Interview with Afi Ofori: Managing Director, Zars Media

“Be an expert in your field. Believe in yourself and what you are doing”

Afi Ofori is MD of Zars Media, a women-centred firm set up to highlight women’s leadership contributions across all careers in all business sectors. Previously she was the European and African Account Director within the FT group with overall responsibility for client management and business development. A sales authority in the marketing and publishing industries, Afi has held positions at leading publishers including Financial Times Group and Incisive Media

What do you stand for and what makes you tick?

“What do I stand for”! I guess it would be fairness. I believe strongly in ‘’do onto others as you would have others do onto you’’ – that is the one thing I constantly remind my kids of. My kids make me tick. However it’s my determination to succeed and to make a better life for my family that drives me.

You’ve recently started your own business, what factors influenced that decision?

None, unlike other entrepreneurs I simply made the decision and went with it. My attitude was very much “jump and build wings on my way down” Sometimes thinking about something before you do it only creates doubts and fear which stops you. I don’t have all the answers- however, I am learning as I build my company.

Entrepreneurs are considered brave, and need to be courageous day to day to make their ventures successful; is that your experience?

All those things are important I guess however, for me it’s the belief in myself that I can succeed. You can be brave, bold etc but where would you be if you don’t believe in what you are doing and yourself? I think people first buy into that belief before anything else. Being brave and courageous only helps you make the hard decisions and the hard choices.

I think most will agree that people who start their own business have a higher risk tolerance level; under what circumstances have you considered risks worth taking?

Well I have started my own company haven’t I! Quitting my 9 to 5 to start my own firm has certainly been worth it. Flexibility is the main advantage and if you have an idea and want to start your own business, don’t over-think it, just do it.

Your company focuses on women particularly in the area of sales; why this focus?

We don’t focus on sales; it’s the first event we started with. We started with the sales awards because that is my background, it’s what I know and Sales is now recognized as a major contributor to accessing C-suite positions for women. Zars Media organizes events that recognize women working in traditionally male dominated sectors. We have two other events “the women in private equity awards” and “the women in construction and engineering awards”. We will be launching other events.

You’ve been able to get on board an impressive string of successful and high profile women to be judges in your events; what do you say to them to get them involved?

I keep it simple. I tell them exactly what we are doing and how we plan to do it and I am also respectful of their time.

What do you see as your strengths; how do you ensure you use them frequently?

I believe my main strength is not being afraid to ask. I use this strengths; it’s part of me, it’s who I am.

What gets you through the tough times?

I don’t see tough times; I simply see opportunities to be stronger and better. And I smile and laugh about everything because no matter what my situation is someone somewhere is probably having a worse time than I am, so I always appreciate the tough times as you call it.

What top tip would you give to women trying to move their career forward?

Be the expert in your field.

What kind of person would you like to grow into?

I am happy with me and won’t change that for anything or anyone. I am very determined and I don’t let anything get me down and I don’t take anything personally. My attitude is if I can fix it then fix it and move on, if I can’t fix it then why worry about it!

For more information on Vera Ng’oma’s work and resources in leadership, personal and career development and excellence building, click here.

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