Meet MTN’s First-Ever Female Chief Marketing Officer – Adia Sowho

Chief Marketing Officer of MTN Nigeria, Adia Sowho

Adia Sowho is the first-ever female Chief Marketing Officer of MTN Nigeria, a multinational telecommunications company that operates in many African and Asian countries. Sowho, also a business expert who has acquired a lot of experience working in different capacities at different companies.

Adia is an experienced global executive who synthesizes her background in engineering, consulting, and product development to build and operate leading category-defining businesses.

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In an interview with FoundersConnect, the Lagos-born administrator shared her inspiring and audacious story with the world where she spoke extensively on the importance of confidence and the role it has played in her life, navigating different roles, self-care amongst others

Meanwhile, the MTN top executive made some salient points about herself, career and personal development which people are not aware about. Below are facts about Adia Sowho which people hardly know.

  1. Born in Surulere but grew up in Apapa, Lagos. Adia was the first C-section baby in her entire family and by that her grandfather gave her the name ‘Adia’ which means that you grow old and you experience spectacular miraculous things.
  1. One of the favourite memories she had was the wonderful moments she shared with her large extended family members who are quite older than her as a growing child back then

“I grew up walking into rooms full of people much bigger than me which was randomness for me. Growing up with that imbued me with a lot of confidence and value that I did not really understand until I became an adult. It’s part of my childhood”, Adia said

  1.  Adia had her primary education at Corona School and her secondary school education at Nigerian Navy Secondary School. She later went abroad to further her education.

4. She had her tertiary education at the University of Sheffield, UK where she earned a      Bachelor’s degree in Electronic and Electrical Engineering. She started her career as a        Radio Frequency Engineer at US Cellular where she designed wireless networks. This          she did for 7 years.

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5. Adia holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Afterwards, she went into Management Consulting for a couple of years at Delloite in Chicago.

6. The recession which had a negative impact on the US back then made her come back to      Nigeria and that prompted working with Etisalat. Prior to this, she left Nigeria at 16 and      came back at age 30 which made her adulthood experience in Nigeria below average.

7. Adia worked at 9mobile (formerly Etisalat Nigeria) for nearly eight years as the head of      strategy and business development, digital media and digital business. She partnered        with startups to deliver mobile content, advertising, financial and API services to the          company’s 23 million users during these years.

  1. The graduate of Electronics and Electrical Engineering used to design towers while she was working at the US which made things easier for her at Etisalat. Her first partnership deal was the tower partnerships where she worked with Helios, IHS and all the new tower companies at that time.

9. She had held the position as the company’s Managing Director, Nigeria for Migo, a              machine learning-powered instant credit platform where she grew the company’s user        base to one million users and led its expansion to Brazil.

10. She highlighted some mistakes she has made in life which are: Lack of self-care with          the thought that she’s invincible and the energy is infinite. Another mistake is not              loving failure early enough

“When your lessons are discovered, it makes easier to recover and move forward and do better the next time. When you hide from those lessons, you tend to repeat them and end up somewhere toxic”, Adia advised.

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  1. Her passion for food security made her venture into Thrive Agric, one of Nigeria’s agri-tech startup where she functioned as the Interim CEO.

12. The values that affect how she works and jobs she takes is the fact that she has                  always  been a change agent and the one who gravitates towards where she makes            the most impact

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  1. In MTN company, apart from being the CMO, she’s also responsible for voice and data which is like the entire consumer business which is almost 90 percent of revenue despite having the brands on communications team. She also covers personalized marketing as well as business intelligence.

14. The business expert, Adia Sowho has learnt a lot about partnerships and keen on                working with startups which also opened up as a new career direction connecting her          with the dynamism, innovation and the needed support. She also has great interest in        working with various Africa-focused Venture Capital firms to better prepare their                portfolios for scale.


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