Memoir of a Brand Manager (Part 10)
In memoir #1, I shared about joining Cadbury Nigeria as a Management Trainee (MT) in 1990. Nine of us started as trainees in the sales/marketing function. The training program entailed spending time in different departments to gain basic understanding of their functions.
One month was allocated to being on the field to work with sales managers in various locations in Nigeria. I was posted to Ilorin, Kwara state, about 290km, 6 hours driving distance from Lagos.
When I saw the posting, my mind had a flashback. Three years prior, my initial posting for National Youth Corp Service was to Kwara but I got to the 2nd batch orientation camp late due to late release of my results and receipt of call-up letter. So I ended up serving six months later in Ibadan, Oyo state. In between, I hawked composite cassava bread on campus amongst other roles working for my dad😊.
The MT posting indicated which hotel each of us would stay. Whilst other MTs got the leading hotel in the respective capital city, e.g. Premier in Ibadan, Durbar in Kaduna and Hilltop in Jos, I got Rock Motel! When the Depot Sales Manager (DSM) was asked why not Kwara hotel, he retorted that his budget couldn’t accommodate it.
FROM ROCK MOTEL TO CIRCULAR HOTEL
What to do? I embarked on the journey by public transport to Ilorin and arrived late evening to an unwelcoming atmosphere of a stern-looking, red-shot eyed DSM, and a non-descript Rock Motel with broken walls. There was no intercom and when you needed something whilst in the room, you opened the room door and shouted for the receptionist.
There was no shower in the bathroom, water from the tap was irregular, and you used a twisted corrugated pail (yes pail, not bucket), to fetch water.
Each day, the owner of the motel would answer nature’s call (the small one😊) on the wall outside; I was told it was a ritual to ward away evil!
I bore all with a knowing grin, same way I had greeted the DSM on arrival despite his unsmiling mien. I had come prepared.
You see, grapevine gist was that the new MTs with university degrees were coming to take over the jobs of the existing DSMs, most of who didn’t have University degrees and had risen through the ranks.
DSM-Ilorin assumed my coming was part of the plan to take over from him, so his avowed plan was to ‘show’ the MT coming to his depot. In other words, make life difficult for the ‘JJC’.
Well, next day the DSM and I started working together. I let him know that I was there to learn from him and followed his lead as the days went by. I related with him in a non-threatening manner and honestly sought to learn about sales management from him, after all, I was a neophyte as far as sales and marketing were concerned.
One day, about two weeks later, whilst we were on a sales drive to Circular Hotel, a relatively new hotel, I made an off-cuff remark that the hotel was nice. The DSM looked at me with a glint in his eyes and asked if I liked the hotel; I replied that yes, I did. He asked if I would like to move into it, I replied with some mischief that I thought he didn’t have the budget for it. He answered with a laugh, saying ‘I like you, you are a good guy!’
Same day, I checked out of Rock Motel to Circular Hotel.
For the rest of his time in the Company, the DSM-Ilorin was one of my greatest supporters in the sales team, whilst I worked in the marketing function.
From a rocky start, to a circular friendship.
Author – Lampe Omoyele
Memories of yesterday are the tonic for today’s youth…learning and adaptation attitude are germane to career development…..KDB
Thank you 😊
You are so graceful.
Is DSM is still around to read this story?
Lost contact with the DSM years ago.