Exploring the mind of a marketing fellow: A conversation with Ayeyi Ohene-Adu
You might have read a blog post or two from Chalkboard Education. Or you may have checked out Chalkboard Education’s social media. However, who is one of the persons behind this? Meet Ayeyi, a marketing and communications officer who joined Chalkboard Education as a digital marketing fellow. In this chit-chat with her colleague, Marie, she sheds light on her experience at Chalkboard Education. She explores the highs, and the lows and throws more insight into who she is outside of work. Curious? Find out more in the interview below.
Marie: Hi Ayeyi! How are you doing?
Ayeyi: Hi Marie! I’m good. I’m a little tired, but I’m good. How are you?
Marie: I’m good too. I’m a little tired from work, but I’m alright. Okay, so I’m going to ask you a few questions about your experience at Chalkboard Education. Feel free to mention anything that I probably wouldn’t ask you, but you think it’s worth mentioning.
Marie: The first question is, what made you apply to Chalkboard Education?
Ayeyi: I was scrolling through Twitter one day and saw someone had retweeted the fellowship application poster. When I saw the option for digital marketing, I was interested. I had experience in traditional marketing but did not have much experience in digital marketing. So, I saw it as an opportunity to learn more and know more about marketing generally because I am interested in marketing.
Marie: That’s very interesting to hear. So for the people who don’t know much about digital marketing and traditional marketing, can you give a brief difference between these terms?
Ayeyi: The difference is seen in the medium used. Traditional marketing uses more offline media, which was the marketing strategy before we had digital communication channels. So billboards, newspapers and magazine ads are all traditional marketing. When we started getting more digital means to communicate, there was a need to market digitally. So social media marketing, SEO optimisation… all of that will fall under digital marketing.
Marie: Interesting. So, will you say that Chalkboard Education has met your expectations regarding how much you have learned in digital marketing?
Ayeyi: Hmmm, that’s a good question. I’d say yes. One of my main goals when coming to Chalkboard Education was to learn. The way Chalkboard Education is structured allows for my experience to be a learning opportunity. The size of Chalkboard Education allows you to define your role and explore. When I first came, the founder and the head of operations gave me an online course in digital marketing to enrol in. So apart from working on work-related tasks, the company is also very interested in making sure you grow. So, yes, it definitely met my expectations.
Marie: I love that for you! It sounds like the ideal place for a young professional coming up. Because learning and earning are a perfect combination.
Marie: My next question is, what is your role at Chalkboard Education, and what does it entail? I know you touched on that, but can you give us more of a glimpse of your typical day?
Ayeyi: I am a Marketing and Communications officer, and a typical day is interesting. I do a lot of writing because Chalkboard has a blog. This is interesting because I previously had a blog, but it was a different way of writing. I used to write more creatively, and this writing is more educational. Now, I write on a topic I learned more about when I joined Chalkboard Education, which is Edtech. It is interesting having to read more on a topic I did not know much about and write a lot on it. I also handle social media and emailing. We have a monthly newsletter, so I need to create content for it every month. Those are the main chunks of marketing at Chalkboard Education.
Marie: That sounds like a lot. Is it something you already enjoyed doing, or it’s something you’ve grown to enjoy as you started working at Chalkboard Education?
Ayeyi: I think it's both. Generally, I love to write. I had never done email campaigning before Chalkboard Education, so that was something new that I learned. But I have enjoyed it so far and have become more conversant with it. So, I'll say it’s something that I already love, and I have grown to love.
Marie: I see. What would you say has been the most challenging for you in this role?
Ayeyi: Hmmm, I guess it’s the unpredictability of social media. I remember one time, quite early on, my supervisor and I came up with a concept, and we thought it would take Chalkboard Education to the next level on social media. It actually got some of the lowest impressions and interactions, even though we tried to push it further. Sometimes, a post that you expect to do really well doesn’t, and a post that you haven’t paid attention to does well. Sometimes, you also see a lot of traffic when you haven’t even posted in a while. I wouldn’t say there’s any formula for digital marketing, even though there are some steps. This makes it interesting because it keeps you on your toes because you always have to innovate and ensure you understand your target audience.
Marie: Wow, that’s intriguing! I don’t look much into social media analytics, even when it comes to my personal posts. So it’s interesting to hear from someone who deals more with social media dynamics. Now, that brings me to my next question. I know you said there isn’t a blueprint, but what steps have you taken to reduce this challenge?
Ayeyi: For us, we look at analytics. Who are the people viewing our posts? Are they the right target audience? We also strategise. I usually have meetings with my supervisor where we strategise. And we try to get user insights as well. Chalkboard Education is a B2B, so we are not advertising to the consumers per se. We are advertising to the companies that would buy on behalf of the consumers. I think a lot of it is looking at things in retrospect. For example, my supervisor and I reflect on what we said we’ll do, what has gone right or wrong, and what we can improve on. From that, we can build on. We also have begun to realise our strongest social media channels and aim to maximise these channels. Those are some mitigating methods we use.
Marie: Sounds like we have a good marketing team. We’ve spoken about what your most challenging part of the role is. I also want to ask you what’s most rewarding for you?
