One of the most visited places in the city of Port Harcourt is SPAR. During the last festive season, there was a frightening mammoth crowd pressing in at the mall’s entry point, insistent on patronizing their services and products. It won’t be far-fetched to assume that 5 out of 100 persons in Port Harcourt patronized SPAR last Christmas. The building itself was crammed up with all caliber of people similar to the scenario as was reported in various SPAR outlets within the country. This shows the popularity and far reaching effects this brand has on its customers. In fact, it is now a household name in Nigeria, found on the lips of many regular shoppers.
Surprisingly, we discovered that SPAR is an old player in the retail industry with international operations since the last 86years. The company started out being called DESPAR which is a Dutch acronym for Door Eendrachtag Samenwerken Profiteren Allen Regelmatig (In English meaning – “All benefits from joint co-operation”). This interpretation gives a summary of the SPAR brand story.
SPAR is a multinational firm which manages several individual retail stores and partners doing business under the SPAR brand name. It was founded in Netherlands by Adriaan van Well in 1932 on the premise that when marketers do business as individual entities they yield lesser results as compared to several individual wholesalers and retailers coming together in partnership to form a huge market network. They meet a wide range of consumers’ needs making very huge impacts by leveraging on the ensuing large customer base.
In 2009, SPAR International gave license to Artee Industries Limited to operate SPAR in Nigeria. SPAR stores in Nigeria are built on hypermarket retail format. Presently, SPAR is operating 10 stores across Port Harcourt, Abuja, Lagos, and Calabar accruing more than 34,000m2 of retail space, hence making it the largest chain of retail stores in Nigeria. They offer an ample variety of products in the class of Grocery, Fruits & Vegetables, Bakery, Butchery, Hot Meals, Wine & Spirits, Fast Moving Consumer Goods, Consumer Electronics, Small Home Appliances, Laptops & Tablets, Mobile Phones, Perfumes, Watches and Jewelry.
Amazingly, even when most persons aren’t aware of the business and historical facts surrounding this retail brand, they could readily recognize the brand’s logo on any item and on Ads most especially due to its constant appearance on the brands packaging materials. SPAR’s visual identity as concerns its logo, has over the years communicated the brand’s story, essence, and culture as it is proven through the successes recorded by the brand in the business world. Currently SPAR which started as one single Dutch store has over 12,770 stores in over 45 countries on four continents; meeting the needs of over 13.5 million consumers every day. Join us as we delve into the brand story of its simple but unique logo.
HISTORY OF THE LOGO
In 1932, at the inception of the organization, the symbol chosen to represent the brand and give it an identity in the hearts of its customers was the Christmas tree. Amazingly, the brands name “DE SPAR” means “The Fir” also known as the Christmas fir tree. The logo had the fir tree symbol centered boldly and the brand’s name written at its base. The debut logo also had a Dutch inscription “Koopen bijde De Spar is Sparen Bijde koop” meaning buying at the De spar is saving on buying. Eight years later, the Dutch inscription taken off but the rest of the design left as it were. To emphasize consistency in branding and identity, SPAR maintained the same logo design in all its stores worldwide.
In the late 1940s, the brands name was abbreviated from DESPAR to SPAR and so the existing logo was modified to capture this change. As years went by, other modifications in the design was made. This time, the fir tree symbol was resized to fit within the red circular band.
Increasing its Europe presence and entering into Africa and Asia, triggered the need for a more sophisticated logo to enhance its marketing strategy. So in 1968, the logo which is currently in use and can be seen in SPAR’s outlets and packaging material was introduced. The fir tree symbol had a refined outlook like an arrowhead enclosed within a green circular band and also having the SPAR element scripted within a red block base.
SPAR runs its business under four (4) store formats – SPAR, SPAR Express, EUROSPAR supermarket and INTERSPAR Hypermarket – and each of these store formats has its brand logo.
The SPAR Express logo communicates the identity of the SPAR Express store format which is to provide service and products to on-the-go shoppers in petrol stations, airports, railways and city centres. It has the smallest sales area.
The SPAR logo has the original design format and thus represents the parent brand. It is used in communications describing the retail firm as an organization having several partners. This brand comes after the Express logo in sales area and accommodates products that satisfy consumers’ needs on daily basis.
EUROSPAR logo describes the EUROSPAR Supermarket brand which has a larger sales area than the earlier mentioned store formats. This Supermarket format is designed to cover items and purchases of consumers on weekly basis and thus caters for more needs than the earlier mentioned brands.
