Joe Otin On Being A CEO And How YOU Can Be One


Joe Otin is the CEO of The Collective, an interactive ad agency in Kenya. He is the chairman of the Advertising Standards Board, the president of PAMRO (Pan African Media Research Organization), and a member of the oversight committee of KARF (Kenya Audience Research Foundation).

He is the Rotary International representative to UNEP, and is the vice chairman of the Rotary International Communications Committee. Joe is also the chief judge of the Public Relations Society of Kenya (PRSK) Excellence Awards, and the Marketing Society of Kenya (MSK) gala awards, he was granted the MSK Marketing Warrior Award in 2010, and has published several papers in local and international conferences, most recently on the subject of return-on-investment of advertising and social media marketing.

He writes a weekly column on marketing for the Business Daily newspaper in Kenya and he has 23 years experience in advertising, production and research.

You started in advertising then moved to research and back to advertising as the founder of The Collective. Is entrepreneurship a more rewarding undertaking?
JO: When you’re doing what you love to do then both employment and entrepreneurship are rewarding. The difference is that with employment you’re working within someone else’s vision even though you may get an opportunity to shape that vision. With entrepreneurship you develop your own vision and invite others to share in it with you. When I was an account manager in an ad agency years ago I was given the advice to do things with one heart and that is relevant both in employment and entrepreneurship.
What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
JO: A deep desire to build something new and meet the needs of clients through a philosophy that is derived from universal values in a changing environment. To determine the future of the industry through our work is a passion I have and I will not rest until we make this a reality.
How does being a Rotarian impact your business?
JO: Rotary is a network of leaders who exchange ideas and take action to improve lives in the community. It has helped to build my leadership and public speaking skills as well as broadened my network here and across the world. Working with many people who have done great thing in the community and in their own lives has been very inspiring for me. My Rotary Club of Lavington is made up of the most considerate and inspirational people and I’m really privileged to be a part of this club.
What challenges do you face as a CEO in your business?
JO: Making decisions without having all the facts is one challenge of being a CEO. You learn to trust your gut and even feel closer to God. We have to deliberately build a supportive and progressive culture in the company because a culture that without vision is a nightmare and as they say ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’.
Can you define success in your own words?
JO: Success is serving many people. I believe that success is service and it’s a journey, not a destination. The inward token of success is internal peace. The outward tokens are health, love, happiness and abundance.
Why do the youth think that its easy to become a CEO at 35 years of age?
JO: Nothing good comes easy. It takes vision, diligence, courage and determination to get what you want. The earlier you start to employ these values in your life and career the better chance you have to find success early.
Are you motivated to be your own boss? Tell us below.