Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Solabomi Okonkwo: Unveiling a new leader in Marketing Communications

Women are no longer trailblazers, the only woman in their field; they are part of an overflowing pipeline of future leaders. Women are no longer competing for just one seat at the table; they are sitting side by side on executive boards at companies large and small. Women are no longer just employees; they are owners and co- owners of thriving businesses, shaping the marketing communications environment in Nigeria, Africa and the world over. Solabomi Okonkwo is one of such women.

The name Solabomi rings a bell in the hearts of many who have been privileged to meet her at both a personal and professional level. With her wealth of experience across multiple industries in complex sales environments, her strengths across the marketing mix provide clients with innovative marketing and communications strategies to fit their business, their budgets and their goals. This comes as no surprise having spent over fifteen (15) years in key business areas including business development, brand building, events management, and experiential marketing. She is also a certified ISO quality auditor.



Transforming creative vision into meaningful customer action is one of the hallmarks of Solabomi’s career, which is evident in the countless campaigns and events she has secured under her belt. From the highly successful Arsenal player’s visit to Nigeria in 2012 under the aegis of Airtel Nigeria, to her keen involvement in the brand positioning of several blue chip brands such as Johnny Walker, Ciroc, Orijin and Malta Guinness and even the seamless execution of Golf and Polo tourneys across the country, she has proven her mettle time and again and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Her three year stint at NM Encore from 2014 to 2017 saw her propelling the experiential marketing and activation agency to higher levels  through unrivaled leadership, innovation, creativity and originality, thereby redefining Nigeria’s experiential marketing landscape despite the odds.

This doyen maintains a keen awareness of the dynamism and evolving principles that must be applied for brands to remain competitive both locally and in a global context, especially as consumers are increasingly getting in tune with global trends. She strongly holds to the theory that customer-driven marketing philosophy backed up with innovative marketing solutions with a focus on “Below the Line” (BTL) marketing techniques are paramount as this will set the pace in revolutionizing the MarComms industry In the near future.

Solabomi, in analyzing women as a key consumer subset trusts that recognizing and understanding women, as a diverse segment of a target audience, is critical. “Marketers must look past the often-reductive constraints of gender stereotypes,” she says.

The temptation for female MarComm professionals to attempt to use personal experience to inform strategy to target women is becoming all too common, she admits. In order to be effective, however, one cannot overstress the need to understand the nuances of many different segments and psychographic profiles of women today, avoiding stereotypes and “me-marketing” which function around many assumptions rooted in generalizations. “Stepping away from “women as consumers” to think of exactly who, what, where, and why to target a subset of the powerful female segment is a skill highly valued in today’s commercial marketplace,” she concludes.

Against this solid background, Solabomi was chosen as one of the panelists for the African Women in Leadership Conference 2017 (AWLC) held in Accra, Ghana, with the theme “Unleashing the Power, Inspiring Greatness.” The conference, a 3-day women’s leadership, development and empowerment event which took place from 29th March – 1st April 2017, brought together women from diverse backgrounds to interact, dialogue and discuss issues that are relevant to the achievement of gender parity and to agree on actions that will inspire change in order to advance the leadership status of women across the continent.

Speaking to career development and the role women play, Solabomi believes that negotiating, telling your brand story, and asserting know how is key to shooting through the hoops successfully. “Women must self-promote and navigate the corporate environment to develop their careers” she says. Women should “sit at the table,” showing an understanding of the power and expertise they possess. If women plan to lead, they must demonstrate their value in addition to the products and services of which they market. Women MarComm professionals must sell their story, voice opinions, and not be afraid to know what they’re looking for, Solabomi opines.

The voice of women is just one narrative necessary for a successful and holistic approach to marketing communications today. Indeed, the ways in which businesses incorporate and facilitate the promotion of women leaders will contribute to the richness and substance of the business world. Having women at the executive table is one way to facilitate these evolving dialogues; engaging female employees and new recruits is equally important. The MarComm space is leading the charge by continuing to encourage new thought leaders and develop diverse talent pools.

Solabomi, an astute entrepreneur has a number of projects rolled up under sleeves. In the next couple of years we would be watching to see what she has on her plate and we surely will not be disappointed owing to her sterling track record of professionalism over the years.

Oluwatoyin Bayagbon, a communications specialist, lives in Lagos.

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