For this week’s MoneyRise User Story, Tega, a marketing and communications professional, who once wanted to become the first female CBN governor, talks to us about reading books as a child, taking an academic path she never really liked, and the self-realisation she had in one of her many monetary classes.

Now, all she wants to do is run her marketing agency, make a lot of money, take care of her family and live the baby girl life. This is her story.

Hi, Tega. Can you introduce yourself to us?

My name is Tega Ajogun. I’m a marketing and communications professional and currently the senior marketing manager at Mdundo. I’m a marketing person, and I’ve been in marketing for over eight years. I’m married with two kids. Oh, and I like to have fun.

What was growing up like?

Growing up was fun, I’d say. I grew up in Lagos, around Alapere, with many books. My mom loved to read, so she usually bought a lot of books and comics, including Marvels and others. So I grew up reading a lot. I had an enjoyable childhood, from reading to watching Cadbury television. It was really fun. I’m the third child of four kids; I have two older siblings and a younger one. And growing up with them in the 1990s and early 2000s was fun. I think my fondest memories from childhood are from when I was in secondary school.

Do you think that influenced who you are and what you do today?

Yes, I’d say so. For example, the books I used to read as a child gave me a different view of life. At one point, when I was about 15, I had already read hundreds of books. Probably up to a thousand, but nobody believes me when I tell them that I’ve read up to a thousand books. Although I never actually counted, I’m sure I had read up to that number of books by the time I was in secondary school. And every book I read had a way it shaped my mindset; the way I saw things were different based on the books, and even though I grew up in the trenches. I was not looking at my environment the way it was; I was looking at it in other ways: “This is how it should be. This is how life is supposed to be. This is what I want to do.” So many things I planned to do when I grew up were all based on the fact that I had read them in books. So yeah, I’d say all that shaped the person I am today.

However, I don’t think that shaped my career. I don’t see any correlation between marketing and reading all of those books. But in other aspects of my life, I think it did.

Talk to us about marketing management. How did your career in marketing begin?

Interestingly, my career in marketing started very funnily. I read economics in school and have a masters in economics. When I was in secondary school, we had an excursion to a bank one day, and I saw the bankers and some of the other people who worked there. They all looked so clean and pretty, which sparked my interest in banking. I knew right then that I wanted to be like them when I grew up, but I was already in science class. I wondered how I was supposed to navigate since banking was a commercial course, and I didn’t do any commercial subjects like accounting or commerce. So I decided to do economics. 

At that time, Charles Soludo was a huge mentor. Seeing his name on a naira note was a huge deal, and I hoped I would one day become the first female CBN governor. I read up on Charles Soludo and saw that he had bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics and other courses. I tried to tailor what I’d read in the university after him so I could do a master’s, a PhD, work in an investment bank, then work my way up to becoming the first female CBN Governor. 

Along the way, life did its thing. At first, I thought economics was what I wanted, so I forced it on myself. But while I was in the university, I had other passions; organising beauty events, fashion shows, and other events. I did that for about two years while there, and I liked it. And aside from organising these events, I was also promoting them. Twitter was new then, so I was using that and Instagram — just tweeting using our school community to promote our fashion shows, the events, and talking to vendors. I realised how easily that part of me flowed than the economics I was forcing on myself. 

By the time I was doing my master’s, I was already interning for an online fashion directory — StylJunki. I was there as a social media intern, working with many fashion designers and make-up artists. I was in that fashion and make-up space, doing social media, promoting them online, and pushing their latest collections. 

Then one day, I was sitting in my monetary class when it hit me that the economics I was studying was not giving. I began asking myself some critical questions, and it dawned on me that I was lost and economics wasn’t for me. I couldn’t relate to some of the things being taught in class, and I knew thereon that I was done with the course. It wasn’t for me.

I liked social media and marketing, and those were what I wanted to do. So I thought maybe, one day, I would find my way back to entering Nigerian politics, but at that moment, it wasn’t what I wanted. I finished my master’s, but from there on, I knew I wouldn’t apply to an investment bank. 

I even got a KPMG interview invite, which happened to be on my birthday. I knew that God was telling me the job wasn’t for me. I wasn’t going to spend my birthday in the rain, going for an interview. I turned the invite down and focused on continuing my internship. From there, I started working full-time as a social media executive, working my way up to where I am right now — from one role to another. 

