I Don’t Believe In Brain Drain, But Brain Gain- Enang


Idorenyen Enang, current President of the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (NIMN) is a man passionate about building people to fully realize their God-given potential. His organization, Corporate Shepherds, was established by him to serve as a social enterprise to develop and enhance people and organizational capability.

Over the course of his long illustrious career, Enang has held key positions at Executive Management levels across Africa; in Guinness (a subsidiary of Diageo), Coca-Cola, and Cadbury as well as L’Oreal where he served as Managing Director for Central/ West Africa. He is also a former President of the Advertisers Association of Nigeria and a former member of the Council at APCON (now ARCON) which regulates the practice of Advertising in Nigeria

Recently IDY (as he is fondly called) spoke with the editorial team of Brand Communicator on various issues- next month’s NIMN Conference, the challenges facing the industry, and how to tackle the issue of brain drain. It was deep and incisive. Excerpts.

Plans for the NIMN Annual Conference, taking place in Abuja on 22nd and 23rd June 2023.

It will be a unique opportunity for all stakeholders to converge and brainstorm on a new order that will deepen the marketing industry and offer a sustainable framework for Brand Nigeria. If you recall last year, we dug into the area of technology and business sustainability. This year, the theme of the conference is – ‘The Role Of Marketing And Ethics In Nation Building’. The topic is quite interesting because it will be leading us into the state of affairs across businesses, entities, and people.

Activities For The Two-Day Conference

On the first day, we plan to hold the marketing conference in the morning starting from 10am while later in the evening we will have our fellows’ night where we would interact and share some views. This segment should equally be exciting because we haven’t had it for about two years.  In summary, what will come through on that first day in the morning will be the presentations at the conference, then the induction of associates and full members that are coming in, we also hope to induct some fellows at the fellow’s night.

For the main event we are looking at having two segments led by a keynote speaker and panelists and we really have a line-up of seasoned speakers from the industry, academia, and many other relevant areas like sports, arts, and entertainment. On one hand, we will be looking at marketing as a catalyst, and on the other hand, we will be looking at the role of ethics in nation-building. We have a very vibrant planning committee chaired by Mrs. Chioma Afe and they are putting in their best to ensure we have a perfect event.

On day two, we will have our Annual General Meeting in the morning which will consist of just financial members. We are really taking time to ensure that we have a memorable and impactful conference next month.

Plans for Government and The Public Sector

The public sector will be actively involved as we are having guests across the private and public sectors. We have also reached out to the parastatals, and ministries across the board, we have sent out letters of invitation and we hope to ensure that we effectively contribute our quota to nation-building. I believe the conference will attract entrepreneurs, government functionaries, and thought leaders in all areas as deep insights and knowledge will be extensively discussed. So far, the fundamental change is that we would have our first induction at the conference, and another induction will hold later in the year around November/December.

Throwing more light on the presentation at the last ARCON Annual Advertising Industry Colloquium

The theme of the colloquium was centered around ‘changing trends in advertising education and practice’, basically forward-looking. My point was to get the industry to come back to where it should be. As you well know, the marketing profession is quite fragmented with several areas of specialization. One group will say they are into integrated marketing communications, some will say they are specialists in experiential, while others would say they are specialists in channel marketing. So, what I did was to bring the industry to the point of a red alert.

The red alert for me is that we are not producing well-rounded professionals; we are processing half-baked marketers, so I made them understand the importance of embedding the fundamentals of marketing which is very crucial before deep diving into specialisations.

Today, we have client folks and those in agencies that don’t know have a full grasp of the fundamentals of marketing. The concept of the 4Ps positioning and the segmentation amongst others are lost on a few practitioners. So, I said anyone trying to build a curriculum without having those fundamentals will ultimately come out half-baked.

To the glory of God, I have over three decades as a professional, I did not start by sitting down and saying I am an advertising specialist or experiential marketing expert, but I daresay I can fit into any of those roles if the need arises, a throwback to over 25 years ago when I was a brand manager, I played all of those roles.

Today, when you look at some brand managers, they are not as equipped as they should be, they can’t talk about, strategy, or finance, they can’t get into the deep site of research and so many others and this is because the foundation has been eroded.

So my challenge to the industry is that let’s make sure we line up the basics well and I used the analogy of the medical profession asking if it’s possible as a doctor to be a surgeon without going through the basics as a general practitioner.  The foundation of the house and the profession is marketing, the rooms can be digital, experiential, and whatever name but if you don’t have a strong foundation, you will falter.

