Insight repositions with sights on global stage as CEO mounts saddle
The Board of Directors of Insight Publicis has appointed Feyisola Olubodun the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of the company. He takes over from Jimi Awosika, who stepped down from that position in December 2016 after 11 years of quality leadership.
In his late 30s, Olubodun is the first employee manager of the 36-year old creative consultancy and marketing communications company and ranks among the youngest Managing Directors /CEOs among the A-rated marketing communication firms in Nigeria.
The change at Insight Communications is not only historical for such a private company but the restructuring indicates adjustments in line with the dynamics of the market largely influenced by technology and youth market. Indeed, technology and social media are shaping developments as consumers are now more informed.
A multinational business management consultant, Deloitte, justified this thus: “While consumers have always had the ability to vote with their feet, or with their wallets, they now have more power to influence not only what they buy, but also what others buy. Empowered by social networks and digital devices, consumers are increasingly dictating when, where and how they engage with brands”.
Information technology is playing a critical role in business management and direction and some Nigerian companies are committed to meeting ongoing disruptions with equal force, not only to maintain years of successful operations but demonstrating a hunger for more success in the future.
Observably, Insight Publicis does not want to be overtaken by the fast-moving train hence the Board carefully searched out a young manager of Generation Y to take the mantle of leadership and continue to steer the ship in the digital era.
Dr. Ken Onyeali-Ikpe, the CEO of All Seasons Media, a buying media agency who doubles as Chief Operating Officer, Insight Redefini, the holding company to which Insight Publicis belongs, speaking at Olubodun’s unveiling as the CEO of Insight, highlighted that the Board took a diligent search for the right person to lead the company’s quest for more success.
The group took this decision because the founders have grown the company into a legacy brand and particularly given the indelible footprints of Awosika, from whom Olobodun would be taking over. According to Onyeali-Ikpe, all those considered had the integrity, and charisma required for this position but one stood apart as a leader with extraordinary ability to connect vision, people and their ideas to drive strategy and execution.
Enumerating other reasons for the change in leadership and what the choice of Olubodun was predicated on, Onyeali-Ikpe said: “Given our globally-recognised creative ethos, solid financial foundation and clear path forward as leader in the creative marketing communication industry, this is the right time to transit leadership for Insight for the next chapter of growth.”
An extract from a statement issued by the Board of the company on the appointment reveals that: “This is the lap for the millennials and the Generation Z. It is an era of connecting mobile digital communication to the socket of complex business needs. Olubodun will now lead a successful team saddled with the responsibility of continuous delivery of unrivalled communication solutions that assist our customers to have profitable interactions with their audience.
Onyeali-Ikpe and Olubodun clarify that the development at Insight was not informed by the recent Publicis Groupe’s investment in Insight Communications. According to Onyeali-Ikpe, the transition at Insight is not part of the Publicis agreement, it is a natural progression. In terms of timing, it is pure coincidence as we have a clear path to succession plan not only at the level of Insight but at group level.”
On the changes at Insight Publicis, Olubodun, who joined the company in 2009 and grew to become strategic planning director from where he became general manager/COO in 2014 noted that Nigerian business landscape has not done well in transiting soundly from owners to non-owners, towards guaranteeing sustainability and continuity of business institutions.
“If you look at the industry today, it is populated largely by a lot of entrepreneurs running their own businesses and it is important that the industry has confidence that at some point those businesses can be transitioned to non-owners who can take the business to a higher level. That is part of the assignment that lies before me and my team. My goal is to turn Insight Publicis in to an institution, something that endures ways beyond the founders,” Olubodun said.
He pointed out that Biodun Shobanjo, the Chairman of Troyka and first Managing Director of Insight Communications, had told him in one their chats that 10 years from now, he wants to see Insight well ahead of competitors in the industry. “For this to happen, we have to become a business not built around the founders anymore, but a business that increases its capabilities, with its growth agenda bolder and stronger to ensure it is an agency that grows into the future. On this, we have articulated our direction very clearly internally,” Olubodun said.
The new CEO believes that the next thing for Insight, which has led the industry for a long time, is to hoist its flag on the creative map of the world and join the ranks of agencies respected globally. “This will be a strong drive for us going into 2017 and more importantly is to continue to increase our capability to partner with our clients. While we can talk of disruptions in our own business, the disruption is stronger even for our clients. Many industries are being impacted not only by technology and influences of the post-digital era but also by the incredible and interesting economy. In this sense, they need creative partners that can journey with them and help them to win in their markets”.
According to him, helping clients win in their respective markets is at the core of Insight’s operation as the firm builds its business by building clients’ businesses. “Whatever capability we need to continually build clients businesses, in the years ahead we will continue to do that,” he said.
Reminded that he is taking such critical position when the Ad industry and the economy are facing challenges, Olubodun agreed that it’s an unusual time but insisted that it presents unique opportunities. Onyeali-Ikpe put it succinctly: “This is the best time to assume the position of the CEO. What good is it for a man when things are going smoothly and he jumps into it, he will be hardly recognised. It is not easy but by withstanding the tornadoes, you make your mark and earn respect.”
Olubodun acknowledged that the challenge is to reinvent the business, and how “we do things” has to be carefully balanced. “No doubt we need to bring fresh talents that think differently and have exposure to other industries that can bring value, but it is also important that we retain what is core to us. We can’t change the core of the business radically. Those that give structure and value in the business that would continue to remain in the business and help stabilise things as we go ahead. As we journey, we will determine what to keep and how to adjust and make sure it is a balanced journey,” he said.
He sees himself as empowered and independent to assert himself and lead Insight forward in spite of some of the founders of the company, Biodun Shobanjo and Jimi Awosika, who served also served as managing directors, being in the Board. “I have the powers of the CEO, accountability and responsibility over the affairs of the business and I have been exercising that for some time without any hindrance. The board processes are very clear, like any other CEO in the group, I report to the board and the board offers counsel as necessary,” he said.
A confident Olubodun is already solidifying his team with industry experts to ensure that Insight would be the first creative marketing communication firm to bring the Lions Cannes award to Nigeria. “We say that not because we must make a statement, but because we are actively moving in that direction and there are things we are doing to head in that direction”.
He is of the opinion that Nigeria has not won the Cannes award because of ‘national low esteem’. “We tend to believe as a country that what we have is not good enough. That if we must play on the global stage, we have to become like the West. Therefore a lot of my colleagues in the industry when they attempt to enter works for the Cannes and others, they enter work that is a bit European and lack original Nigerian culture. You can’t win a game in which you don’t play differently. What we have found is that the countries that won have shown works rooted in their culture,” he said.
Looking at Ad agencies and clients, Feyi who has attended local and international courses preparatory to his new role at Insight said that clients are expecting that marketing communication professionals would help them solve business problems. Therefore in order to continue to partner with clients, he said agencies have to become different kind of business to solve solutions. Though the solutions would come from creativity but the expression of creativity can vary, he said.
Oluodun takes over from Jimi Awosika who stepped down as CEO/Managing Director of Insight Publicis on Wednesday, December 21, 2016, after 11 years in the saddle. Awosika is a founding member of the 36-year old creative consultancy and marketing communication Company.
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