I even started my agency, Qlick Digital, and currently work at Mdundo as a Senior Marketing Manager. But like I said, it was that Monetary class that changed the course of my life. It was my turning point. I had to talk sense into myself and make the hard decision. To date, my mom still asks me when I will be going for my Ph.D., which I have made clear that I won’t be going for. I have found what I want to do, and I will most likely go for another master’s, but this time in Marketing and Communications or Luxury Marketing. I was very young then, but maybe, if I had started working before I began my masters, I’d have known not to do it. Regardless, I won’t say it’s a waste. That has been my journey.

What are your favourite things about marketing?

One thing I love about digital marketing, which is what I’m more into, is that what you put in is what you get. It is measurable. I love numbers, which is probably one thing I picked from economics. I love when I put in the effort and see the numbers going up. It makes me excited. Everyone who knows me knows how much I love looking at numbers. I love analytics, and I carry my love for numbers into money. I love seeing my money grow too. That’s one exciting thing about marketing. I also love that when I go into the streets, I see people talking about the brands I have worked on. Brands that I probably spent the whole week or days or nights brainstorming on an idea, then I go outside, see it on a billboard, hear the jingle playing on the radio, or see my ads online. All of these are the best things about marketing for me. It’s amazing. 

But like I said earlier, my favourite is always the numbers. The analytics. I’m a sucker for that.

Do you face any challenges as a woman in marketing? What are they?

Not really. The only times I had experienced a unique challenge as a woman was when I gave birth and went on maternity leave, and work had to continue. The first time, they had to get someone who temporarily replaced me, but by the time I came back, he had already come into my role and was doing it, and my boss was thinking of making him permanent. I didn’t like the idea because it meant we shared roles, even though I liked the guy. 

The next three months after that was hard for me to get back into the system. There was also the part where people didn’t want to assign many tasks to me because I was a new mom and either needed to nurse the baby or leave work early. And when they eventually decided to give me the task, I would be in a meeting at 9 pm, thinking of the baby I left at home. So maternity periods for working moms are very consuming. I have two kids, so I have passed through that twice. 

You want to be badass at your job, but you must be hands-on with lots of late-night meetings. And then, you can’t tell work to stop. Work has to go on. When I had my second baby, I was already running my agency, Qlick Digital. By the time I went into the hospital to give birth, I was still working and attending to clients. Even after giving birth, work continued. I had to make sure things were going on well. There was no maternity leave with my second baby because it was my agency, and work had to go on. So a lot of my clients didn’t even know that I was pregnant or had given birth. Everything just had to continue immediately and smoothly.

But apart from that, I don’t think that there are other unique challenges women in marketing face.

We assume you’ve worked on many projects since your career began; what are your favourites?

For one, we do a lot of pitches. One pitch that stands out was the one I did when I was pregnant with my child. We were going to pitch to a bank’s General Managing Director (GMD), and we were literally out of time. Apart from the digital aspect, which I was pitching, my colleagues were also pitching creatives and PR. The GMD kept looking at his watch, so my boss decided that when it was my time to pitch, I shouldn’t talk about the numbers or audits; instead, I should go straight to my idea for the brand. When I got there, with my bulgy tummy, I decided that I wanted him to see the numbers. He had to. So I started with the numbers.

Interestingly, the GMD was very interested, and this is one of the top 3 banks in Nigeria we speak of. He showed so much interest in the numbers that he asked me to return to a previous slide as he wanted to sit down and digest the figures he had just seen for competitor analysis. He just wanted to see how I intended to compete with our competitors and the ideas I had that could give us the number he saw. Those were all he was interested in. We won the pitch. After that, I got an email from my boss to everybody saying, “Congrats, Tega! We’re proud of you” I should have printed that mail out, but I did not. So if I were to recount, that was one of my best pitches. It’s usually the first one that comes to mind. Apart from that, I have done other campaigns. 

For example, I ran a campaign for a brand coming into Nigeria, and their banners were everywhere. They were on Twitter, and we had influencers talking about the brand because we started with a teaser phase. My husband, who wasn’t aware I was running the campaign, spoke about it randomly one day and said he had been seeing the campaign on Twitter and billboards and didn’t know what it was about, but he liked it. When I told him I ran the campaign, he was impressed and said I was a badass. Those two are the ones that come to mind whenever I’m asked what my favourite projects are. I have done some other outstanding campaigns for a lot of brands.

We see you have a TFAA nomination. Can you tell us about it?

