Redefining Success and Unleashing the EF Factor: Meet Emmanuel Faith, Head of Talent, Big Cabal. HR Generalist. 4X TEDx Speaker. Employee Experience Champion. SDG 4&5 Advocate.
In this week’s Remote Worker’s spotlight, we take you on a journey through the remarkable career trajectory of Emmanuel Faith, a true embodiment of determination and success. Join us as we unveil the untold stories behind Emmanuel Faith’s rise to prominence, shedding light on the mindset, skills, and experiences that make him the Emmanuel Faith we know today. Moreover, gain invaluable insights into navigating a job market rife with competitiveness and learning how to carve your own path toward success, just like Emmanuel did.
Hi Faith, could you please provide a concise summary of your background and professional experience, particularly in the context of remote work?
My name is Emmanuel, Faith; I am the Head of Talent Management at Big Cabal Media (BCM). BCM is one of the biggest digital media companies in Sub-Saharan Africa. We have several subsidiary companies, including Zikoko, Tech Cabal, TC Insights, and other upcoming flagship projects that I’m sure you’ll be excited about.
I started my HR career in 2019 with General Electric and then moved to Cowrywise in 2020 as the Lead, People and Culture. During my time there, I accomplished many amazing things, including building HR processes that positioned Cowrywise as one of the best startups to work for in Nigeria, as awarded by LinkedIn. My career has been an interesting journey, as I initially studied Economics and began my career in Tax before transitioning to HR.
When I started my HR career in 2020 at Cowrywise, I had a hybrid role. Currently, my work at Big Cabal is also a hybrid role. I manage remote teams across the globe since Big Cabal has employees both domestically and internationally. This has given me valuable experience in handling remote roles and implementing processes that ensure inclusivity for our global team members. It’s a challenging task, but it’s also a tremendous learning opportunity for me.
Outside of work, I have a passion for reading. I am also an advocate for Sustainable Development Goal 5 (Gender Equality) and contribute as a guest writer for a UK magazine and blog focused on women’s football.
Wow, such an inspiring journey. What was your transition like? Would you say HR was your predestined career?
That’s an interesting question. Let me give you a bit of background. In my school, if you studied economics, it was almost expected that you would pursue a career in finance. Everyone seemed to be heading toward top organizations like Afrinvest,United Capital and Meristem. At first, I was also intrigued by the finance sector, and through some competitions in school, I even secured internships in that field. However, after my internship with Meristem, I realized that finance wasn’t the right fit for me.
Although I wasn’t entirely sure about my career path, I did know what I didn’t want to do. During my third year of university, I had a meaningful conversation with one of my senior colleagues, (Funto Koya). She is now a talent acquisition partner in the US and Germany. I had the opportunity to participate in a competition where she was the chairman, and winning that competition piqued everyone’s curiosity about my capabilities. People were surprised because, despite my popularity as an ubiquitous member of the department, they didn’t think or know that I was that brilliant. It was an eye-opening experience for them.
After the competition, I had a conversation with (Funto Koya) about my interest in HR. I noticed that even though she had a background in finance, she was working in the HR industry. She gave me some assignments and encouraged me to do research, which I eagerly took on. People started coming to me for recruitment assistance, and I realized that I enjoyed this aspect of HR. Curiosity led me to find out more about HR certifications, and I discovered that the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM) was the leading HR certification in Nigeria. I decided to make inquiries and embarked on my HR journey.
When I joined General Electric after during my NYSC, I initially didn’t work in HR because I had to complete my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program. However, I made it clear to the HR managers that I eventually wanted to transition into HR. I never missed an opportunity to tell any HR person I met that HR was my passion. I believe in the power of speaking your desires into existence. The whole HR team at General Electric (Lagos office) knew about my aspirations.
One fortunate day, they were discussing countrywide employee engagement and realized they needed someone from outside the HR team to handle the communications aspect since everyone in HR was already occupied with other tasks. During that meeting, my name came up repeatedly. Six out of the ten people in the room mentioned my name. This caught the attention of the HR business partner who was curious about the unanimous support for me. They decided to look at my LinkedIn profile, where they discovered my extensive writing. I used to write a lot, not just about HR, but on various topics like tax, kdramas, football etc.
So, in a way, the universe conspired in my favor. They recognized my passion for HR and my writing skills, and that’s how I got the opportunity to contribute to the employee engagement project. It was a perfect alignment of my interests and the needs of the organization.
Were you ever scared that you would fail in your transition from Economics to HR?
Maybe I was scared about not getting opportunities. I remember when I left GE, I was worried about getting good opportunities. I didn’t want to go from General Electric to a lesser-known company. I wanted to make sure that the next step in my career was with a solid company. I had fears during that period because I didn’t want any regrets or complaints about the move. Leaving General Electric and transitioning to another company was a major concern for me.
So you were deliberate about choosing the next company in order to maintain your career trajectory. Can you tell me more about that?
