Marketing industry amazons Adenike Adebola and Jody Samuels Ike, Marketing Directors at Guinness Nigeria, speak on the unpredictability of marketing, nurturing talent, social media, their early beginnings as marketing professionals, juggling work and home life and many more with Kehinde Olesin.

1. What is your daily routine in the office?

AA: Routine. I don’t believe there is anything routine about my work days. More seriously, for me, the day is about working through all the elements that make up our business from executing our strategy to providing leadership to the team. Our end point is ensuring that we get the outcome that we require, so routine is not something that I come across very often during my day.

JSI: My daily routine is quite hectic, intense and invigorating. It is filled with connecting with team mates, planning for the future, making decisions and removing obstacles. My days are hectic but exciting.

2. Apart from the brands that you handle, which other global brand(s) has attracted your attention and why?

AA: I would have to say Apple. I love the way the brand has integrated itself into the lives of its users. It really has gone beyond a product, it has become a lifestyle. Even when many people complain about the brand being expensive, they continue to use it because using an Apple product goes beyond the transaction. I think that is really powerful. For me that makes the difference between brands that go the distance and those that don’t.

JSI: Dove is one of my favourite global brands. I love what the brand stands for in terms of beauty and empowering women. I think they’ve got fantastic quality excellent functional properties. They have made a stake for themselves in culture. They have done a fabulous job in terms of innovating and in taking what was known as just a soap into so many different and exciting categories.

3. What is your reaction to what many termed a racial error by the Dove brand?

JSI: I don’t think it was a racial error. I think it was more of lack of understanding of how the brand messaging might be interpreted. When you look to the past, at how the brand has shown up consistently, I would say there was never an intent to harm or offend. However, I feel it will cause people to be more sensitive and think more broadly about how advertising content can be interpreted by many others. From what I know about the brand and the company, I strongly believe there was no intention to harm or offend.

4. What is your take on the social media?

AA: I think social media has changed the world as we know it. There are a lot views out there – is it a blessing? Is it a curse? The reality is that there are many positive things about social media. It is a very powerful publicity tool where you can advertise your business and the services you render conveniently at little or no charge when compared with traditional media. However, there could be some drawbacks and as it is with most things, it becomes a problem when it is abused. One area of concern is the exposure to young people, who are not mature enough to use social media. Kids and teenagers who are not quite ready to manage the information and exposure that social media provides can become vulnerable to predators who are on social media for that purpose. Generally speaking though, I think it is a beautiful tool which can be harnessed for the greater good.

JSI: I love social media I think it is a fantastic marketing tool. For people like me who are now living outside their home country it is a fantastic way to connect with friends and family. In the past when I had to live outside of my country when there was no social media, staying in contact with my family was very difficult. I find it an incredible powerful tool on a personal and professional level. One area that is very interesting for me, is how it has really blurred the lines of personal privacy. A friend of mine narrated a situation to me where she was approached by a stranger who said “Hi, how are you?” in a very personal way, as you would to someone you know very well. This was shocking to her because she didn’t know this person but the person went on to reply that she was a follower from Instagram! So social media lets people into your space and into your life in a way that could be intrusive. However, as a tool for marketing and connecting to family all over the world, I love social media.

Jody Samuels Ike, Marketing Director, Guinness Nigeria

So what’s your favourite social media tool?

JSI: It’s tough to choose but I will probably choose Facebook because that’s where I can stay connected with more friends and family of all ages.

5. As a top professional and a woman how do you juggle office and home while taking into consideration your very demanding position and schedule?

AA: Being a Nigerian mum, I have access to a lot of help. So long as you have a strong support system at home, you can cope. When I am at work, I am here 100% but I am able to do that because I am confident that I have the right support to cover the home front. A great example is something as simple as utility cards. Once upon a time, I used to find it difficult to send someone grocery shopping because I wasn’t sure of prices and I wouldn’t be sure of how much to give them. But now, I just load the utility card with money and it could be used to buy the things we need. So I use available tools and technology to make that support stronger. Having said that, I also try to be present both at home and work as much as I can. I try to put clear boundaries in both areas but that can prove challenging because sometimes, one can take too much from the other and it is usually work. After all is said, I believe that I am a work in progress. I have not mastered it, but I am very aware of consistently balancing my time between work and home so that work does not take all my time.

