A Week in the Life is a weekly Zikoko series that explores the working-class struggles of Nigerians. It captures the very spirit of what it means to hustle in Nigeria and puts you in the shoes of the subject for a week.
What’s it like managing the social media of a fintech company in Nigeria? Today, we explore A Week in the Life of Peace Obinani, a product marketing manager. She tells us about fighting fires while handling her company’s social media, quenching widespread rumours and managing a community of non-tech people who work in tech.
I’m in church when a serious problem begins at work: account numbers are not working and credits are not reflecting on time. Withdrawals are being delayed by our payment processors and people are panicking. Ideally, it should not be much of a big deal because nothing is wrong with anyone’s money, but fintech is still in its formative years and Nigerians are still just learning to trust it.
I do my best alongside my team to manage our customers; it’s really difficult convincing a customer new to trusting apps on their phone with their money that their payment is being delayed for whatever reason.
Right there in church, I draft official statements and responses, and engage our audience to curb the mass panic, while the product team finds a solution and quickly pivots to another bank. I also post helpful Twitter threads on the company’s social media accounts.
I’ll spend the rest of the day letting people know about their new account numbers and reassuring them about the safety of their funds.
Today is a lot but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Do I sometimes wish that perhaps, I could just switch off and do normal Sunday things? Maybe, but I don’t want an overly structured schedule. I’m fine with the chaos. People might say I’m a workaholic but I’m fully invested in everything I do and I really don’t want to be confined to strict daily routines.
No Nigerian fintech company ever wants to trend for the wrong reasons. Anytime we start trending on Twitter, it leads to a chain reaction: people start asking, “Why is the company holding my money trending?” And before you know it, panic ensues.
People are now used to seeing us trend, so they no longer panic as much — this makes my work a little easier. There’s a lot of work overflowing from yesterday’s situation, so I’m trying my best to ensure things remain calm.
After work, I’m proud of my job today. I’ve always done social media, but in university, I thought I’d pursue a career in events production. I dreamt of producing a show for Beyonce and bringing her to Nigeria. I wanted to go to production school abroad and work on events like Coachella.
In my final year of university, I was saving money for life after school and I used my current company’s savings app. But I didn’t know it was a big deal. It was when I got the opportunity to work as a social media manager in fintech that I realised how much of a gamechanger it would be.
I’ve been doing events for 10 years, so when the time came for my company to organize marketing events offline, it was only natural that I’d transition from just social media management to full-on marketing.
I love being a product marketing manager, simplifying my company’s products in a way that’s easy to understand and making sure that as many people as possible know about us and grow to love us. I enjoy being at the centre of everything — I’m a dot-connector — a bridge across different departments and units: engineering, support, social media, legal, the product team, etc.
I woke up at 10 a.m. today and there’s a bunch of messages and missed calls waiting for me. In my line of work, there’s no start time or stop time. It’s wake up and jump-start.
But having to deal with Nigerians takes a lot of patience. As a people, we’re paranoid about money, so fintech is very sensitive and there are so many uncertainties. My life can be going nice and smooth, and then something just comes along and shakes my equilibrium; in a second, everything turns upside down.
There are days when Nigeria conspires against me and everything moves mad. I do my best to explain. Sometimes the problem is not from us — there are other parties involved for things to run smoothly – sometimes it’s banks, other third parties or even CBN.. But people trust traditional banks more than fintech companies and are quick to point fingers at us when something goes wrong.
It’s very challenging having no clear work-life balance, but I find fulfilment from managing situations like these.
Problems never end! Everything was going fine, and I took a short nap only to wake up minutes later to my phone blowing up. I get myself together and find out what’s going on: someone spread a rumour about a billion naira scam on social media, and now I’m back to firefighting.
Rumours are dangerous for our line of work. It’s common for customers to aggravate an issue they’re experiencing. Because we play in a very low trust environment and the people peddling these rumours are somewhat influential, other people just run with it.
Sometimes, I wonder about having a regular 9-5 job, but I’m not sure if it’s what I really want. I’m calm even when it gets overwhelming. I do this by continually monitoring everything, so I can quench the fire as soon as it starts, no matter how small. Even if someone texts at midnight to ask why they withdrew their ₦2k and haven’t received it, I can’t ignore it because in the morning, I may wake up to meet the internet on fire. You never know.
After work today, I’m managing a community of non-tech people in tech called… Non-tech in Tech. It started as a joke: last year, I wanted to develop a personal brand, but I didn’t want to be one of those people who only tweeted the same thing every day. As a non-technical person working in fintech, I created a Twitter account to drag tech bros, catch cruise and connect with people in my field.
The vision wasn’t entirely clear at first. But one day, I realised that many people looking to transition into tech believe the myth that one must be a developer to get jobs in tech companies. I decided to make Non-tech in Tech a community. I created a Slack channel and started posting jobs, courses and scholarship opportunities. People volunteered to help manage the community, and we have been growing ever since.
All my friends and colleagues live close to me, so it’s easy to keep in touch outside of work. We’re having fun this weekend. It’s been a crazy week but we got through the challenges.
My colleagues know how to unwind! And we’ve found a way to have fun even though we’re always busy. We could be clubbing while pressing phone and solving problems at the same time, but we still find our way to have fun. We’re now used to the life.
Today, we’re going to eat nkwobi and drink beer because, ladies and gentlemen: it’s the weekend!