On Wednesday, December 21, 2016, Jimi Awosika, officially stepped down as CEO at Insight Publicis after 11 years in the saddle. He was a founding member of the 36 years old creative consultancy and marketing Communication Company. Feyisola Olubodun, an employee of the company and a non- founder who joined the company in 2009 immediately assumed the position of the managing director. Feyi, in his 30s now becomes one of 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 adjustment in line with the dynamics of the market largely informed by technology and youth market. Indeed, technology and social media are shaping developments as consumers are now more informed.
A multinational business management consultant, Delloite justified this when it said “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 critical role in business management and direction and some Nigerian companies are committed to meeting going disruptions with equal force, not only to maintain years of successful operations but determined for the future.
Observably, Insight Publicis does not want the fast moving train to over-take it as it searched for a young manager of Generation Y to take the mantle of leadership and continue to steer the ship in the digital era.
Ken Ikpe, the CEO of All Seasons Media, a buying media agency and member of Troyka Group told BusinessDay at the unveiling of Feyi as the new CEO recently in Lagos that finding a successor who could follow Awosika was a huge challenge. “All those who were considered had the integrity, charisma required for this position and one stood apart as a leader with extra ordinary ability to connect vision, people and their ideas to drive strategy and execution”.
“Given our global recognized creative ethos, solid financial foundation and clear path forward as clear leader in the creative marketing communication industry solution, this is the right time to transit leadership for Insight for next chapter of growth”, Ikpe who is also Group CEO at Troyka Group said.
“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. Feyi will now lead a successful team that continues to deliver unrivalled communication solutions that assist our customers to have profitable interactions with their audience”, the board of the company said earlier while announcing the change at Insight.
Ikpe and Feyi were quick to clarify that the development at Insight was not informed by the recent Publicis investment in Insight Communication. “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”, Ikpe said
Responding on the changes at Insight Publicis, Feyi Olubodun who 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, to guarantee sustainability and continuity of business institutions.
“If you look at the industry today, it is populated largely by a lot of entrepreneurs that are 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 that 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”.
Feyi said 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 that is not built around the founders any more, but a business that increases its capabilities and its growth agenda is bolder and stronger and become an agency that goes forward in to the future. On this, we have articulated our direction very clearly internally”, Feyi said.
The new Insight CEO also believed that the next thing for Insight communication which has led the industry for a long time is to plant the flag on the creative map of the world and join the ranks of agencies that are respected globally. “This will be strong drive for us going in to 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 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 market”.
According to him, helping clients to win in their respective markets is at the core of Insight Communication operation as he said the firm builds its business by building clients’ business. “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, Feyi agreed that it’s an unusual time but also it presents its opportunities. At this point, Ken Ikpe cut in and said “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 in to it, he will be hardly recognized. It is not easy but if you can withstand the tornadoes, you would be recognized”
On whether he would reassess the staff structure, Feyi said 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 industry that can bring value, but it is also important that we retain what is core to us as we reinvent. We can’t change the core of the business radically. There are those that give structure and value in the business that would continue to remain in the business and help us stabilize 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”.
Feyi said he has much freedom and powers of the CEO in spite of the presence of two powerful former MDs -Shobanjo and Awosika around. “ 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 advices and counsels.
Confident Feyi who is already solidifying his team with industry experts to ensure he is on course of target hoped that Insight would be the first creative marketing communication firm to bring the Lions Cannes award to Nigeria. “We say that not because one must make statement like that but because we are actively moving in that direction and there are things we are doing to head in that direction”.
He believed that Nigeria has not won the Cannes award because of what he called ‘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 work for the Cannes and others, they enter work that is a bit European and lacks 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 that are 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.