InsiderPR John Nikolaou

Spotlight On Insiders: John Nikolaou

Tell us a bit about your journey to becoming an Insider?

Several years ago, I founded a research and advisory firm that focused on the energy, mining, and agriculture sectors in frontier markets. A lot of our research focus and client base were in African markets, so I had the privilege of learning all about the economies, people, and history of the vibrant continent. One of the services my firm offered was PR because we saw the same problem that Insider directly addresses: you cannot invest in what you cannot see, and companies in emerging and frontier economies need their stories told in order to attract investment.

InsiderPr's John Nikolaou

I connected with Aubrey Hruby, Insider’s co-founder, and initially started writing for Insider as a way for me to stay engaged with what I love doing: writing, research, and telling stories. As I got to know Aubrey and the firm, my role expanded and now I am proud to be serving as Insider’s Director of Operations and Finance.

What does a typical day at Insider PR look like & highlight your best experience so far?

I wear two caps at Insider: Director of Operations, but also Account Manager. My typical day then usually starts with checking in on the team and each Account Manager to see where they need support. Then, I work on deliverables for the accounts that I manage. This typically involves drafting branded content that discusses why solar, for example, works for small businesses in Africa. I am happy to be managing Insider’s renewable energy clients — a sector that I am passionate about. The sector is everchanging, so I frequently have strategy discussions with my clients to discuss how we want to position their companies in the long term.

One of my highlights to date has been working with Salma Okonkwo, an independent Ghanaian renewable energy developer, and seasoned energy executive. Salma used to run the first fully integrated African oil and gas (O&G) distribution companies and is now doing renewables. Her story, both as an executive transitioning from O&G to renewables and as an African woman raising capital in a male-dominated industry, is truly inspiring. Getting her on global stages like the recent Reuters Responsible Business Summit has been a great experience.

Based on your insider knowledge, which sectors or ideas are you most excited to see develop over the next five years?

Getting urbanization right in emerging markets, especially African megacities, is a key trend for the future growth of many sectors. This is because urbanization touches on so many key development themes: the decline in agricultural productivity associated with the decline in rural population, the weak urban planning of cities which gives rise to the rideshare economy, the concentration of emissions in megacities, and increasing deforestation as cities expand, just to name a few. I will be watching intently to see how entrepreneurs and policymakers adapt to urbanization over the next five years. There is great potential to get things right and for countries to benefit from the increase in economic growth that comes from productive cities.

How do you think the PR industry is changing and adapting to the current global landscape?

PR is becoming more global. In some cases, it is no longer sufficient to distinguish yourself or your company in your country’s market: you have to think regionally and then globally. There are international venture capital firms and investors, for example, that won’t just be comparing a Kenyan startup in one sector to other Kenyan startups in that sector. In today’s information age world, there is nothing stopping a VC from comparing a Kenyan rideshare company to a Mexican one, for example. As emerging markets like those in Africa get more attention as PR services and availability expand throughout the continent, those markets are now on a global stage and are therefore measured against their intentional peers. Companies must approach PR with this global perspective.

What one thing you learned about yourself during the lockdown?

I have come to really appreciate the immense value of nature. Before lockdown there was a lot to do on a weekend: one could go out to dinner, go to a concert, or go see a movie, for example. I was in a rural area of the US for lockdown, though, so all there was to do was enjoy walks, hikes, or just sitting outside on a nice day working or reading. I’ve learned that I am fine with this and really do enjoy and appreciate being outside — even if I am outside with nothing to do!

If you could sit down to dinner with any celebrity/thought leader (dead or alive), who would you pick, and what would you discuss?

Probably Lee Kuan Yew, the former Prime Minister and founding father of Singapore. Lee transformed Singapore from a literal colonial backwater into a developing and then developed country with low unemployment, low corruption, and a strong social safety net. It would be incredible just to hear him talk about the policies he implemented to drive Singapore forward.

What’s your hot tip for businesses and brands considering PR?

We here at Insider say this all the time: PR is not marketing. I highly recommend they read our last Insider Insight piece on that topic. That is my tip, though: constantly reassess whether your business needs PR or marketing at any given point, invest in both, and don’t get the two confused. Marketing has its place for selling products and signing up new customers, for example. PR, what we do here at Insider, is about elevating your company as a leader in your space, and companies must give that effort its own attention and resources.

