuing healthier lifestyles.
She has worked as a copywriter, script supervisor, client account executive, media producer, digital media marketer, and project manager with clients such as Ogilvy, Ghana Ministry of Trade & Industry, Universal Merchant Bank, Samsung, Vodafone and Nestlé.
She is currently a Royal Academy of Engineering alumna via their Frontiers of Development programme, where she is part of a team of 12 researchers on a project to establish New Technologies and Participatory Approaches for Disaster Resilience.
WiM: What gives you energy and drives you forward when you are not feeling at the top of your game?
ZA: I think two practical things.
One, I look back at previous successes and derive some confidence or inspiration from them.
Two, I look back at previous failures and see how I came out of them, how far I’ve come since then, and I realise whatever happens, I can rise up again.
WiM: Which advertising campaign, from any brand, has been the most memorable for you and why?
ZA: Guinness’ Michael Power! As an adolescent, I did not consume the product, but I believe they entertained us with Michael Power’s heroic exploits and charisma so well that, it became ingrained in my head, “strong men drink Guinness” with the exception of my dad – the only strong man who didn’t drink Guinness.
WiM: What three pieces of advice would you give to a woman marketer aspiring to a senior position about getting to and staying at the top of their profession?
ZA: Three pieces of advice for women marketers (and other professionals) aspiring to senior positions:
a. Be an avid learner – be curious about your organisation and the world around you, ask questions, take notes and do research like it’s your main job. Every organisation values the people who can learn quickly and use their knowledge in beneficial ways, i.e. be wise. With wisdom, you can get to the top of your profession.
b. Be valuable in every way that is possible for you, even outside of your designation – be a problem solver, a fixer, a connector, a good listener, a deep thinker, a decision influencer… as much as you can. With the different times you add value in different ways, why would a good organisation do anything to lose you? By being undeniably valuable, you can remain at the top of your profession. Remember, roles have actually been created in many companies for high-value people in circumstances where other perhaps more credentialed people were also brought on board.
c. Be affable but assertive – as women, we unfortunately face the harsh reality of predatory men even in the workplace; from those who overtly take advantage of women in junior positions to those who subliminally disrespect women in senior roles. One way to navigate this reality is to try to cultivate civil connections with the male colleagues whom we have to interact with – be pleasant, but maintain a healthy distance unless you are good friends. Do not waste much energy on them. Those that try to jeopardise your position will be obviously exposed if you are following the preceding 2 pieces of advice in a fair environment. If you are doing the right things for your career, you should be able to get to the top, stay at the top, and enjoy relative peace of mind at the top.
WiM: Which one person, dead or alive, would you say inspires you the most and why?
ZA: This is a tough one, because the world has had (and continues to have) so many great people to take inspiration from, and they’ll vary at different points in one’s life based on their most important values at the time, and more knowledge gained on other personalities. Currently, the person who inspires me the most is Elon Musk. One of the things I always wanted to be growing up was an inventor, and now, working with an engineering company that invented a digital postcode system for smartphones, I even more highly regard and appreciate excellence in engineering. I have also always been moved by big, bold, ideas that generate positive global impact, so yes, the man leading the mission to make life multiplanetary inspires me to do something big for this little planet.
WiM: If you were stuck on a desert island what three things, excluding electronics, could you not do without?
ZA: Well, since you didn’t exclude the obvious essentials for survival, I would say food, a lighter for fire, and a machete for use as a weapon and for agricultural purposes like clearing bushes.
Discover more #WiMMeets interviews here!