Tell us about yourself.
I am Ginikanwa Frank-Durugbor, a marketing communication professional and currently the head of Corporate Communications at Lafarge Africa Plc. Lafarge Africa Plc is a member of the Holcim Group – the world’s leader in innovative and sustainable building solutions. Prior to this, I was the Marketing and Corporate Communications manager at Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc, a fully-owned Nigerian conglomerate with interests in power, hospitality and oil & gas.
I grew up in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, a closely-knit community of academics, surrounded by hills and lots of vegetation. I am the fifth out of the seven children of my beloved parents. My late father, Ossie Onuora Enekwe, was a professor of Theatre Arts, and my mother, Chioma, is a trained fashion designer and renowned chef and baker.
I studied Foreign Languages and Literatures at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and later on, I obtained an M.Sc in Media and Communications from the School of Media and Communications, Pan Atlantic University, Lagos.
I am a certified Maxwell Leadership coach, trainer and speaker, a platform I also use to mentor several young people from diverse backgrounds. In 2020, following my passion for writing, leadership and enabling sustainable impact, I created a writer’s series called #3MinuteRead where I share musings, thoughts and perspectives on diverse topics and stories from which I draw leadership lessons for broader reach and impact.
I am a board member of Mzuzah Africa, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to inspire, empower and provide key tools for the economic, social and environmental sustainability of leaders in emerging economies.
I love to write, read, travel, and I have interests in fitness, food and fashion. Travelling is what I also love to do whenever I am able to.
I am happily married to Frank, my husband, and I have 3 loving children – Diego, Paris and Frankie.
Tell us about your career path into Corporate Communications?
I have always loved to write; it is my favourite form of self-expression.
I have an active imagination, and I usually observe my surroundings and mentally take note of things or events that stand out for me. I also love to read – inspirational or fictional books. As a young girl, I wrote a lot of poems, short stories and even a novel with a pen and an exercise book. My parents are creative artists, and my childhood shaped my perspective about the world, which I believe is magical through the beauty of nature and diverse creative expressions.
After my university education, I thought about a career that would allow me express and be myself while adding value to the organisation and its stakeholders. In 2006, I joined Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc as a corporate affairs analyst. My boss, Adedayo Ojo, who was the vice president, Corporate Affairs was quite instrumental to my love for corporate communications. He exposed me to the rudiments of the job and encouraged me to pursue my career in the field. From Corporate Affairs and after a period within the organization, I became responsible for Brand and Communications. The branding element of my work was an addition to what I already knew around public relations and media management. It widened my scope, and I began to understand how critical it is to create and sustain a successful brand, whether corporate, personal or product.
While in that role, I discovered the need to strengthen my knowledge in Corporate Communications, and so I decided to enroll for a master’s degree programme at the School of Media and Communications, Pan Atlantic University. I took up the challenge as a part-time student for 2 years in the Marketing Communications stream, and in 2016, I joined Lafarge Africa Plc as the Country Internal Communications Manager and rose to become the head of Corporate Communications.
Today, in my role as the head of Corporate Communications, I am responsible for developing communication strategies that are aimed at continuously positioning the organization to its internal and external stakeholders as the leader in innovative and sustainable building solutions. My experience is extensive and cuts across the entire communications value chain – internal communications, digital communications, public relations and media management, crisis communications, change communications, content development and brand management, etc. It continues to be a super exciting journey for me, and my work offers me opportunities to grow, be creative and innovative.
How did your time at SMC help to prepare/impact you for your current career?
The School of Media and Communication is synonymous with quality and commitment to excellence. The teaching method exposed me to the importance of big picture thinking and situational analysis for complex communication needs. It was enlightening to always listen to the faculty and my classmates who brought different perspectives from their work and personal experience to our class discussions. I enjoyed the freedom to think critically and bring my imagination to life while responding to questions.
Through my studies, I gained foundational knowledge of marketing communications that enables me today to develop winning strategies and plans. Learning was broad and fun for me during my time at SMC and the impact of my studies on my career is invaluable!
What are you most proud of from your experience at SMC?
I am always proud to be associated with SMC, PAU, my Alma Mater, because the institution is a symbol of excellence. The scope of study was quite broad and positively demanding. At the end of your studies, you become this well-rounded individual that is able to pull ideas from different domains to solve complex challenges.
I am proud of the faculty. I fondly remember the late Dr. Okolo, who until his death continued to encourage me to come back for my Ph.D; Prof. Biakolo, Prof. Otubanjo, Dr. Okpara, Dr. Obiaya, Mr. Tomi Vincent, Dr. Phil and the great faculty at the SMC.
I am happy and proud to still be in touch with my awesome classmates in PT4.
What does a typical day look like for you in your role as Head of Corporate Communications at Lafarge Africa Plc?
Trust me, no two days are alike and, interestingly, that is what I love
most about my job. Every day is unique and comes with its own experiences, challenges, opportunities and excitement. My job requires me to apply the big-picture and strategic thinking mindset and to be creative and diverse in the way I approach and analyze situations. It also gives me the freedom to express my thoughts and ideas.
My day usually starts with me going through my schedule, planning my day, and leading my daily meetings with my core team. I have a lot of interfaces with cross-functional teams and external stakeholders.
I usually like to tackle my urgent and important tasks early in the day and prefer to write and edit my work in the mornings.
My day will typically end with a mental run through of the day. I value feedback a lot – feedback from others, and the ones I give myself when I learn from my experiences.
Given your role, how do you maintain high value creation for Lafarge Africa Plc as a top brand with a considerable amount of respect in the Nigerian market
The role of head of Corporate Communications is beyond writing press releases and sharing key messages. For me, it is about understanding the business, the industry and sector that you play in and developing strategic initiatives that will position your brand within the industry. That is where thought leadership comes in.
Having a big-picture thinking mindset and deliberately setting your brand up for success through effective communications is quite instructive.
Understanding your organisation’s purpose and objectives and ensuring that it is in alignment with the strategies you design is equally important.
For personal effectiveness on the job, developing your skills as a leader and team player is so important. It will help you inspire others, navigate challenges and collaborate to achieve organisational goals.
Managing your resources to deliver high value should be on the top burner too.
How do you keep up with your work and family life?
God is my anchor. My faith and belief in God help me to create the mental balance that I need to balance my life as a wife, a mother, sister, friend and colleague.
This sounds a bit technical, but systems help me keep up too. I have developed systems that help me balance work and family life. To manage stress, I keep learning to manage my time better by being more proactive and anticipatory. Delegating helps too, but it can only work where there are effective systems. I believe that doing the right thing at the right time promotes effectiveness, and so family time should be sacrosanct and time must be dedicated to do your work effectively.
I also enjoy incredible support from my husband, who is my biggest cheerleader and backbone. My dearest children are hands-on and help me always at home. My loving mother, sisters and brother are always there for me.
To keep up requires intentionality as well. To take care of others and impact their lives positively, you have to be intentional about it.
What are the qualities you seek in young people and those who would want to work with you?
I believe that passionate people can achieve anything they set their
mind to. I always look out for passionate people who have a positive attitude. With these qualities, you will find that the willingness to learn, take corrections/feedback and grow follow naturally.
What three books would we find on your bookshelf at home?
You will find Chinua Achebe’s African Trilogy – containing Things Fall Apart, Arrow of God and No Longer at Ease – John Maxwell’s 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth and Good to Great by Jim Collins.