Adesola Adebawo heads the Chevron Nigeria’s overall corporate communications portfolio: strategic planning, developing, and coordinating elements of the company’s communications and publicity programs for customers, stakeholders and business/joint venture partners through various media in support of Chevron Nigeria’s business plans. He has the responsibility for promoting and proactively managing the reputation and image of Chevron Nigeria/Mid-Africa Strategic Business Unit. The position is critical to ensuring “the Partner of Choice” image of Chevron and positive perception of the Chevron brand and reputation. It requires excellent understanding of the local environment, Business Unit issues and stakeholder expectations.
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1. You joined Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) 19 years ago when you came on board as a Public Affairs Field Representative. What was the rationale for making the decision to join CNL, as against everything else you had going?
Thank you for that question. It was an easy decision for me, considering the strength of the Chevron brand. CNL is a well distinguished blue chip corporation in Nigeria’s most prestigious industry. As a young journalist reporting politics and national issues in the 1990s, you desired the good life that a well-paying organization like CNL could afford you and the global reach of its operations. You wanted to work in a diverse environment where ethics were more than a sound bite. CNL represented all these and more, so I was ecstatic at the offer to join the work force and I celebrated the opportunity.
2. While in school, you studied Mass Communications. It seemed you had a clear-cut objective that you were going this route without any consideration of change or detour? What informed this decision?
Well…I had always wanted to study Mass Communications since my teenage years. This was due, in part, to my love for adventure and natural inclination to communicate values purposively. Originally, my family suggested that I pursue a career in law. But my teenage conviction was that legal practice was not for me. I am a natural communicator. Though this would have been awesome in the practice of law, yet I felt I wanted to influence life from the stand point of mass communications which has a wider impact. This was why I majored in journalism (news editorial and broadcasting). Additionally, the presence of media legends like Sola Omole and Deji Haastrup in Corporate Reputation Management was a major inspiration to me and confirmation (in my view) that my calculations made sense. That Mass Communications provides robust opportunities for this also. Did I hear you say I have not considered a change? As far as change and detour go, life is a dynamic reality. So the possibility of change has always been, and is always there. It just depends on the nature and form of the change. For example, I have transitioned from journalism to community engagement, and now to public affairs and reputation management. See! Change is always there, even when you are not quite conscious of it.
3. What does your role as Communication Manager of CNL entail?
Okay. This role puts me at the head of Corporate Communications for the company in the Nigeria/Mid-Africa Strategic Business Unit. It means that I manage strategic communication of the company’s business values and management of the company’s reputation from the communications stand point. It involves my providing strategic communication advisory to the leadership of the company in support of established business objectives. It also includes executive communications (speeches, talking points etc.), media engagement, and all external communications, crisis communication, overall range of internal communication platforms and activities, the company’s entire range of marketing communication. Very importantly, I speak on behalf of the company when it is necessary to do so. I am also responsible for ensuring compliance with the company’s policy on external and internal communications. These and more are the activities that keep me busy from day to day.
4. How much does technology, especially information technology impact your work, and the company at large?
I can tell you that CNL deploys superior technology in the daily operations of the company with outstanding results. From the use of a robust IT system to intricate oil and gas technology, CNL continues to deliver value to its stakeholders and Joint Venture partners. But the greatest value is delivered by the company’s world class workforce. This is the human energy that fires the success of the company.
5. Your company has regularly made the U.S Fortune 500 (100) list as #3, a whole lot of algorithm is used, and Forbes places your company at #16 as of May 2015. Either way that makes you a great global player. How does that make you feel? And what has translated into these figures from your privileged perspective as communications manager?
I can unequivocally tell you that I am proud of the success Chevron has consistently achieved. Not just in terms of results, but also in terms of the business values that drive those results: values of integrity, diversity, high performance, protecting people and the environment, ingenuity, trust and partnership. To us, it’s not simply about the results; it’s also about getting results the right way.
Our company’s foundation is built on our values, which distinguish us and guide our actions. We conduct our business in a socially responsible and ethical manner. We respect the law, support universal human rights, protect the environment and benefit the communities neighboring to where we work.
Integrity: We are honest with others and ourselves. We meet the highest ethical standards in all business dealings. We do what we say we will do. We accept responsibility and hold ourselves accountable for our work and our actions.
Trust: We trust, respect and support each other, and we strive to earn the trust of our colleagues and partners.
Diversity: We learn from and respect the cultures in which we work. We value and demonstrate respect for the uniqueness of individuals and the varied perspectives and talents they provide. We have an inclusive work environment and actively embrace a diversity of people, ideas, talents and experiences.
Ingenuity: We seek new opportunities and out-of-the-ordinary solutions. We use our creativity to find unexpected and practical ways to solve problems. Our experience, technology, and perseverance enable us to overcome challenges and deliver value.
Partnership: We have an unwavering commitment to being a good partner focused on building productive, collaborative, trusting and beneficial relationships with governments, other companies, our customers, our communities and each other.
Protecting People and the Environment: We place the highest priority on the health and safety of our workforce and the protection of our assets and the environment. We aim to be admired for world-class performance through disciplined application of our Operational Excellence Management System.
High Performance: We are committed to excellence in everything we do, and we strive to continually improve. We are passionate about achieving results that exceed expectations – our own and those of others. We drive for results with energy and a sense of urgency.
6. What is the best part of your job and what causes you the most frustration? Is it technology? Is it people? Is it process?
The best part of my job is communicating the invaluable contributions my company is making towards improving the lives of people everywhere we work. I will say the most frustrating part is watching many others who could do same, not doing so. People are quite complex in every vocation and mine is certainly not an exception.
7. When it comes to meeting the challenges of your part of the IT world, what hard and soft skills are required?
My IT requirements in my role are quite basic. Knowledge of office suite is sufficient while other specialized skills are used on as-need basis and the CNL IT support team is quite strong and capable in this regard.
8. What has been your work ethics, and slogan?
In Chevron we say, “do it safely or not at all…there’s always time to do it right”!
9. What sort of advice would you give a college or university student interested in getting into the IT or Communication field after graduating?
My candid advice will be to understand what you want out of life and pursue the career that fits into your vision of your future. That way you don’t have to struggle to keep a job you do not enjoy performing.
10. In your spare time, what sorts of hobbies or special interests do you enjoy?
Hahaha…hobbies… I read controversial authors, discuss politics and for the most part, I pastor a growing cross-cultural church on the Lekki Peninsula in Lagos, called TOTAL GOSPEL BIBLE CHURCH (House of Goshen). We amiably refer to ourselves as the warmest people on the peninsula. You should come with your friends sometime.