From April 2007 till today, Bolaji Okusaga, the helmsman at The Quadrant Company has led a team of young and dynamic and was able to achieve feats. The vivacious and hardworking Bolaji who describes himself as a serendipist in this interview with MarketingWorld, bares his mind on professionalism as regards PR, understanding trend, mentoring and pitch experience. Excerpts…

Bolaji Okusaga, Managing Director, Quadrant Company

The Quadrant Company is a pioneer in this business. I want to know what has been the magic in the past few years.

There is no magic. I will reckon that if you have the spirit of excellence in you, you will just keep striving to surpass your own standard. In seeking to surpass your standard, you will be falling on some good milestones as you ride along and that may seem to others like magic but essentially it’s not about magic, it’s about work, paying attention to details, analysing a landscape before seeking to dive into it. Understanding trends and plugging into it, having a winning spirit, are very important. Then you hire people not because of where they are from but because of what they can deliver and they are accountable to their promises.

You recently diversified into some other businesses…?

We didn’t really diversify; we only plugged into other trends in our area of practise and by so doing we will be able to develop another strategic business means that can keep our growth long term. So it is not a short term, it’s a long term strategyy in terms of where we are going to be in 5 years and we bench mark what 5 years from now will look like in this market and every other market where we have our focus. We came to the conclusion that the landscape is changing and changing very fast to the extent that a lot of us have not been taking notice. If you look at 1996 from now you can track project changes that have taken place in this same market. You cannot seek to bring to bare the knowledge of 1990 when we started this company up to 2013 because a lot of changes have occur in our external environment. That should ordinarily inform our business model strategy. In those days when we were born children use to close their eyes but now when kids are born they open their eyes right from the womb because thi
ngs are changing. Human beings that are not held by the barriers of the old but are seeking to burst old myths and chart new territories. Therefore businesses must be able to catch up with new trends. You must begin to speak babies’ language and that’s essentially what the industry has done, that’s why they have been able to decode their market. Therefore for our profession as communicators, we must take cognisance of these emerging trends. One would like to say that aside from emerging trends there are trends that are here to stay, you can imagine you going out of your house without your mobile phone, or staying for one day without checking your email, it’s unthinkable. In some ten to fifteen years ago , it was just a normal life, now things have come on that have changed all of that. Therefore our business has to rethink the way it goes to the market, has to rethink the medium, and has to rethink on its path to building relationship and sustaining that towards having a mutually beneficial platform.

So, tell me more about your new business?

Qlichy is an all in one platform, a multi platform that seeks to take advantages of opportunities. Essentially it is built around being able to harness relationships and manage those relationships once they are harnessed and consolidate all those relationship as a result of management because you cannot be speaking to a market either speaking below their head or above their head, you must meet them at the point of need.

Can you tell me how effective you think PR is when it comes to business?

Well, every organisation defines his vision; vision is defined in terms of feeling the need in the market, the return for value. Now, how do I see a need if I don’t know that those needs exists? If I know those needs exist, how do I go to where those needs exist, convince the community , consumers that I exist to deliver that need to bridge the gap between the need and the way it is procured.

This process is what I need to forge relationships. I will forge relationships at the level of stakeholders that have decided to come together to hold a common vision to drive a profitable enterprise. Those relationships will also exist at the level of government at the regulatory environment that prevails within the environments that stakeholders seek to foist that vision. Now the stakeholders will need to relate amongst themselves as well as relate with the government and the regulatory environment order to be given permission for participation. Having being given the permission for participation, they will need to bring in internal stakeholders who will own that vision and run with it, differentiating between management and the guys who operate at the operations level. All of these are varying levels of relationship once they have been able to forge those kind of relationships now it’s time to go to the market, you will then need to go and relate with the consumers, or relate with the target community or r
elate with the target public so that they can understand what you represent, hence the word “public relations”

Which has been your best pitch ever?

It’s the Etisalat pitch, the pitch was very interesting and very exciting. Coupled with the fact that the brand owners have a creative environment. It’s so well structured as it’s a multinational company that you cannot just do things anyhow. Things were done by processes based on the fact that you want to create an impulsive and creative environment. At the time we went for the pitch we were not even in any way favoured we just came as a challenger and we were able to take the business at the end of the day. Another exciting pitch aside from Etisalat is the Master Card pitch, a global multinational also we had to play the challenger here, and we did that pitch across one year and had over 4 presentations. And all presentation had different contents that from my mind are mind blowing. You needed to have the stake power to continue on that path, and eventually the kind of relief we got when eventually we were announced as the winner upstaging the incumbent was pleasing. For me those are the two pitches that de
fine my career and it has emboldened us to go out there and get any pitch that we want.

Where is your next target?

My next target is to build, make a success out of it, create an oasis in this seeming dessert and do that until every other person takes note of it, that’s my next line. If am able to do that, I would have done all I envisioned for.

Can you tell me what and who influenced your career?

I have a very interesting perspective to the way he works in this market. I see him as a champion, I see him as a goal getter and he has influenced my career. So greatly I say that to everybody I come across that there is one human being whose ways intrigue me and whose ways has influenced the way I do things. It is Aig. Imokhuede, the Managing Director of Access Bank Plc. When we first met our encounter was not exactly palatable because I felt he was arrogant, I felt he was rash. When I drew close to him I found out that he was a gentleman. Since he came to Access bank, he has been able to turn around the bank even through the consolidation era. That he is probably amongst the top 10 within the space of 10 years of operation, it is something I find quite interesting. I am not speaking from the aspect of maturity; I am speaking based on his guts and power. I take my inspiration from his guts and power that means human beings can actually make something out of nothing. My second and curren
t role model is Mr. Biodun Shobanjo, the man who lost his father at a very young age and therefore if it were any other person he would not have made anything out of his life. But he came in from a journalism background into advertising with his steadfast mission to take the market and make a statement. He has been a trail blazer within the same industry well, over 40 years, an industry that is dynamic will then tell you about the level of depth, the level of ingenuity, the level of creativity into which he comes across in terms of strategy and marketing strategies. So far for me, that’s phenomenal. Those are two people that have actually influenced my career.

Can you describe yourself in three words?

I am a serendipist. A serendipist means someone who stumbles on lucky finds. Who set out wanting to just hunt not knowing exactly where the expedition will take him, but being lucky enough to stumble on an elephant and kills the elephant sees a lion he’s lucky enough to kill the lion, it’s not as if he had a battle plan that this is how I will take this territory. I never did. But somehow a lot of the things I have achieved actually impose themselves on me, and in imposing themselves on me created the need for me to be daring, need for me to either succeed or fail, and in the process God has been kind enough to make me succeed. That’s all about me. I am not a super human being, I do not claim to be one, I have one life just like every other normal human being down there on the streets but the difference is that I stumble on lucky sides and I make good use of them.

What would you tell upcoming public relation executives?

I will say to them believe in your dreams, no dream is inferior; don’t believe that you are inferior to anybody because the world makes a way for a man that knows where he is going. If you don’t know where you are going it’s so easy for me to push you out of the way. Go find things with all you got and when your get it continues to hold on to it steadfast or you will lose it, that’s the word.