JSI: Basically, I ask for help when I need it from my husband, children. I have my priorities very clear and one thing I advise is to keep to your commitments that really helps you to juggle. I also do not have a hard stop between work and personal life. So If I say I am going to leave work at a certain time because my priority is to have dinner with my family then I will do that. That may mean that I have to do some work after dinner and I am happy to do that. If there is an event at my children’s school I don’t want to miss then I will attend and if I have to travel for work I am also happy to do it. It is all about setting expectations, being really clear about what your goals are and making sure that everyone is on the same page. Also being fluid so that there is no hard stop and start really helps me to juggle.

6. If you were not in this career line, where would you be?

JSI: I will be living in Spain and I would have a small coffee shop or Bread & Breakfast. That’s what I would be doing.

AA: I would be doing something in the area of music, maybe a backup artiste or something, but I can assure you I would be singing my heart out.

7. What is your candid advice for young women who are aspiring to take on similar career like yours?

JSI: Persevere. Have a strong voice and continue to learn.

AA: I would say “be yourself” and “be the boss your own life” because it takes courage, discipline and orchestration to build the life you want.

Adenike Adebola, Marketing Director, Guinness Nigeria

8. Who are the people that have affected your upswing in your career?

JSI: My husband is the first I would like to mention. I have an amazingly supportive and encouraging husband and he has been awesome. Secondly, my parents have been very supportive as well. My mummy was very inspiring to me because I saw a woman who worked and still took great care of her home, her husband and her children. I have also had great people who encouraged and mentored me at work. I have a couple of bosses in the industry that I can point to who really mentored me and did a lot for me. One was Carl Gish who was my Vice President Marketing when I was at Unilever. There is also Michael Ward who is the Global Director of Innovation at Diageo who actually hired me into Diageo and has been a wonderful mentor for me and most recently Peter Ndegwa, the Managing Director of Guinness Nigeria who has actually embraced me after coming to Nigeria to have this experience and he has coached and mentored me to be where I am today.

AA: My biggest influence would have to be my father who raised up six daughters to be very strong, independent women. He taught me to believe in myself and be accountable for my own life. He is one of the biggest influences in my life. Beyond this, I love God and I am not ashamed to say that. I trust Him and believe in the influence He has in my life as well as the principles of being a Christian. Another thing is the support of my immediate family – my husband and my kids. On my journey, quite a number of people have also impacted and influenced me. My first job was at UAC and that role helped to shape me as a marketing professional with the help of my boss Larry Ettah, who taught me to push the boundaries. He never judged me but rather encouraged, guided and coached. I cannot talk about my career without talking about Larry. In Diageo, the values of the company have been an enabling part of my journey here. The ‘Freedom to succeed’ really inspires me and therefore gives me the confidence that I can be anything, say anything and challenge anything, without being afraid.

9. What is your leadership style?

JSI: My leadership style is one that is warm and approachable but also demanding and decisive.

AA: I believe that I am warm. I believe people can be their best selves if I unlock commitment and ownership. So what I focus on is getting people to that level, where they can own the outcome, be committed to and believe in it. I also know that people are different so I am flexible based on people’s strengths and capabilities, but the first thing I do is to seek to unlock commitment and ownership in the people that I work with.

10. What do you enjoy about this job?

JSI: I enjoy the challenge. I like the sense of urgency. I love the beautiful brands. I love the energy of my colleagues here in Guinness Nigeria and I really love the chance to see people enjoying our brands everyday as a part of their lives. To be able to come to work every day and encourage people to enjoy our products in a responsible way – these are a few of the things I really enjoy.

AA: It is the unpredictability of marketing that I enjoy the most. Every day is different. Every challenge is not the same! Today, you are winning in the market and the next day it is a different situation. There is always something new to tackle and that energizes me – I often approach it with a “bring it on” attitude. If I didn’t have this, I would be bored. So I love the unpredictability of my job. In terms of Guinness Nigeria, I love our brands and I often say my love relationship is not with the company but with the brands.

11. Can you share your good moments on the job so far?

JSI: I love to see my team learning and growing and that’s always a good moment for me. Other fantastic moments are when I see people enjoying our brands and also how our brands affect the lives of our trade partners.

AA: There are a lot of them, but the most cherished moments are when I see people grow in their careers. It is the most rewarding feeling for me. Seeing someone come into the team and in two years he/she has grown within the business – I enjoy reflecting on my role in that person’s journey. I feel satisfied that I have been able to help people grow.

12. How do you relax when you are not in the office?

AA: I love to relax on my special couch in my living room with a glass of drink with lots of ice in it, watching comedy.

JSI: Spending time with my husband, children and friends. We often go out to discover new places in Lagos and my children keep me running around.

13. Describe yourself in 3 words?

AA: Troublesome, warm and relentless.

JSI: Sharp, nurturing and very resilient