Ladun Awobokun aka “The Numbers Plug” is the Co-Head, Theatrical Distribution at FilmOne Limited. She describes herself as a Child of God, proud Nigerian, colleague to the best, trusted friend of many, daughter of two, wife to one, boli (roasted plantain) lover, and a huge movie enthusiast. She is part of a vibrant team during the day and most nights, committed to managing the theatrical distribution arm of Filmone, West Africa’s largest movie distributor; the exclusive licensee for Warner Bros (WB) and 20th Century Fox titles in Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia. During this inspiring Q&A Ladun shares a lot with us and also speaks on how much she loves her job and is humbled to be a part of what is known today as Nigeria’s unique growth story.
Tell us a little bit about your Background
Between 2005 and 2011, majority of my time was spent obtaining a degree in Accounting, a Masters in Information Systems & Business Analysis, and a professional accounting certification (ACCA). Prior to joining Filmone, I set up a small business selling lipsticks to women in Nigeria’s busiest city; Lagos, worked for an advertising agency partnering with Nigerian corporates, and then joined the risk management team of one of Nigeria’s most iconic banks, as a market risk manager. My experience as a female entrepreneur, banker and now a movie distributor, forms the bedrock of what makes me excited about the future and my commitment and ability to contribute to the current and next generation of business leadership in Nigeria.
What are the key strategies in your role in pushing the Filmhouse Brand
One of the key focus areas in my role, is empowerment and mentorship. The Filmhouse Group is known for its people. Without people, there is no brand. In addition, critical to my role is managing and growing our existing relationship with industry stakeholders; in particular, our licensors Warner Bros & Fox. The opportunity of partnering with these parties on such a broad scale, provides much value exposure to the brand, and in turn strengthens our offering and ensures a service that is based on trust, reliability and excellence.
What is it like being a female in your industry? Need to work extra hard to prove self?
Whilst I acknowledge that there is room for improvement, it is refreshing to be a woman in the entertainment space at this time, as women are making large strides in the space, as compared with some twenty years ago, when critical functions within the movie value chain were dominated by male talent. More so, international organizations are paying attention to a number of unprecedented achievements by women in the entertainment and media space.
Do we have to work extra hard to prove ourselves? Absolutely! This is because hardwork translates to excellence and this is true irrespective of the gender. That said, I do feel like as women in an evolving industry, there’s a need to demonstrate extra commitment and tenacity for set deliverables, in order to debunk stereotypical views.
How do you manage your day?
Two things; a positive vibe and a to-do list. The simplest but by far the most effective tool for managing my day is a good ol’ TO-DO LIST! It’s the first thing I do when I get to work; although I honestly start from the night before, using the trusty Notes application on my cell. There are so many moving parts in distribution, as well as so many meetings both internal and external that if some processes aren’t noted, they could easily be forgotten, only to ultimately become a bottleneck to one of the processes. More so, there’s something about writing things down – they tend to stick such that you remember even without referring to the list.
Can you talk a little bit about some the specific challenges you encounter?
The most challenging factor in this industry is the non-availability and access to data, needed to provide bespoke services to customers. Our line of business relies heavily on understanding consumer behaviour, be it in terms of what sort of movie would the majority of cinema-goers favour or how best to communicate effectively to set target audience. Thankfully, with the advent of the Cinemas Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN) & Theatrical Distributors Association of Nigeria (TDAN) – both of which the management of Filmhouse group are active members, there is an opportunity and a growing level of structure in the industry, and major advancements, towards collating and mining much needed data.
You have built one of the biggest brands, Filmhouse is an everyday part of our lives, how have you managed to be consistent?
First class leadership team and commitment, which then flows down across every tier within the overall team. This is coupled with a to-do culture with an entrepreneurial spirit has had a multiplier effect across all levels within the team. There is a hunger that is palpable in every single department company-wide; and this consistently births creativity across bounds. We have what is called a ‘Filmhouse DNA’ which ultimately informs our employee pool, some of which include; Passion, Creativity & Entrepreneurship. We as a group, have an understanding that we are not even close to where we want to be as a movement, but the harmonious picture we have of where we’re ultimately aiming for is the driver of said consistency.
What is the most interesting part of your work?
Being part of a winning team, and the opportunity to play a significant role across the distribution value chain, is quite exhilarating. Essentially you go through the entire process in getting a title released, you take the learnings, celebrate the successes and get to do it all over again. It also doesn’t hurt to meet those favourite celebs now and again.
How does your work impact society at large?
The Entertainment sector presently contributes about 10% to Nigeria’s GDP, and my personal sentiments are that it can do more, particularly in terms of job creation and growing the entrepreneurial mindset in this economy. This has been echoed by the Federal Government of Nigeria, which through its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan(ERGP) postulated that the entertainment and creative industry will contribute to the economy at least $1 billion by the end of 2020.
What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively?
I typically will take a break in the hopes of having conversations that ends up inspiring me to fill the gaps. Most times, the conversations are unrelated to the matter at hand, but they end up stirring up some progress in achieving set objectives.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Girlll! You’re a valuable warrior and you should know your worth! Enjoy every waking moment, take those risks; your courage should be your currency and for sure, the stars ultimately will align.
What advice would you give to female’s attempting to start out in your industry?
We’re shifting a mindset, and that, no matter how you think about it, is revolutionary. However, that is our super power – the fact that we as women, can actually work ten times harder, twenty times smarter, and multi-task through it all, in sky-high heels. It doesn’t matter what industry you want to work in or how many caps you want to wear. You can do it all.
Connect with Ladun on Instagram.