Lessons From Unilever Ideatrophy 2012

Preparation is Key

Teams that fumbled during their presentations were mainly hindered by one thing: preparation. After the Communication Session by Bukunmi Akinseye on Thursday, a lot of us had to go back to the drawing board. A lot of badly thought out ideas became worse because of the rush to tweak our presentations before Friday morning.

Lead, don’t command

John Maxwell always says that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. I saw that the culture at Unilever encouraged very informal interpersonal relationships. I never saw all the “sir, sir” and “ma, ma” behaviour that stifles freedom and creativity at government organizations especially. I saw people relating freely, taking responsibility for their actions, and really working to see that they do their part to make the whole work well.

Kelechi Okeahialam

We learnt that Kelechi had moved to Unilever from another company not long ago. And she brought a lot of the staff of the company and some others from previous places. John Maxwell also said that when a good leader leaves a place, her people most definitely go with her.

Anything is possible and age is not a limitation

A scary thing was that a lot of the organizing team for Ideatrophy were very young. Many were young graduates. And Bukunmi is a swaggalicious young communications manager at Unilever.

Seyi Solarin

Seyi Solarin

Small things do make a Big Difference

This is one of the quotes I saw at the  Unilever Office. A very sticking quote. And they kept repeating it.

People are actually seeing you

When I got to boot camp, I wasn’t expecting any award. I just felt I should relate with everybody, take pictures, have a good experience so I can have stories to tell. Who knew people thought I was so friendly as to be voted Mr. Congeniality???

Obinna, recieving Mr. Congeniality Award from Tolulope Agiri, HR Director, Unilever Nigeria

Don’t miss the experience

In trying to gain the trophy, we sometimes lost opportunities to make friends, or to actually hear what was being said, or to enjoy the process we were being passed through. Teams began to look increasingly serious, most especially when Bukunmi, during his communication session, showed that a lot of us had actually missed the point. Most teams could not capture the task we had been given and all teams had gone wild, making up to 40 slides for a 20 minute presentation. He advised that we get our slides down to 15, and we all were hit with a bombshell.

From the first day, I could have thought the final presentation was more important than the process. I realised along the way that I was getting myself worked up if I did that. I learnt to loosen up, make sure I talked to everyone, take pictures and just smile a lot.

Hmm, and I took a lot of notes, I won’t let the experience of those ahead of me now to pass me by.

Know exactly what you want to do

In making presentations, a lot of teams left what they actually had to say till when they got on stage. I believe that in situations when your time had been cut short, you need more radical ways to maximise your time. I realised this just 30 minutes to the start of the program. I decided I would write out my speech word for word and memorize it. I intended to decide what I’ll say, what kind of humour I’ll include in my speech, and what examples I’ll use to punctuate my speech.


Writing out my speech and reading it through over and over again was a good step. In fact, to have been completely in control, it was essential to have known all the material we intended to present. If I had gone ahead to discipline myself to go through all the presentation and learn everything about it, and be able to present it alone, it would have gone a long way to improve my stage confidence and give me all the facts about my campaign that I needed when answering questions.

In everything, it is essential to carefully and painstakingly prepare everything pertaining to the endeavour a person intends to undertake. Confidence may be the key to getting what we want in the long run.

Even till the last moment, there are opportunities to favour you

Throughout boot camp, I was searching for opportunities to add new twists to our presentation. I was searching for quotes and body language and just about anything that was part of the culture at Unilever to inculcate this in my presentation: my speech, my actions, the slides and anywhere else it would fit in. The Managing Director’s and other quotes all around the office helped a lot. Even when we had sessions such as Bukunmi Akinseye’s in which his revelations that a lot of us were on the wrong paths shook us, I never stopped looking for new ways to pick the good out of any situation. That’s why I was continually making secret notes in French at the back of my notebook.

9 thoughts on “Lessons From Unilever Ideatrophy 2012

  1. ok this is very cool, but hey are u just leaving us out of your experience or wat? anyway, thumbs up sir

  2. Wow! I admit I’m a litu jealous hia o. Mr Congeniality; you more than made a mark sir, Bravo!. Pam and Nina post your experiences too na, it’ll be sweeter ‘coming’ from yu. Ds is Mr Obi’s

  3. also , you need to always have a sense of humour and don’t relent if the odds don’t favour you(this was learnt from somebody in particular..”wont mention ,but you can guess”)….

    • yes!!! a sense of humour is really essential. a lot of us would have ended up with very deep regrets if we didn’t know how to shake off the seriousness once in a while and enjoy the moment…

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