INTERSPAR Hypermarket logo represents SPARs biggest store format – the Hypermarket brand. This brand has the largest sales area of more than 3000m2. It was established to meet a wider range of consumer’s needs than all its other store formats. Its purpose is for it to be a one-stop shop for consumers.
Logotype colour specification
An excerpt from the Spars online logo manual says:
“The area outside the symbol and the name style is an integral part of SPAR’s identity and should always remain white.
The logotype is printed in two colours on a white background and it is critical to SPAR’s identity that the colours are interpreted correctly and consistently. The green symbol is (Pantone Matching System) 356 while the red name carrier PMS 185.
Also, the identity should always be printed onto a white background”.
The logo encapsulates the symbol of fir tree which stands for ‘SPAR” in Dutch. The fir is popular for its Christmas tree species. Christmas is a festive season of celebration, shopping and gift unraveling. Hence, the fir Christmas tree symbolizes same. We also know that SPAR is an abbreviated Dutch acronym for DESPAR meaning “All benefit from joint co-operation” and this describes the SPAR concept.
The fir symbol also takes the shape of an arrow head signifying force, direction, movement, power and direction, speed, accelerating growth rates and expansion of SPAR in the retail industry.
The logo has both Red and Green colours. The green colour which is the colour of the fir tree signifies; life, growth of the business, freshness of its food retail products and services. Red has always been an attractive and captivating colour. It represents excitement, passion, energy and has a strong effect on human metabolism and stimulates appetite hence drawing customers to the brand.
Written By Rejoice Emmanuel
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The valentine season is here and as usual lots of love birds would be flying out from their love nests. Funny, but some may be total strangers while some of them may be long-time friends, and then some may be colleagues at work.
Business, they say, shouldn’t be mixed with pleasure, but a research carried out in 2017 revealed that more people are getting involved in office romance as the days go by. This is often traced back to the fact that most workers spend eight to ten hours a day and almost every month in a year in the workplace with the same set of persons. They have no other option but to share the same space with others. However the problem arises when they go beyond office work and begin to create a romantic atmosphere around themselves within the workplace.
A research carried out by a professional platform, CareerBuilder, highlighted that 41 percent of employees have dated a fellow colleague thereby failing to maintain a professional relationship. It was also recorded that 12 percent of these relationships started while working extra hours into the night, 10 percent began after a happy hour, while 9 percent started during a lunch outing and 10 percent started after meeting by chance outside the work environment.
Though most cases of office romance involve colleagues in the same level or department, studies have shown that 29 percent in-office relationships are between someone in a higher position and a junior colleague. It also revealed 15 percent have had an intimate affair with their direct boss. When caught or exposed, 37 percent deny the relationship and 63 percent admit it.
Interestingly it was stated that 30 percent of these relationships end up in marriage even though most fizzle out with time. The outcomes are never predicable but still a hard question stares us in the face, should there be room for romantic relationships in the office space?
Over the years most companies have frowned at the concept of in-office relationship and have continued to search for ways to eradicate its roots from their workplace. They believe it would destroy the image of the company and so have employed different measures to handle cases like these such as by banning it, penalising culprits or even firing them, making their employees sign a contract forbidding office romance, and so on.
However, CEO of Engage PEO, Jay Starkman, stated that placing a ban would only encourage more secret relationships in the organisation. He suggested this instead, “an employer should establish a clear policy that requires reporting of the relationship to HR so that it can be monitored and people can be properly advised on how to conduct themselves.”
Even though some company polices may seem harsh, most times they exist in order to prevent unpleasant situations from occurring. Like Roy Cohen, a career counselor and executive coach, puts it, “Many organizations have rules about dating colleagues not because dating a colleague is a bad thing. You may share common interests and motivations and you may both love the organization. The rules exist to avoid any messiness that might arise when the relationship ends, when one of you gets promoted, or if one of you has access to information that should not be shared, especially if it might benefit your partner unfairly.”
Most often than not, most organisations try to avoid issues like this but then they keep on reoccurring and could be a source of distraction from the main company’s target. Well a one sided judgement is usually not the best so what’s your take on this as an employer or employee? Should the love birds be allowed to fly freely or should they be caged? Leave a comment below.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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Different life’s phases come with strings of uncertainties urging us to travel over and make sense out of them. This process is often what we refer to as self-discovery. Just like every other phase, the career phase also requires some level of discovering in order for us to fit into the perfect picture we desire.
While self-discovery may take a very long time for some people, it could also take a very short time for some other persons. Within a space of three years of working, Kosisochukwu Ikeme, our interviewee for this week, has explored quite a number of career options which she is certain has helped her know herself better.
