By Bianca Iboma
Mrs Yinka Ogunde is the Chief Executive Officer of Goals and Ideas Group. A member of the Governing Council of Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), she is also the Vice-Chairperson, Education Committee APCON and Chairperson of Women in Advertising. In this interview, she shared her wealth of experiences in the advertising industry, her passion for education and many sundry issues.
Can you share some of the life lessons you have learnt?
When you live in a country like ours one of the key elements you need to learn is what I call intentional lessons. Intentional lessons mean that you are deliberate about your actions and you are clearly defined as a person because it is easy for anyone to lose focus. For instance, all my friends are now going to XYZ church because of that I will follow them to XYZ church. All my friends are now buying and selling online, whether I am equipped for it or not I will engage in it. One of the lessons, I have learnt about life is that I don’t do things because everyone does it. It is important for every individual to discover themselves. For me, it was easy to discover that and adding value to other people’s lives gives me a lot of joy. When I was still active in the world of advertising, with the little resources that I had, I was able to add value to some young people at that time. My colleague and I had a platform basically meant to add values, we organized seminars and workshops. Also, we trained students in advertising; we looked out for fresh graduates and undergraduates who wanted a career in the world of advertising and impacted knowledge on them. At that time, I was able to get some of my client to pay for the hall, food, logistic because these programmes were normally free for these young people. I was able to do all these programmes because I had support.
However, there is this notion that when you talk about advertising people feel it is all about placing commercials only. They don’t have the exact idea of what people do in the world of advertising. Even with the little resources available we built an organization that opened the mind of these young people that are stepping into the marketing communication industries. They are able to know the various departments like the clientele, research, and copywriters, creative among others. Everything I was doing revolves around educating people that is why it was not a surprise that I ended up in the education space.
How did you come about the Goals and Idea Group and why did you choose to carve a niche in the educational space?
The business of advertising is an exciting but very challenging one and you must be able to carve a niche for yourself as a practitioner. Coming into the education sector for me was exploratory and strategic. I identified a sector that sooner or later would require strategic marketing advisory services as they progressed and I positioned myself as being ready to offer these services. The educational sector was one of those I identified and I found that it was a sector I enjoyed working in, so I created a company that would serve that sector exclusively. I ended up creating a lot of projects that people never thought could be done and I still kept things within the confines of marketing communications.
You are a successful career woman in the advertising business at what point did you decide to embark on child and women projects?
I saw a sector that needed the knowledge I have to make it thrive. I decided to utilize the skills I learnt in advertising on these projects in order to be a voice in that sector and most of the things I do is advocacy for the education sector. Moreover, I have incorporated the platform as an NGO; My NGO does lot training for parents, teachers and the students.
Although we separate the training, we equip the teachers with the skills required and train parents because a lot of them don’t know what they do to their children when pursuing their careers these things can sometimes make these children emotionally unstable. For many of these children, the school has become a second home for them.
How long has this project been on and why did you go the extra mile to champion the cause?
We Are The Future of Our Nation(WATFON) project has been on for a while and this year is the 13th edition. This can be described as one of the best and successful programmes aimed at celebrating our nation. The students normally come out to say their expectations about Nigeria and what they want their leaders to do and equally share their thoughts. The initiative of this project was aimed to reach out to 57,000 students as Nigeria was celebrating its 57th birthday. We were going to their various schools to speak with them and we had various speakers to enlighten them on different issues. It was about love for our nation and the patriotic spirit. We made realize that even in our diversities that we are still one as Nigerians. The platform was used to show our children that despite our circumstances as a nation, there are still some people that they can see as role models. The experience has been wonderful and I appreciate the students for making it a success by expressing and showing us their creativity. We had students from all over the nation and we brought them together for this event.
What was growing up like?
I had fun growing up. I came from what was referred to as the then middle class family in Nigeria. My mum was a teacher and my dad a civil servant. We lived in Ilesha. I am the oldest of the four children and two of my siblings are lawyers while my other sibling and I took to another profession. I attended Our Lady of Apostle primary school; I then proceeded to Methodist Girls High school, here in Lagos. I read English at the University of Lagos as my first degree and started working. After my national youth service, I worked as a reporter at Nigerian Television Authority and the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State. However, I have been intrigued by the Advertising sector because when I was an undergraduate, I did a vacation job with my uncle Segun Adegbiji, who was an early generation Advertising practitioner. I remember going with him for meetings. For me there was something slightly mysterious about the business, men were always in smart suits, shooting television commercials, going for clients meetings, talking strategies and generating ideas. It was a vibrant profession and it arouses my interest.
