Views by Expatriate Marketer on Nigeria

Nigeria, at various fora at home and abroad, has differently been described. While some praise it as a wonderful country blessed with warm, friendly and hardworking citizenry, others describe it as a Hobbesian Nightmare.  Brad Ross is the Marketing and Customer & Commercial Leadership Director – West Africa Business Unit at The Coca-Cola Company, Nigeria. In this Marketing Talk, he shares his views on Nigeria, West Africa and myriad challenges in our contemporary world.

One year ago I had the opportunity to visit West Africa for the first time as we took the FIFA World Cup Trophy around the world.

Slightly apprehensive, I had a few doubts. Chaotic, challenging, intense poverty and lawlessness were all some of defining attributes I had previously stereotyped when thinking about West Africa. While some of these were indeed partially accurate, there was another side to this beautiful part of the world that not everyone sees, or that the media does not show.

Passionate, energetic, fast-paced, welcoming & hospitable, hard working, proud and entrepreneurial were just a few of the new attributes I could add to my previously held one sided mental models. Seeing the world for what it actually is, and not only what our ancient brains tell us it is, is indeed enlightening… and liberating!

Fast forward one year, and I can proudly say I have been living in Nigeria for almost seven months. It has been a humbling, exciting and incredible experience. Of course there have been challenges; that goes without saying.

That said, I have met some of the nicest, kindest and hard working people that I ever had in my life to date. I have been welcomed, I have been included, my diversity has been embraced, and I have been made to feel like an insider way more often than an outsider. I know as a fact, that this is not often the case when foreigners arrive in another country.

In today’s world full of hatred, violence and bigotry, we need to say more, do more and be more, when confronted with intolerance and blatant stereotyping. Inspiration and truth often come from the most unlikely places.

Yesterday’s horrific acts of terrorism should remind us all that we have a responsibility to stand up and be heard. To walk in the shoes of others who are persecuted and treated with hatred because of their religion, their race or their background. We live in dark times and we need to bring the light wherever, and whenever we can. There is still good in this world, that I have been privileged to experience firsthand – let’s try share the love.


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