All eyes on Feyi Olubodun as he takes charge at Insight

After a short speech, Mr. Jimi Awosika, out-gone CEO/MD of Insight Publicis offered a handshake and a warm embrace to his successor, Feyi Olubodun amidst applause from the press and a handful of Insight top staff. The ceremony was symbolic in many ways as it not only completed another sequence of leadership change in Nigeria’s biggest advertising agency, but also saw the emergence of the first non-founder CEO at the company.

Indeed, Feyi Olubodun emergency did come as a shock to many. It was as if he has been prepared for the job since 2009 when he joined the agency and quickly rose to become the Strategic Planning Director from where he became the General Manager/Chief Operating Officer in 2014.

But the symbolism of this historic change of guard cannot be lost on Olubodun as it signals the commencement of a new dawn in the agencies journey to global competitiveness.

Speaking during the ceremonial hand-over ceremony, Awosika, who is not Group CEO of Insight Redefini Holding Company, described the development as the birthing of a new epoch which is designed to sustain Insight’s relevance in the new world of advertising.

“We are committed to meeting the disruptions with more than equal force, not only to maintain our many decades of industry leadership, but determine the future. This is why we have invited you to witness the passing-on of the baton as MD/CEO of Insight to Mr. Feyi Olubodun,” the veteran admen said to another round of applause.

“This path will see him exhibiting our charge to, along with others in the group direct a renaissance of creativity, innovation, artistic excellence and enterprise through outstanding application of the best talents who are easily the most regarded, most desired and who are outstandingly managed and rewarded. Feyi’s talent speaks for itself.”

But nothing could have adequately prepared Mr. Olubodun for the challenge that lies ahead of him as the leader of a company in a recession period when clients are now drastically cutting budget and others are sacking agencies. Despite his unquestionable talent and rich academic profile, the new CEO knows he will need something extra to sustain the huge heritage of market leadership at Insight and also take the agency into the new era.

But like a well trained boxer, Olubodun takes the challenge with calmness; he is already looking beyond what has been achieved. His goal is to make Insight Publicis Nigeria’s next world champion, and he is confident that he has what it takes to make Insight a major player on the global arena. “What the advanced climes ahead of us is that they are better at processing and they are better at distributing their thought processes and projecting themselves. So we know what levers we need to pull to get on the global stage,” Olubodun declared.

“For that to happen we have to become a kind of business that is not built just around the founder anymore, but is increasing its capability, its growth agenda, and we become an agency that goes forward into the future. We have articulated our directions very clearly.

“We talk about globalness, and globalness means that as at today, Insight’s agenda is not to lead in Nigerian anymore, that has already been achieved by the founders of the business. The next thing that this agency has to do is to plant its flag on the creative map of the world and join the ranks of agencies that are respected globally,” he said with confidence.

So Olubodun is very clear in his head what his mandate is, and he equally understands his strategy for success. “Getting global recognition is very simple, it means you win global awards when it comes to creative credentials, it also means you get global awards when it comes to the quality of your strategic thinking and more importantly it means you can work with multinational clients across different market.”

Insight Publicis is already en-route to that destination following a number of high profile international awards in 2016. The agency won the WARC price for the Pepsi LongThroat campaign; it also claimed gold at the Epica award. Added to that, it took ownership of PepsiCo creative business across 14 African markets after a rigorous pitch contested involving other agency heavy weights. And in 2017, the agency is optimistic that it will become the first Nigeria agency to land the elusive Cannes Lion.

The journey to the top may have been swift for the new CEO, but it was not a walk in the park. The new agency boss has spent decades traversing some of the best citadels of learning around the world to acquire knowledge and relevant skills. He is a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University Ile Ife and an alumnus of both the Pan African University and the Duke University Fuqua School of Business. His course of study at the Duke University Fuqua School of Business was global executive MBA which involves a rigorous requirement of travelling to seven different countries representing the top economies in the world and studying how business is done there.

But he is not depending on his talent alone; the new Insight boss has taken time to assemble a crack team of professionals across different fields. He shocked observers when he recently picked a Client service director with zero work experience in the advertising industry. Olubodun explained that he took the unusual path because he wanted somebody that will bring fresh thinking into the agency.

“When I was thinking about assembling my team, and indeed a client service person, i could have gone for someone with about 20 years in the industry and that person will come with a traditional advertising mentality and we won’t go where we want to go.

“So it became clear to me that the only other industry that thought the way we were thinking , and has operated that way for a long time was a consulting industry and that is where i looked immediately, and i found Wole Ogundare I told him ‘let’s change the way this agency engage with clients.”

Mr. Ogundare holds and FCA with more than 20 years in consulting and he is a though leader on the issues of the economy.

Other members of Olubodun’s cabinet are Similola Hughes-Obisesan, the wizkid that conceptualized and executed the highly successful Pepsi LongThroat campaign. The campaign has won several local and international awards for the agency including WARC. Mrs. Hughes-Obisesan was recently promoted to the creative director position. She replaces Chima Okenimkpe, who was recently appointed Group Creative Director for Publicis West and Central Africa. Bimpe Oloyede is one of the other lady in the team, she heads Project Management department.

“This is a team that i selected and put together myself to help drive the agenda that i see. They are all incredible people in terms of their pedigree, their capabilities and outlook for the future and their managerial skill. There are exciting times ahead,” Olubodun declared.

The road ahead is definitely not going to be easy for Olubodun, but in the last couple of months since he stepped into the big shoes left behind by his predecessors, he has tasted success with wins from WARC and Epica. And he is determined to make such global recognitions a regular occurrence for the agency in the next couple of years.


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