Afrae Tatari​

Social Media Manager

Afrae is a Digital Marketing Strategist and Social Media Specialist. She holds a bachelor's degree in International Trade and Management from Istanbul Sehir University in Turkey and is certified in Search Engine Optimization, Inbound Marketing, and Content Marketing.

Temi Faseyide

Account Associate

Temi is a creative storyteller who is adept at understanding and refining the business story in order to communicate effectively to the targeted audiences. She has over four years of experience working in communications and earned a Post Graduate Degree in Public Relations & Communications from the University of Lagos, Nigeria.

Camila Canney

Latin American Associate

Camila is a marketing specialist with experience in communication strategies, advertising campaigns, and brand positioning for companies across multiple industries. She has participated in the startup ecosystem in Colombia and collaborated in digital transformation projects.

Gustavo Orozco

Latin America Director

Gustavo has served as an advisor to several Colombian presidential candidates and international firms regarding public relations issues and brand positioning in media outlets. He is a frequent collaborator with Colombian news organizations

John Nikolaou

Director of Operations and Finance

John is the founder of natural resource research and advisory firm with experience operating in several African markets. He has previous experience in US energy sector and natural resource policy.
John holds a BA in Government and Natural Resource Management from Claremont McKenna College.

Wole Olayinka

Account Manager

Wole is an Account Manager at insiderPR. He has spent the last five years supporting communications and delivering engaging content for African businesses and entrepreneurs. His writings on technology in Africa have appeared in NextBillion, African Arguments, Business Day Nigeria, TechCabal, AllAfrica and Magnitt.
Wole holds a Bachelor of Laws from Olabisi Onabanjo University in Nigeria.

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Adjoa Kwakye

Account Manager

Adjoa has worked across different roles in the financial services sector in Ghana, including marketing, technology and customer service, developing a broad outlook on doing business in West Africa.
Adjoa holds a BSC in Management Information Systems from Ashesi University, and an MSC in International Business from Hult International Business School

Olga Balangala


Olga is an Associate at insiderPR. She has 8 years combined experience in events, TV/Film/Radio production, marketing and research across different industries. She is an award winner and Tropics Magazine Top 500 African-Doer. Olga holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Johannesburg majoring in Sociology, Strategic Communication and Information Management.

Nosike Nwigene

Digital Communications Manager

Nosike is a Communications and Digital marketing professional interested in media, Africa's tech ecosystem, innovation policy and the intersections. He has experience providing advisory and executing social media and content programs for over 25 tech ecosystem actors in emerging markets. Nosike holds a BSc in Industrial Chemistry from the University of Abuja.

Rebekah Clark


Rebekah is Director at insiderPR. Rebekah is a communications specialist with an international career which has seen her tell a wide-range of captivating stories to diverse audiences. Her mission is to support clients as they create positive and meaningful dialogue, whilst inspiring and informing audiences. Based in London, Rebekah works with Governments, NGOs, and brands, to deliver effective strategy, campaigns, purpose-driven activities, media, and events. She holds a BA Honours in Communication & Sociology from the University of Liverpool, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Thelma Obiakor

Account Manager

Thelma is an Account Manager at insiderPR. She is also a planning, research, and evaluation specialist, and much of her research explores innovative business models for inclusive growth through entrepreneurship in Sub-Saharan africa. Thelma supports several international donor organisations, and government agencies in gathering evidence to inform decision making, and conducts rigorous results-based evaluations to measure the impact of their work. She is a Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA). Thelma holds a BA in Economics from the University of British Columbia, and an Mphil in Development Studies from Cambridge University.

Eliot Pence


Eliot is the Executive Director of the US-Nigeria Council, advises investors on market entry & private expansion strategies in Africa. He has written extensively on doing business in frontier markets in the FT, New York Times, Reuters & CNN. He is a board member of the African Leadership Network, an Aspen Scholar, & CFR Term member.
Eliot holds an MA from Yale University.

We are always looking for experienced people, talented writers, journalist connections, etc.

We do not have any current open positions but don’t hesitate to contact us at if you want to get on our radar for future opportunities.

Aubrey Hruby


Aubrey is an advisor to Fortune 500 companies & investors doing business in Africa. She is a contributor to the Financial Times, NPR, & Axios and the award-winning author of ‘The Next Africa’. She also serves as a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, Council on Foreign Relations & a Milken Young Leader.
Aubrey holds an MBA from Wharton & MA from Georgetown.