Amobi grew up in Africa (Nigeria, Tanzania and South Africa), as well as the United Kingdom, and was exposed to diverse cultures and experiences. It could be for this reason that she studied law and anthropology at the London School of Economics.
“A lot of people ask why I decided to combine both courses, but I found that they complemented each other very well.''
Until earlier this year Amobi worked with one of Nigeria’s tier-one law firms, Aluko & Oyebode, where she was a senior associate in the firm’s technology, media and telecommunications team.
“I loved the work we did for innovative technology companies and eventually, start-ups. I was keen to understand how technology worked behind closed doors and the operational side of the business. That was one of the motivating factors for moving in-house.”
She then joined Paystack, one of Nigeria’s most successful fintech companies, which is focused on accelerating digital commerce across Africa and helping businesses penetrate under and un-served payment markets.
Now, being with a Payment Solution Service Provider with more than 47,000 registered merchants, Amobi has found herself working in a heavily regulated industry.
“My day-to-day role involves ensuring our compliance with financial regulations, developing relationships with regulators and agencies in the FinTech ecosystem and building a cross-functional team that helps the business grow into new markets.”
She occupies a cross-functional position and works with multiple streams at Paystack.
“The Paystack team is very big on communication and we have productivity apps that help everyone stay connected 24/7. It is so important to make sure that nothing gets lost in translation. A lawyer’s idea of something can be entirely different from what an engineer has in mind. Usually, a brief meeting or phone call can prevent miscommunication.”
On managing existing regulations vis-à-vis commercial expectations/realities, Amobi says, “It is no surprise that regulation lags behind technology, especially in emerging markets. The commercial reality is that speed is inevitable — the team needs to grow fast, launch fast and drive the conclusion of projects as quickly as possible. The demands on the team simply emphasize the need for advocacy and making a conscious effort to collaborate with regulators.”
Being at the centre of innovation in Nigeria herself, Amobi has introduced some innovative solutions in her work.
“We started channeling all legal requests through one form of communication and tracking our progress in a transparent manner. I also started working with a legal associate in recent months, which has helped meet the needs of the team. No man (or woman) is an island!”
“I never stop learning. I have an innovative team in a fast-scaling business; work is never stagnant and it’s been amazing to see how quickly they achieve results. A recurring challenge however, is trying to make the team compliant with existing laws and regulations without stifling innovation. As an in-house lawyer, you want to analyse decisions and mitigate risks, but it could potentially affect creativity/output, so balance is key”.
Outside of work, Amobi enjoys a good cup of coffee or malva pudding(a South African dessert).
To young lawyers, she advises: “Knowledge of laws and legal procedures is key. You have to stay on top of regulatory updates, particularly in the technology space (which is continuously changing). If you’ve never written an executive summary, then start practising. Your ability to think critically and communicate aptly in writing, is vital. Being comfortable with numbers also wouldn’t hurt.”
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