GBENGA X-ADEBIJA: DUMPED MASTER’S DEGREE IN MICOBILOGY; BECOMES WORLD MARKETING COMMUNICATION GURU
He started out his career with the ambition of being a medical doctor; little did he know that his destiny will take a twist. Today, Gbenga X-Adebija, has evolved into a marketing communication guru of international repute. JOSEPH DINWOKE of BROJID.COM reveals how he started out, and his success secrets.
As a little, boy in secondary school, Gbenga X-Adejiba’s dreamed to become a medical doctor. He went after it, but when he could not get admission to study medicine, he opted out for microbiology, with a plan to use it as a stepping stone to study medicine.
As he made progress in his study of microbiology, his career choice path took a twist. He discovered that he was not fashioned for the hospital environment not to talk of being a medical doctor. I can’t stand the sight of blood and the sight of someone suffering pains.” He reveals emphasizing why medicine was a wrong career choice for him.
He continued his study of microbiology at the University of Illorin up till master’s level. The twist in the career choice was initiated by the recommendation of someone who saw that he is very good at writing to the editor of a nationally circulating paper, The Herald.
While an undergraduate, at the age of 17, he got his first job a columnist in The Herald and write for them for seven years. He recounts the dramatic experience that led to his employment: “Somebody recommended me to the editor who tested me by requesting me to do an article which I did and submitted to him. It was so good he didn’t believe I wrote it because I was only 17. To be sure I was the actually the writer of the first one, he gave a news topic, locked me up in a room and within the allotted, I was able to deliver. This second attempt turned out even better than the first by his assessment. So, he just said to me: ‘You are hired!’ That was the beginning of his contact with media practices. He went further to co-host a programme on television and radio Kwara.
He captured his experience on campus: “I was too focused on my studies to have time for any extra-curricular activities. My father once beat me for coming second in primary school and my older siblings had brilliant academic track records, which I had to live up to. Besides, right up to my final year in the university, I had no interest in smoking, drinking (except Fanta) or girls, so it was easy for me to concentrate on academics. I remember during my university days that I used to MC events and was a writer/columnist with The Herald Newspaper and even co-hosted a variety programme on Radio Kwara.”
At graduation, he went to a foremost food company in Nigeria, Cadbury, in search for white collar job perhaps to put his microbiology training to bear in the company but he was employed to use his innate ability of communication to better use. He reveals: “After my assessment for recruitment, they told me they didn’t think I would fit into any other department than corporate communication….that I was suitable for frontline especially in the area of marketing, public relations and advertizing. So I was asked if I would be interested to pursue a career in that line and I said yes.” As a result of this decision, he never worked with his microbiology degrees for once.
From then, he became sold out to marketing communications, taking further courses to better equip himself for the industry in prestigious institutions like University of London, until he became a global expert in branding communications and corporate social responsibility in which capacity, he travelled around the world mentoring Cadbury companies in relevant areas.
His excellence and track records, internally and externally, positioned him to take over the headship of corporate communications and marketing department of Cadbury at the age of 29, succeeding a 60-year-old pundit in the field.
He attributes his phenomenal success to God saying, “God hand has been upon my life. I wouldn’t ascribe anything to myself. I wasn’t doing badly in school; I got myself prepared somehow realizing that God always looks for someone who is ready and available.”
Close to the age of 40, he took a leap from his secure and well paying job at Cadbury to start his own business since he has always believed he won’t remain in paid employment all his life. He resigned his job, turned down job offers from Bank of America and the then governor of Califonia, Arnold Schwarzeneger “because the desire to start and grow my business was really burning in me.”
His reason for making the choice at that phase I that he didn’t see Cadbury challenging him to bring out his best. “ It got to a stage where Cadbury wasn’t challenging me enough or stretching me enough to be the best I could be. I took stock of my life, discussed with my wife and took my exit.”
At first, his wife was concerned wondering why he should plunge into the risky world of business. However, after prayers and discussions with she still stood behind him, throwing her weight behind her and came up with the name of the business, Astho & Layton Communications Ltd which according to him “is a business communication company, which offers specialist and world class services in public relations, integrated marketing communications, events management, training and manpower development and branding.”
He described his experience as an entrepreneur as “very though” but further explained that “in a place like Nigeria, all entrepreneurs have to face challenges such as poor infrastructure and the fact that the economy is not what it should be. We have to provide our own light (power), our own security, provide virtually everything to be able to do business.”
He however said that the whole experience has been fulfilling since it is driven by the desire to build a business that will last thousands of years and he is not on the path to achieving it.
Besides running Astho & Layton Communications Ltd, he has a passion for mentoring and teaching and has given his passion expression locally and internationally at Lagos Business School and World Brand Congress, Mumbai, India respectively.
Quote Credit: The Sun Publishing, Daily Independent