Akingbade @ 70: Industry Leaders Celebrate, Unveil Bola Akingbade Marketing Excellence Initiative In His Honour


Industry leaders, associates, family members, and friends gathered last Friday at Wheatbaker Hotel Ikoyi, Lagos to celebrate a respected marketing icon and leader, Bola Akingbade who turned 70 recently. A platform that would amplify and promote the marketing principles of the celebrated marketing guru, tagged Bola Akingbade Marketing Excellence Initiative was also unveiled at the event

At the event, top industry players and regulators as well as former associates of Mr. Akingbade at MTN and Nigerian Breweries gathered to honour the remarkable journey of life of the esteemed leader and cherished mentor as he clocked the milestone of 70 years.

They all took turns to eulogies his strong marketing acumen, his untainted leadership values, and the tenets that stood him head and shoulders above his peers.

Welcoming everyone to the special get-together, The principal convener of the event and CEO of Data Science Nigeria (DSN), Bayo Adekanmbi highlighted Bola Akingbade’s versatility as an amalgam of knowledge about every aspect of marketing, commercial growth for both the fast-moving consumer goods sector and the technology world. He also shared some of Baba Akingbade’s most compelling stories, how he aligned local exigencies with result-oriented marketing strategies, to anchor those award-winning campaigns that got MTN several laurels when he was the CMO.

 Bayo Adekanmbi who worked under Akingbade in MTN, appreciated all attendees who responded at a very short notice to honour a perfect gentleman, a man, beyond intellectual boundaries had emotional connection with people around him, from cleaners, to the gatekeeper as well as top officers. ‘He was a man who could dine with kings and still retain the common touch,’ Bayo concluded.  

After Adekanmbi’s welcome address, it was praise galore as all subsequent speakers praised Akingbade for the great accomplishments he achieved throughout his career, and how he has been impacting the lives of others and the marketing profession.

It will be recalled that Mr. Akingbade was the Marketing Director of Nigeria Breweries before he pitched a tent with MTN Nigeria which was his last station before retirement.

In his comment, Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo, Director-General, Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) recalled different times Bola Akingbade assisted his different industry associations and praised Bola Akingbade as one of the most decorated brand strategists and marketing icons in both the fast-moving consumer goods and telecom sectors of corporate Nigeria, whose achievements will remain indelible on the sand of times.

Also speaking at the event, The President of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) Steve Babaeko, stated that although he never worked directly with the celebrated marketing guru, he is motivated massively by his open-door policy and genuine concern for others. Those factors he believed must have created an environment that motivated those he mentored to gather and celebrate this milestone.

 Amina Oyegbola, former HR Director at MTN also commended Akingbade for making it to the 7th floor of life. She found it quite exciting that former colleagues, family, and friends would gather to celebrate the incredible and eventful life of 70 years.

Oyegbola also noted that beyond the boardroom and office, Akingbade’s tapestry of camaraderie, avuncular care and warmth, turned the workplace at MTN into a second home during his years as CMO.

A lot of goodwill messages were delivered virtually by top Industry players like Kayode Olageshin, Eyitemi  Taire,  Bola Yusufu, Adebola Williams, Jerry Ejikeme, Akin Braithwaite, and many others.

Speaking during the unveiling of the Bola Akingbade Marketing Excellence Initiative, Bayo Adekanmbi shared the importance of bringing together the body of knowledge that Bola Akingbade represents into a platform that will be a reference point to the course of marketing practice globally.  He explained further that Baba Akingbade is full of templates that can advance marketing practice globally.

Although a book was mulled at the initial stage, however what the team eventually agreed on what was Bola Akingbade Marketing Excellence Initiative. He said with Baba Akingbade’s agreement, since he was seeing the project for the first time that day, it would eventually transform into the Bola Akingbade Marketing Excellence Foundation.

Encapsulating the nucleus of the project, Adekanmbi restated that the initiative is all about celebrating marketing practice, education, and research. The three pillars of the initiative were outlined as follows:

-Academic Awards- Celebrating best students in marketing, brand management, and marketing communications across Nigerian universities, institutions, and professional bodies in Nigeria.

-Supporting postgraduate students of marketing, particularly those who want to study the works of Mr. Bola Akingbade. This will particularly start with the University of Lagos with some millions set aside for any Phd or masters student who is ready research and structure all the works of Bola Akigbade.

-The third pillar is thought leadership- Organising platforms where innovation in marketing is celebrated.

 First Beneficiaries of the initiative include Orange Academy and LAIF Awards of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN).

This means each year, LAIF Awards would have Bola Akingbade award for Best Under -25 Strategist in Advertising.

For the schools, discussions have been concluded with Ahmadu Bello University and University of Nigeria, Nsukka so  cheques covering the endowment for ten years were presented to the two schools. According to Adekanmbi, discussions are still ongoing at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile- Ife, and The University of Lagos.

Apart from Bayo Adekanmbi himself, others supporting the project in different ways include Prof. Sunday Adebisi, Prof. Mike Adenuga Jnr, Lampe Omoyele, Femi Ayeni among others. Adekanmbi also used the occasion to announce that the doors are open for new supporters of this noble project.

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