Yinka Ogunde: How to Change the Nigerian Narrative, Re orientate Our Values



    Armed with first degree in English Language from the University of Lagos, Mrs. Yinka Ogunde, the Chief Executive Officer of Goals and Ideas, an advertising firm, had one ambition: to become a leading voice in the nation’s broadcasting industry. Her joy knew no bounds when National Youth Service Corps posted her to the Nigerian Television Authority for the one-year compulsory service. On completion of the programme, she was employed by the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS). But she did not stay long at BCOS before fate played a fast game on her and she found herself in the world of advertising. Currently the chairperson of Women in advertising, Ogunde believes Nigeria’s potential can be explored by changing the country’s narrative and re-orientating the citizens, writes Raheem Akingbolu, who had an interview with her

    With a degree in English, good voice and beautiful face, Mrs. Yinka Ogunde would have been a delight on the television screen. Of course that was her ambition before fate brought her into Advertising.

    According to the creative Amazon, her journey to advertising was both by accident and choice. “I think a combination of both; initially, I loved the idea of broadcasting. I found myself in the newsroom as a cub reporter during my NYSC days. I remember the joy I felt when I got my first report on TV; it was awesome. But I finally settled into the world of advertising because my uncle, Segun Adegbiji, was in the agency business and he told me to choose from the three leading agencies then; Promoserve, Eminent or Partnership. My first port of call was Promoserve and I got the job. I was employed as a trainee client service executive. After getting in, I fell in love with the business, the creativity, the pitches, the low moments, the delighted clients and the not-so-happy clients. So, it is a bit by accident and then by choice,” Ogunde said.

    Coming from a family of professionals – a father who worked in the civil service and a mother who worked as a teacher – young Ogunde had no choice but to be committed to her education early and be disciplined.

    “My background influenced me greatly. My father, who was then in the civil service, was one of the early University of Ibadan graduates in Linguistics and Classics and my mum was a teacher. I attended our Lady of Apostles for my O’ levels and Methodist Girls High School Yaba for my A’ levels. I proceeded to the University of Lagos for my first degree in English and I came back for my master’s in Mass Communication. I began my career in broadcasting as a reporter with BCOS after my youth service with NTA. “From broadcasting I moved into the world of advertising. The first agency I worked with was Promoserve and the organisation was led by Allan Olabode though founded by Prince Kehinde Adeosun (one of the founding fathers of advertising). While in Promoserve, I worked on several multinational accounts before moving to Magnum Gold and subsequently setting up Goals and Ideas,” she narrated.

    Ogunde is one of those few people around who don’t believe everybody must be in sciences to excel. She does not think that law, accounting and medicine are superior to mass communication in rating in those days and that most students wanted to study any of the three professional courses at all cost.

    “Mass communication was not too far behind in those days. In fact, accounting was not for me. I never passed Mathematics after Form 2 and clearly Science was not for me too. Maybe I could have gone in for law but I guess I would have eventually ended up creating programmes for the sector rather than going into litigation or corporate practice,” Ogunde added.

    Considering the demands in the creative industry, she also believes it is a male-dominated industry but she never allows that to deter her, rather she excels by creating a special niche for herself.

    “Yes, it is a male-dominated industry that is why it is important to choose how you want to practise within the business. For me, it was clear: I want to do things that would impact lives. I want to use my skill to drive change. Those were key things for me and I try not to lose sight of that. You will recall in the early days of Goals and Ideas, one of the programmes we created was ‘Stepping into the marketing communication industry’, a one-day free training programme for fresh graduates. A lot of young men and women found their way into the business of advertising through this.

    “We did not have much but we were supported by media houses, my clients and friends. At that time, it was something new and fresh. It helped to define my person and the impact I desired to make in the business. It was not a case of being male or female. The demand of the business makes it a tough one for females undoubtedly. I remember I had to stop working when my daughter had a domestic accident while I was at Promoserve and we had to be in the hospital for a month. The conditions are different now. Technology is redefining the way we live and do business. There are more opportunities even for the female who choose to work from home. Think through and choose your path,” she explained.

    Decades after going into the business, Ogunde said it has been an interesting journey. She stated that the journey has taken her through various agencies and taken her into social entrepreneurship.

    “It has seen me drive various projects targeted towards driving reforms in our nation. My background in marketing communications has equipped me to be able to initiate and drive many projects successfully. We have worked with governments, parastatals and the private sector,” the Goals and Ideas CEO said.

    According to her, the journey has helped her firm to create many projects, including, ‘We Are The Future of our Nation (WATFON), a programme that said to have impacted thousands of young Nigerians in the last 13 years and Total School Support Seminar/Exhibition (TOSSE) which has existed for 10 years.

    But unlike most people, Ogunde did not go far to identify her role model. To her, her mother, Mrs. Mrs. Elizabeth Modupe Adetunji, fits in perfectly to what a role model should be.

    “I learn from everyday people. I study them and I read books. I pick qualities I love and admire various women. I would not wish to mention names but my mom, Mrs. Elizabeth Modupe Adetunji, is simply amazing. She single-handedly raised four graduates from a teacher’s salary,” she said.

    As a mother and wife, she disclosed that she had to stop working for a while because her children were young but got back her groove when they were of age. Today, she no longer does school runs and so things are much easier now that they all have their own lives.

    She is married to Oluwemimo Ogunde, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria – son of foremost Nigerian actor and playwright, Hubert Ogunde. The husband, who is the principal counsel of The Latter House Chambers, was a former attorney general and commissioner for justice in Ogun State. Their paths crossed at a literary and debating event when Ogunde was just a teenager and subsequently when she finished secondary school.

    On whether her husband is comfortable seeing her mingling with prominent people as she discharges her duties as an advertising practitioner, Ogunde said there has not been any problem with that because of confidence, trust, and faith they have in each other and the fact that they have been together since their teenage years.

    At what time did it occur to her to start her own agency? Ogunde paused and smiled before giving her an answer. She went on to state that while at Magnum Gold, she knew she wanted to run her own business. Her first impression was that doing so would allow her to have more time for the home front but she was soon to be proved wrong.

    “Forget it, the journey of an entrepreneur; it takes all of you. If you are not careful,” she said.

    Speaking on her company’s staying power in the industry, Ogunde said what has kept the firm going through the ability to initiate and create.

    “As an entrepreneur, you must be a reader – a reader of trends, of opportunities, of people, and of yourself. It is important you read the people where are they, what are they doing, and what is occupying their time. For example, we saw the importance of the social media and knew we had to look for ways of engaging the kind of people we want. We don’t hesitate; we move ahead. You must also be ready to respond to change; you must embrace it. The sector is so dynamic and lively. Don’t close your mind. Love it; embrace new things even if it appears odd and crazy. Learn about it and find out how it can work for your client,” she advised.

    Asked if she is planning to retire anytime soon, she replied: “I have too many projects lined up to think of. You know I recently got certified as a trainer, coach, speaker with the John Maxwell Team. I am now an executive director with the John Maxwell Team and it is opening up for me another world entirely. With my skills as a marketing communication professional and with other colleagues we are unveiling very soon various programmes designed to re-orientate citizens of our beloved nation, Nigeria.

    “Project Nigeria is on my mind and I intend to be at the forefront in transforming Nigeria at various levels. It is about vision; it is about passion.

    It is about the desire to give people a better life. I don’t think retirement is on the radar at all, though I love the sound – speaks of serenity, beach side, travels and other interesting places.”