I went back for my Master degree in Mass Communication again at University of Lagos. On completing this, my Uncle who felt I had the advertising spark gave me notes to three of his colleagues. My first port of call was Promoserve, one of the top five agencies in those days. I was immediately offered a job after passing the creative test and so I never bothered to report at the other two companies. Certainly, Uncle Segun played a huge role in mentoring me in the advertising world. He was jovial, creative, fun loving and he was the typical advertising practitioner. Although, he is now a Pastor, his creativity is still evident in a lot of projects which is undertaken by his church.
I was also mentored by some of the hands in the business at Promoserve. I worked on several accounts such as Pfizer (now Neimeth), Vono, Citizen’s Bank and Marc & Mei. I also served with M-Gold Communications before setting up Goals & Ideas, which has now evolved into a group of companies. Goals and Ideas Group currently comprises of Edumark (a leading Education Marketing Firm working with leading Educational institutions across Nigeria), Brand Connection (an experiential organization) and 360.com.(a new digital marketing outfit reach).
Growing up who would you say influenced you?
I would say my mum; my mum was an instrument that God used to shape my life. As a teacher, she took me to school at a very early age. Although, I was not registered as the regular students that influenced my performance in school. My mum made me realized that I am a teacher’s daughter and needed to be well behaved as well as have good grades in school. When the other pupils wrote exams, I also did too and I did excellently well, more than the pupils enrolled in the school. I was admitted based on a consensus that it would not be nice to ask me to wait until I am registered, I was given the privilege on merit but I was too young. That is how my academic journey began and I graduated at a young age, I graduated at 20.
You look good is there anything you do to keep yourself in shape?
I always keep up with a regular exercise. I was still on Lekki Bridge last weekend. I have a spa that I go to and ensure I watch what I eat. I eat a lot of fruits and drink water. But basically, I believe it is more of the inner peace I enjoy from God Almighty.
What are your most cherished fashion accessories?
This is a difficult question for me because I am not the loud type when it comes to fashion. I like to look simple but elegant. I will say that my most cherished fashion accessory is MAC powder. I love my MAC powder and also use their line of products because it is very good for me. I equally use coconut oil. There is a way it is refined now that it does not have that local smell. After, my bath, I just apply it. I love the oil because it is nice on the skin.
What is your style?
I prefer casuals. It could be simple but classic. I can put on a nice T-shirt and trousers, a simple gown or skirt. I am more of a casual person. I don’t like any kind of stress in my body. My style is informal.
How do you balance work and family life knowing that you are a busy person?
I started a bit early that made it easy for me, my last child is already a big boy and so it is like I really don’t have anything to balance. When my children were small, I needed to stop working to take care of them. I actually did. At that time I was so much occupied in the advertising world, which you know the challenges associated with the job. I took a break from work, my brain didn’t stop working. For the woman of today, you can’t even compare her to the one during our generation where a woman just stayed at home and all activities are placed on hold. But with her phone, today’s woman begins to do business on the internet. She can be selling on Instagram right in her leaving room while she is managing the children and domestic chores altogether. I was lucky; my mum was a great support to me and my younger siblings equally assisted because it is a small family. Moreso, I was married to a man who was quite understanding and he is a career person, so the pressure was not too much on me.
There have been so many cases of violence in marriages that some of these women have resorted to using kitchen utensils as weapons in their homes, what do advice to you have for women in troubled marriages?
They should not neglect their state of mental health. When something becomes too overbearing check it out because if you bottle it up and you allow it to get to a point where you can no longer control your emotions then it can become problematic. When you are able to speak out it helps, I don’t know about others but once I cannot bear an issue I say it out. By the time you hear stories about two or three people you too will calm down. You will then realize that your own is not even as grievous as theirs. You can take it further by seeking the help of a counsellor. Women should learn to exercise patience and seek counsel when they are overwhelmed.
What is your philosophy of life?
Make a difference in the space. Make sure that every day is useful and you have something beautiful you have added.