Kosisochukwu believes that her working experience so far has impacted her life positively both on a personal and professional level, “I have gotten better at organizing things and managing people. I have also become more independent and the confidence to take on new things has greatly increased. My confidence in myself is getting better by the day and I have realised I can actually do anything if I set my mind and apply myself consciously to it even when it is an unfamiliar territory.”
Notwithstanding her educational background, Kosisochukwu approached the career world with an open mind, embracing different opportunities that came her way.
“I have a BSc. in Human Nutrition and Dietetics and I am a Registered Dietician-Nutritionist but I presently work as an Administrator/Human Resource Management Personnel which is totally off from Nutrition. I have never really seen myself working in the hospital as a Dietician, I had plans of working as a Freelance Dietician and offering Consultation services that is if I decided to practice Dietetics. Years after graduation, I was stuck in limbo of cluelessness; had no idea what I wanted to do or what I was good at. So I went from working as Customer Service Executive in a Courier Service company to working briefly as a Dietician to working presently as an Administrator/Human Resource Management Personnel.”
Due to her willingness to learn from scratch, Kosisochukwu continues to make tangible progress at work,
“I went from working as a Volunteer to an Intern and then a Full-Time Employee in the firm where I presently work.”
Kosisochukwu, as a result of her ability to dare, has served in different capacities, graciously pioneering each role even without prior knowledge. She indicated that this experience has improved and refined her to a great extent.
“Working with the firm where I am presently is my best experience so far. Here I found a platform to explore and learn things about myself that I never knew. I have grown beyond my imagination, I dare say. Taking on a role/responsibility of heading a department with no prior experience/knowledge has helped me realise that it’s in our own minds that we stay limited. I have learned, unlearned and relearned and still undergoing the process as I work understanding the system and getting grounded in it. My Boss has been beyond amazing, it’s not every day someone takes a chance on you and sees a million and one things in you that you don’t and never gets tired of nudging you to do and be better.”
As expected, her new role at work did not come without challenges which practically demands she learns on the job.
“Considering it’s a role that I have absolutely no experience/knowledge in, it’s still a bit of a struggle finding my feet and setting up the HR/Admin system of the firm,” Kosisochukwu admitted.
Concerning her finances, she had this to say, “I won’t say there is an improvement in my finances but I have learnt to be more frugal with my spending, be very conscious and intentional about saving and I’m also learning to invest.”
Having learnt some quality life lessons from her experience, Kosisochukwu shared some piece of advice to those who are just starting out their career, “Be open to learning. It pays to be teachable. Nobody really has it all figured out but you have to be willing to take on opportunities when they come, seek to improve yourself and trust in your abilities.”
From her perspective, we can deduct the fact that in life, sometimes, we probably have to test different waters and cross several seas of uncertainty before getting to the final destination. It is during this journey, we acquire the knowledge and experience that eventually adds to the quality of our person.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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It is no longer news that unemployment is on the rise in Nigeria and most parts of Africa. In times past the matter of contention was the fact that most people were not qualified for the vacant roles advertised. However, in recent times, scarcity of jobs has become the plague affecting our society leaving us with a wide river of unemployed graduates but very few companies to fish them out.
According to statistics by Africa Center for Economic Transformation (ACET), over 50% graduates in Africa are faced with this tough reality. A lot of employers handle employment cases like a thing of favour rather than a search for competence and suitable team members. Recently, this attitude has been displayed by some employers and we have used one of them as a case study for this article.
About a week ago, an employer publicly shamed a jobseeker on Twitter for requesting a reschedule of an interview date. Seeing this as an unserious act by the jobseeker, the employer disqualified the candidate. In her words, “Sorry mate, your loss. With such high youth unemployment, an interview is now a treasure not to be taken lightly.” From the recruiter’s tweet, she obviously implied that the prospective employee didn’t take the interview seriously and had no right to ask for the interview to be rescheduled.
Reacting to this, some Twitter users felt the employer approached the situation with the demi-god attitude as opposed to finding the qualified candidate even if it means rescheduling. With such an attitude, there is a likelihood they wouldn’t be patient enough to get the best during any recruitment. When companies are too rigid with their interview processes, it could be a loss at both ends.
Another flow of thoughts are those who think the employer has an entitlement mentality believing that they can lord over those they intend to employ and practically would expect their employees to be at their beck and call. This category of employers would probably boss their staff around giving no room for their opinion. As a result of this attitude, the enterprise usually reduces the capacity of their staff.
Another perspective some other persons pointed out was the fact that the prospect might have been facing some challenges which prevented him from coming and had the right to inquire the possibility of an interview reschedule.
One of the commentators, advising both employees and prospective employees, indicated that it is okay to even ask for a raise if need be.
