by ‘Ifreke Inyang
Timilehin Oyedare is an Interactive Specialist at INK Brand Agency. He is in charge of designing websites and social media integration.
The Nigerian factor is good to an extent because it helps us deliver faster and move onto the next one
At what point in time did you decide to go into what you do?
I decided on that shortly after I started my industrial attachment. I saw a lot of stuff people were doing and I was so engrossed in it that I couldn’t stop myself from going forward. It was then I walked through the proverbial door.
So it has not always been a passion for you?
It hasn’t always been a passion until I came across it in school. A company came in to teach us HTML and I picked up one of their books and started doing it myself. Back then, we had to write HTML with notepad, not like now that there’s Dreamweaver and other IDEs’.
Did you have anybody/people as role models?
I have a couple of people from when I started and as I grew into the industry. My first set of role models were Allen Olayiwola, my senior back in school then, Segun Akande and then Demola ‘Software’ (that’s what we call him, can’t remember his surname). Down the line, I saw some websites and I couldn’t stop wondering if they were built by human beings! Examples are www.ff0000.com (for crazy effect) and www.thefwa.com (for simplicity of arrangements). I also revere Olawale Adetula (thetoolsman). I learnt a lot from him and still do. My big role models these days are bosses’ – Strategy Director, Jay Chukwuemeka and my M.D, Femi Odewunmi. These people are the 21st century creative minds. I also appreciate Eric Jordan, who is like the greatest Interactive Expert in the world (not confirmed o, am just saying, based on my own admiration of his works) . He’s part of the www.2advanced.com crew, so you can see reasons with me here.
What was growing up like? Was there anything about growing up that influenced you to go into it?
Well, growing up was fun. Sometime during my secondary school, computer was introduced into our syllabus and I specifically asked my mum to buy me a computer book. I read it quite zealously. It got cancelled but before that we did a couple of sessions in the lab and that was my first close encounter with a computer. It propelled me into the world where I am now.
How did you start off?
I started off in the Computer lab of Yaba College of Technology. I stabbed a lot of lectures just to get to be in the Computer lab.
Would you say the capabilities you have are as a result of hard work and training?
Definitely. I got to do a lot of training especially when it comes to programming and using IDE for website design. Although, I also got quite a lot from tutorials.
Was there any time you considered quitting?
What would you say is the biggest risk you have taken in your career?
I have taken quite a number of risks. The first one was my first job. I agreed to work for a pay that couldn’t even take care of my transport fare for the month. My mum screamed a lot, not because I robbed her purse for a while till I could stand alone. Another risk was accepting a programming job I wasn’t ready for or let me say I didn’t have enough knowledge about. I accepted to build a shopping cart job when my php skills were still rudimentary. I learnt a lot from that project and it also went very well. Looking back now, I’m glad I took those risks.
What are some of the challenges you face in convincing clients about your abilities?
Convincing clients is actually an arduous task especially in Nigeria. Firstly he/she might have gotten your contact from someone you’ve worked for but they still feel the need to question your ability. The biggest challenge is that every Nigerian client always doesn’t have time. A Nigerian businessman will ask you to build Facebook with full functionality in less than two months, still telling you that it has to be done less than that because he needs to start marketing ASAP. He/she doesn’t know that Facebook has over 700 programmers worldwide working on it simultaneously. The long and short of it is that Nigerians want what they want in the time they want it regardless of how complex the task is.
What is the industry you work in like in Nigeria as compared to what is obtainable overseas? Is competition stiff?
In terms of work, it is competitive to certain levels but we can’t compare the amount of interactive campaign been done overseas to that of Nigeria. For instance, abroad, a lot of social media is being used to promote products and services. If a beverage company like Coca Cola is doing a campaign, they explore social media networks to push it especially if it involves youth. They will create facebook fanpages, open twitter accounts, upload videos to youtube, create tumblr accounts, advertise on yahoo and google and many more social sites. We are beginning to adapt to this trend also but not up to the full extent companies abroad are doing it. The recent elections in our country has brought to light some of this, the major candidates all had Facebook and Twitter and some of them had Youtube accounts. President Goodluck, Babatunde Fashola and General Buhari amongst others all plugged into this new social trend.
What role has the Nigerian factor positively and negatively played in who you are today?
The Nigerian factor is good to an extent because it helps us deliver faster and move onto the next one but in overall development, it isn’t the best because we don’t dedicate time for research to find new and better way of doing things which in turn makes us consumer of technologies. If we want to be in that place where the world reveres us, we need to be manufacturers of next technologies. It is easier for us to pick wordpress or joomla or cmsms or any other content manager solution but we would never be able to build something like these content managers that has made our lives so easy.
What is your reaction to the high number of young people either roaming the streets looking jobs and who have been frustrated in spite of what they are capable of doing?
This one would definitely be tossed at the feet of the government. We need more infrastructures to be put in place. Like we did in GNS in school, if government cannot provide these infrastructures, they should provide enabling environment for SMEs’ to thrive. Our government still pays billions of money to foreign companies to execute contracts leaving the Nigerian SMEs’ empty. If small businesses get these businesses, they would employ people to handle this work thereby reducing the unemployment rate. Imagine if we did this for 5 different companies in 5 different sectors. Not only government but big corporations go to other countries to get services and spend huge amount on getting expatriates to come in and do jobs that Nigerians can do. We are only helping to develop another nation’s economy. One suggestion to government and big corporations : Lets promote what’s ours!
What is your most memorable experience?
When I got my first ‘correct’ laptop. Everything else just became colourful.
What experience would you rather delete from history if you could?
None that I can remember.
What would you say is your greatest fear?
Don’t judge me, but it would be waking up one day and not knowing who I am (something like a Jason Bourne).
If you are not into what you are doing now, what would you be doing?
I have been asking myself that question. I still don’t know. Maybe events production.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I will still be doing what I am doing in a grand style while having more vacation time because I want to travel the world.
Have you received any awards/recognition yet?
None yet o! Clearly, I am in the wrong crowd.
What do you love most about Nigeria?
I love the people. They are warm, beautiful and funny. I like the countryside and how we can be happy people despite all our heartaches.
What does being young and Nigerian mean to you?
It means I’m a fresh and classy 21st century African with unlimited potential playing in a global market (that black dude!).
Do you plan to relocate probably to continue with what you do abroad?
No! I might go back and forth but no relocation. Naija sweet die! I love the Naija groove!