While her idea of a relaxed evening is drinking Corona, watching movies and dancing to her favourite tunes in her apartment, during the day Alma works as a client account manager at a retail activation company (Don’t worry I had to google that too!).
It’s exciting to read about Alma’s work life because if we judged solely from her fashion/style photos that we’re privy to on social media and blog – you might think her day job is one very closely related to fashion. So I’m very glad she reached out to share this with us.
From an engineering degree in Nigeria to changing paths in Canada, she shares her journey and what a day in her work life looks like!
at 6:30am but I don’t get out of bed till 7:05am. I set it that way so I can squeeze in an extra 30 mins of sleep without feeling guilty. On most days, I’m successful in saying a prayer before I get up and other days, I just lay in bed trying to harness the strength to be an adult that day. I usually spend about 15 mins in the shower, get ready in 15 mins (I don’t wear makeup to work), pack my breakfast / lunch / snacks and head out by 7:45 am.
I take a straight bus to work everyday. Luckily for me, the bus terminal is just right outside my apartment. Seeing as it is a 45 mins ride, I have some time to catch up on messages from the previous day and on social media. This is typically the time I engage on Instagram, tweet and check analytics on my blog and pinterest. I also listen to a sermon or a motivational podcast. I find that preparing my mind to succeed and be positive in the mornings is very crucial to how I view and handle the rest of the day. My favourite podcast stations are Elevation Church, Side Hustle Pro and Myleik Teele’s.
I make a joke with my colleagues that I’m pretty much responsible for everything at work. I started my job in the company as a Project Administrator / Co-ordinator, working closely with the Project Management and Production teams. After 8 months, both management and myself realised I would be a great asset to the Account Management Team. I made this transition in January 2018, and have been handling client relations ever since.
Simply put, retail activation/marketing is the development of marketing solutions (in-store or online) with the aim of defining a customer’s shopping experience and influencing purchase decisions. As account manager, I’m largely responsible for client management and communications per project basis. I act as a liaison between clients and other departments, ensuring that all aspects of a project request are fulfilled to the client’s satisfaction.
It took me almost a year to get a job after graduating from my Masters. I had moved to Canada in 2015 from Nigeria (first degree was from Igbinedion University) to do a Masters in Engineering Management at the University of Ottawa. After graduation, I decided to explore another aspect of Engineering Management, which is Project Management. I was keen on this because PM field is a lot broader and can be applied to pretty much all industries. I wanted to broaden my knowledge, options and skill sets outside of Engineering. The goal was to become a Project Manager, so I figured I could do that in any industry so I started applying everywhere else but the Engineering Field.
After applying for almost 6 months straight and not getting any call backs, I considered getting affiliated with a job agency in Toronto and 2 months later, I got a call from my agent asking if I was interested in applying for the role of a Project Administrator in a Retail Activation Company. At this point, I had never heard of “Retail Activation” but I did my research and it spiked my curiosity. As Project Administrator, I supported Project Managers, to oversee and perform various tasks necessary to keep the project running smoothly – from report preparation to project planning and even quality control when needed.
This role was a contract position and at first, I was skeptical about the pay because I felt my Masters Degree wasn’t being valued, but I also had to come to the terms that I had no real work experience prior to that and this was a whole industry I had never heard of. I was able to negotiate once I became a permanent staff.
I went in for the interview and the process went seamlessly. We discussed the role amongst other things, and I was a little surprised when I was asked to talk about my blog. Interestingly, that was one of the things that sold me about the company. After working for 8 months as a Project Administrator, I was open to exploring other options. Luckily for me, there was an opening in the Account Team and I put in an application for the position. That is how I became an Account Manager.
My typical day starts out with a team / status meeting to share the progress of different projects and what needs to be accomplished that day. I make a very detailed to-do list of all my tasks for that day and this can range from client calls to design and kick-off meetings or production sign-offs. My mornings are filled with following up on the previous day’s work as well as actioning tasks with other departments.
