Adedayo Aderugbo: On the move
By Jemi Ekunkunbor
With a Masters degree in Law from the University College, UCL, University of London, UK, and an MBA from Metropolitan School of Business and Management, London, UK (UAE Campus), Adedayo Aderugbo has spent the last 17 years traversing the banking industry, covering legal, compliance, company secretarial and general management.
Raised by academician parents, a mother who is a professor and father who was a university Librarian, Adedayo who is currently pursuing a PhD in Business Risk Management, realised early that continuous learning not only broadens one’s perspective but ensures relevance in one’s chosen field.
The mother of two who epitomises beauty and brawn, sits in charge of Corporate Affairs, Brand and Marketing in Nigeria and West Africa of the Standard Chartered Bank where she holds sway as General Manager.
Looking pretty on our cover, her looks bellies the heavy responsibilities she carries on her shoulders.
In this interview, she takes us through her career path, the challenges and how she balances work life as a career woman, mother and wife.
In your career path, you have moved from Legal and Compliance to Corporate Affairs and then Brand and Marketing. How has the journey been like?
My career journey has been incredibly rewarding, and I thoroughly enjoy it. Transitioning from Legal and Compliance to Corporate Affairs and adding on Brand and Marketing has been remarkably exciting, and has played a significant role in my professional growth. Starting with a legal background allowed me to gain invaluable experience in compliance, which continues to benefit me in my current roles.
Corporate Affairs has remained a significant aspect of my work in Nigeria and West Africa, alongside my responsibilities in Brand and Marketing. Managing stakeholders through marketing and communications, coupled with being part of the leadership team, adds an extra layer of interesting challenge and growth opportunity to my career.
Working for Standard Chartered Bank has been instrumental in my growth, providing me with the freedom to shape my career path vertically or diagonally.
What were the challenges?
Whilst my job is certainly interesting, it does come with its fair share of challenges. The financial services sector, as you know, remains highly volatile, requiring quick adaptation to the ever-changing landscape.
In terms of my career journey, transitioning from a familiar legal background to learning new skills was a challenging experience. The learning curve was steep, but I persevered, and the rewards were prodigious. My career continued to evolve as I embraced new responsibilities and functions.
Overall, pursuing a career you are passionate about means showing up every day, staying abreast of market trends and customer behaviour, and being prepared to tackle any forthcoming challenges with determination and enthusiasm.
Of the different units you have headed, which one tasked your expertise the most?
I would say aspects of Strategic Marketing tasked my expertise a bit more than the others. Coming from a purely Art background, delving into the science of data analytics for product marketing was quite daunting but, I was determined to face it head-on and surpass the obstacles. To gain the relevant skills, I decided to pursue an Executive MBA, which proved instrumental in developing expertise I hadn’t acquired before.
What is the most challenging aspect of overseeing Nigeria and West Africa in your job?
The most challenging aspect of overseeing Nigeria and West Africa in my job is the dynamic nature of the market and its stakeholders. Each day brings new perspectives, and effectively navigating customer solutions, market trends, regulations, economic insights, and media analysis adds complexity to the role. However, I believe challenges can be turned into opportunities with the right approach.
In West Africa, the diversity across the region, despite its proximity, can be perceived as either a challenge or an opportunity. Personally, I view every diversity challenge as an opportunity for learning and growth. Managing across different cultures has taught me the value of patience and honed my ability to navigate various levels and cultural nuances within the region.
What innovative product or service puts your bank ahead of others?
At Standard Chartered, we prioritise innovation in our approach to meeting the needs of both retail and institutional clients. By putting innovation at the core of our operations, we deliver premium and customised services that set us apart from others in the banking industry.
We actively seek opportunities to foster community engagement and empower people through various sustainability-led initiatives. For instance, our Women in Tech program is a female-led incubator aimed at promoting diversity in technology and entrepreneurship. Through this program, we offer business management training, mentoring, and seed funding to groom leadership skills and empower women in these fields.
What major communication channel has helped in the marketing of your brand and organisation?
When it comes to marketing, it is essential to consider how people prefer to receive information. While any channel can be significant depending on the story, mainstream publication via online channels has consistently helped us tell our brand’s story and reach a wider audience across different demographics.
Digital media has played a critical role, especially considering the high internet penetration levels in the country and region. Additionally, direct communication holds great value in building and maintaining strong client relationships. By effectively leveraging these communication channels, we have successfully marketed our brand and expanded our reach in the market.
For the wide audience that you have, do you have to customise your messages?