Having read through the entire thread, we see need for employers and recruiters to make their recruitment processes more flexible. Nevertheless, this doesn’t imply that rules and regulations shouldn’t be put in place during an interview. Rather, employers should bear in mind that unforeseen circumstances may occur which may prevent an interviewee from showing up and in such cases, adjustments should be made.
Conclusively, employers need to keep an open mind towards potential team members, treating them with fairness and not as though the job is a favour.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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The engineering profession which officially dates back to 1390 has always had a strong label attached to it, “The Man’s World”. This meant its doors were shut to women and that made it almost impossible for females to get involved. Fast forward to the twenty first century, its doors sprang a bit open and accessible to females all over the world. Queen Ochuba, our interviewee for the week is one of the few females treading confidently and leaving footprints in the engineering field.
Knowing the odds and hurdles she would have to cross, Queen took out time to lay her foundation properly and be well-grounded in her chosen career. This has opened the doors of opportunities she has walked through over the years.
“I have a bachelor’s degree in Petroleum Engineering and an MSc. in Petroleum Engineering and Project Development. I’ve previously worked as a petroleum engineer (before and after my masters) and I currently work in a business development role for a petroleum engineering software development company.”
With a good number of years of experience under her belt, Queen has continued to make a bold statement and build her relevance professionally.
“I’ve developed my technical skills and I’m better at managing relationships. I’m also more independent, more confident, more out-spoken and I can blend into just about any circle.”
Big things they say start small and oftentimes it is in the small things that our level of commitment is tested. Queen’s progress so far can be linked to the level of commitment she has poured in the minor roles she has had to take on in the past.
“I started out as a Petroleum Engineering Graduate Intern in 2014, went on to do a master’s degree in 2016 and in 2017, I got a Graduate Trainee role in an oil service company after which I got a permanent offer towards the end of 2018. The benefits and conditions of service have been better with each offer.”
In the process of working, she has had some remarkable experiences but the one that stood out for her is the endless possibilities learning opens us to.
“I worked on a project in 2016 with my team. A few weeks later, I casually wrote a scholarship test and 85% of the questions were in the same area I had just worked on. Naturally, it felt good to know that I had learned a lot from the project, more importantly, I got funding for my masters as a result of being in that environment at that time. I learnt the value of information.”
Speaking about her financial life, Queen simply mentioned how she has been able to manage her finances as a working class lady. “I’ve developed financial discipline overtime, I’ve learnt to plan better and I’m able to contribute to my community.”
When asked about the disadvantages in her work, Queen couldn’t pinpoint any but rather made a suggestion on how things could be done better.
“I’m struggling to pick out a disadvantage. If I had to change one thing though, it will be to make working hours and location more flexible.”
Moving on to spot out a major challenge which she faces at work, Queen said, “I occasionally struggle to keep up when there’s an avalanche of events going on at the same time. Overtime, I’ve learnt to use to-do lists, group similar tasks, prioritize, and maintain focus through it all.”
Queen is not the regular kind of petroleum engineer who only depends on the oil money for her survival, she is skilled up, has her side hustle intact and juggles both work and it smartly.
“I love order and I’m great at organizing. Following this passion, sometime in 2013, I did a 3-month training in decorations and event management. By the end of the third month, I was already getting juicy offers to decorate for events and the rest they say is history. Interestingly, most of my jobs are on weekends and I’ve been able to assemble a team so it’s easy to juggle both.”
Ending her interview, Queen gave a short and precise advice to younger folks starting their career. “First, know the basics. Put yourself out there. Get mentors. Keep improving yourself and always have a positive mindset.”
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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Beyond the obvious fact that a logo becomes a company’s identity, it can also be referred to as the custodian of a brand’s history and culture. It reminds both the staff and customers the journey the brand has travelled so far and the milestones it has accomplished over the years.
With its historical attributes, the FirstBank logo can be seen as a symbol holding so much more than what meets the eyes. To the common man it may look like a simple blend of elements and colours but to those who work behind the scenes, its meaning is deeper.
THE LOGO JOURNEY
Being one of the oldest banks in Nigeria since 1894, FirstBank’s identity has become a household symbol and is one that is easily recognisable by all. It has earned itself a grand reputation for consistency and as a result has gained a huge popularity to the point anytime one sees an emblem with an elephant inscribed on it, one of the first thoughts that crosses the mind is the FirstBank brand.
With many decades gone by and as a way of commemorating the brand’s 120th year anniversary, they felt the necessity to redesign their legendary logo in order to reflect the new strategic direction the company was taking. The bank unveiled their new identity in January 27th, 2014, informing the general public about their new brand position.
