It takes a village

‘When you work with people who are willing to learn and ready to inconvenience themselves to be the best they could be, it is usually a plus for you, especially as a leader to help the best way you can and make the journey less stressful for them’

EVERYONE knew Morolake was my girl. Not because she was the first staff that started with me at Criterion before it launched as Ogilvy, but because of her tenacity, resilience, and willingness to do more.

Morolake was a management intern who studied in London and is our GCEO’s friend’s daughter. You would think that type of girl would have some air around her, especially if she is being dropped in the office in the latest SUV.

It didn’t take long to realize that the girl who lives in Osapa London and schooled in London was not what I envisaged. Talk about stereotyping. Do you know that assumptions you have about someone you are meeting for the first time make you think you know him/her? Yes, I was too sure she won’t survive the stress of advertising.

A few weeks after she resumed, we received a brief for the NNPC engine oil and FMN Mai Kwabo pasta pitch and all I had was a designer and Morolake who was a Management Trainee. These pitch requests came at the same time and both deadlines were one week, this means we have to break our backs to make it happen, this includes closing late at night.

The first two days were fine without much hassle even though our earliest closing time was 10 pm, but the designer lived in Sango and me before Sangotedo, and getting home was never an easy ride. On the 3rd day, Morolake’s phone was ringing consistently at 9 pm and I noticed she wasn’t picking up, when I asked why; she said it was her dad and he wants her to start coming home.

She picked up the phone at my insistence and told her dad she was still in the office and we have so much to do before she lives, he ordered her to book an Uber and start coming home immediately, after listening to the conversation for a while, and knowing that Morolake was not ready to go, I requested to speak with her dad.

Me: Hello sir, good evening. My name is Teju…

Dad: Oh, very good. Why is my daughter still in the office at this hour? What kind of work can’t be completed tomorrow, and do you have to hold her up to this time? I need her to start coming home now!

I took a deep breath and smiled, though he can’t see me. So, I explained the task at hand to him and that we have to work together to achieve a good result. I need her to do some things and source information while I put together the proposal. When he wasn’t having it, I said “Sir, do you want your daughter to learn, or do you just want her to warm the bench? Because that is very easy for me. She can only learn while she does the task, and I am trying to make it worth her while. I can only promise to drop her at your gate every time we work late as I have been doing sir.

There was a pause on the other end of the phone for about thirty seconds, which seemed like an hour. The old man then said “make sure you get her home safe.”

Me: ‘Yes sir.”

As a mother, I understood his concerns about the security of his daughter, and I wouldn’t take it for granted.

That night I dropped her off at 12:30 am.

Dropping her off at home every time we closed late wasn’t an easy ride for me because her house was off my way, and I mostly get home at 2 am but I still ensured I dropped her at home whenever we closed late. That stopped when we were both sure she could cope.

When you work with people who are willing to learn and ready to inconvenience themselves to be the best they could be, it is usually a plus for you, especially as a leader to help the best way you can and make the journey less stressful for them.

*Olateju Ogunyomi is a Marcoms professional and behavioral analyst. She left Ogilvy Nigeria in 2020 to start her own agency. She is an APCON member and was a member of the AAAN women in Advertising committee, and the AAAN Event committee. She is currently the CEO of Aspora Nigeria Limited, a Digital Marketing, Strategy, and Consultancy agency.

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