Girl Friday: Morin Oluwole, Chief of Staff Facebook Global Marketing
Photography by: Isabelle Ratane
Morin Oluwole is a true citizen of the world. She speaks five languages and has lived on three different continents. Now she’s taking the online world by storm as the Chief of Staff VP Global Marketing Solutions at Facebook. Morin shares her journey from Nigeria to New York, and reflects on how and why she’s become the successful savvy business woman she is today. –Ashley
You’re originally from Lagos, Nigeria, but have lived all across the world: London, San Francisco, and now New York. How have your experiences in each place shaped who you are today? What has been your favorite place to live?
I’ve had the good fortune of experiencing several cultures in my life – these experiences have helped me develop an appreciation for learning new cultures and languages. When I meet new people, I am fascinated with learning about their backgrounds – how they grew up, what traditions they hold, and how they see the world. One’s view of the world is heavily correlated with their early experiences; I love to connect those dots with people. I’ve also become a collector of languages as a result – I speak Yoruba, English, Spanish and I’m currently learning French.
Picking a favourite place to live is so hard! I grew up in Nigeria, and developed my roots and values there, nothing can replace that experience. Living in the US has shaped the course of my future for the better. The opportunities and exposure I’ve had in the US are immeasurable. London always has a special place in my heart, it takes me back to fond childhood memories.
You studied Human Biology and Sociology before moving to work in the tech world. What initially drew you to that field?
Heading into college, my original plan was to become a doctor. In Nigerian families, tradition tends to hold true – expected careers are usually a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. I initially began the path to become a doctor by majoring in Human Biology, an interdisciplinary
I grew up in Nigeria, and developed my roots and values there, nothing can replace that experience. Living in the US has shaped the course of my future for the better. The opportunities and exposure I’ve had in the US are immeasurable.
major at Stanford that combined both physical and social sciences. As time went on, I realized that although I was a great student in physical sciences, I was more drawn to the social sciences aspect of the major. I decided to complete a Masters in Sociology following the Human Biology degree. I was fascinated with human interactions and how social capital could influence and shape the course of one’s life experiences. Having that background has been a great foundation to my career at Facebook.
Do you think the rise of technology is a benefit to humanity or is it detracting from our personal interactions?
When executed thoughtfully and with purpose, technology improves quality of life, allows people to build strong personal connections and is a significant boost to the economy. Technology allows long lost
It’s important for individuals to assess how they use technology and make an effort to strike a balance with online and physical interactions.
family members to reconnect, small business owners to sell their good efficiently, and provides access to important health information.
Where technology can detract from personal interactions in poor execution and unknowing individual behavior. Technology has developed at an incredibly fast rate, affecting interpersonal norms sometimes without us realizing it. It’s important for individuals to assess how they use technology and make an effort to strike a balance with online and physical interactions.
You currently work in the marketing department at Facebook. What does a typical day look like for you there?
You may have to rephrase that question – there is no typical day for me! On any given day, I may be on a plane to Tokyo (as I currently am while answering this question), meeting with a client in Chicago, writing a business brief in NY, planning a speaking engagement in Barcelona, or holding a video conference meeting with colleagues in offices across the world.
I am the Chief of Staff to the head of Global Marketing Solutions at Facebook – my role is global and requires a lot of mental and physical flexibility. That keeps it exciting because I can honestly say that I’m never bored with work. I work with incredibly smart colleagues and with the biggest clients and agencies in the world. I learn something new each day at work, which sets me up to be a smarter and more successful individual in the future.
Do you find there is much diversity among people who work in technology? How does that affect you?
The tech industry (like most professional industries) has a lot of work to do to improve its levels of diversity, particularly for senior and technical positions. Across most of my life experiences (college, working on consulting, and tech),
Working with diverse people means one is exposed to a diversity of ideas, which makes us all better people and creates for a better working environment and company.
I’ve become used to being either the only one or one of few. In most meetings and industry events, I am often the only woman, usually the only black person, and certainly the only black woman. Having this experience makes me more determined to take advantage of the opportunities open to me to change the levels of diversity at Facebook and in the industry.
Working with diverse people means one is exposed to a diversity of ideas, which makes us all better people and creates for a better working environment and company. At Facebook, I am a leader of the Facebook Women and Black@Facebook Employee resource groups. The company is very supportive of building a more diverse environment and we work with recruiting and diversity teams, senior executive leaders and industry organizations to build extremely talented and diverse teams.
To what do you credit your success? Has your corporate climb been an easy one?
