“To be successful, you need to continue developing a variety of skills. However, it is crucial to combine great skill with great habits in order to achieve real success.”
Alex Okosi, the Nigerian-born, US-educated media executive, epitomizes Africa’s promise: young, gifted and very ambitious. After all, he sits at the helm of Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) Africa, heading up multimedia entertainment brands MTV Base Africa, MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon for Africa, VH1 Classic and BET International. Okosi is responsible for bringing the media behemoth to the Africa, initially developing and launching VIMN’s first bespoke channel for the continent, MTV Base Africa back in February 2005.
According to Okosi, Viacom the 6th largest broadcasting and cable company in terms of revenue, “was at that time, in every region of the world but Africa and internally, there was a lot of interest within management to complete the global picture.” However, while VIMN management knew that Africa was the last economic frontier, no one wanted to establish VIMN’s physical presence in Africa. However, Okosi was eyeing the growth indicators and emerging trends bubbling beneath the continent’s then persistent narrative of languishing economies and impoverished nations, “what was particularly exciting for me about Africa’s economic momentum and growth surge was that we would potentially be in a position to serve the rapidly growing but extremely underserved consumer base.”
For Okosi, the launch of Viacom in Africa was not intended to be an exercise of “cut and paste” Western formula onto Africa; rather, he had to develop the ecosystem and set up a team of Talent and Music Representatives in key African markets that trained local video producers to create high quality videos with both pan-African and global appeal.
To build his team of 80 or so personnel, he created a corporate culture centered around A.F.R.I.C.A, the acronym for the company’s values; “ I coach and nurture my team to be: Accountable, First time winners (plan for success), Respectful, Innovative mindset, Collaborative, Attention to detail.”
In an earlier interview, when asked what drives him, Okosi replied,”I have always had a strong personal ambition to succeed which was instilled in me by my parents who both had a strong work ethic. I want to make a positive impact on the world with a key focus on creating initiatives that empower the youth of Africa. Leveraging my skills and experience to help drive Africa’s development and improve the perceptions of Africa around the world are also important to me.”
He described his characteristics that have led to his success, “my determination, personal drive, analytical skills and a sheer passion to be part of ground-breaking initiatives have helped shape my journey to date. I am a decent listener, and my intuition often helps me get to the heart of what people want in order to help find solutions to meet their needs. I am also able to relate to people from diverse backgrounds, which helps me forge authentic relationships that help grow my understanding.”
Nowadays, Africans are earnestly taking charge of the continent’s transformation and Okosi is arguably one of the new faces of corporate Africa: global, sophisticated, savvy and very driven.
(Courtesy of Farai Gundan: http://www.forbes.com/sites/faraigundan/2015/02/09/meet-the-corporate-titan-heading-up-viacom-africa-alex-okosi/)
(Courtesy of The Legacy Project: http://www.thelegacyproject.co.za/alex-okosi-senior-vice-president-managing-director-mtv-networks-africa/)