With an impressive background which includes stints with Total E &P Nigeria, Orlean Invest West Africa and a UNDP Regional Project that she had to account for 13 African countries, Tampiri Irimagha-Akemu is settling into the role of running Sesema PR, following the demise of its founder, Alima Atta. In an encounter with Funke Olaode, she speaks about her career and family
Tampiri Irimagha-Akemu, managing director of Sesema PR wouldn’t want to be addressed as an accomplished woman yet because she sees the sky as just her beginning. Describing her as a boardroom diva with a magic wand won’t be an understatement. She parades both an impressive academic and career pedigree that can make the best of her peers green with envy. In less than four decades of her existence, she has covered so much ground.
A large portrait of the late founder of Sesema PR, Alima Atta stares down from its vantage position like an ethereal sentinel. That Thursday morning, Tampiri chose a black pencil gown which accentuated her cute and trim figure. Her friendly disposition was apparent in the warm reception. Without doubt she enjoys a chummy relationship with her staff members as evident in the way they relate. The company’s official orange is obvious in the painting and furniture.
It is one year since Alima Atta passed on after running the company for 13 years. Now Tampiri who previously operated behind the scene since 2014 has assumed full responsibility, following Alima’s demise.
Her working experience of over two decades spanning many sectors prepared her for this big role. Her multi-sector experience and outstanding track record is matched by her creativity and resilience. Her experience includes organisational development, capacity development, and public relations and communications for various organisations.
She has worked in Oil and Gas, Logistics, Non Profit Management and SMEs across Africa. Her first major work experience was with Total E &P Nigeria. Thereafter, she moved to Orlean Invest West Africa where she successfully supervised over 20,000 people. The UNDP Regional Project and other portfolios placed on her a huge responsibility of overseeing over 13 countries across the African continent.
Tampiri has successfully managed executive broad-based consulting projects. She recently concluded an EMBA from CEIBS (ranked among top 10 international Business schools by Financial Times) specialising in Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Foreign Languages and Literature, and Certificate from GIBS Gordon Institute of Business Science. She is a global Affiliate of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), and has several professional certifications in HR – ACIPM, SHRI, Quality (ACQI) and management (CMI).
She has piloted several executive management leadership programmes and established a corporate Learning Academy where she mentors young entrepreneurs. She is a board committee member of Women in Successful Careers (WISCAR), and a non-governmental organisation that focuses on developing women to build a better nation and mentor for W.I.N with WISCAR mentoring programme.
Attributing her success to the upbringing under her late electrical engineer turned businessman father, Tampiri admitted that she and her siblings lived in comfort. Standing on the shoulder of that giant, she attained success. It was a tough upbringing within strict parameters. For instance, she and her siblings were forbidden from wearing jeans. Her father believed in academic and intellectual prowess. Later in life, she adopted her father’s template.
Joggling motherhood with career wasn’t a problem with Tampiri who used her early career years to groom her two young boys. By the time she embraced her career wholeheartedly, the boys were already in the boarding house.
Having worked in multinationals across the continent, coming to manage Sesema PR was very easy because her career had revolved around communications. Eulogising the late founder, Tampiri said Sesema PR had about 16 active clients before she came onboard but has added 10 more clients in the last one year. More than anything else, the integrity of the founder has really helped and they are just building on the platform.
It is instructive that she was able to ease herself into the control saddle at Sesema and the unhindered transition was made possible because she had always been a friendly shadow, lurking in the background. Now is the time for her to step out and do it her way!
“I definitely would have taken more risks. I knew that I had to make a change early on but the fear of the unknown always held me back. I spent many years in the corporate world with a firm belief that patience and steadfastness will move me up the corporate ladder; I doubted my ability to make it as an entrepreneur and felt I wasn’t cut out for it. My turning point was my encounter with Alima Atta, she believed in me and the rest as they say is history.
“I would have pursued my dream and passion early enough if I had the opportunity to do anything differently. I can confidently say, ‘failure is not a setback it just builds you up for greater successes’. Today, I am a creative entrepreneur surrounded by think-tanks. What is gold to me is not money, contacts or products. If I lose all of these things, I would consider it a blessing as it would provide a blank canvass to draw new ideas, concepts and free flowing creativity.
For Tampiri, being at the helm of affairs of any organisation certainly comes with its hassles and, of course, perks. Taking over the rein of affairs at Sesema has been humbling and the biggest responsibility so far in her journey. Lessons have been learnt with lots of accomplishments. Like any other growing or established business in Nigeria, the company faces numerous external challenges, which include but is not limited to high cost of maintaining and running the facility. This is outside hiring and maintaining good quality personnel. As a committed team, they have banked on their many successes and improved on their shortcomings.
Tampiri together with the team recently joined the Atta family at a solemn one year remembrance service for the repose of Alima’s soul. While a foundation in her name has not been officially launched, Alima’s existing fund has been put to good use with the launch of the Corporate Communication Pitch Competition project; the first of its kind in Nigeria aimed at identifying bright communications graduates and availing them a platform to build a career in Public Relations and Digital Communication. The competition was launched last April 1 to mark the company’s 14th anniversary. Through the process of this pitch competition, it has employed four young bright graduates including a First Class graduate.
“The foundation of our business is promotion of brands and individuals, churning out tactics and the next big idea. It’s a God-given talent and gift and does not require money to deliver on. Friends and clients consult us with just a fragment of a concept or an idea but with focused deliberations and research we churn out world class campaigns. This is evident in our achievements.
“In the course of our 14 years in business, we have spearheaded successful reputation management campaigns for a variety of local and international clients, our portfolio boasts of over 100 happy clients; with projects excellently executed, several recognition awards, two international partnerships for global reach and countless advisory and partnership ventures.”
There are three men in Tampiri’s life: Her supportive husband and her two amazing teenage sons.
As this reporter was set to leave, she quickly hinted on her company’s future. Diversification and expansion is in the works as it transforms into a full-fledged integrated marketing communications company with the establishment of sister companies for digital campaigns and advertising.