Oh, that was a surprise. I had wanted to be on TFAA since 2017, which finally came in 2020. I wanted it because I had a boss who would compare us to others in the same industry, saying, “Are those not your mates being nominated on TFAA?” I thought about it and felt that if 25yr olds were doing it, why wasn’t I? They didn’t have two heads. So I was delighted I got that nomination. The category was in the Prize for Intrepreneurship. It was more like a nomination for a manager within a company. So I was recognized as one of the top managers. I worked in Ringier, Nigeria, as the head of agency partnerships when the nomination came. 

Even though I didn’t win, I was thankful. Getting nominated is as amazing as winning. It was great actually to be recognized. I wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t even know how they noticed me because I never filled out the form. It just came. 

It also came at a period when I had just lost my brother, so I was grieving when I saw it. But it was terrific. 

What is your relationship with money?

I like money. I like money a lot, so long as it is clean and legal. As I mentioned earlier, I love numbers, and money is numbers. That’s how I see it. I love seeing my numbers grow, except it is a negative one like our inflation rate. 

Growing up as a little girl, I had kolo, the local piggy bank my mom made for us. She would give us a lot of money then and later take some of it back as a punishment when we misbehaved. It usually came as a fine.

She did this: when there was no light, and the weather was hot because we didn’t have a generator, she’d make us use a newspaper to fan her about 100 times, then pay us after. Or she would make us run some little errands at home, pay us, and we would save it. But the moment we misbehaved, she’d fine us some money.  

I developed a healthy relationship with money very early in my childhood. I saved a lot and started thinking long-term as a child. I always strived to make more money, run more errands and be on my best behaviour because I didn’t want to be fined. I was always thinking of ways to make more money. I still do that now.

In fact, before I entered the university, I thought I would be a musician because it seemed like they had a lot of money. I tried to write music to make money, but that didn’t blow. If there’s anything legal that makes money, just know that I, Tega, have tried it. There was even a time when I was younger, and I thought that when I grew up, I’d use all the money I had saved to open a supermarket to make more money. 

Bringing it back to the present, I immensely like to save my money. I save for anything. If anyone gave me 100,000 naira, I’d probably only use 10,000 naira, pay my tithe of 10,000 naira, give another 10,000 naira to anyone who needs it and save or invest the 70,000 naira that is left. It got to a point where I saved and invested so much I felt like I wasn’t spending enough on myself. So once in a while, I try to take a bulk and just splurge. 

Hence, every money that comes in is already being budgeted, which is one important thing I do. I budget my money. Now, I already know how much I will be spending till the end of this year, 2022. I also have an emergency fund that I keep aside for emergencies. And I have been doing that since I got married in 2018. 

I have four excel sheets, one for each year to date. For 2018, all my family expenditures are down on excel. The same thing applies to 2019, 2020, 2021, and this year. Everything is down on my excel sheet. I also include money for random things in my budget; outings, snacks for the kids, and anything else. Everything is layered. 

I know that life will often happen, so when I exceed my budget, it’s usually by about 5 or 10%. Then I also have a savings target. I’m like my salesperson, so whenever it’s a new year, I give myself a target. Say, for example, maybe last year my target was $50,000, this year, I have to triple it. And once I have my money target for the year, I look at my different sources of income, including my salary, and know how much each will contribute towards my savings goal. If they aren’t enough, I look for other ways to meet my target. I start to look for projects and contracts that I could do that would help.

What are your thoughts on investing?

I’m very risk-averse. I like to make money, but I do not like to lose it. So I’m always on the lookout for safe investment methods. If I know that I can put my money into something and it will be safe, I will put it there. It has to be safe and that my capital will always be intact. I also need to know that the rates I’m getting my money at are higher than the current inflation rate in Nigeria. So those are the three things I look out for before investing: my capital must be safe, the investment machine must be safe, too, and then I’m getting way more than the inflation rate in Nigeria. I believe that when you’re saving, you’re not saving. You’re losing money when you don’t invest. I believe in investing; I always invest my money. Most importantly, I don’t do that in naira. I rarely keep naira; instead, I invest in dollars.

Is this where Rise comes in? When did you start using Rise?

Yes, this is where Rise comes in. I started using the app when they ran an ad about investing with as low as 3,600. At that time, a dollar was 360 naira. It was so good that by the time my plan matured, dollar was about 380 naira. I was so impressed because I did not only make money on my plan but also based on the exchange rate. So I had more naira. But then, I wasn’t quite deep into the ‘no saving in naira’ mantra, so I took out the money. I was scared, especially since I had a close shave with an agro company. 

