Tolulope Adedeji is a Strategic Leader, Communicator and Business savvy C-Suite Professional with board level experience. She is currently the Marketing Director and Executive Board Director at AB InBev. She has spent many years leading brands, business, organizations and driving market share growth across Multiple African countries. She shares deep insights on how she has been able to build an enviable career over a stretch of seventeen years.
My Driving Force
Everyone has a purpose and my driving force is to deliver maximum return on my life. I take strength from the parables of the servants with multiple talents.
It has been a challenging and impactful journey with varied experiences, companies and brands. I’m currently the Marketing Director at AB INBEV for all brands in West Africa and it has been a great journey since 2018 in the beer industry.
It is interesting to note that I actually started out my career in Finance before making a switch to Marketing. I have been at this game for seventeen years, and it’s been quite a beautiful ride for most of it. One beautiful thing about me is that once I’m engaged on a particular project or job, I can keep at it as long as I feel I am learning and getting better and delivering impact. So, spending fourteen years at P&G prior to ABINBEV didn’t seem like a long time to me because it was an environment that fostered constant development and learning.I always loved the newness of assignments that came with the changes. During my time there, I worked in finance, commercial and marketing. At some point, worked out of Ibadan, Lagos,even Ethiopia and a few other Sub Saharan markets. So it was basically like changing companies every three years.
I believe the sky is just the starting point for me. There is no ceiling. This is what has been my driving force and the inspiration .There was never a time I stayed put on a professional level for more than three years at a stretch. I kept getting bigger responsibilities, so it was exciting all the way and kept giving every opportunity my biggest push possible.
There was always the drive to keep growing, expanding my capacity, and keep taking more responsibilities and developing people along the journey.
About Work Culture & Ethics
I have always seen any assignment that falls on my laps as a way to leave a legacy and improve the society. So I don’t take work with levity or for granted. When I get into a role, I just don’t go into it wanting to do the regular stuff, getting paid and just being ordinary. I want to do more than that. I want to build a legacy. I want to tackle and solve problems and give my best to it. I love to look back and know I gave it everything because it is my life being spent. Time is life. Time is the tangible representation of Life.
I always take my work very personal, and some times people make jokes out of it. They ask funny questions like ‘is it your father’s business?’ My reply is always swift, ‘yes, it is my father’s business’.
I believe that whenever you’re being paid to do something, there’s a level of loyalty and dedication that is expected, and you shouldn’t give anything less. If you’re in a great organization that gives you the right environment to grow, and treats you well, then it’s only normal that you also then pay back beyond just taking it as a job. This doesn’t make you weak. It’s a seed to the universe and whatever you sow, you reap. And if its the reverse, leave the organization as soon as you have an opportunity. Do not waste your time.
The first lesson I have learned in my career journey is self-belief. I’ve always been a big advocate of this, and I say to anyone who cares to listen; ‘you may lose money or cars, you may even lose a couple of friends and family members, but you must never lose your self-esteem’. This is your biggest weapon, and you must protect it at all cost. Life is bent on trying to make you lose it, but you must never allow that to happen. This is because it is very difficult to recover your self-esteem when lost.
A lot of things would come your way which would take a big knock on your self-esteem; your self-confidence. It could be you losing out on a promotion at work, or getting fired, losing a business deal, your peers growing ahead of you, or getting into a bad relationship with your stakeholders. No matter what it is, you must learn how to hold your head up high and ride out the storm. A good dose of self-esteem is one thing I highly recommend for everyone on their career journey, whether you are just starting out or at mid-management level or already at the top of your career.
Another would be building meaningful relationships with those that are worthy and find you worthy.
People tell me that I am strong; I have that mental strength that is always needed to get through whatever life throws. I have a lot of grit and tenacity. So, when I want to achieve something, I hang in there, drilling and pushing, until I achieve my set out objectives. I have this ability to hold on tight and persevere when I want something. No matter what comes my way, no matter how many times I fall down, I get up and keep going. That is my superpower. You know what they say about “you will not be given what you cannot carry”.
On Women Empowerment
Firstly, I would say that a key criteria for getting a job with me is competence. Competence, character and capacity are three things I look out for when hiring. But that said, I believe proper representation matters, and diversity is a key topic for an organization that wants to thrive in the 21st century.
Let’s take a look at the issues closely; you can actually count on your fingers the number of women leading some of the Fortune 500 companies. This is an issue driven by different historical factors. Historically, women have been held back from going into the frontlines in business and career, so there is a huge need to close the gap. But, this must not be done at the expense of competence.
I believe that God made us to be unique in our own individual ways. There are no two people with the same makeup and configuration. Even identical twins do not totally have the same prints. So, why try to conform to another person’s identity. I believe one major reason this happens is because everyone wants to feel loved and accepted, so, they go as far as trying to compromise who they really are. When you try to fit into a construct that is not natural to you, there is a risk of losing sense of who you are. Self love is important to me. Many of us treat others better than we treat ourselves. Self doubts, self- sabotaging are some examples.
I also strongly believe that a woman can have it all. It might not all come at the same time, but, everything you work towards achieving can come to pass and when you fail, learn the lessons and move on. There are times when you might just have to pass on something for the meantime. It doesn’t mean the dream is dead. It just means that you are keeping it pending so you can revisit and achieve it in the near future. As long as you keep moving one step at a time, with consistency and determination, you would be able to achieve all you set out to achieve. You’ve got what it takes to win; so if you really want it , you have to learn how to make the sacrifices to get it. Family is important for me and whenever I need to choose, I try to choose family.
Tolulope Adedeji has extensive experience in building Brands and businesses. She has built brands from scratch to market leadership and has transformed brands from challengers to established brands. Over the course of her career, she has built over 15 brands across Africa. She is currently the Marketing Director of AB Inbev where she leads the marketing teams in Nigeria and Ghana. Some of the iconic brands she leads are Budweiser, Trophy, Hero, Club beer and Beta Malt. She was appointed in November 2018. She is also an Executive Director on the Board of International Breweries.