Oluwashola Adekoya is a well-respected strategic marketing & brand communications professional. Popularly called BrandsMarksMan, Shola is responsible for end to end marketing and communications solutions that drives the Cars45 brand across Africa, thus strengthening its position as a first in class tech enabled automotive platform. Before joining Cars45, he had left his footprints in the sands of time at organizations that include Ringier Africa Digital Publishing; Insight Publicis and Leo Burnett (both members of the Insight Redefini Group), LTC JWT Nigeria. With a professional Diploma in Marketing, from the prestigious Chartered Institute of Marketing UK, and multiple professional Certificates in Branding at the Vega School of Branding South Africa, Shola who is passionate about teaching and coaching young marketeers shares a few insights from his experience and learnings from his previous roles.
What was your first job in marcomms and what was the attraction for you back then?
My first role in marketing communications was with Explicit Communications, a through the line, TTL agency where I started off as a concept/ brand executive. I honed my competencies around TV, radio, some bit of online and a lot of below the line, BTL activities and I had the responsibility on managing brands that include Shell, Vitamalt, DHL, Agip, Green Life Pharma. It was a very busy period in life. The attraction for me was very simple — I wanted to do work that would help me to reinvent myself, being able to put on one’s thinking cap to create something out of nothing. Most of my colleagues at that time had opted for banks, insurance firms, oil and gas, telecoms but I veered into this uncommon path that allowed me to dig deep into my creative self to solve client challenges and provide interesting answers to their briefs.
What is a normal workday like for you in Cars45?
Like I jokingly tell some of my colleagues, I don’t resume, and I don’t close because the work is always on-going. Resuming at 8am, I go into review meetings with my team, attend scheduled meetings, following up on campaigns, projects, and business initiatives. Even when I leave the office, the emails never stop dropping — approvals, requests, and the likes. My normal workday is generally fun because I try to break the circle by engaging colleagues on the work floor and having short bursts of creative walk.
What three things keep you awake at night?
When I have a pending project, high level presentation, deliverable that needs to be dispatched quickly, you would find me awake at night. I would be dotting my Is and crossing my Ts, ensuring that everything is in place to make it a success. Success is never a product of chance; you have got to burn the proverbial midnight candle and put in the work. Another thing that keeps me awake at night is trying to find answers to knotty business challenges. An idea pops in my head, you can be sure I would spend every waking moment trying to capture it, resolve it and bring it to life.
What is your go-to hack for managing teams?
I relate with people as individuals, I don’t see men as trees. I believe that every person I relate with at the workplace has his own uniqueness and peculiarities. As such, I tap into the heart and soul of each individual so I can resonate and relate with the core of that person, working together becomes a lot easier. As we go through the grind, I always want to connect with the “real” individual. I always see myself as a leader who has only one responsibility — to bring out the best in the people I work with and help them become best versions of themselves.
What interests or excites you most about marketing as a discipline?
The ability to create something and get results for it; ability to create, to develop, to bring out something out of nothing. The dynamism of marketing as an art, a science, a social science and as life has held great fascination for me. To be a marketing professional is to actually live because you are confronted by every day realities that forces you to be abreast and the knowledge that your actions and inactions can have an effect on marketing efforts is bliss.
What is your biggest learning so far in your various roles?
It is important for you to be true to yourself. Considering that no two human beings are the same, know yourself, know what works for you and go for it. You need to relate with people for who they are and not necessarily what they are as this helps you to connect with the core of their being. Marketing is a contact sport; it is laced with humans irrespective of the level of technology you deploy. Being true to yourself helps you to appreciate the uniqueness of others.
Do you have role models? Is there a leader that inspires you?
I don’t individualize role models. We live life in phases, and we meet people all the time. I have people serve as role models at a particular point in time and speaks to a specific learning. As a person of faith, someone who has consistently fed me with the truth is a role model. As a professional, someone who is consistently delivering on projects, campaigns is also a role model. Essentially choosing role models for me are a function of people that have added value to my life and from whom I have learnt consistently from. If I am going to write a list of my role models, I am not sure there are not enough books that will contain them.
Can you describe yourself?
I am easy going and deliberate.
Can you sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence?
Life is a beautiful gift wrapped as an opportunity. So, live your life to the fullest by living purposefully.
What is the best advice you have ever received in your career that has aided you?
My first degree is in Zoology from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ilfe-Ife. The best career advice I have ever received was from a friend who introduced me to marketing communications. And he started by asking me a simple question — can you write copies and I replied, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. More than 15 years and counting, we are still here.
One fun fact about you
I can be very playful.
What’s your favourite all time book, movie or TV series
The Fast and Furious franchise.