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7 Questions on Leadership with Emmanuella Imo

Name: Emmanuella Imo

Title: CEO Hexa Media Africa

Organisation: Hexa Media Africa

Emmanuella Imo is a social entrepreneur, nonprofit communications consultant, and speaker who has dedicated her career to creating meaningful social change. With over 5 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, Emmanuella has developed a deep understanding of how to drive generosity and create a lasting impact by leveraging digital media and communications

As the founder of HEXA Media, a full-service digital marketing agency that helps African non-profit organizations using digital media, technology, and communications, Emmanuella has worked with organizations of all sizes to design and implement effective communication strategies for social change. She has trained 700+ African nonprofits and works closely with most organizations.

In addition to her work at Hexa Media, Emmanuella is the convener of one of the foremost marketing summits for African nonprofits: the Social Impact Marketing Summit, and the initiator of the Humanitarians Of Africa series and Awards where she has shared over 40 stories of African nonprofit founders.

Emmanuella has been recognized as one of the Top 50 African Female Changemakers by African Change Makers Platform. She also currently serves as the President of the Nigerian Student Union in Cyprus. Overall, Emmanuella is a dedicated and result-oriented non-profit professional with a wealth of experience and expertise. Her passion for volunteering, commitment to excellence, and exceptional skills make her an invaluable asset to any organisation looking to achieve its goals.

Emmanuella's passion for non-profit communications is further evident in her academic pursuits, as she is currently pursuing a PhD in Communications and media studies and lecturing at Cyprus International University. She also takes great pride in mentoring young ladies and inspiring the next generation of non-profit communication professionals.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Emmanuella's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

The most challenging thing for me in my leadership experience has been to manage expectations. As humans, we all have expectations of our leaders and when they are not met, we tend to see the leader as unfit notwithstanding whatever compromises that had to be made or difficult decisions that had to be taken. In addition, working with a lot of nonprofits, I have had to encounter challenges with building a team that is as motivated as you are and helping different individuals communicate effectively as over communication is not a thing.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

Leadership was something I was born into really. I happen to be the first child of 4 girls and so I have had my sisters look up to me from a very young age. My parents always taught me what it meant to be the first and pace setter for everyone and so I naturally assumed that role. In high school, I became the headgirl, from there I moved on to becoming the Leader of a unit in one of the school clubs at senior high, at university, I was also a leader in the student club. After university, I went on to start my own nonprofit, and became the first female president of my community development group (CDS) as a corp member in Nigeria. Now I am the CEO of Hexa Media, serve as the President of the largest student community with over 4000 students; the Nigerian Student union in Cyprus International University. Looking back, I would say, I was trained to lead and by the grace of God, I have not wavered.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

Generally I wake up at 7am. Due to my packed schedule working several roles, I keep late nights so I tend to catch as much sleep as I can. I leave the house at 8am to work and carryon my day with teaching, meetings and any other work I have to do. At 6pm, I leave work and return home to make dinner rest a little before I do some other work related to Hexa Media. At about 10/11pm I retire for the night on most days.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

I recently encountered a powerful reminder about the importance of fostering a culture of inclusivity within her organization. I learned that embracing diverse perspectives and actively creating an environment where everyone feels heard and valued significantly enhances innovation and problem-solving.

Recognizing and appreciating the unique strengths each team member brings to the table fosters creativity and encourages collaboration. I am constantly reminded that a diverse team not only reflects the communities they serve but also brings a wealth of varied experiences and ideas, which can lead to more comprehensive and effective solutions to complex problems.

I found that actively promoting inclusivity isn't just about having a diverse team but ensuring that every individual's voice is heard, respected, and considered in decision-making processes. This realization reinforced my commitment to cultivating an inclusive environment that empowers every member to contribute their best to the organization's mission.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

"Dare to Lead" by Brené Brown. This book resonated deeply with my leadership style as it delves into vulnerability, courage, empathy, and resilience in leadership.

Reading "Dare to Lead," I have discovered the significance of embracing vulnerability as a strength rather than a weakness in leadership. Brown's insights helped me recognize that creating a culture of openness and vulnerability within my team fosters trust and authenticity, allowing for deeper connections and more effective collaboration.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

I'd tell them to prioritize continuous learning and growth. Embrace every opportunity to learn from experiences, both successes, and failures. Seek out mentors, read widely, and stay open to new perspectives. Developing a mindset of constant growth not only enhances leadership skills but also fosters resilience and adaptability, essential qualities for navigating the complexities of leadership.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

One particularly meaningful story from my leadership journey involves a project where my team and I faced unexpected challenges. We were working on our annual marketing event for nonprofits in Africa. Everything seemed on track until a logistical issue threatened to derail the entire initiative just days before its launch.

Instead of panicking or giving up, I rallied my team. We brainstormed tirelessly, working around the clock to find creative solutions and taking up dual roles to meet up with the deadline. In the midst of this crisis, I witnessed the true strength of my team's dedication and problem-solving skills.

Through sheer determination and collaborative effort, they not only resolved the issue but also improved the campaign's logistics, making it more efficient and impactful than initially planned. The event successfully reached and positively impacted far more nonprofits than we had anticipated.

This experience reinforced the importance of resilience, teamwork, and the ability to adapt in the face of adversity. It also highlighted the incredible power of a team united by a shared passion and commitment to a cause greater than themselves.

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