How Are The Regulators, Stakeholders Responding To This Alert?

Over the years, there has been so much of fireworks even as we are coming together. I am saying this with humility because I have been a player in this industry and I have had the privilege of serving in different capacities I was once the ADVAN president, and the head of the sectoral group in 2009, and I was there for two years and at that time the AAAN president was Lolu Akinwunmi in part and Funmi Onabolu.  As regards the development of the people part, it was an area of focus that we were doing together; we consciously came together as an industry to promote collaboration.

The current DG of ARCON, in the person Dr. Lekan Fadolapo, alongside the sectoral group heads is geared towards moving forward.  We don’t have a problem in terms of our commitment, it is about the content, not the container that would make everything work and now that’s where some good collaboration is taking place. I can say to you that ARCON and NIMN have the pact to do stuff together as a joint industry initiative.

The Issue Of Book Writing And Documentation Of Experiences By Industry Players

I can’t sit here and throw stones at people, I have to look at myself first. But writing or documenting things has nothing to do with being a Nigerian or Togolese or whatever, it has to do with passion. I think one of the things we take for granted is the influence of culture on the reasoning and the drive of people.

If we have a culture of documentation, it shouldn’t be fused around the civilized world or the military, democracy, and all. We never really had a strong culture of documentation and that is the failing of us as a people.

As Nigerians, I think we are not really giving to writing but the arts; we are more of dramatists, go back to the good old days, we grew up seeing top-rate drama such as the village headmaster and all. Nollywood is thriving because of our strong oral tradition. Writing is not our nature in my opinion.

In our cultural transformation journey, writing was not a big deal in the past so we shouldn’t beat ourselves but today the story must change.

Now, going back to why people don’t write, I will start with myself, for many years have said I needed to document the journey of my life, and I was glad that at the end of the day, I was able to debut my book. I have so many books that are in the mill, but I require that extra push to take them to the final stage. This might also be the challenge we should all work to overcome.

Are Brands And Agencies Just Lazy Or Are They Conservative In Releasing Their Case Studies Or They Are Just Being Secretive About It?
Every business is bound by a code of practice and code of ethics. You cannot have me give you privileged information because you want to write a case study. However, the question to ask the people shouting about this is, how are you carrying out your research? There is a protocol required if you are working for a business, you can’t just release information to aid case studies without due process. Besides who likes to wash his dirty linens in public, but that in itself lies the key to unlocking knowledge and experience. A delicate balance I must say.

Talking about being secretive, I am certainly not in that mold. All the agency guys that have worked with in my career life will testify to my being open and honest about the information we utilized, there is really nothing hidden under the sun. Yes, there are things that I cannot tell you, I can’t tell you how much margin we are making, those are business protocols but I can sit and construct for you what happened and why certain brands failed.

Rather than the finger-pointing and blame game, let’s accept responsibility for where we are and see how we can move from there.

If I return as president, I can tell you this will be part of the three to five-year plan for the NIMN. I tell people if they want to run a promotion, come to us, we have a pool of students in different parts of the country who will volunteer and serve as your promotions agent. They will learn marketing as they roll and see what it looks like. That’s enough to drive the case studies they can relate with at that level and that fits the type of infusion I am talking about.  And nothing can beat that experience.

Tackling The Issue Of Brain Drain In The Industry And Across Nigeria

 I don’t believe we have a brain drain. We are crying because we lack the capacity and capability to manage talent as a country and as a people.  Is not just about the industry, it is about us as a people.

We do not take talent management seriously and that is the reason some find this as a problem, it is not just about the economy.  The brain drain theory doesn’t work for me and I don’t believe it. Reason is – if you have proper talent management in word, truth, and deed it will help you and there are people out there who have this.

The word is pipelining, if you don’t pipeline, then expect that you will have a void at some point.

What they need to do is go back to the time when human capacity and capability management were taken seriously. Capability will show you competence which means you are a master in what you do but if you can’t do other things with it, it means you lack capacity. People move and enhance capacity but you must be deliberate in developing both. I don’t believe in brain drain, I believe in brain gain. All of those supposedly leaving the country are ambassadors of ours, they will certainly return to help rebuild this country. Let’s focus on doing what is right and what is wrong will leave us alone.

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