Ayeyi: I think the most rewarding thing is the environment, people and culture at Chalkboard Education. I love that Chalkboard Education allows you to learn and grow. You are allowed to ask questions, and you are allowed to fail. This is really good for someone starting their career. Chalkboard Education also gives you a lot of autonomy. For example, when I have an idea, and I run it by my supervisor, if he likes it, I have the go-ahead to work on it. Also, last year, the founder, Adrien, wanted me to meet with some of the clients to better understand who I am marketing to. However, I was travelling then, so the schedules didn’t coincide. However, once in Rwanda, I asked Adrien if I could meet any of the clients in Rwanda. This was arranged, and I met with E-quality Partners. I would say this is more of operations, but I onboarded a group of medical professionals in Rwanda. It was very interesting for me because that’s not my usual role. My role is more backend. I loved it because the dynamics were different. It made me think quickly on my feet, and it was eye-opening to hear the type of questions asked during the onboarding process. It was also a learning experience for me, which ties back to the learning experience and autonomy you have at Chalkboard Education.
Marie: Right, right. I second you on this point. I have also noticed that Chalkboard Education allows you to take charge, and they don’t see you as just a junior. They allow you to take control of your activities. They don’t also leave you when you make mistakes; they nurture you to keep learning.
Marie: So you’ve spoken a lot about what you do at Chalkboard Education, and it seems daunting. Even managing one social media is a lot for me now (both laugh) You are doing multiple channels, writing articles, and you are a student in your final year. You seem to have a perfect work-life balance. How do you balance school and Chalkboard Education?
Ayeyi: The very, very honest is I don’t have a perfect balance. We usually have a company-wide meeting on Monday and a marketing team call on Thursday. For me, those are two checkpoints. If I have a task, I know I need to do it before Monday, or else I wouldn’t have updates to share, which is embarrassing. On Thursday as well, we give updates and strategise for the week. So I know I need to work on any feedback I received since Monday. The work-life balance has not been easy because, apart from school, I have multiple roles. In hindsight, understanding how much time is needed for each role I undertake is crucial. I tend to underestimate the time I’ll spend on a particular task, and that feeds into me saying yes to things I should have said no to. Also, I just need to be more accountable. Knowing that I have this deadline, I need to finish by this deadline. Lastly, resting. I realised every time I was not well-rested, the quality of work I produced across the board was horrible. I’m still finding that perfect balance, which is not the perfect answer.
Marie: Oh, there’s no perfect answer. I don’t think we ever find the perfect balance in anything we do. We constantly learn and adapt, and that’s what makes us humans. That’s how we can put our best foot forward.
Marie: So, what will you say to anyone that wants to become a Chalkboard Education fellow?
Ayeyi: For anyone that wants to apply, I’ll say honestly apply because it’s a good learning opportunity, especially as a student. It’s an invaluable experience. Keep your eyes out for the poster with the link to know when to apply. Before applying, research the company. Chalkboard Education has a website, a blog, social media and some videos on YouTube. Find out what Chalkboard Education is doing, and see how you can contribute when you come in. Even though you are coming to learn, there’s a particular talent that Chalkboard Education will probably be looking for, and that’s why they’ll hire you. So, tap into that and see how there’s an intersection between that talent and the kind of work that Chalkboard Education is doing. They made us do a two-minute video about ourselves and why we want to work at Chalkboard Education. This video is a substitute for a cover letter. That’s the opportunity to put yourself out there and let them know your qualities and traits that can help the team. Let your passion for the role also come through so they can see that you are excited about working there. Once you apply, if you are successful in the first round, you will have an interview. Remember to put your best foot forward in the interview. They are not expecting you to know everything. They expect you to be willing to learn and eager to participate in a team. After the interview, if they are impressed with what they hear, you are given the opportunity.
Marie: This is actually a very good answer. To future fellows at Chalkboard Education, “Welcome!” Drilling down to the last part of the interview, I want to know how you’ve grown in this role. What would you say has been the most substantial growth you’ve seen?
Ayeyi: One thing I have gained in this role is confidence. I keep on going back to Chalkboard Education’s culture. In a culture where you’re allowed to speak up, ask questions and fail, it builds confidence to make you want to take on more and contribute. When you realise your ideas are valued, you think of other ways to better contribute and refine your ideas. When I first joined and had the marketing meetings, I was usually silent because I was a bit shy and unsure. However, over time as Chalkboard Education was welcoming, I now interact, analyse and talk.
Marie: That’s good for someone coming up in their career. We’ve spoken a lot about your experience at Chalkbaord Education, but we want to get to know who Ayeyi is outside all of this. Your hobbies? What do you do for fun? Relationship status? (both laugh) Anything you want to let us know.
Ayeyi: I love art, so you are likely to see me at an art exhibition or in an art space talking to artists. I love jazz as well, and going for live band sessions. I’ll say I’m a very calm person. I love nature as well. If you give me a garden or the beach, something just calm vibes, you have made Ayeyi happy. And I like just watching 90s shows. I love watching The Nanny, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, In The House; yeah, I like 90s sitcoms.
Marie: Sounds like a very chill, calm vibe.
Ayeyi: Yeah, definitely.
Marie: This was a really enjoyable interview. I learned a lot about your role at Chalkboard Education, who you are as a person, how you are growing professionally and the role Chalkboard Education is playing in that. Thank you so much for your time; it was a very good interview.
Ayeyi: Thank you, thank you so much as well. And I hope you enjoyed interviewing?
Marie: I enjoyed it!
About Chalkboard Education
Chalkboard Education provides a mobile-based, offline-first Learning Management System tailored for underserved communities' training. Lightweight, inclusive, and complete with full analytics capabilities, Chalkboard Education helps you reach your beneficiaries everywhere in the World, seamlessly. Currently used in 12+ countries in Africa, South and North America, Chalkboard Education is available worldwide.