Marketing, Innovation & Category Leader
Nestlé Central & West Africa
Oghenerukevwe ‘Rukevwe’ Toka is focused on creating value and building breakthrough brands. He employs the best practices and principles of marketing to maximize business growth. He has a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from the University of Benin, a Master’s in Business Administration degree from the University of South Wales, and several professional development certifications from leading global institutions such as INSEAD, The Wharton School, IBM, IE Business School, Google and Northwestern Kellogg School of Management. He spent the last 10 years working across the Technology, Consumer Goods, Telecommunications, and Media industries managing some of the world’s most iconic brand portfolios. This includes The HEINEKEN Company, Unilever, The Coca-Cola Company and more recently, at Nestle’s Central & West Africa region where he is leading strategy, profitable revenue growth and expansion of the MAGGI brand in Nigeria, the largest seasoning market in the world. Toka has also been appointed as a Global Advisory Board Member, Sub-Saharan Africa at CMO Council.
CMO COUNCIL: What market shifts and trends are impacting customer and competitive dynamics in your industry?
TOKA: Tension between affordability, inflation, and increasing cost of energy and raw materials means the industry is grappling with the delicate balance between maintaining affordability for consumers, managing the impact of inflation, and addressing the rising costs of energy and raw materials. Finding strategies to mitigate these tensions is crucial for maintaining competitive pricing and sustainable operations. There is tension between budget allocation for brand marketing and performance marketing as marketers face a challenge in allocating budgets between traditional brand marketing and performance marketing. Balancing investments in building brand equity and driving immediate performance and sales requires careful consideration and effective measurement frameworks.
The industry is also witnessing a significant shift in consumer engagement as digital channels become increasingly prominent. Communication and advertising touchpoints are being transformed by digital technologies, necessitating a comprehensive understanding of digital platforms and a strategic approach to engage and connect with consumers effectively. Retail transformation, the rise of ecommerce, and the emergence of quick commerce are reshaping the way consumers interact with products and make purchasing decisions. Adapting to these digital transformations, it is crucial for brands to provide seamless and personalized shopper experiences across various online and offline touchpoints.
Lastly, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in the industry is impacting human creativity in marketing and advertising. AI-powered tools and algorithms are being utilized for tasks such as content creation, data analysis, and customer segmentation, and understanding how to harness AI's potential while preserving and enhancing human creativity, is a key consideration for industry players.
CMO COUNCIL: What past experiences have best prepared you for your marketing leadership role?
TOKA: Over the span of a decade, I have experienced remarkable personal and professional growth, acquiring invaluable expertise while collaborating with globally renowned brands such as Nestle, The Coca-Cola Company, Unilever, and The Heineken Company. These esteemed organizations, renowned for their innovative talent development initiatives and unwavering commitment to excellence in marketing, have played an instrumental role in honing my skills and preparing me for leadership positions. Their comprehensive programs and dedicated support for cultivating top-tier marketing professionals have significantly contributed to my readiness to assume leadership responsibilities.
CMO COUNCIL: How do you describe your leadership style?
TOKA: I am a situational leader, consistently adapting and optimizing my leadership style to effectively address the most pressing objectives. My approach involves meticulous consideration of both internal and external factors, enabling me to make strategic decisions that align with clearly defined organizational goals. Moreover, my passion for fostering capability development extends beyond the realms of marketing and encompasses holistic personal and professional growth. This passion propelled me to conceive a comprehensive self-leadership framework known as the TORCH Framework. Through this innovative framework, I aim to cultivate and nurture individuals' leadership potential by equipping them with the necessary tools and guidance to navigate their personal and professional journeys.
CMO COUNCIL: What factors contribute most to your success?
TOKA: Several factors have played a pivotal role in driving my success. These factors include a clear vision of my goals and exhibit unwavering determination to achieve them, allowing me to stay focused and overcome obstacles along the way; ongoing learning and embracing intellectual humility, recognizing that there is always more to discover and that continuous growth is crucial for personal and professional development; courage to take risks and a pioneering spirit - this mindset enables me to seize new opportunities, challenge conventions, and drive innovation; grit, entrepreneurial alertness, and a growth mindset that embraces challenges as opportunities for growth; and a strong support system including sponsors, mentors, and colleagues to bolster my own growth and navigate complex situations.
CMO COUNCIL: What career advice would you give to emerging marketing leaders?
TOKA: I subscribe to the TORCH teachings:
T - Take control and responsibility for your career and business results. Own your decisions and the outcomes, stay in the drivers seat.
O - Out with the old, in with the new and the next, be innovative every day. Focus on moving forward and let go of your antecedent.
R - Reach for your highest potential, never settle. Settling for any reason whatsoever often leads to future regrets.
C - Change your behavior, mindset and actions in order to experience a corresponding change in your business situation, it all begins with you.
H - Hope, faith and love are the key to happiness. Stay hopeful, show faith in yourself and others and, last but not least, love your consumers genuinely.