THE LOGO ICON
The African Elephant
One icon that has always been associated with the FirstBank logo is the famous African elephant. For the brand, this icon symbolises their strength and growth. It is also an indicator that the brand is a leader in the financial industry. With this single icon, the bank has continued to earn respect and visibility.
Though this element was retained, there were some slight modifications to its appearance which were made to communicate the evolution the bank was going through in order to remain relevant in the financial sector.
- A Raised Head – While the elephant in the old logo had a straight face, the new logo bears an elephant with a raised head. This they indicated was a way to reassure their customers about their commitment no matter the challenge. It is a promise that says they will face any financial challenge with their head held high.
- A Raised Foot – The raised foot in the new logo is a reminder that they will always put their best foot forward for their customers.
THE LOGO COLOURS
From a lighter shade of blue to a deep blue colour, the FirstBank logo took on a new feel. The deep blue colour signifies a heritage of trust and distinction. The colour also represents their brand principles of momentum, innovation and evolution. These principles ensure that the bank strives to continuously develop solutions.
One significant change in the new logo was the infusion of gold. This rich colour represents a promise to set the gold standard of value and excellence in their services as a financial establishment.
Through its logo the brand has continued to fulfil the promise it made to its customers which is to always deliver the ultimate gold standard of value and excellence. Merely viewing the logo reminds their customers and partners about their position as one of the first and leading brands in the banking field.
The logo, images, fonts, patterns, icons, colours, symbols, words, all combine to visually communicate the brand’s corporate identity and brand language. The colours are also a reflection of the brand’s personality and their tone of voice towards their customers.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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One of the most dreaded topics that could ever be raised for discussion is sexual harassment within the workplace. The room literally drops dead silent when it is mentioned or implied. Some workers become defensive, some sweaty and nervous, while others wrap their hands round their mouth.
The reason could be because most organisations consider it too sensitive to discuss since there may be quite a number of unpleasant secrets it may reveal. Even when noticed, most workers would never dare to say a word about it; either in fear of losing their job or in an attempt to protect the reputation of those involved. Due to the hush attitude towards the subject matter, most times it ends up being swept under the carpet. Still the issue of sexual harassment continues to be a menace in the work environment.
“When you talk about sexual harassment in tech or in any other industry, it’s like dropping a nuclear bomb on your career,” said Susan Ho, cofounder of travel startup Journy, who has had her own share of harassment.
A CNN Tech article published in 2018 exposed a number of cases of women in the tech industry who have been at one point or another sexual harassed. Most of these women were initially afraid to speak up about the awkward experiences they’ve had to face. Eventually they summoned courage and shared their stories.
“We’re sitting at the Starbucks, and he grabs my face and tries to make out with me, and I push him back in surprise, and just didn’t know what to do, because he continued to try again, and was so aggressive,” Lisa Wang, cofounder of SheWorx, revealed during her interview with CNN Tech.
All too often, it has been recorded that 35% cases of sexual harassment are that of women. However following a 2018 campaign tagged Timeup and MeToo, 18% of men were added to the statistics. This invariably implies that the issue of unwanted sexual advances is no longer gender selective but a plague to both women and men, practically anyone can be a prey.
Reports of sexual harassments in the workplace could come in different forms; distasteful remarks, unwarranted touching of any part of the body, prolonged staring, nasty sex related comments, etc. Some advances could be subtle, gradually luring the prey to the trap, and may not be open or direct. Whichever form it takes, as long as it is against the will of the other person then it can be categorised as harassment.
From a Vanguard newspaper publication, still in 2018, we stumbled on a 25year old lady’s story on the issue. Here is an excerpt;
“I got a job in a private company in Surulere as an Office Secretary. My boss was generous to a fault. He was kind to me but I never knew it was for a purpose. Six months after I got the job, he mailed a letter to me telling me to consider a better position in the company if only I could be his mistress. I did not understand so I did not reply his mail. I continued with my job until one morning when I was told to move to another office that someone has taken my position and that I will be working directly with the Executive Director of the office. I still did not understand. Reluctantly, I moved my documents to the ED’s office. I was working with him until one day he asked why I did not reply his mails. I was dumbfounded. I was stammering and told him that was not my line of thought and definitely not my style of life. He then told me to quit the job if I was not ready to be his mistress. I pleaded but he told me that someone else had already taken the position. That was how I lost the job”
In some cases the boss may not be the predator but either a senior staff or a colleague in the same level could harass junior staff or interns and even go as far as threatening them to either give in or they make their work experience unbearable. In other cases, customers or clients or investors make advances at staff and even harass them while trying to offer services to them. There are also classic cases where the staff become the predator that go after clients attached to them. The scenarios are endless and unpredictable.
