In this month’s spotlight, we feature Andrea Nwobosi, Marketing and Business Development Specialist at Elantis. Growing up in a family of entrepreneurs, Andrea was exposed to the work ethic, marketing skills, and business savvy that she would take along her own career path. In this interview, Andrea shares her varied career journey that brought her full circle—from marketing at an industrial software and solutions company, to investor relations and internal communications, to human resources at an oil and gas company, to managing a fitness studio, to eventually landing in her role at Elantis. Andrea also shares the top three things she’s learned throughout her career—and one of them is something we all have the ability to do.
Amy Grendus: Well, thanks for joining me today, Andrea. I’m excited to turn the tables and put you in the spotlight for us today. Looking forward to learning a little bit more about you and your experience at Elantis and your career.
So maybe to start us off, you could share with us a little bit about your career path, what you do at Elantis, and how you got here.
Andrea Nwobosi: Absolutely. Well, thanks so much for having me today, Amy. It is a little strange to have the tables turned and for me to be the one being interviewed for the spotlight, but it is definitely an honour. So, thank you so much.
In terms of my career path, it is a long and convoluted one, but I feel like it has almost come full circle because the first job that I had in my professional career, right out of university, was actually in marketing and it was for a software products and solution company. So now here I am, in marketing, working for a technology company. There’s been a lot in between, which I’ll share with you a few highlights.
After that initial stint in marketing for that industrial software company, I moved into an investor relations and internal communications role, which is something that I had never done before and it was such a great learning experience and piqued my interest in internal comms and that whole world. Eventually that led me into working for an oil and gas company. I did a bunch of things there, I created an onboarding program, also a communications toolkit for leaders, and I was a point of contact for HR communications for learning and development and talent management programs. So that gave me a really broad exposure to the whole enterprise and especially from a human resources perspective. Then after that I had an entrepreneurial, I guess, desire to focus on the direct sales business that I had at the time and that really motivated me from a sales and marketing perspective. Something that I discovered, or I guess was brought to my attention more likely, is that as I was marketing my own business, people noticed how I was marketing it and that stood out and so that was something that I didn’t realize I had as a strength as much as I did until people brought it to my attention while I was trying to sell as much as I could in direct sales. So that eventually led me to, of all things, managing the operations and marketing for a fitness studio. Though I don’t claim to be all that fit (ha ha), I enjoyed being able to support a bricks and mortar business. That led me until the pandemic started and of course with shutting down the fitness industry at the time, I had to switch gears and so I started my own marketing consulting business a few months before the pandemic and I worked a lot with small business owners, helping them raise awareness for their brands and eventually that led me to Elantis here.
What I love about what I do here at Elantis is that I get to touch so many different areas of the business, but particularly with marketing, internal communications, as well as tapping into some of my experience with human resources, too. It’s a big, long story, but I feel like it’s all interconnected and kind of brought me here—ultimately closing that loop, closing that circle.
Amy: Great. Thank you for sharing that and certainly your varied background has been an asset to Elantis when you do work on different portions of the business and touch different aspects of our operations.
So, in terms of that passion for what you do here with the marketing specifically, is that something you’ve always been interested in or maybe you can describe kind of how you knew that was the direction you wanted to go?
Andrea: As I mentioned earlier, that spark or interest in marketing kind of came naturally as I was marketing my own business and then eventually led me to helping others in marketing their businesses. But I actually had exposure to entrepreneurship earlier on. I actually come from a family of entrepreneurs. My mom had her own consulting business and so I remember as a kid growing up, seeing her work with clients and do her consulting work was inspiring. My brother has owned his own business forever since he was 13 years old and so being around entrepreneurs and seeing how they work, how motivated, and how much of a self starter you need to be, I feel like I inherited some of that in my genes. Over the years, I’ve really enjoyed that marketing piece—started to implement different strategies for my own business and it really did become a passion. I’ve always had an interest in the psychology behind marketing and what motivates people to pay attention to a brand and to follow the steps along that customer journey. So that’s something that’s always been an interest of mine.
Amy: Very nice. You mentioned the influence of your family in your career path. Is there anyone else or would you like to expand on who has inspired and influenced you on your career journey?
Andrea: So definitely my family played a role in that, and they’ve always been very supportive. But I do turn to a few experts in the field, especially from a marketing perspective. There’s so many who have gone before me who’ve paved the way, especially from a digital marketing perspective. Some that I look up to—even though I’ve never met them—but in the form of podcasts and reading their books. I love listening to Amy Porterfield’s Online Marketing Made Easy podcast and reading books by Donald Miller. He’s brilliant, the concept of building a story brand is something that is best practice and is very simple but sometimes very challenging for business owners to do, so I admire the work that he’s done around that. But really just gaining inspiration from others in the industry and bringing it all together into what I’m doing in the moment.
