By Josephine Agbonkhese
With historical trends showing that only very few women professionals are ever able to progress to the boardroom in Nigeria and globally, stakeholders at the Women in Marketing and Communications Conference/Awards, WIMCA, have urged female marketing and communications professionals to be deliberate in pressing for progress to the highest position of leadership in their careers.
The assertion was made in Lagos when over 700 women professionals in the marketing and communications industry gathered to celebrate women at the second edition of WIMCA.
Themed The Press for Progress, the event was an initiative of brands and marketing publication, Brand Communicator magazine.
In his welcome address, Joshua Ajayi, Convener of the event and Publisher of Brand Communicator, said the obvious absence of women in key positions among other challenges, gave birth to WIMCA four years ago.
His words: “WIMCA was therefore designed to identify the current trends in marketing communications while addressing the career challenges of female marketing executives. Data shows that few women make it to the top in the corporate world. On the global scene, women currently hold 4.6 per cent of CEO as opposed to the 4.8 per cent held in 2014.
“In Nigeria, industry analysts reveal that only four out of the top 20 Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria, AAAN, member- agencies have women at the helm. Same with other sub-sectors of the industry.
Emphasizing the need for women to strive to break through the proverbial glass-ceiling, Ayo Oluwatosin, Group Managing Director, Rosabel and Chairman of the occasion, pointed out that “though the glass ceiling is real, more and more women are breaking through it and are making remarkable statements in their various fields of human endeavour; and Nigeria is not an exception”
He added: “The glass ceiling is just the thing of the mind and as long as you and I can fight the battle of the mind, then nothing is impossible.”
In his presentation at the second session entitled: Progressing for Progress to the Boardroom, Alex Goma, Managing Director, PZ Cussons and Keynote speaker of the session, explained that leadership comes with responsibilities and the boardroom was the position of responsibility.
To get to that height, he urged women to be deliberate, work diligently to be outstanding, and to also be supportive of one another’s growth.
Julia Oku Jacks, Managing Director, TreeWater Limited, on her part, urged women never to wait to be treated specially but to rather take the bull by the horn, thrive in male-dominated industries and rise to the top while also inspiring more women to do same.
In the same vein, Folake Ani-Mumuney, Chairperson, FBN Insurance Brokers & President, Advertisers Association of Nigeria, ADVAN, explained that women must be deliberate in their approach to life and work, part of which must include forming a community which encourages each other to rise through mentorship.
In a panel on digital marketing which sought to inspire the women professionals to propel their businesses forward, Steve Babaeko, CEO/Chief Creative Officer, X3M, said, that in marketing via new media, the story-telling technique plus the use of human experience should be employed for lasting impression.
Nsima Ogedi-Alakwe, Marketing Director, Unilever Nigeria Plc, on her own part, called for proper consumer understanding before embarking on a digital campaign, saying: “You cannot engage a consumer that you do not know.”
Cherry Eromosele, Group Chief Product and Marketing Officer, Interswitch, advised that marketing should be strategic and put into consideration the fact that women constituted the chunk of consumers for e-commerce and online businesses, while Funmilayo Falola, Head, Brand and Marketing Communications, Wema Bank, urged brands to build a women community and also ensure their brands were built on trust.
Others who spoke were Iquo Ukoh, Managing Director, Entod Marketing and Lampe Omoyele, Managing Director, 141 Worldwide.
The high point of the event was the conferment of awards of recognition on 10 outstanding women and four corporate organisations were rewarded for their contributions to the growth of their various industries and the country at large.
The list included Nkiru Olumide-Ojo who won the Female Marketing Professional of the Year (Banking); Rosemary Akpo, Female Marketing Professional of the Year; Bunmi Oke, Female Creative Advertising Personality of the year; Sinmisola Obisesan-Hughes, Female Creative Director of the Year; Nkechi Alli-Balogun, Female Public Relations Personality of the Year; Chizor Malize, Female Branding Personality of the Year.
In the corporate organisation category, the list included PZ Cussons, Felix King Foundation, Access Bank and Nestle Nigeria Plc.