“Bringing value to the table makes you indispensable”- Toluwani Ijogun on being a woman in tech

Onyinye Okonkwo
Toluwani Ijogun

Toluwani Ijogun never really gave being in the tech space a thought, having worked in a number of market sectors, ranging from banking, FMCG, food and beverage and electronics. Now, she leads the team responsible for branding and communications at Nomba (the fintech company, formerly known as Kudi).

While she didn’t actively go seeking a job in the fintech space when she was approached for a position in a popular fintech brand, she said yes to exploring new vistas, that decision would mark the beginning of her foray into tech and her journey as a woman in tech.

How it started

Toluwani who earned a master’s in advertising had always wanted to work in a company where she could bring value to the table, a company that offered real value to the country and its customers and gave her room to grow she explains while talking about why she joined Nomba on her tech journey,

“I was with Kuda Bank, another fintech for about 8 months after working in several sectors, I was approached by that fintech and was there before moving to Nomba where I work as the Vice President of communications. I was looking for a company where I could bring value to the table, a company that had a long-term strategy and was impacting and giving value to its customers. This is because, being in this field, a lot of fintech companies exist, really great ones but I wanted to be a company that would challenge me and one that had a strategy to not only impact its customers but its staff as well”. She said.

Having been at Nomba for 9 months, Toluwani seems to have found all she has been searching for at Nomba especially as she got the opportunity to lead the movement for the rebranding of the company formerly known as Kudi to Nomba. 

Bringing value to the table

Toluwani took up the challenge of rebranding the company formerly known as Kudi to Nomba because she loved challenges. And, she shares some insights into the hard work and strategy that went into that process.

“I actually championed the rebranding from Kudi to Nomba because I felt our name was too close to another fintech in the country and people started mistaking us for that other company although we had been around for a lot longer. when I came on board, I realized the brand was ready to expand and make a lot of noise about things and it would really have been unfortunate to spend a lot of money on a brand that would be mistaken for another brand because we would only have been adding equity to that other band and not differentiate ourselves” she says.

Having an idea to rebrand would have just remained an idea if the management of the company didn’t approve of the idea, Toluwani had an idea and she not only got the management to approve but she also led strategies on how to come up with a new widely acceptable brand name that both management and customers alike could identify with. 

“ I was very glad when the management agreed for us to change the name and I devised strategies to come up with the name Nomba.  I think the name is fantastic because it resonates with everyone especially in business because you know numbers are the life of your business it tells you if you are growing or dying and even in life it’s all about the numbers.  I feel like we have a fantastic name and built a fantastic brand, I believe we have something special”. 

The rebranding from Kudi to Nomba which was spearheaded by Toluwani went live on April 15th and she shares how the feedback and acceptance from customers have been so far. “ the feedback has been amazing” she says. 

Toluwani Ijogun

“The feedback has been fantastic, people love the name and the brand and because we have already done quite a lot since our inception, it’s been very easy transitioning because with 150 businesses on our platform today, it has given us a brand that both staff and customers are proud of and willing to push to the next level.”

The experience from working in tech

Tolu who has worked in various industries before ‘stumbling into tech’, observes that tech is very different from other sectors for many reasons. 

“ Tech is a bit different from other sectors because it’s new young, dynamic, things are fast-paced and changing very quickly, lots of regulations, understanding the customers, a lot of competition, unlike other sectors in tech everybody has money so I’ve realised it’s not just about having money, it’s about strategy, product, positioning.”

Tolu said that tech has made her dive deeper into even relatively known terms in branding and marketing to create a brand that resonates with everybody. This is because tech is unlike familiar spaces at least yet. “Like the name Nomba, we had to look for a name that anyone anywhere could understand”, she said.

Tolu summarises her learning curve ever since thus:

“Tech, in general, has pushed me to be more deliberate and strategic in the things we do, how we put out communication, the ads we do and how we constantly keep a pulse on what our customers need to create value for them”

Challenges as a woman in tech

Toluwani believes in bringing value to whatever table she is sitting at regardless of her gender. She talks about how being a woman in tech has been interesting and what has helped her navigate male-dominated spaces be it oil& gas, tech and others.

“ What has worked for me is being good at your job and being consistent. I think the one thing that makes a woman stand out regardless of the industry is being good at what she does and her ability to bring value to the table. I think that has really given me an edge because I am good at what I do and I always want to be challenged, I always want to do better so when I am sitting at a table, I am sitting like someone with experience who is bringing value to the table.“ She says.

She elucidates that she doesn’t believe that there is any problem peculiar to tech, stating that it is almost like a people problem, or a company culture challenge not necessarily a problem with the tech space.

“ I have worked in different categories, with different personalities, I don’t really think it is a tech problem, I think it’s the people you work with, the company culture, the person you report to so I won’t say its a tech thing, it’s the company, the culture and how you fit in it”.

Nomba, vp communications, Toluwani

Advice to women in tech

For women looking to pivot into tech, Toluwani has this advice for you;

“ Nothing is too big and nothing is impossible, I think women look at it and say oh my God tech, I can’t get it, no you can just apply! I think what is important is being good and consistent at what you do. For me I didn’t even apply, I was approached. Just make your work visible and apply to any company you are interested in, the worst they can get is a no but what if you get a yes?”.

“Do not be intimidated by any company, just apply and be sure you add value because the tech space is very dynamic and fast-paced so companies are always looking for talents who know what they are doing and can add value to their work. So long as you know what you can offer, please go ahead, and send that message on LinkedIn, apply! apply! apply!”, she adds.

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