How Female Marketers could be Highfliers

WIMCAL-R: Mr Idorenyen Enang, Managing Director, LOREAL West Africa, Mrs Bunmi Oke, Chief Operating Officer, 141Worldwide, Mr Kola Oyeyemi, General Manager, Consumer Marketing, MTN Nigeria, Mrs Biola Alabi, Managing Partner, Biola Alabi Media, Mr Joshua Ajayi, Publisher, Brand Communicator, Mrs Ehinomen Enekabor, Associate Director, Brand Operations, Procter and Gamble, Mr Lanre Adisa, Managing Director, Noah’s Ark, Sir Steve Omojafor, Immediate past Chairman, Zenith Bank, Mrs Yinka Ogunde, Managing Director, Goals & Ideas and Pastor Ayo Oluwatosin, Group Managing Director, Rosabel Advertising Group at the Women in Marketing Conference & Awards (WIMCA) 2014, sponsored by Procter & Gamble
Why women often find it difficult rising to high managerial positions in the marketing and integrated marketing communication and how they could be highfliers were the focus of discussion at the first Women in Marketing Conference and Awards (WIMCA) in Lagos last week. Brand Communicator, an integrated marketing communication magazine, put the conference together. 
The speakers directly and indirectly tried to propound what they felt were responsible for the large pool of women at the entry level of the marketing and integrated marketing communication fields, but with little or no representation at higher cadres.
One of the discussants, the Managing Director of Noah’s Ark, Lanre Adisa, who led the panel  of discussion was scientific in his approach as he gave a statistical analysis of the number of women in marketing and integrated marketing communication field in some developed countries thereafter he narrowed it down to Nigeria.
One thing was constant in his analysis, the higher the ladder, the lower the number of women. He also noted that this is in spite of the fact that 80 percent of the people who make purchase were women. In Nigeria, there was zero percent of women in the creative director position across the advertising agencies, he revealed. He maintained that there is need for a balance which must however be driven by merit not feminine sentiments.
 In her paper, Managing Director, Biola Alabi Media, Mrs. Biola Alabi, who gave the first paper, argued that to be on top, whether as a man or woman, ability to research and sound education are critical. She also emphasized the need to have good network, which she called support team or personal board of directors. He said these sets of persons are resources to rely on for information and advice besides providing some mentorship directly or indirectly.
  “Women should always build a support team to get to the next level. It should be a support team you trust so that they could guide and support you.” Alabi however maintained that for the relationship to be fruitful and long lasting, it must be a two-way relationship that is beneficial on both sides. She also believed that women are not telling their stories enough. “Always market the brand and yourself,” she insisted.
The former Mnet Boss however suggested that in making a success of a career in the marketing space, women must be good in data, understand their environment within and outside the workplace, be focused, understand that they are unique and always be willing to acquire new information. For females, who are willing to acquire experience but no platforms to give them paid employment, Alabi suggested volunteering as a good way to start.
In his paper, Managing Director, L’Oreal West Africa, Idorenyen Enang, maintained that if a person is not motivated, whether such is a man or a woman, there would be no headway. He however believed that having a legislation would be a right step to have more women in higher cadre arguing that working with women give room for better transformation within the work place.
He also noted that women must understand that it is not about employment but what they do with the opportunity given to them. Mr. Enang also believed every practitioner must learn to adopt the qualities of an iconic brand, which are authenticity, staying power and consistency.
Another of the discussants, Managing Director, Goals and Ideas Communications, Mrs. Yinka Ogunde emphasized being able to identify opportunities. She said it is a critical ingredient as it helps to create new ideas and thinking. She narrated how after resigning from one of the advertising agencies and she decided to set up her own company with niche in education marketing, many wonders why she ventured into it. To them, it was not lucrative, she stated. She said she was not deterred but years after, things are not just getter better and stronger, new opportunities are opening up within the education-marketing field, which she never imagined when she started. She also enjoined women to be bold to step out from their comfort zones.
The immediate past President of Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), Mrs. Bunmi Oke, who re-echoed the need to have a support team, said women must be their own challenger by motivating themselves to always want to get and do better.
 The Associate Director, Brand Operations, Procter and Gamble Nigeria, Mrs. Ehinomen Enekabor, who implored ladies to marry wisely, advised women not to allow anything to hold them back, especially if their minds are made up on such issues.
The President of Advertisers Association of Nigeria, (ADVAN), Mr. Kola Oyeyemi, said that a woman who got an edge because of her sex and romance with a man would become a slave. He therefore enjoined ladies to always think about merit and not their sex. To him, women are better managers because they have the innate talents to multi-task.    
The chairman of the occasion, Sir Steve Omojafor, said he is looking forward to a period that women will take over the marketing and integrated marketing communication fields. He however believed that there is no better time than now, as women are not just pretty, they are go-getter and resourceful. “The women have arrived and this is their time. We need your leadership and feminine touch,” he said.
He also gave an insight into how he came into advertising disclosing that the women he met in the field, especially at Lintas , were source of inspiration to him. 
The convener of the conference and Publisher of Brand Communicators, Joshua Ajayi, disclosed that he and team decided to come up with the conference because they noticed that there were fewer female CEOs in the marketing and integrated marketing communication fields.  He said that when the issue was raised among practitioners, they were erroneously judged   as a feminist organization. According to him, the publication was later accused of not even being gender sensitive as fewer women had featured on its cover page.
 He however promised that moving forward and with the berth of the conference, Brand Communicators would be more sensitive on issues of gender by looking at issues that hinder career growth of females in the integrated marketing communication field.
Ajayi further said that the platform would not only be one where women are doing great things, narrate and share their experiences but also a platform to reward and appreciate those who have done well.
 He said that the recipients of the awards emerged after an opinion poll was conducted stating it is one of the efforts to reach out to the female folks and correct the perceived marginalization of women and females.
 “Amongst many other things, WIMCA seeks to ignite the potential in women towards attaining enviable heights in marketing and management, create a platform for networking among women in the marketing and communications industry, inspire the entrepreneurial spirit in women towards creating and sustaining enduring marketing and communications industry businesses, as well as providing a mentorship platform for young and prospective professionals,” he said.
  Some female professionals were given awards - The Outstanding Female Marketing Professional in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (Marketing) Category, went to, Mrs. Iquo Ukoh, Executive Director (Marketing Services), Nestle Nigeria Plc. In the Financial Services Category, it was presented to, Mrs Folake Ani-Mummuney, Head, Marketing and Communications, First Bank of Nigeria Limited; In the Telecommunications, (Corporate Communications), Ms. Funmi Onajide, General Manager, Corporate Communications, MTN Nigeria, smiled home with it; In the Creative Advertising Category, Mrs. Mowunmi Owodunmi, Managing Director, STB McCann Lagos, got the award; In the Public Relations Category, Ms Alima Atta, Managing Director, SESEMA PR was awarded while In the Out Of Home Advertising Category, it was presented to Mrs. Ify Onukwuba, Managing Director, NAS Advertising.