Frequently when cases of harassments are reported, especially those involving senior staff or a client, little or nothing is done. Some organisations might even take sides with a client rather than believe a staff who has been harassed. This simply is based on the fact that they would prefer to retain the relationship with that client who obviously pumps in money into the company.
When issues like these have become a norm in any organisation, it brings along with it a tensed atmosphere, one void of life. An uptight attitude among workers then takes over thereby making work difficult. The work environment eventually becomes unproductive and unsafe for those who have refused to bow to the pressure.
Should we continue to sweep topics like these under the carpet or could we turn around and face it? Let’s read your thoughts or experiences on this one.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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The career world sometimes, if not most times, isn’t a straight-line graph easily plotted. Our interviewee for this week on the column, Walter Aloh, is a typical example of those whose career path haven’t been straight but he’s been able to make the most of his experiences within just four years.
“I have been working for close to four (4) years now. Though I have spent close to 3 years at my current place of work (Deloitte & Touché), I must say it has been a good experience for me. Working in a BIG FOUR has tremendously improved my work rate, load capacity, exposure, confidence, professional skills and tolerance level. For instance I could be on a phone call and still multitask in between different activities. Also I wasn’t so confident speaking to people at a certain level some few years ago, but today the story is so different” Walter narrated to us.
Walter has changed jobs just once and it was as a result of a better opportunity that presented itself, in his words “I changed my job due to the promising career path I could see in a BIG 4, and the opportunity to work there, alongside the well improved pay.”
Walter is one of many Nigerians who change from their original profession and he attributed it to the Nigerian system, implying that most people in Nigeria never get the fair chance to practice what they studied in the University. He went further to expatiate his previous statement by giving a brief summary of his background from what he was trained in school to how he has been able to adjust to different roles which are to some extent worlds apart from his initial course of study,
“I was a technical/engineering student and majored in Petroleum Engineering in the university, but today I’m a forensic consultant. At my first place of work, I was a Digital marketer. So you see that they all don’t square out that way, and this ‘story’ isn’t unique to me. There is an unpopular saying out there meant for Nigerians living in Nigeria; that the university education basically helps to test if you can read, write, understand difficult concepts and still produce results. That is to say, if you attain a degree with a 1st class or 2.1, or 2.2 or acquire a Master’s degree, and you are within a certain age bracket, you can apply for jobs in Nigeria, regardless of what you studied in school, whilst some places are very specific with what you studied in school. However, I do not believe that a person’s final grade in school is a true test of their capabilities. This is Nigeria, anything to survive as long as it is moral and legal”
Despite the detour along his career path and the challenges that come with it, Walter can clearly say he has made tremendous progress in every area of his life, “well, it’s been good so far. Like I explained earlier, my knowledge and capacity base has really expanded. Promotions too has been very good, and in this environment which I’m sure is the same with other places, you constantly have to keep pulling your weight and churning out results, because it is an extremely competitive environment. The monetary growth too has been very good. One lesson I have learnt is to mind where I invest my money. If the investment company is not insured by a top insurance company, I won’t invest with them, even if they promise a million naira per week.”
He quickly emphasised the importance of having a proper career plan before one decides to make the move to whatever they may think is better, “I must add that one has to also be very strategic in terms of career plan and not be too comfortable on a job or what they have to offer. Things can change rapidly, and it’s normal to feel a bit jittery when you see how other colleagues move up, change jobs or go for more qualifications/certifications so as to get better pay or career interests, but once you start with the WHY in mind concerning your long and short term career/life goals, you will be just fine.”
On a lighter mood, Walter acknowledged that his experience so far has been quite remarkable, recalling some events that have stood out for him, “I have had a lot of good experiences. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a good number of cross-cultural colleagues from other countries, and also have developed a broader view of the world thanks to the different work related trips to other countries.”
Highlighting some life lessons he has learnt within the years he has been working, he said, “I have learnt to differentiate between friends and colleagues at work. One should be friendly and also firm in their decision making. Don’t be too trusting, and above all trust God to guide you all the way.”
As we know, regardless of the path we choose, there will always be challenges which necessarily are not meant to bring us down but could serve as check points. Walter identified some of the challenges that came with his, “There are quite a number of challenges, from daily demand to always make an impact and be valuable, to the unannounced competition with colleagues on who’s the better performer, to keeping up with part of the dress code which includes a hairy person like me having a clean shave all the time and down to satisfying client engagement objectives.”
