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Soyinka is my source of Inspiration – Okusaga

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By Olayinka Ajayi

He is a young, energetic and multi tasking MD of an enviable P.R firm that won the Sabre Awards for African consultancy firm in 2012. He is however,  inspired by doing what he loves to do best which is Public Relations. In order to discover himself, he sojourned into diverse fields that ranged from banking  to presentation of programmes in broadcasting and then public relations, which gave him the window of opportunity to work with the team that produced the winning campaign strategy for former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo and his running mate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in 2002. In this interview, he speaks on how his thirst for self discovery gave his career a boost. Excerpts.

My background
I was privileged to have attended two different primary schools in Lagos, one is Army children school, Mayon Barracks, Yaba Lagos in 1977 and when we moved to FESTAC town in 1980, I had to join 7th Avenue Primary School. I also attended a secondary school in FESTAC Town called FESTAC College before I moved to Federal Government College, Ugwolawo in Kogi State. On completion of my secondary school education, I got admitted into Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State in 1990 where I studied Dramatic Arts and graduated in 1995.

I was the best student in my department; almost bagging a first class but some extraneous circumstances such as my being too playful robbed me of First Class. I did my National Youths Service Corp, NYSC in Lions Bank, Broad Street, Lagos from 1995 – 1996. After that, I went for my Masters in Communications and Language Arts at the University of Ibadan in Oyo State in 1997 and came out in 1998.

Bolaji Okusaga, MD Quadrant Company
Bolaji Okusaga, MD Quadrant Company

Sojourn into communications
I started my sojourn as an independent producer and thereafter in 2001, I moved to Minaj Broadcast International as a senior producer/researcher before I decided to do business on my own, but things did not work out the way I wanted . So I went to work with some of my friends like Ayoola Sadare and Segun Bankole. One of the major jobs we did was handling the presidential campaign of former president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and his running mate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. We worked with Akin Osuntokun. I did a lot of copy editing. As if that was not enough, I wanted to make my mark, so I went to work in Marina International Bank.

About two years after, the then Central Bank Governor, Charles Soludo decided that there must be some form of consolidation in the banking  industry which would include the raising of the capital base of banks to N25milion. This brought about the forming of a merger group which I was part of. It was the Access Bank merger group which had a nine-man committee. I later joined Access Bank where I was privileged to work with Aigboje-Aig-Imoukhuede where I learnt a lot of things beyond just corporate communications. He actually wanted me to be more strategic in approach, he also wanted me to head the Investors Relations as at that time. Looking back, it’s sincerely an interesting experience being with him.

How I found myself in PR
Interestingly, in Dramatic Arts, you are basically communicating effectively with a larger audience of different tribes and tongues. Also what I studied at my Masters level was more related, because all forms of integrated marketing communications boils down to a mediation of social reality and who does that better than a dramatist? Like I said earlier, I did my post graduate in Communications and Language Arts which gave me the advantage which I brought to bear on the job. I have always been an art inclined person. During my youth service days in the bank, I was still writing poetry which showed that I did not lose my love for the arts.

How I got into Quadrant
The owners of this business were actually looking out for a young energetic and dynamic man that would paddle the company into another enviable milieu and I was fortunate to have been picked.

Sourcing for clients
It is like asking how to breath in fresh air. The truth of the matter is that I would say I am privileged to run the affairs of Quadrant. It has been very interesting. You can imagine, we are not displaying a signboard but our clients cut across West Africa. With the categories of notable clients we manage, like Etisalat, Mouka Foam, Standard Charter, GSK, Guinness Nigeria, CNN International, Lagos Court of Arbitration among others, I make bold to say we are one of the best Public Relations firms in West Africa. We have done a lot of projects across Ghana, Cameroon, Kenya, Mali and other key African countries. We are also in tune with best practices around the world. As part of our relentless efforts, it may interest you to know that my team won the Sabre Awards for the best African consultancy which any P.R firm in west Africa had never won.

Challenges of managing clients
There are obvious challenges which you cannot run away from. One of them is competition and trends. The fact remains that in 10 years from now, clients will do more online than they are doing now. So to be in the business, you have to brace up yourself.

My inspiration is the fact that I love doing what I do. It is something I live and breathe. Also, one of the things that inspires me is competition; anytime I have a pitch ,it pumps my heart because  I love to win and make a mark.

Philosophy of life
My belief in life is when you are granted an opportunity to serve, run with it as if your life depends on it and give it your best. Go the extra mile and take risk. I never imagined  ten years ago that I would get to this level in life. I see myself as a  serendiptious person. One that is lucky to discover himself early in life.

What  Nigerians can learn from me
It is good having a role model and to pattern your life after somebody worthy of emulation. I started life trying to be like Prof. Wole Soyinka, so I started out wanting to  emulate him. But the economic situation of Nigeria as regards remaining in the arts scared me and I decided to do my Masters degree programme in Communications and Language Arts rather than following my initial passion. At the end of the day, I discovered myself. Nobody is ever going to discover you until you discover yourself and your passion for life.

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