Absolutely. When I decided to leave Cowrywise, I knew if I wanted to stay in the FinTech industry, I had to join another leading company. I wanted to ensure that my move was strategic and aligned with my career goals. I’ve always been intentional about choosing leading companies, even if it means transitioning industries. Currently, I am with Big Cabal Media, a leading Digital Media company in Sub-Saharan Africa and if ever I decide to leave in the future, it will be a carefully considered move to another prominent organization. I believe in continuously challenging myself and seeking opportunities with companies that can help me grow and thrive.
Back to your career journey, how did you optimize those opportunities, and what made you so special among other candidates?
Certainly! I believe my ability to optimize opportunities stemmed from a combination of factors. Firstly, I had invested significant time and effort into learning and honing my skills. This gave me a solid foundation of expertise and knowledge that I could leverage in various situations. But it wasn’t just about possessing those skills; it was also about effectively communicating and showcasing them. I focused on presenting myself eloquently, and confidently articulating my capabilities during interviews.
However, it wasn’t just about being able to sell myself effectively. I always approached interviews with a solution-oriented mindset. I would actively think about how I could contribute and provide value to the organization I was interviewing with. By understanding their pain points and challenges, I could position myself as someone who could offer viable solutions. This mindset allowed me to stand out and demonstrate my genuine interest in helping the organization succeed.
In fact, my first role was the result of a LinkedIn connection reaching out to me. Even during the interview process, I faced competition, but I managed to come out on top. So, what made me stand out? I believe it was a combination of factors but I owe it all to the grace of God.
There have been tales of numerous layoffs, downsizing in the job market, and a high percentage of competitiveness, especially for entry-level roles. How do you think job seekers can navigate this and still get the opportunities they desire?
Well, there have indeed been numerous layoffs, downsizing in the job market, and a highly competitive environment. So, how can job seekers navigate this and secure the opportunities they desire? Let me start by emphasizing that sometimes you may not immediately land the exact opportunity you desire. For instance, I aspire to work with companies like Netflix, Microsoft and Google at some point, but I haven’t actively applied to these organizations yet. I mentioned it to highlight that having aspirations is important, but it’s also crucial to be realistic about the process.
At times, you may not get the opportunities you desire, not because you lack the necessary skills, but simply because those opportunities are highly sought after. This brings us to the question of how you can distinguish yourself. Aspiring to be in the top 1% can be challenging,and I’m not there yet myself. Aim to be in that top tier of applicants who stand out from the crowd. It could be fluency in a second language, having an irresistible personal brand, versatility in a particular skill set, or a range of leadership experiences. Even volunteer experiences with organizations like AIESEC or participating in MUNs can add significant value, as these are qualities actively sought by the companies you aspire to work for.
Once you’ve established your core competencies as a good product designer, communications specialist, accountant, or data analyst, you must identify those additional features that make you stand out. These are the qualities that employers will consider as added value when they are evaluating potential candidates.
Remember, this aspect is truly important. So, in addition to the foundational skills, ask yourself, “What other unique attributes do I possess that can make a significant impact when it comes to employment?” By recognizing and highlighting these distinguishing factors, you can increase your chances of securing the desired opportunities.
As an HR Expert and People Experience Specialist, what advice would you love to give anyone right now and what motto do you live by that has been motivating for you in your career journey?
Whenever I’m asked about my career motivation, I always remember a video by Lasisi that said, “Poverty sat me down on a Saturday morning.” I’m not even joking; that’s my biggest motivation. I have a clear goal of breaking the cycle of poverty in my family. However, aside from that, my main drive is to be the best in my field. When I think about HR in Nigeria, especially in the tech space, I envision myself making a significant impact. That’s what has always fueled my ambition—to challenge the conventional perception of HR as rigid and bring an electrifying energy to the field.
My advice to you is to always give your best. Keep pushing forward, even when faced with rejections. I experienced a rejection just this month that truly shook me, but I understand that setbacks are part of the journey. Stay true to yourself, keep applying, and strive to be the best version of yourself. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals who have the right mindset. These are the things we often hear, and sometimes they may seem repetitive, but they hold true value. I recall someone once dismissing them as clichés and another person responded by saying, “Yes, they may be clichés, but they are also true.” Those clichés are actually rooted in truth thus take a combination of all the advice you’ve heard at conferences and events and embrace it as your own. That’s my approach.
Ultimately, aim to excel in your industry. Regardless of where you work, make a lasting impression on people. As a humorous example, I often joke about my time at Taxaide Professional Services, five years ago. Till date, people still talk about me and how I left a mark. Every time someone from OAU (Obafemi Awolowo University) goes to Tax Professional Services, they refer to me as the first person from OAU that they hired, and they speak highly of my performance. Of course, many talented individuals from OAU have joined the company since then, but they still mention my name. Be that person who leaves a lasting impression wherever you go, someone who is known for doing an exceptional job. That’s all it takes.