One aspect most employees get wrong is managing their finances. Walter on the other hand seems to have become quite skilful in handling his finances. He had this to say about his financial life, “I must say that I have done my best to live within my means, live modestly and invest more in my future. I try as much as possible to assist people in need, and once in a while give myself a treat, along with family and friends. If one isn’t careful about their financial life, you’ll find that they would be living from pay check to pay check which is a disaster waiting to happen.”
Like it is often said, virtually everything has both good and bad sides to it. The work life unarguably has two sides to it. Admitting to this fact, Walter stated, “Some of the disadvantages which are not unique to me alone are; stress, very little time to spend with friends and family, average work-life choices (I won’t say balance) and little time to rest with so much to do.”
About having a side hustle, Walter indicated that there was no obvious one currently but eventually hopes that there would be one soon, “At the moment, I have no side hustle. When I say that, I actually mean it’s not reaping out value yet. In the fullness of time you will hear.”
To round up his interview, Walter had these pieces of advice to share with those about to start trailing a career path, “My first advice would be that they should trust God and not rely fully on their knowledge. Due to the expectations for new hires to immediately learn to swim in the big river and start making impact early, pressure would set in, which would potentially result in making too many mistakes on the job. Also, most work related environments are ‘perception oriented’ meaning that one’s first mistake could live with them for as long as they are within that environment or company.”
He further pointed out that patience and ability to learn will help those who want to climb the career ladder, “I always advice new entry level hires to be patient, take things easy and work with senior colleagues who they perceive to be more experienced and are good teachers on the job. I would also tell them to be fast learners, and do as much work as they can so as to make mistakes early and learn a lot in a short time. Depending on their career goals, they should invest in continuous learning and advancement so they can be relevant in their chosen career path.”
Lastly, Walter inserted, “Relationships are important, so I advice people to invest in good networks/relationships and find a mentor within the workplace who must not necessarily be a senior colleague in their department.”
From Walter Aloh’s perspective about the workplace, we can conclusively say that one’s career life is basically what they make of it. So whatever career path you have chosen, it is how you tread that matters in the end.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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When people think of major Restaurants in Port Harcourt and Nigeria at large, the list would be incomplete if Kilimanjaro isn’t mentioned. This is so because Kilimanjaro has succeeded in creating a popular and appealing brand among quick service restaurants in Nigeria. Going from its appetizing and tasteful food packages, serene and hygienic environment as well as its endearing customer service, it has retained its position amongst the top brands sought-after by customers. Above all, the brand has remained a much focused business entity, last year alone we learnt that they made a whooping profit of 950m Naira after tax, that’s huge and very promising! You surely would love to know more about this exceptional brand.
THE BRAND HISTORY
Kilimanjaro is the thriving restaurant brand under Sundry Foods Limited, an integrated food services company that proffers hospitality solutions through a wide range of products and services involving catering, restaurants and bakeries. Specifically, the primary brands of Sundry Foods Limited are; Kilimanjaro, Nibbles bakery, SFL catering services, Pizza jungle, and KiliSharwarma. Same group also owns and operates MarketSquare, a supermarket chain under the company Sundry Markets Limited.
Sundry Foods Limited was established in 2004 by Ebele Enunwa, a chartered accountant and former Regional Manager of Stanbic IBTC bank Port Harcourt, who resigned to pursue his dream as an entrepreneur and obtained a Masters of Management in Hospitality degree from Cornell University, USA.
Recording exponential successes in acceptance and sales, Kilimanjaro stands out as the fastest growing and most successful brand of SFL. It has over 31 outlets across the country and is the leading food service provider in two major cities in Nigeria – Port Harcourt and Abuja. They offer a wide range of wholesome and tasty local, African and Intercontinental dishes as well as both corporate and home delivery services. This is done under hygienic conditions, in an attractive manner whilst patiently capturing consumers’ needs during service delivery.
Buttressing this, Kilimanjaro deliver tasty meals on time in good quality and quantity and also make payments easy by providing varied payment options for their customers through its cashless POS service. Ping-a-Meal; an online delivery service, provides customers with the opportunity to place their orders at the comfort of their homes and offices and have them delivered promptly. With Kilimanjaro you can never run out of cash because they offer CashBack services. Out of cash? Just go into any of its outlets. All these and many more has contributed in making Kilimanjaro a competitive brand, highly endearing to hearts of consumers. Little wonder some customers would argue that their meals are the best and are fascinated and really do enjoy Kilimanjaro’s Nibbles coconut, strawberry and chocolate ice-cream mix. These can only be gotten from Kilimanjaro.
THE BRAND VISION
“Better Food, Better Service, Better People”
To be the foremost integrated food services company in the country providing the complete food service solutions to a select strata of clientele.
