My Life After Uni shares life hacks from some of Ghana’s brightest business professionals about succeeding in your career after the University.
In this edition, we tell you about the inspiring story of Nana Kwesi Obeng, a young talented, confident, and intelligent entrepreneur whose goal is to impact 1000+ entrepreneurs on brand growth and creative strategy through his brand company Piramid Groupe where he supports and provides the branding needs of graduate entrepreneurs.
Nana Kwesi Obeng, popularly known as Brand Guy Mikey is the Creative Director of Piramid Groupe. He is a graduate of the University of Professional Studies (UPS) who studied Accounting and Finance. In the University, because of his exemplary and diligent personality, he was appointed as a Class Representative, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Accounting and Finance Department and was also appointed as the Head of the Student Representative Council (SRC) Planning Committee.
- Current role: Brand Identity Designer, Podcast Host.
- Location: Accra, Ghana
- University Attended: University of Professional Studies
- Program studied: Accounting and Finance
- One word to describe your experience of Life after Uni: Challenging
What is the connection between your current role and your program of study?
I pursued accounting at the University but even before that I was a designer. I am a self taught designer, so even before pursuing accounting at the university, designing was part of my lifestyle. That is how come I was able to transform that passion into building an agency that could help young graduates to bring out their ideas. I realized that most of my colleagues were bent on building their career right after school but people actually didn’t have the knowledge when it comes to branding so I realized that I could bridge the gap between the business of design and to help people who have ideas and are trying to bring it to life but don’t have the necessary tools or the necessary knowledge about branding and also to help build myself in the industry.
How will you briefly describe your university life and its impact on your life currently?
When I got to university it was rather interesting because I was a very antisocial type of person in first year. And the first year, everybody was in class and it was a big class, they wanted to elect a course rep; I don’t know how but I got elected as a course rep. That’s how I moved from somebody who was antisocial, very quiet and didn’t have any friends to one day becoming the guy that everyone wanted to talk to because he had all the information they needed. That was the reason why I started trying to be a people person, talking to people, understanding their problems, and trying to get them solutions.
So that was the basis of my change on campus and that calmed me throughout my first year to fourth year. I went directly into politics, I won some elections and I lost some elections. It’s basically like a moment of my life that it felt like I had a change in my life. Most of the lectures were my friends because I was the smallest guy who tried to create chaos everywhere he went, asking questions and you know crazy crazy stuff. So that was how I got through University successfully and also be someone people could look up to.
There is something in you that you should allow yourself for the system to bring out; most people do not allow themselves to be refurbished by the system so they leave the same way they come. Going into politics has given me the urge to master public speaking and the urge to know human relations. It has helped me to build my confidence level and come out of my shell.
What influenced your choice of program studied in the university and is the choice still relevant in your career today?
Ok, nothing influenced my choice in the University actually. I was set to do accounting; my aim was to do accounting because I really like working with figures. But when I got into accounting I realized this is accounting, but is there any other thing that I can do to actually help build myself? We are in an industry where things are changing and we are privy to the unemployment situation so I was like how can I better help build myself so that I don’t only come out of the university as a Chartered Accountant; but what other social skills can I use to help build myself.
That was basically my trajectory, nothing influenced me. I was set on the path to do accounting but I decided to add certain things to my knowledge in accounting so that if one thing should fail I would have a back up. My advice to young people is to try to build themselves outside of the box of their current program.
Yeah! Accounting is relevant in my career and it’s actually opening my eyes to things that I wouldn’t know of if I was actually coming for a design background. Combining accounting with design is like combining fuel to flame because it makes you see things in a bigger picture. I can do my own invoices, I can write my pitch deck, proposals, budget, among many others. So I think it has really helped me understand what I want to do and what I want to set up as a business in all.
How was your National Service days, what skills did you learn on the job?
When I went into national service, because I had the skill already there was a point where my department had to come up with proposals for NSP’s to take to places to pitch and all that. I was in the accounting department but because I had a background in designing, I was moved from the accounting department to the marketing department. I helped them in terms of designing and writing proposals. I think one skill that I learned when I was doing my national service was the fact that I was able to write proposals and pitch. So that is something I have been able to learn through my national service days.
How did you transition into the work world after school?
Yeah, well, when I was in school I was already running Piramid and during service I was still running Piramid. After service then I came to Piramid fully so my transition was not a hassle because I already knew what I wanted to do.
What are the skills and tools you think matters the most in this current work life?
I think that right now, problem-solving is the ultimate tool that any young graduate should be able to understand. If you go into any space and you’re able to solve problems it’s good. People want problem solvers, so even though you are doing your service, identify a problem and try to solve it. Now in the corporate ecosystem people want problem-solvers and especially within the era of COVID-19, problem-solving with soft skills in terms of IT is what is needed, so every young person should learn a soft skill that will be an added advantage to whatever they are doing. So soft skills, problem-solving skills and being able to communicate are the key things that you should have.
What advice do you have for students/fresh graduates about life after university?
Those I’m concerned about are the 2020 graduates, you are done with school in the middle of a pandemic and you are graduating into a market that is already confused. What are some of the skills that you need to stand tall?
What you should know is that there are over thousands of people like you fighting for some retention that you’re looking for so
- Make sure that you know everything in the organization you are going into.
- Cultivate the habit of being punctual because showing up is now a valued skill that people don’t realize.
- When it comes to soft skills, whichever department you are taken into, know exactly what is the most important thing in the department and develop yourself more on it.
- Make sure that you don’t see yourself as a national service personnel but see yourself as someone who has been employed there for years and make sure that you deliver
- Make good use of social media. People now get employed from social media. I would recommend that social media be about your life, what you believe in, and how you want your career to look like.This is something that I will be able to help people with if they contact me.
Considering the times that we are in, it was timely to sought his view on a couple of things and this is what he had to say;
What are some of the difficulties and challenges Covid-19 has brought on graduates and the consequences you anticipate graduates will face post Covid-19?
OK so now that we are in this situation, what’s happening is before COVID-19 there was a chunk of unemployment issues and even the existing companies were struggling trying to employ people but now half of those agencies are going out of business so there’s no company for you to go in and work and even if there is you’ll still be home. So it’s a big issue that we are dealing with that we are actually not aware of the results it’s going to bring to our economy.
Over 50,000 people will be leaving our university this year; where are the companies they are going to work at? So if you are a graduate and you’re going out, know that this is the situation on the ground and know that you will need to have a side hassle to support what you have. Companies are not privy to what is going to happen after COVID-19. So once COVID-19 goes away companies will take some time before they restructure. If you’re just leaving school you should have a plan that will help sustain you even if you are not employed.
What relevant skills in your view are needed during these times?
Soft Skills. Soft skills are good but if you lack conceptualisation you will not be able to use the skills for anything. Employees are looking for people who are very smart when it comes to solving problems so if you are not very smart it will be difficult to get employed.
How do you envisage graduate entrepreneurship going forward?
I think that the level of entrepreneurship should rise this year because people will try and adjust themselves. As much as they don’t have anything to do, they will try to come up with something. Other people are also building their lives on Tiktok ( He laughs). So if you are able to start something and find the market for it no matter how small it is it will survive. Even your boss has a side hassle, how much more you!
Who will you like to hear their story about life after university?
CEO of Rigworld Ghana, Mr. Kofi Abban.
Mikey also has a channel on YouTube Brand On Demand where he walks you through a step by step approach on how to build your brand online and shows you the tools he uses to build for his clients.