The Account Team has a tradition to eat lunch together and watch an episode of whatever show we choose for the week. Right now, we are watching “The Office” and I cannot believe that I never bothered with the show till now, it’s so hilarious! Because things can get a little chaotic through the day, it’s great that we have that time to de-stress and re-center ourselves for the rest of the day.
Our Christmas party last year was so much fun! I know it seems weird that my most memorable thing is non-work related but I saw a different side to my colleagues that day and I absolutely loved it! We had the most gorgeous winter wonderland themed party at a location that overlooked downtown Toronto. It felt magical, to say the least.
For me, it’ll be having to remember all the details as pertaining to different clients and projects. Seeing as I’m pretty new to the role, I’m still getting a hang of recalling every little detail, especially after project briefs. In this line of work, that’s almost not acceptable. Luckily, I have a team that is very understanding as I try to catch up. I also make use of a lot of organisation tools to make sure nothing gets lost in the cracks.
Is easily the fact that we get products before they’re launched into the market. Our clients are also very generous with discount prices for our teams. So if we’re not getting free products, we’re definitely getting at least 50% off something . This comes in handy when you have clients like Google, Adidas, UE, etc.
It’s easy. I once heard someone say “all you guys have to do is talk to the client”. Well, it’s not exactly roses when you have to deliver bad news regarding a project that a client has paid hundreds of thousands of $$ for. Being an Account Coordinator / Executive / Manager also means you’re the middle man between your clients and every other department in the office. And most times, you find yourself managing more people than you’d like just to get things done. It also means dealing with clients in different time zones and having status/progress calls at odd hours of the day, which I don’t particularly find exciting.
Be prepared for the work that comes with it. I’ve done more research in the last few months than I did in all my years of undergrad. You learn to see every article, display, ad, campaign differently than someone’s that’s not in the industry. A lot of the time clients come to us with a problem and no solution. It‘s part of our job to propose one that aligns with their brand, budget as well as provide ROI. Even when I’m holiday, I’m lowkey peeping what’s happening in other countries in order to be one step ahead.
The beauty of managing a side hustle alongside a demanding 9-5 is that after work, is just more work! I get home at around 5:45 / 6pm depending on what the traffic situation looks like. I spend the next hour making dinner and packing lunch for the next day. Then, I like to watch a movie or catch up on my favourite show for about an 1hr 30 mins. This is typically my relaxation window. Once that is over, I start what I call TAC / Self Development time. Activities during this time can range from learning a new skill, to writing up a blog post, editing photos, writing a business plan or even typing out pitch emails to be sent the following day. It’s important for me to remember that as much as I work for someone else, my goals also matter. I turn off my laptop at 10:30pm and I’m fast asleep by 11:00pm
Is definitely all the skills I’ve picked up in the last 11 months. To me, my 9 – 5 is a free business school that I get paid to attend. Coming from an Engineering background, I’ve pretty much spent most of my life dealing with numbers and nothing else. In the last month, I’ve been challenged to be better at client relations, research, negotiating, pitching and presentations. It has definitely be rewarding in more ways than one. I find that I’m also able to apply these business skills to my side hustle. I believe it’s a win win.
Manage different NGO’s, travel around the world and continuously inspire people through TAC. I’m very passionate about helping people, especially young women and children. Being from a small village in Niger Delta has really inspired me to want to do more to educate young women and help them fulfill their potential. I’m hoping that sooner than later, I’m able to establish a hub for the purpose of teaching these young women to be learned, to dream for more and hopefully be self-dependent.
Politics and Activism.
So many gems I took away from this one! Like a few others in this series, career changes happen and getting that ideal role may not happen immediately. I loved the fact that her blog came up during the interview and her employers appreciate that she could have her own thing on the side. And really could we have put it any better – many times your 9-5 is indeed like a free business school!
Taking a cue from her, I should probably have a dedicated KT time for self development activities. She seems so organised in that regard!
Thank you so much for this Alma – all the very best with work and your blog – thealmachronicle.com (TAC). And hey, you should still go for Politics and Activism – no need to wait for a second life I think!
Hope you enjoyed this one . Eager to hear your thoughts and takeaways!