I took out my money and gains from Rise and converted it to naira, which I regret now. I remember my husband saying I should leave it there, but I didn’t listen.

At the end of 2020 or the start of 2021, I came back to Rise when dollar was now about 480 naira. Imagine how much I’d have made if I had just left my money there. So the reason I came back, although a ridiculous one — probably the silliest reason I have ever had to invest anywhere — was because Rise came out with a new design for the app, and it was so cool. I think I tweeted about it then. My God, the design was so sleek compared to what we had before. It was so beautiful that I didn’t mind if I lost my money. That night, after I saw the design, I decided to put back my money into it. And ever since then, little by little, my money has grown significantly. I’m a Rise fan.

What has your journey with us been like?

Rise has really helped me grow my money. Because of them, I now think of ways to invest in dollar-denominated assets on the app. However, I don’t go anywhere close to the stocks plan as I’m risk-averse. I do only the build wealth plan, real estate, and fixed income. Those do it for me. Last month, I was in the market doing my wardrobe shopping when my real estate returns came in, and guess what? It more than paid for the shopping I did. It paid for all my shopping, and I still had some change. It was delightful that I even tweeted about it. 

Right now, I want to have so much, probably about $2 million, and just keep it in Rise, so that I can live off the returns coming in monthly. Just be able to live the best life without stress. I’m supposed to live the baby girl life. Imagine 10% on $2 million every month. What else is remaining if not living like the baby girl I am? I don’t need so much. Just $2-4 million is okay. I have two kids, so I’m just going to give $1 million to each of them to solve their problems. The remaining $2 million will be for me to enjoy life.

Oh, and the build wealth plan is pretty amazing. After someone from your company explained how it works, I decided to try it, and it was so seamless. At the end of the first month, I got my returns, and it felt like I had gone to steal money from somewhere. It was unbelievable. Aside from my work, my Risevest is also working. So I earn a salary from my account, even though I don’t take it out. It’s been nice. That has been my journey with Rise. I like seeing my money grow, and Rise has played a significant role.

What are your favourite things about using the app?

The build wealth plan. I don’t think enough people know about the build wealth plan. It’s amazing. After explaining how it works and getting my returns, I was so pissed. I was pissed because my money had been sitting idly in my wallet for over a year after my investment’s maturity. I could have put it in the build wealth plan to earn me money. However, I didn’t. But then we learn every day.

What financial advice do you have for young people, especially women looking to invest?

I feel like many people don’t know the opportunities available in marketing or investing. Many are looking to invest their money somewhere and get significant returns immediately, which doesn’t work. This is because when an investment promises substantial returns, it’s often a Ponzi scheme, and you lose money. 

Thankfully, I have not lost money in any investment. I always do my due diligence before I put my money anywhere. So before I put my money, I’d have checked the company, down to the owner’s background. It’s that serious. I try to be careful. That’s one thing I tell young people; don’t invest because an investment is paying at the time you’re investing. Do your due diligence by researching and asking questions. 

There are a lot of opportunities out there for you to make money, so always try to find out about them. 

I also volunteer to talk to secondary school students about careers in marketing and tech. I also try to teach them about personal finance as it is something I’m interested in; savings and budgeting. I have seen that many people do not know how to budget or plan. Some people earn their salary, and in the second week, their money’s gone. I’ve never understood people like that, so I try to talk to them. For some of my friends, I draw personal excel sheets, inputting how much they are to spend and other necessary things. I help them manage and track their spending, but in the end, it’s left to them to do whatever they want. However, I know that if they follow it up, they can save some money themselves. At the start, the saved amount may seem insignificant, or the process may look hard, but with consistency, it builds up. Give yourself a couple of years, and you have something tangible. 

For women, I don’t think it needs to be said: please, have your money. There’s nothing as good as having your own money. Although it’s nice having people give you money — everyone likes that — there’s nothing as fulfilling as when you have your own money. There is this freedom that comes with it. If a man can make money, I, too, can. There’s no difference between us. Make money because, as a human being, you need to spend money. And you can’t always rely on others for that. As I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t have to be said. Work and make money. It’s nice. It’s your money, so you can spend it however you want, whenever and on whatever you want. That freedom is always there. It saddens me when I read some stories about women who don’t have their own money, so we should always endeavour to work and invest. That way, our money can make more money for us. 

Thank you so much, Tega, for doing this with us. It was nice talking to you.