Amy: Wonderful. So here at Elantis and even in your background, you’ve had quite a varied history. So what things are you most passionate about?
Andrea: I would say my passion lies most in visual design. I love making things look good, but marketing is more than that. I’m also passionate about getting results and this is something that I gathered from my direct sales days in just my motivation by numbers. I am motivated by getting results. In the role that I have now, knowing that marketing efforts that we’re doing here at Elantis can contribute eventually to a sale is so rewarding and fulfilling knowing that I did have a part in that. So that’s something that I’m very passionate about. I’m also very passionate about the employee experience here at Elantis—from an internal communications perspective and being able to grow our culture of appreciation and put some programs in place that have supported that has been a really rewarding experience so far.
Amy: Wonderful. We certainly appreciate your efforts in those areas. Could you share a little bit more about what you enjoy about working in the technology industry?
Andrea: Yeah, it’s very different because everything is changing all the time. When I started at Elantis, there was a learning curve because what we do is quite niche compared to other tech companies. But I do enjoy a challenge. I enjoy how dynamic it is here and the fact that technology is always changing and that, in itself, presents a challenge and just being exposed to different parts of our business because we are a small company here. So that gives me an opportunity to make an impact into different areas. Everything from proposal development to recruitment and even establishing what our employer brand is apart from our customer facing brand and developing partner relationships, having a hand in people services, and not to mention the marketing component as well. I enjoy learning about tech and also being able to distill that technical information into more business language is something that I enjoy doing, as well.
Amy: Great. Is there a particular moment or an accomplishment that stands out to you in terms of your career history that you’re proud of?
Andrea: In the year-and-a-half that I’ve been at Elantis, I have a number of moments that I’m proud of, but one that stands out, just looking back at my career, is back when I was working in oil and gas and there was a boom here in Alberta. At the company I was at, we were hiring a lot of employees and contractors at the same time and we wanted to make sure that regardless of their employment status, they all had a similar onboarding experience. Not just that it was a consistent experience, but also that it was efficient and really helped to equip them very quickly in their roles. So I helped to develop a first day orientation and onboarding and overview course for new hires and this ended up being attended by over 175 participants over the years that we ran it. These courses really gave context to new hires and launched their continuous learning and networking across different business functions, let alone introducing them to the company. It reduced their onboarding time from 20 weeks to six weeks. So, it was a big accomplishment knowing that I had a part in expediting what that onboarding experience looked like for them and that it built efficiency for the company. So, it enhanced the team productivity, they had improved communication, they knew who to contact as they were meeting people in the organization, and it really helped them get clear on their roles and build resiliency for change as they developed in those roles. So that’s the moment I’m most proud of, for sure.
Amy: Yeah, you should be. That’s a great accomplishment and certainly such a critical part of giving a new employee a good experience, retaining, and attracting new people, that’s great.
In terms of your recruitment at Elantis, what attracted you to coming to our company?
Andrea: I have developed a lot of different skills and experience over the years with my varied background and I knew I had a lot to give, but I didn’t know where to do it or how to channel all of that. So, when the opportunity came up at Elantis, knowing that it was a smaller company as opposed to the company of thousands and thousands of employees across North America that I came from, I knew that I could make an impact here. That was what attracted me to Elantis. We have the opportunity to collaborate, to get to know the team members really well, and to touch just so many different areas of the business and create processes and improvements and do new things that were never done before. That’s been my experience! So I’m really glad that what first attracted me here has been something that’s carried me along the way.
Amy: Wonderful. I appreciate your comments. That’s certainly something that I appreciate about Elantis as well. When you wake up in the morning, what do you look forward to doing in your role?
Andrea: Well, no day is the same. Everything is different every day, it seems. I do enjoy that variety. I like being able to juggle a whole bunch of different balls in the air and keeping things moving, even if it just means that I get to move the needle just one little tick each day, it brings me further to those goals. So that is motivating for me. Of course, being able to work with the people that we have here on the team. I’ve gotten to know them really well over the past year-and-a-half that I’ve been here. I love how we collaborate and we work to solve problems together. I never feel like I’m left on my own to either make a decision or to move something forward. If I need support, I know that I have it here based on who we have on the team. So, yeah, I would say I look forward to just everyday being different. It’s a new experience, having that variety, and being able to work alongside the people I do.
Amy: Wonderful. You also touched on solving challenges or problems as a team. Could you share any challenges you faced in your career and how you overcame them?