THE BRAND MISSION
To build a world class organization worthy of association and to create exceptional value for their shareholders by:
- providing an intellectually stimulating work environment where employees can achieve job and career satisfaction,
- providing the best products and service possible in an exciting environment giving the customer an unforgettable experience, while
- positively impacting on our environment and the community at large.
THE SERVICES PROVIDED
Quick service restaurant serving both local and continental cuisines, Nibbles ice cream, shawarma, pizza, bread and confectionaries such as doughnuts, cakes, small chops, desserts, pastries; ping-a-meal service, Office and Home delivery services, industrial catering, events catering services.
THE BRAND CULTURE
Kilimanjaro has the culture of ensuring that the food needs of their customers are met by making available wholesome sumptuous and tasty meals on time and every time in good quality, quantity even at the comfort of their homes and offices. They are critical and very careful in employing staff and hire based on the brands core values of providing tasty meals and quality services to people. In their very own words,
“We know that what we offer has a direct relationship with the quality of materials we use as well as the quality of people we use to provide our services. We therefore take extra caution in hand picking our people and materials in order to ensure that we meet and exceed customer expectations on time, every time.”
Written by Rejoice Emmanuel
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It started as a rumour, but months down the line, it’s the new reality and identity for these two major bank brands, Access Bank and Diamond Bank. The deal which was reportedly denied by some authorities in the banks officially went public in December 2018 when negotiations were already concluded.
Expectedly, there have been many reactions to this; while most see it as a welcome development which is significant in putting Nigeria on the map, a few remain sceptical about it. Amid the pressure from panicking customers, concerned shareholders, the interfering press and public opinions, the two banks have remained focus to what they believe would be the largest bank the African continent has ever seen.
Moving away from the noise and excitement, there is so much to glean from this seemingly great business accomplishment. Let’s see what insights we can glean.
For any business that seeks to expand, there are certain qualities it should be known for as well as structures that must be in place. To put this in a more concise way, that business must have built its capacity which isn’t built overnight, rather it is consistently developed over the years.
From its record, Access Bank, which is a top Multinational commercial bank in Nigeria, has had six successful mergers and acquisitions before now. The bank began its journey of acquisitions in 2005 with their first being Marina Bank and Capital Bank. Amongst other acquisitions after the first, one of the most memorable which placed them as one of the four largest commercial banks in Nigeria was in 2012 when it acquired Intercontinental Bank. Well there is no doubt the management team has been running with their vision which is “to be the world’s most respected African bank”.
On the other hand, Diamond Bank as a technology driven retail bank had set a high standard which gave other banks a run for their money. This has earned it an indisputable leadership position in digital and mobile banking. Diamond bank mostly leveraged on technology and continued to provide innovative solutions for financial challenges.
Another sign that this merger will be unbeatable is clearly seen in their statistics, with Access Bank having an asset of 4,555 and 1,555 for Diamond Bank. It is also going to be a massive force combining both bank’s customers, Access Bank having over 10 million customers in Nigeria and different parts of Africa, and Diamond Bank 19 million customers. This explains why successful establishments tend to acquire enterprises that will add more value to them rather than reduce their worth. The likes of Facebook who keep acquiring other business platforms to enlarge its empire will help drive this point home.
Paying a closer attention to this deal, one would understand that another reason why Access Bank and Diamond Bank took this bold step is to remain relevant first as a financial establishment, then to their customers who are faced with many options to choose from in the ever bubbling financial market. What better way can a brand attain relevance if not creating a larger platform that provides solutions to the many problems facing their many customers?
While Access Bank will leverage Diamond Bank’s leadership in digital and mobile-led retail banking, Diamond Bank will gain more visibility with Access Bank’s strong network across the continent. In the word of Herbert Wigwe, the CEO of Access Bank,
“Access has a strong track record of acquisition and integration and has a clear growth strategy. Access and Diamond have complementary operations and similar values, and a merger with Diamond, with its leadership in digital mobile-led retail banking, could accelerate our strategy as a significant corporate and retail bank in Nigeria and a Pan-African financial services champion.”
Now bearing in mind the heights both banks have climbed in the past and what they hope to achieve, we can bet that they have done their market survey and have seen the many opportunities their merger will create in both the banking sector and the society at large. Again Herbert’s words confirm this,
“We believe that this platform, together with the two banks’ shared focus on innovation, financial inclusion and sustainability, can bring benefits to Access and Diamond customers, staff and shareholders.”
Till the deal comes to a final conclusion, there remains a high hope that the combination of these two banks will give birth to an exceptional brand.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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