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Chidi Okereke is proof that Grass to Grace is no cliché



“My earliest memories were filled with plenty of hardness, pain and suffering. I grew up in Okokomaiko (a rural part of Lagos, Nigeria), my family wasn’t the conventional type; key features included: polygamy, strife and poverty. My primary school was riddled with being chased around for school fees. I went to several secondary schools because when I would be sent home for not paying fees, I would switch schools. I did this until I graduated”.


This TedX alumni and Digital Marketing Guru would go on to settling for studying Mechanical Engineering as opposed to his original first choice: Aeronautical engineering- a love he had garnered from visiting his father who had worked at the airport, unfortunately, no schools at the time offered it as an area of study.


“I could figure out everything but Physics. It took awhile for me to get accepted into the University due to my bad marks at Physics-when you switch schools often, you lose a lot of learning time. This was my biggest hindrance”. He stated.


What Chidi lacked in Academics, he would go on to developing in leadership and social skills throughout his stay in the University. He wrote an exam in which only 2 were selected and he scaled through surprising his entire class as he wasn’t in the top achieving students or even in the first 50. The exam tested grit, consistency and smarts; principles Chydee was forced to develop over the years.


I realised that if I wasn’t going to become an engineer. Not that I didn’t relish the experience but I soon realised that if I wasn’t going to work in a place like this, my becoming an engineer was not going to pan out. I sent out several job applications and I only got two responses and both were offers where he would only earn on commission.


Twitter would get him his big break…


Editi Effiong, CEO of leading digital agency: Anakle, found Chydee through a tweet. He asked me: Do you want to blog for N50,000 (roughly 1,100 rand per month) or do you want to fly in private jets? So he was instructed to come to his office after National Youth Service-a scheme mandated for all Nigerians to get involved in Nation building upon graduation) . This would be the beginning of a new chapter for the then, youth who had already begun to lose hope with scoring a good job.


Tenacity wins.


Chydee would eventually travel to Lagos to visit Editi who he mentions at the time wasn’t even in the city as he had flown out to take care of some personal business. On getting to the office, Chydee had never before been introduced to the concept of digital marketing, all he knew at the time was how to share funny stories on his blog and his infamous twitter where he had garnered a healthy following. He was immediately mesmerised with the office space and how beautiful it looked. He had thought he was coming to meet with him for a conversation and was ill prepared for the interview that would later ensue. The interview went very badly by Chydee’s definition .


“I wouldn’t have hired myself”.


Chydee, sure of his epic fail at the interview went on to write about his experience in his blog titled: “Lagos and my Polythene bag” in which he infused elements of his meeting. Editi would happen on it and this would begin his venture into digital marketing.


Not knowing can be a blessing…

While Okereke had no idea what digital marketing was, he was placed in several roles at the companies with the sole aim of understudying everyone. From online reputation management to graphics to content, he did them all.


“That was the best decision anyone could have ever made for my life and career because it meant that I knew a little of everything”.


Hard work pays off…


“My God, I worked, I was the first to get into the office and the last one to leave even though I  lived hours away”, he adds.


Chidi’s internship was supposed to last three months, but after a few weeks, he had found his place in the content team and before the three months mark, he was leading the content team at Anakle.


An Entrepreneur is birthed


Chidi Okereke presently runs his own communications firm: Thisruption communications.


At the time of the interview, Chidi had just been invited for a Global Leadership program in the United States of America for the Cornell Alliance Society Fellowship. He was still a little flabbergasted and spoke about his latest win with a hint of uncertainty.


“I keep thinking that something would go wrong or they’d change their minds and I wouldn’t be able to travel, it’s so surreal” he ended with a slight uncertain smile.


Today, Chydee is still working with leading brands in Nigeria and parts of West Africa to convey the right message to their audience. He is also a top favourite for influencing products and services on Digital. As an influencer, he has received rave reviews for his work; one in particular was recently made by Presidential candidate and former minister, Oby Ezekweseli.


If you ask me, Chydee’s story is one of a few that point at the light still being present at the end of the tunnel. The goal is to keep at it.