Despite the fact that you are on an Island, far from your usual places, Olaseni Ashiru, the Head of Corporate Affairs at Nigerdock makes you feel at home on Snake Island, where, Nigerdock operates from. His calm mien coupled with the serenity of the environment could easily make one linger on the Island. A good host, he shares with MarketingWorld’s team the history and especially the rejuvenation of the Nigerdock brand….. Excerpts
What are the challenges in your role as the Head of Corporate Affairs of such a large and complex organization like Nigerdock?
We are a bit different here at Nigerdock; for us the primary role for the Corporate Affairs leader is helping to build the brand and ensuring proper perception management of the organization. And for us, in our industry, I think one of the foremost things we are particular about is how we are perceived as a leading Nigerian brand.
I say that because with Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (one the regulatory authorities that oversees our activities), local content is a very big thing for us. That’s pretty much a major focus for my role; it’s helping to project our Nigerian-ness, maintaining our license to operate in our industry and using it as a competitive advantage in the industry for the benefit of Nigerdock, and especially to help us to project our brand. So what we’ve done recently is that group-wide we’ve been undergoing a brand re-modification for the better part of the last 6-9months. That process is now coming to a close. As a member of the Jagal Group, we’ve had to follow what the parent brand was doing. Jagal has now finished its rebranding exercise as of February of this year, which now allows us to focus on developing ours.
One of the things that we’ve achieved is we have started work on a new website that is almost complete, we’ve got the prototype site in place, we are trying to finalise the content which has largely already been developed. So that’s pretty much what we look at, it’s how we project our Nigerian-ness, how do we project our appeal to the stakeholders who operate in our industry as a leading Nigerian company in our own oil and gas service sector.
What is your take on the new media, especially when it comes to doing this job?
I think the way we see it is that we incorporate all media into our communications strategy. And one of the things that we started looking at is how to develop pervasive communications plan, I mean this was something that we didn’t do very well in the past, and the reason why we didn’t do that very well in the past was because we were a very project-oriented company, and the perception that we had was that as a Business to Business entity our customers knew who we were so we only needed to focus on providing a qualitative service to them. We were not trying to appeal to the mass market; but sometimes invariably when you want to influence your business customers, you still need to be speaking to the mass market, who have some sort of influence over your business customers and I think we have realized that. So one of the things that we started to do is focus on our rebranding effort, focus on identifying those messages that we want to get out to those customers.
We want to then focus on the platforms that help us reach that niche best. So you are still going to see us adopting all platforms when it comes to doing that. For example, if we are looking to appeal to potential employees (because we want to be seen as a preferred employer in Nigeria) we will be going on platforms like LinkedIn to get our message across; we are going to be advertising our jobs then we are going to be talking more about our company and all of our achievements. So you’ll see us writing up articles on LinkedIn, you will see us engaging people on LinkedIn, you will see us in chats, in forums, in groups on LinkedIn. Same goes for platforms like YouTube.
There are some kinds of events that YouTube serves as a good platform to get that message out to people so they can actually have the visual for what it is it that you are doing and scale of the work that you are delivering in the country.
All too often, when we have people come to Snake Island, one of the things that they say is we didn’t realize that this sort of facility existed in Nigeria and these capabilities were available in Nigeria. So for us, that’s the message we haven’t previously gotten out there because of our project-oriented past and now we are going to have to put on a marketing hat and start projecting ourselves, and projecting ourselves better. So now we are engaging with a generation of people who originally would never have heard us.
You said you started your brand re-modification some months ago, so far so good, what is the perception of your customers now?
One of the things that was done for us by our branding agent was that they conducted surveys within the country, within our space and even outside the country. I think people were very comfortable with our brand and they thought it was a legacy brand. One major feedback that we got was that we probably need to be out there more and we need to boost our brand identity and I think that’s the feedback that we’ve taken on which is one of the major inputs that goes into the process that we are currently undertaking. Before now our website had a very old look and feel to it, but if you look at what we are working on now, it’s young, its energetic, its appealing, its visually attractive, and its vibrant. We want to communicate the passion and the enthusiasm that we have for the business that we are running. One of the things that my Managing Director has done is make the team focus on our four business streams. Our messaging will come from the four business streams. So having conversation with customers, stakeholder
s, people that are interested in what we are doing was a very straight forward process because we said to them look, we’ve got an Upstream service, we’ve got Marine service area, we’ve got a Support base service, which speaks to the logistics and the ancillary services that will be required by our maritime customers, and of course we have a Training service, so even though that we have training capabilities but what we have probably not done very well in the past was to let people know our ability to provide that service to a wider group, and that’s something we’re now geared to have to be projecting a lot better.
Could you say you are getting your strategies right when it comes to projecting the Nigerdock brand?
I think the quick way to answer that is yes, but the logical way to respond is to say strategy will always evolve.
I came in with a plan for the function and presented the plan to my boss and he was very happy and he had a lot of input. He was also able to state clearly that a particular area had more priority than the other, and then we fine-tuned the strategy. After all these we were able to deliver a better and a more concise solution to the challenges that we have and I think right now we have ourselves on the right track towards achieving what we set out to originally achieve.
Where do you look for inspiration for how to improve on your performance?
God, usually when people say that they are Christian, it’s a nominal tag, like the response required from you on an official form that you fill when the census officials come or at the bank. My faith is Christian and I don’t want to sound cliché but God has been a great source of inspiration. There are certain times when you have a certain thing that you are dealing with and you can’t find a solution and all you need do is just step away and in your quiet time as you meditate, God brings the solution. A flash of inspiration can come through there.
How would you describe yourself?
Someone used to call me an open book, so I think it’s just a function of picking up the book and reading it. My background is legal so I came in to this function by way of legal practice and over the years my career has evolved. I started doing regulatory affairs work, which evolved into government and regulatory relations that saw me doing more of lobbying as time went on. I guess as a lobbyist this is role is the logical evolution for me. I am very happily married, I have two children, I have a son and a daughter and also am privileged to serve in the church where I worship.