My mother and family have been incredible forces in my life. My mother instilled in my sister and I the importance of getting a good education and performing well in school. In my extended family, success is an inherited trait and getting second best has never really been an option. I come from a family of doctors, lawyers and entrepreneurs – you can see that I have a lot to live up to!
My career path thus far has certainly not been easy, but I have learned immense lessons about the industry, the value of relationships and overall strategy. Experiencing challenges helps you better manage difficult times to come. I’ve had to prove my value and work harder than the person next to me – and I continue to do so. I truly believe that if you have a dream and are not willing to settle for 2nd best – you can define your path to success.
How have the relationships you’ve created over the course of your career influenced your success?
Relationships are vital – building strong social capital is an important key to success in life (Sociology 101!). I have relationships I’ve cultivated over the years that have influenced my life in ways I couldn’t imagine. I’ve learned that you never know how a relationship will benefit or impact you in the future (or vice versa). As such, it’s important to stay on good terms with people and make time for those who are most important to you. Surround yourself with people who are willing to vouch for you, build trust with them and make sacrifices for them.
Being open to meet
the most important aspect of building a new relationship is to find a common thread between you and another person and build from there
new people is critical as well. I grew up as an incredibly shy person, and never talked to anyone. As a child, I would observe interactions and conversations around me to learn how to talk to people. What I found over the years is that the most important aspect of building a new relationship is to find a common thread between you and another person and build from there. Now, I can strike up a conversation with almost anyone, it just takes a few minutes to ask them questions to better understand them and you can find a common link with pretty much anyone.
You’re also an online entrepreneur! What inspired you to create your site, Daily By Morin?
Thank you! I started my Facebook Page, Daily by Morin, from function and it’s now developed into a strong passion. In my early years at Facebook, I led product marketing and development for Facebook Pages. In order to learn how to use Pages, I created a fun Page focused on my interests: fashion and lifestyle. What started as a small test has now developed into an online community of almost 23,000 people where we share and engage on fashion and lifestyle tips and pop culture events.
I want to have a future career where I merge my experiences in tech and fashion and Daily by Morin has been a great stepping-stone to delivering on that vision. I’m excited for what’s to come!
I love the tagline for your site: “Showing the world the best version of you.” How do you stay inspired?
“Showing the world the best version of you” is based on my experiences growing up in Nigeria. In Nigeria, before one steps out of their house, it’s important they look they best and look put together. That’s a practice I still live by today – the only time you’ll find me outside in sweats is when I’m on my way to the gym. Looking good makes me feel good about myself so why not look good all the time?
People and the unknown keep me inspired. From all my experiences – living in Nigeria, London and the US, attending Stanford and Columbia, working at Facebook – I’ve learned that there is still so much in the world to explore. I love meeting new people and building relationships, surrounding myself with smart people who have a plethora of ideas keeps me engaged. I have an appetite for knowledge and I love learning from others and sharing my insights with them.
Where does you love of fashion come from? How would you describe your style?
Fashion is an important part of my self-identity. Cultivating a personal style is a quiet but powerful statement to the world. Fashion also runs in my family – my sister, Ibi Oluwole, is an entrepreneur who started a successful women’s boutique business called Ibiss Boutique immediately after of college. We both love different aspects of fashion and it’s fun to share this passion with someone close to me.
I describe my style as sleek and clean with an edge. I love simple, well-cut pieces that have a cool and chic surprise (E.g. a camel wool cape with a structured bow in the back). It’s important that clothes I wear are flattering on my body – not every trend or style is made for every body shape. Nothing ruins a look more than wearing an unflattering piece.
What’s your favorite piece in your closet?
Investment pieces are critical to any look – I tend to do a high/low look and blend classic accessories current pieces. My current favourites are a pair of pink suede Christian Louboutin midi-heels, a Chanel caviar bag and a vintage Cartier Panthere watch. I tend to keep my clothes sleek and chic and then pop a surprise with accessories.
How do you see your future?
My future is yet to be written but I am definitely in the driver’s seat. I know I want a few fundamentals – happiness and love in my relationships, flexibility and success in my career, and personal health and balance. The best is yet to come!
Girl Friday is a phrase more common to the 1940s and 50s, defined as “a female employee who has a wide range of duties,” and is most recognizable from the film His Girl Friday. Here at Move LifeStyle, we’re resurrecting its saucy vibe for the title of our last column of the week which profiles inspiring women in the workforce. If you like this series, click here for more Girl Friday Interviews.