Adedoyin Jaiyesimi is the Chief Communications Consultant at The Comms Avenue, a capacity building platform for leading and innovative communications professionals across the world The Comms Avenue offers high-level knowledge sharing meetings and training programs for communications professionals and corporate organizations.
She has vast experience consulting for international organizations and top corporate executives and specializing in providing strategic communications consulting for development, philanthropic and corporate organizations, helping them to develop and implement a robust communications strategy.
Adedoyin has successfully executed projects for the W Community, Women in Business, Management and Public Service (WIMBIZ), Leading Ladies Africa, African Philanthropy Forum amongst others. She has been profiled on She Leads Africa, Leadership Newspaper and Lionesses of Africa. She was also featured as one of The Spark by BusinessDay’s Visionary Women in 2019. In this interview hosted by PUNCH, as the Chief Executive Officer of Comms Avenue, Adedoyin takes TOLUWALOPE KAREEM through the journey of her career. It is such an authentic read.
Tell me about your childhood and educational background?
I come from a family of four and I grew up in a home filled with aunties and uncles for several years. My childhood was regular. There were many highs and significant lows but I was provided with everything a child could ever ask for. My dad gave me room to be inquisitive by answering my numerous questions which helped to fuel my love for information. He also fanned the flames of my love for reading by filling my library with books and I could finish reading a new book in one day.
I had my elementary and secondary education at CTC International School, A-Levels at Oxbridge Tutorial College. I then studied Law at the University of Leeds, United Kingdom.
Give me some insights into your career trajectory?
My journey into communications began with an internship at a media company. At the time, I wanted to explore what more I could do with my writing gift and that firm provided the right platform to nurture both my writing and creative ability. I eventually became a full-time staff and was the team lead for a youth focused magazine published by the company. In 2015, after completing NYSC, I took a job as the Brand Communications Manager at Victor Adeyemi Ministries and that role exposed me fully to the world of communications. After a year in this role, I started a brand communications agency called Content Craft where we executed communications briefs for corporate and philanthropic organisations such as The W Community, The Fountain of Life Church, Leading Ladies Africa, African Philanthropy Forum, Women in Business and Public Service, Heritage Bank amongst many other clients. I shut the agency down in 2019 and launched The Comms Avenue in 2020.
What motivated you to start the new company?
When I shut down Content Craft, I felt God was leading me to learn and operate within another field. Since I was aware of the numerous benefits of personal branding, I didn’t want my brand to be on hold. I still wanted to share useful content with the people who are connected with me online. I decided to share stories about my experience as a communications professional on LinkedIn. I shared the high and low points and it was interesting to see how those stories resonated with people. I began to get questions from other professionals who wanted advice or my opinion on something they were working on. It was at this point I noticed a gap. Where do communications professionals go to upskill? What forum is available for them to interact and exchange knowledge with other professionals in the industry? Since I couldn’t keep up with the questions I got, I decided to put together an event for communications professionals where we could hang out and learn from one another. Plans for this were underway when the coronavirus pandemic hit Lagos. Going back to the drawing board, God dropped the idea of a community and essentially gave me the blueprint which is a capacity building, knowledge exchange and networking platform for communications professionals across the world.
As a CEO, how do you choose the priorities that will guide the company?
We are driven by impact. The question for us is, “What can we do to positively impact our community members”? This provides the lens through which we create programmes, content and engagement plans for the community. Our goal is to see the growth and development of every community member. We also want to provide a means for them to be exposed to global opportunities. This drives our priorities on social media and how we engage with organisations. Anything that will help us to achieve our vision of building the capacity of communications professionals will always be a priority for us.
What type of corporate culture do you aim to promote?
We believe strongly in collaboration— everyone working together to achieve a goal. The sky is truly big enough for everyone to thrive. We have community members from different organisations within and outside Africa. However, by sharing their knowledge and expertise, we have seen how they have become better skilled professionals. Aside from collaboration, we also have a culture of mutual respect and honour. No one is too small to share their opinion and no one is too big to learn. We have been able to successfully create this culture by building a platform that allows people to speak up and contribute to discussions, and share their experience/knowledge with others. Also, we celebrate the work that all our professionals do within and outside the community.
How do you think an efficient communications industry can contribute to the growth of the country?
Nigeria has a great and powerful story that is waiting to be told. Proper communications will allow us tell our story and spark a change in narrative in the areas where we are in dire need of change. When we are in charge of our narrative as a nation, we can begin to have control of our national image and also shape the future that we want to see. Communications is a strategic tool in the delivery of public policy which can lead to more intentional and effective engagement of citizens and building of trust in the government.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
Since we are focused mainly on capacity building, we do not dwell on competition. If we find others doing what we do, our approach will be to see how we can work together to bring extra benefits to our community members. It is all about collaboration for us.
How do you aim to contribute to developing the communications industry in Nigeria?
I believe I have already started doing that. When we have professionals who are highly skilled in the field, it will lead to the standards within the industry being raised across the board. Our community is not just for Nigerians alone. We have members from Ghana, South Africa, Namibia, United Kingdom, United States and Canada, and we are still growing. This allows our members to learn global best practice and gain insights from professionals across the world which in turn will have an impact on the quality of work that they deliver. Not only do they learn from their peers, they also learn from senior professionals in the field who work in top organisations across the world. We also put together training programmes to develop the specific skill set that communications professionals need to thrive in the industry. Lastly, we have positioned ourselves as a platform where organisations can recruit the best communications professionals.
What are the current challenges in Nigeria’s communications industry?
One major challenge is that many people have yet to understand the role and importance of communications in an organisation and even in government. Communications often comes as an add-on, whereas, it should be at the core of every strategic move an organisation and government want to make.
What are some of the qualities that have helped you to become successful?
The number one quality is my faith in God. This drives everything that I do and also ensures that I do not go off a tangent. Another quality is my passion for excellence. I believe that anything that is worth doing at all is worth doing well. This means that I go the extra mile for excellence. I am also resourceful and dependable. I don’t believe in focusing on problems for too long. There must always be a solution, no matter how tedious or taxing it may be. By focusing my mind on the solutions, I am able to get results when others find themselves giving up. Being dependable means that people can always go to bed and trust that I will deliver the work as we have agreed.
What are your long-term goals?
I don’t develop long-terms goals anymore because we really do not have control over the future. When we started this year, we had no idea that three months into it, the status quo we had been accustomed to would be disrupted beyond recognition. Instead of setting long-term goals, I simply follow God’s agenda and purpose.
What are some of the challenges you face?
The coronavirus pandemic has brought about a disruption in the way we work and live. Every day, we have to figure out the best way to achieve our objectives in light of the current global situation. There’s also the issue of time management. Working remotely has come with an increased workload and virtual meetings, which means working round the clock. It takes a level of deliberateness to ensure that work doesn’t consume the entirety of one’s life. There’s also the challenge of ensuring that one’s message does not get drowned by the flood of information and activities we have witnessed in the digital space. It takes creativity, empathy and focus to ensure that one’s message gets to one’s target audience.
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