A common phrase that comes to the minds of people when they think of the woman Mo Abudu is, is “Breaking Glass Ceilings.” It is both a rare and amazing thing to watch the growth of one of our own challenging stereotypes and doing things a lot of people would categorize to be unrealistic dreaming. Mo Abudu has not only had massive dreams but she has consistently made them happen. It is for this reason that Forbes described “Africa’s most successful woman”, Mosunmola Abudu is our Billionaires Club Icon of the Month Of April.
The seeds of a revolutionary business and socially impactful career were sown at a young age of 7 in Mo Abudu’s heart. She was living in the Uk, where she was born. She got plagued with incessant questions about what the state of Africa was. They made a lot of insulting remarks and had wrong perceptions as to the development of the continent. This greatly impacted Mo Abudu so much much that in answer to a question asked by a student at an Oxford Union meet-up, she states that on getting to Nigeria for the first time at age 7 she had a strongly misinformed perception of the place and people. She was very uncomfortable with the people around and found herself retreating to her parents for fear of unwanted people touching her. She eventually adjusted her perception after several months of relating with loving people.
Unfortunately 20 years later her kids still faced the same issues when they schooled in foreign countries. As a result of these, she realized that it was important to take up a role to change this wrong narrative. Ebonylife TV and Moments with Mo are essentially social ventures as much as they are commercial ventures. At the heart of all her activities with these platforms is her deep mandate to showcase Africans as global, enlightened, brilliant and exposed people as opposed to the persistent display of Africa as an underdeveloped nation in the media.
Starting off in this line, however, wasn’t a direct path for Mo as she was originally working in the human resources sector. She studied at West Kent College and Mid Kent Collge before completing her master’s degree in Human Resource Management from the University of Westminster, London. As a result of this training, she began her career in this line. She worked as a recruitment consultant in the UK and eventually moved on to be the head of the Human Resources and Training unit for Esso Exploration & Production Nigeria Limited when she moved back to Nigeria.
On knowing what her life purpose was early, Mo has stated that at 25, she knew she wanted to do great things but she did not have the specifics. She advises people to start up with what they can find. She opines that her life has been a journey of stumbling into things that actually have fit well into her eventual life purpose. She believes in doing things passionately. Most especially, when she feels a strong need to take on a new cause she chases it relentlessly.
After working for a while as the head of human resources and starting up her own successful human resource firm called Vic Lawrence & Associates Limited (VLA), she felt passionate that there was a need for a pan-African Tv show talking about important issues. One that was in the same league as that of Oprah Winfrey and the Ellen DeGeneres Show. She felt that the time was right and she could pull it off. A lot of people felt that she was crazy. How could she sideline a high paying job and a successful business to chase Tv presenting? She had no experience whatsoever but what she had was a passionate dream to do it.
She advises aspiring entrepreneurs or young ones to always pick a career path that they are passionate about. She also stressed the importance of believing strongly in it as it is what would keep the business alive. She advises people facing excessive criticism like she did to actually listen to everything they are told. “Some people who did not plan to help me have helped me in unknowingly,” She says when reflecting on the importance on listening to critics. According to her, they help you make your plan full proof and might actually be making a lot of sense.
After taking the bold step she realized that one major prerequisite for a successful business is information. She had no experience but all she had was a passion and willingness to learn. Mo Abudu invested in buying a large number of Oprah Winfrey’s videos. she watched them heavily and learned a great deal from them. She also got a TV presenting tutor and equally learned a great deal from him. In addition, she took several online classes, all with the aim of becoming skilled at what she set her mind to do. She states at a talk that “Information is power, If you know better, you would do better”
The journey, however, wasn’t smooth as getting DSTV to commision her project was a lot of work. They eventually only licensed the show, which left her again with the big hurdle of looking sponsors. Getting guests to the show was a lot of work as well. Her first catch multiple award-winning Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka whom she chased for several months. He always told her he was busy, but due to her drive she kept on pushing till he had no choice but agree. Afterward, she went on to interview several figures of the similar calibers. She interviewed presidents and former United States Secretary of state/Former Presidential aspirant Hilary Clinton. She recorded over 800 successful episodes after a first 20 months period of no traction to the show.
She also created other impactful TV programs like the GT bank-sponsored “The Debaters”; but a major feat Mo Abudu has come to be known for is establishing Africa’s first Global Black Multi-Broadcast Entertainment Network called ‘Ebony Life Television’ in 2013. She is also the first African Woman to own a TV station. On talking about this, she shared that at the start of Ebony-life Tv all they had was an idea and not large amounts of money. She was passionate about this idea and gathered a great team to execute it. She has stressed severally that young entrepreneurs should not think they can achieve their dreams on their own. It is important to curate a team of successful people who are specialists at what they do and that is one of the things that have helped her in her journey. She also does not “separate play from work” and she stated giddily that she is the kind of leader that would call an employee at 3 am to talk about her passion.
Mo Abudu has gone on to break even more boundaries in media. She has delved into the film industry with box office hit “Fifty” and star-studded “The Wedding Party” which grossed over 400 million Naira breaking by a landslide previous Nollywood box office records. Leveraging on the success of the film, she executively produced the sequel which was shot in Dubai. She has also released a delightful romance film which was selected in the Toronto international film festival like “The Wedding party” which beautifully is in alignment with her dream of the world seeing the true African narrative.
In October last year, she completed a three weeks course at the London Film School and spoke on the possibility of a future directorial debut, another great feat that the world awaits her to cross. Just last month the most amazing of all glass ceilings was broken, Mo Abudu signed a deal with international production and distribution agency Sony Pictures the owners of Spiderman, Men in Black and Underworld among others. She is set to co-create three projects with them for international distribution. One of which includes a series based on the historical Dahomey female warriors.
From all that we have seen, we can aptly state that Mo Abudu is a dreamer, fighter, revolutionary and perhaps a hustler. In addition, she is effortlessly beautiful and fashionable and has two children, one of whom is already following in her footsteps in the media.
Do share your thoughts on all that you have learned from this post. We look forward to showcasing another Billionaires club Icon next month.