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Q&A with Ginikanwa Frank-Durugbor

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Ginikanwa Frank-Durugbor, Head of Corporate Communications at Lafarge Africa Plc

How could you describe your career path in few words?

My career journey has been an exciting and beautiful discovery for me. It has been a journey of opportunities, passion, faith, support and resilience.  I have been in the industry for over 17 years and I can boldly say that every experience, challenge or opportunity has been a building block for the next growth phase of my career. My passion for corporate communications started when I joined a Nigerian conglomerate. I was in core administration, and whilst there, I expressed genuine interest in communications and within 3 months of core administrative work, I was moved to work with the Vice President of Corporate Affairs. Since then, I have been focused on corporate and marketing communications from public relations, strategic internal communications, media management, brand management, digital communications, thought leadership to crisis communications in line with the diverse communications trends we have globally today. I am championing the importance of strategic communications with internal and external stakeholders, sharing key messages of the corporate organization to key stakeholders and curious and excited to understand and leverage the positive disruptions brought about by modern technology.  Along this journey, I also mentor and coach young professionals and it has been quite rewarding for me.

What was your most challenging experience and how it has changed your mindset?

My most challenging experience was when I had to complete a rebranding project in 3 days. Per our project plan, we had about two weeks from project initiation to delivery, however, we received an unexpected response from a key stakeholder forcing us to change the date of our project launch. At the time we received the update, I was not fully convinced that we could finalize the production and installation of our corporate signage in 2 days in the South South region of Nigeria.  I shared the challenges with the project supervisor at the time and he assured me that with proper restructure of our initial plans, monitoring, engagement and negotiation, the vendor would be able to deliver in 2 days. And we were successful. We were able to finalize the production and installation, well ahead of the launch date.

That experience made me to realize at the early stage of my career that nothing is impossible to achieve. Today, I am fully equipped to manage challenging and complex situations while executing my duties. I have a positive and growth mindset and I always believe that one must to open minded in approaching situations, to understand that there are different ways to achieve exceptional results.

When you get surprised by unusual or uncertain context, what do you think?

I believe that I must remain calm and not react immediately. 10 seconds is all I need to get myself back on track, no matter how unusual or uncertain the information or event may be. In 10 seconds, some level of clarity surfaces and I am able to think about the situation and ask myself what the next step should be. After sometime, days or months, I ask myself what the lessons were for me.  It is best not to be impulsive. It is an attitude that you must learn, if you want to be an effective leader. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be flexible when you are faced with challenging situations. You must be able to think on your feet and trust yourself to make the right decisions.

Based on your experience, what’s the key success factor for a female leader / manager?

I would say self-awareness. When you understand your strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, triggers, dreams, aspirations, goals etc., you will be better able to manage your life and lead others effectively.  You can achieve this level of self-awareness by being more introspective and authentic about your emotions. In addition, you can approach people close to you – friends, family, colleagues, bosses, direct reports, to give you an honest assessment of yourself. Self-awareness is the baseline in my opinion to becoming a great leader. You cannot give what you do not have and you cannot pour from an empty cup. With self-awareness, you can build on your strengths and find creative ways to close the gaps caused by your weaknesses. A good grasp of who you are and who you want to become, helps to improve your confidence level, effectiveness on the job and your mindset.

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