Adedayo Ojo is a renowned Public Relations expert whose hands are visible in the corporate world, both in Nigeria and US. A corporate and strategic communications practitioner for 35 eventful years, he has traversed the media, the banking and the oil and gas sectors before berthing in PR consultancy through Caritas PR agency. He was also known as the founding Vice President of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria (Transcorp). But beyond the professional trajectory of his career is his passionate love for golf. “Everything that is in life is incorporated into Golf,” he says. “Golf challenges you, and it also shows your character.” These days, Ojo spends two to three days a week on the golf course.
Can you tell us about yourself sir?
My name is Adedayo Ojo. I am proud to say that I am from Modakeke, Osun State and by the grace of God and the benevolence of the community, I am an high chief of Modakeke in the palace of the Ogunsua in Modakeke.
On the professional side, I am a corporate and strategic communications practitioner and that’s what I have been doing in the last 35years.
I started my career as a journalist in the 80’s. I used to be a teacher of journalists, then I went to practise journalism. I worked in the then Concord Press of Nigeria, I was part of the founding team of Community Concord in those days and at a point I wrote a column in the National Concord. I later left full time journalism and worked in a bank, I was the pioneer public relations manager for the Financial Republic Group which had Financial Merchant Bank in those days, the Republic Bank, Financial Trust Company. I did that for about 2-3years and then I went into the oil and gas industry.
I joined Mobil Producing Nigeria as a Public Affairs Coordinator, and by the benevolence of God, rose to become Public Affairs Manager for Nigeria. I started what became the first full-fledged Government Relations office for a multinational in Nigeria in Abuja in 1996 and then did that again for another 3 years or so and went on cross posting assignment to work for Exxon Mobil in the United States at the headquarters of the company. I was the Coordinator for Africa covering Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Chad and Cameroon.
I finally left Exxon Mobil in 2006 by opting for early retirement, then worked for the then Trans-National Corporation of Nigeria (Transcorp). I was the founding Vice President for Corporate Communications. I did that for about 18 months, then I finally started CARITAS Communications.
You are one of the leading PR practitioners in Nigeria with visible hands in other spheres of life. Can you share your other interests with us?
As they say charity begins at home. I’m the current Vice President of the Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria. In addition to that, I participate actively in the life of my community where I come from which is Modakeke. I am a Chief so I am in the service of my community and the Ogunsua for whatever they want me to do.
During my leisure, I love to play Golf because I believe that’s the game that reflects life the most of all sporting activities.
Right now I consider myself a semi-retired because I hardly work for more than three days in a week. So, the other three days I try to play Golf because I think it reflects life a lot. Aside of the exercise part of it which is good and necessary for your health, golf offers you walking around, but most importantly, golf is life.
You are an avid Golf player who devotes 2 days to the game in a week. As a busy business executive, how do you strike the balance?
Actually not just two days but a minimum of two days, sometimes, three days. Golf, as I said, is life. Everything that is in life is incorporated into Golf, and Golf teaches it. It’s balancing. For instance, if I read you right, the question you asked me is how do I balance playing Golf with work? Golf teaches you balancing because when you play Golf, sometimes you succeed. And if you don’t manage that success, it will collapse in your face. There are times you play Golf, it doesn’t go well. You’re not swinging well, you’re not hitting the right shots. If you manage it well, it will turn around and you start playing well. So, you can take that lesson from the field of Golf and balance it. You see life is not all about work work work, you must first of all balance work with family and everything you do must be measured and it must be planned for. That planning, that ability to plan, to visualize Golf teaches you all.
So it’s those kinds of balancing that Golf teaches you to enable you manage your temperament. You get into trouble on the Golf course, things we call hazards such as patches of water. You have patches of sand which we call the bunkers, you have bushes in some places, you have places that are out of bounds, you must keep all of those in mind. You need to know that all those little to things help you to keep focus. So it is the same thing that I sort of tried to do and work on life. I think I’ve been playing Golf now for about 26 years.
You know, in fact, what I tell myself is, I wonder what I’ll be doing with my time today if I wasn’t playing golf. I play on a Tuesday and Thursday or Saturday, it really, really just helps.
What makes Golf unique among so many other sports?
I think Golf is unique because of what it teaches you, the discipline that it forces on you, you see, Golf is not only physical, actually, it’s not a lot of physical. But if you need to say it’s lazy, I will then challenge you, say let’s just go to Ikeja there, which is a nine role course. So you are working around for four hours. You know, so when you have played an average round of Golf, you have done 12,000 -13,000 steps. I know there are not too many people except those that are exercise buffs who do that. So that’s the physical part of it. Right? Now, there’s the mental part of it, when you want to take a Golf swing, I don’t know any other sport that requires you to concentrate on about 11 different things. So, you want to take a Golf shot for instance, it is important that you do the right things. Your standing positioning should be right. You must look at the angle you are going, the line you are going should align your shoulder towards it. You must swing and when you swing your arm must be straight. And when you swing, you must finish it, you must rotate along your hips, you must keep your eyes on the ball once you want to hit one; so, so many other things like that. But guess what? There are several people who do it, millions of people who are not even professionals.
So Golf challenges you, it also shows your character. For example, as I said, if you are succeeding, you’re playing well. If you lose concentration, the game will be lost. Because you are not doing well in the first few moves does not mean you will not come back. You know, so, if you make an error, just like in life, you must overcome it.
It shows you character, honesty. If someone not honest is playing golf with you, you will know. We’ve had stories about people who play and they go into the bush, right? And he sees that nobody’s looking, he drops the ball.
There are people who get easily upset, you will see all that. People tend to say, Oh, they do business and they make good deals. Yeah. Why is that? Because somebody you spend time with that you know, that you trust you rather do business with. And I am a living example. I’ll tell you that the best business that we had in CARITAS which is a client that we have kept for 14 years, I got the link on the golf course.
There is a belief that many people join Golf clubs for the business network benefit rather than the recreational value. How true is this?
Maybe some people do it as I have just told you but you know, it’s a good place to network. How many people will for instance, agree that you have a four hour meeting with them? So it’s too long. But let’s go golfing. So yeah, that’s it for us
How is Golf fairing in Nigeria in terms global standards?
Wow. I think that Golf is coming of age. I know a young Nigerian woman who is now a professional golfer in Europe, she comes from a golfing family. The father plays Golf. So it’s coming of age today, you see a lot of competitions here and there. Today, you see a lot of Golf professionals in Nigeria as well, people whose primary profession is golfing. And I suppose the only challenge is that we need to do a lot more work about introducing Golf to people at a younger age. If you look at the story of most of the golfers you see on International Golf circles, the Tiger Woods, a lot of them started playing at the age of 4 or 5. So you know, it’s already part of them, you know. I mean, when I started playing Golf, I was well past my mid 30s. We are not there yet in terms of the quality of our courses
But I think things are coming up. I will not be surprised if in the next few years, you see Nigerians winning international circuits around the world. Golf is coming up.