Amaechi Michael Okobi is much more than “a tall, bald guy in a suit” as he once described himself. He is the Group Head, Communications & External Affairs at Access Bank Plc, and one of many in the corporate space touted to be a proven expert in brand management. Since leaving his “days of promoting whisky and premium spirits,” Okobi has changed the look of marketing and brand communications in the banking industry and Access bank in particular. Little wonder, he was honoured with the reputable Fellowship award by the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (NIMN) during the institute’s 2020 Fellows Dinner and Awards Night in Lagos.

Education and early career

Amaechi attended St Edmund’s College, before proceeding to George Washington University in 1992 for a degree in Business Administration and Management. After concluding the program in 1995, he did not return to school until 2012 when he went to take a course in Digital Marketing Strategy at the Columbia Business School.

In January 1996, Amaechi resumed at Revlon as an International Marketing Manager. In this position, he had to provide support to about seventeen international subsidiaries and six distributors, coordinating products, promotions, advertising and marketing strategy with domestic marketing for the Ultima II brand. He also executed a global strategy for the brand, comprising advertisements, promotions and public relations.

He spent five and half years with Revlon, before joining Global Energy as Business Development Manager in August 2002. Here, much of his marketing strategies were directed towards the sales of multiphase pumps and multiphase flow meters.

In December 2003, he joined Heineken as Brand Manager, and this time, had to initiate, plan and execute strategies and programs geared towards gaining market share for the Gulder brand. He also worked with Globacom as Senior Manager, Post Paid Events and Sponsorships.

Amaechi worked with Diageo international (Guinness Nigeria), from November 2010 to April 2014 as Brand Manager, marketing and sustaining the Johnnie Walker Trademark as a profitable asset of the international brand.

Changing the face of branding in Access Bank

In May 2014, Amaechi resumed at Access Bank Plc as the Group Head, Corporate Communications & External Affairs. Recounting his resumption with Access bank, he said:

“Six years ago today, after a bike ride and breakfast, I put on a suit and tie, cherry-red socks and black lace-ups, and got into my car. Destination: Access Bank. I walked up the stairs at 999C Danmole Street for my first day (and brand new adventure) at Access Bank. Sometime during the night, my days of promoting whisky and premium spirits ended as I began the process of morphing into a banker.”

He is saddled with the responsibility of developing the banks Brand Strategy & Advertising, Media and Public Relations, Events & Sponsorship and Corporate Social Responsibility & Sustainability, and is doing a great job with it. Within the last few years, public perception of the brand has increased to great levels and this can be seen in the awards Access bank has clinched in recent years.

Winning the Best Mobile Banking App Nigeria 2021, and the Best CSR Bank Nigeria 2021 both from the Finance Derivative Awards is no small feat. Access Bank also won the Sustainable Bank of the Year, Africa and the Best Commercial Bank Nigeria at the International Banker Awards. None of these awards would have been possible without an aggressive brand marketing and corporate communications team, which Okobi heads. This could be one of the reasons he won the Corporate Communications Professional of the Year Award at the Corporate Communications Awards 2017.

Commenting on his more recent Fellowship award by the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (NIMN), Okobi said, “Here’s the thing about awards and accolades: They are never just about the person on the stage. It’s much deeper than that. It’s about the people that helped pave the way. The ones whose words schooled you in this marketing game from the classroom to the workplace and put you on that stage. To them, I say a big thank you.”