Yes, for our wide audience, we do customise our messages based on the situation. We have found a balance in how we communicate with both our retail and corporate clients. The key is to be deliberate in delivering our message and acknowledging that communication is not one-size-fits-all. By tailoring our messages to suit the specific needs and preferences of different segments of our audience, we ensure effective communication and engagement.
How poised is your bank to drive real progress in West Africa where you operate?
Our bank is well-positioned to drive real progress in West Africa. Our strength lies in the diverse range of services we offer across various sectors of the region’s economies. We are focused on facilitating transactions that have the potential to propel industries, and various sectors, forward. By leveraging our expertise and resources, we aim to contribute significantly to the economic growth and development of the countries we serve.
You are well read, garnering degrees and professional certifications here and there. What drives you to keep learning?
Learning is an essential part of life that never stops. The evolving world requires us to stay ahead of the pace, broadening our perspectives, and applying knowledge at more advanced levels. Change is constant even in one’s profession and industry, and continuous learning ensures relevance by keeping us updated with innovations within our field and other areas of expertise.
Being well-informed positions us as thought leaders and creates opportunities to give back to others. Working with an exceptional team that constantly challenges and improves industry practices is both exciting and motivating. Knowledge is indeed a source of power, differentiating high performers from average ones across various sectors in society.
Moreover, considering the future of work, academic readiness plays a crucial role in personal and professional development. Embracing lifelong learning equips us with the necessary skills to adapt and thrive in the rapidly changing landscape. This, for example, informed my decision to undertake my current academic pursuit of a PhD in Business Risk Management.
Not being able to create a work-life balance has hindered many women from rising in their career. How do you juggle work and home front?
Creating a work-life balance as a woman requires planning, intentionality, and the awareness that the world offers endless possibilities. Having stakeholder support at home and at work has been instrumental in my journey. Throughout my career, I’ve found that having reliable support systems has been incredibly helpful.
My husband is very hands on and plays a significant role in raising our kids. At other times, my sisters stepped in ensuring my children felt supported. I also owe a lot to our housekeeper and children’s nannies who provided care when they were younger, when neither myself nor my husband could be present at home due to work commitments.
The key is recognising that the balance may shift at different stages of life and career. While I can’t claim to maintain a perfect balance at all times, I prioritise and make sure neither home nor work suffers due to negligence. Flexibility and adaptability have been essential in managing both fronts effectively.
When you are not working, what do you like to do?
Traveling with family and good friends, I am more of a homebody and I enjoy hosting guests at home and spending time with my family.
As someone who loves to travel, where would you say is your favourite destination and where in the world is your dream destination?
The Mediterranean culture for sure. They are very hospitable especially to strangers; are strong on the importance of family, wellness, being intentional about enjoying life and fostering a sense of community always.
My dream destination is to make heaven!
Of the cultures you have interacted with, which one fascinates you the most and why?
The Hausas, I love their sense of community and unity which resonates with my family values
Who is your biggest inspiration and why?
My parents inspire me the most. As a child of academicians, being exceptional in all you do was engrained into my thinking very early on in life. My dad was a Librarian at Obafemi Awolowo University and from an early age, he taught my siblings and I to empower ourselves with knowledge and to never settle. My mother is a Professor who still works as we speak and that taught me that, the moment you stop learning, that is the moment you stop being a person of value.
Which one banker do you admire?
It’s difficult to narrow down to one because I have had the privilege of meeting, learning from and working with some of the very best in the industry. I would have to say they include Mrs. Bola Adesola (first Nigerian and only female CEO to date of Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria) currently the Chairman of Eco Bank. If ‘empowering and lifting’ others were a person – It would be Bola Adesola.
What’s your take on fashion and style?
Be comfortable, be authentic, be you. Know what works for your personality and body type – no point wearing something you feel constrained in. You also don’t have to jump on every fashion trend if it doesn’t fully represent you and your style. Remember, trends come and go. Wear what makes you happy and confident.
Whose style would you steal?
I like to use the characters in the television series Sex and the City as reference – I would steal Carrie Bradshaw’s eclectic vibe, Charlotte York’s elegance, Samantha Jones’ playful ensemble and Miranda Hobbes’ age-appropriate style.
How do you make the office your runway?
I make sure I show up in good and sensible shoes! Seriously though, I really love fashion but don’t really give much to it when going to work from a “runway” perspective. Working for an international bank means important activities, stakeholder engagement meetings and sometimes, immediate travel can come up. So, you must always be ready and presentable.
So, for me, my style guide is easy and guided by the question; Is it smart, classy, functional, and comfortable? If I tick yes to these, I’m good to go.
What beauty item would you always be caught with?
A good lip balm.