Andrea: So yeah, some days are challenging, that’s for sure, especially in marketing. I would say the biggest challenge I’ve had is simply not knowing how to do something. A lot of what we’ve done here at Elantis is navigating unchartered waters. We’ve done things in marketing that have never been done before in the 10 years that Elantis has been around. So, I’ve done a lot of research. I’ve asked questions. I’m curious, I want to learn more about how to solve a problem and so I do those things to try to overcome those challenges. I view marketing as one big experiment. We need to test to see if it’s even going to work and if it doesn’t, then we try something different and test that. So it’s been a great kind of playground for it, actually. Fortunately, we have the support from the CEO and from yourself, Amy, to be able to try new things and that’s how we learn what works and just keep doing more of that.
Amy: When you think about doing that research to solve problems or think of new ideas and new ways of doing things, are there any specific resources like books or websites, podcasts that you found helpful?
Andrea: Yeah, aside from the people that I mentioned earlier that I look up to, you know, the entrepreneurs who’ve come before me. I make it an almost daily, if not weekly, practice that anything that hits my inbox that might be an intriguing webinar or a white paper or a resource that has new information—either from a marketing perspective or internal communications or even human resources trends—I just soak that up. I love reading new reports, that type of thing. I do subscribe to a lot of different newsletters so that I can stay on top of what’s coming in the industry and just try to stay on top of what’s changing.
Amy: Excellent. Maybe you could share with us the top three things that you’ve learned over your career or even in your moving into a technology-based company in your role?
Andrea: You know that’s saying, “The more you learn, the more you realize how much you don’t know.” I’ve come to learn that no one can know everything. Of course, when I in my younger days, I thought I knew everything and of course I’m the expert in this, but there’s just so much more to learn out there, and that’s become even more apparent to me by working in technology—just how broad the knowledge base can be. So that’s one thing, is that it’s important to ask questions and to rely on your team if you do encounter something that you don’t know but that’s okay. It’s okay to not know the answer and just to take some time to do some research and ask the questions that need to be asked. Another thing I’ve learned is really to lean into my strengths. It has taken time throughout my career to figure out where those strengths lie. What I’ve found is that when you find something that you enjoy, whenever I’ve done more of it and I’ve put my focus into it and do it well—it just so happens that I get more of those types of assignments or more of those projects that come my way. So that would be something that I would share as one of my best pieces of advice, is that when you find something that you love to do, let other people know that this is an area of interest of yours and see how you can partner with them on doing more of that work. Because especially in the marketing space, you can be a generalist or you can deep dive into so many different functions and focus areas. If that is a passion, then do more of that kind of work and learn as much as you can about it. Then others will start to see your strengths in that area, as well. Then I would say the last thing I’ve learned…not the last thing, hopefully not the last thing I’ve learned (ha ha)….But the third thing would be that everyone can lead. Everyone is a leader. We don’t have to be in a formal management, supervisory, or leadership role. We all have the abilities to lead by example in the way that we approach our work and that there’s ways that you can influence others in an informal way that can still position yourself as a thought leader and to tap into those natural leadership skills and be able to lead in your role, even if you don’t have the title that says manager.
Amy: So true. Could you share who is your modern-day hero?
Andrea: I mentioned earlier a bit about my entrepreneurial background. I would say, and I don’t have one person in particular who would be my hero, but I would say entrepreneurs in general who build businesses based on a dream. I just find that so inspiring when someone like, let’s say Dave Roe, our CEO at Elantis, had a vision and has built this business that’s now been around for 10 years. I find that so inspiring when small business owners and entrepreneurs have this vision and can bring it to life. I’ve aimed to do that myself in the businesses that I’ve run in the past and it’s not easy. It’s not easy. So being able to look to others who have done that is so inspiring and especially knowing that marketing and brand awareness piece is key to business growth, and that also isn’t easy. So, kudos to all the entrepreneurs out there who are slaying it because its a tough gig. Any entrepreneur or small business owner I see who’s thriving is just so inspiring to me.
Amy: Absolutely. I love it. What about you? What’s the next in your career?
Andrea: In the short term, we are working on some really exciting projects here at Elantis in the near future. One in particular, is a new website which I’m excited will represent our refreshed brand really well. So that’s something to come in the next few months. There’s exciting projects, but overall, I want to keep trying new things, testing what works, and continue learning more areas of the business. Who knows, eventually one day I’ll have my own team here, whether it’s in a marketing and communications capacity or a people and culture capacity. I see a lot of potential in Elantis and a lot of potential in the people here and the growth of the company. So, I’m excited to be part of that.
Amy: Well, we can’t wait to see all the things you’re going to accomplish.
Andrea: Thank you so much, Amy.
Amy: Yes, thank you for your time today. We appreciated learning a little bit about you and your career background. Thank you for sharing all your experience with Elantis.
Andrea: Thank you, this has been fun.
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