Editor’s note: In a new, ongoing series, INMA is profiling our most engaged members — our super fans. At a time when we have less face-to-face time, we hope this gives members a chance to learn more about each other. Today we profile Max Okeyo, head of strategy and innovation driving for Nation Media Group PLC in Nairobi, Kenya.
One of the craziest experiences on the job for Max Okeyo, head of strategy and innovation driving for Nation Media Group PLC in Nairobi, Kenya, has been the company’s digital transformation journey. Building a digital brand (Nation.Africa) that is set to empower Africa and stand out as the media of Africa for Africa, Okeyo said he learned many lessons along the way.
The lesson Okeyo took away from that experience is that it is a marathon, not a sprint: “There is no overnight success. It requires resolve from the board to the executive, all the way to the shop floor. The entire organisation must appreciate the picture of success to participate in it.”
INMA recently caught up with him to find out more about what else he has been learning about lately.
INMA: What big lesson have you learned over the past couple of years that helped shape your plans for 2022?
Okeyo: Audience habits and trends are continuously changing in a world full of free alternatives, and customers are more discerning. We are dealing with the rise of knowledgeable customers who have a great understanding of what they really want, how they want it, and when they want it. We must therefore lead them in the transition. Otherwise, if they take the lead and go ahead of us, we will just be playing catch up!
INMA: If you had your career to do over again, what would you want to know in the beginning?
Okeyo: Nothing! I would like to shape it from a clean canvas and build the blocks devoid of any biases.
INMA: What makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning?
Okeyo: My family and my job. Driving digital transformation. Continuously aiming toward making a success out of user experiences on the products we offer to them.
INMA: What success within your company are you most proud of right now?
Okeyo: The deliberate effort to transition a legacy business to a digital-first media house — transitioning both audience and revenue opportunities to digital as we impact lives and drive societal agenda. This journey has been possible with the commitment of our CEO, editor-in-chief, and the head of news and managing editor of Nation.Africa.
INMA: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career?
Okeyo: Life is not a straight line. It’s all about rolling with the punches. You win some, you lose some. One has just got to be pragmatic.
INMA: What do you do to relax?
Okeyo: I love to listen to jazz music and take walks to just appreciate nature.
INMA: If you hadn’t gone into news media, what was your back-up plan?
Okeyo: To become a practicing lawyer and have my own private practice.
INMA: What is your favourite thing to read?
INMA: What do you find the most challenging/interesting about the news media industry right now?
Okeyo: The challenges are the digital disruption that has disrupted an agreeable arrangement and created a crisis of confidence on the Internet, and the ability to sell when so much is available for free and sustain profitability.
The most interesting are the Internet of Things, intelligent robots, mobile supercomputing, virtual reality, and Artificial Intelligence — and how this plays a big role in understanding audiences and personalising their experiences.
INMA: What are you most excited about in 2022?
Okeyo: Patching on new activities and revenue streams, developing multi-platform content niches, and maximising interactive involvement with the audience.