Kufre Ekanem, the Corporate Affairs Adviser of Nigerian Breweries Plc and Abiola Popoola, a Human Resource icon have been announced as Goodwill Ambassadors of The Federal University of Technology, Akure. The conferment and plaque presentation occurred in Akure as part of the activities of the institution’s first ever Distinguished Lecture which was delivered by Mr. Ekanem,. The Distinguished Lecture, organized by the International Strategy Office of the University, was themed “Global Perspectives on Collaborations & Partnerships between Universities and Industry”.
Ekanem, a marketing and public relations practitioner, is also a published poet and Chairman of Rosemary’s Group of companies. He sits on the advisory boards of several Small and Medium Scale (SME) enterprises in Nigeria. He is a Fellow of the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (NIMN), a Senior Member of the International PR Association, a Member of the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM). Ekanem is also a corporate culture advocate who was voted the Best Image Maker in the Private Sector for 2017.
Abiola Popoola, who was the Chairman of the 1st Distinguished Lecture, is a seasoned professional coach, Managing Partner of Context Consult and Chairman of Net Construct. He has had far-reaching experience in organizational development and change management working locally and globally. His training and development efforts are dimensioned towards development of HR professional, management and leadership capabilities.
In his speech at the event, Prof. Joseph Fuwape, Vice Chancellor of FUTA stated “the benefits of aligning priorities and cultivating a stronger relationship between the Industry and the University are enormous. However, understanding the need and a desire to cooperate are the prerequisites. I believe a conscious effort to build a strong town-gown relationship will act as a catalyst for economic development”.
Ahead of the conferment, Ekanem, in his one-hour lecture had posited that the competiveness, productivity, growth and reputation of Nigeria in the comity of nations will be tremendously accelerated if we followed the proven track and ensured the upscaling of collaboration and joint-impact between the academia and industry. He shared an advisory framework for university-industry interactions, types and priorities of industry-university partnerships, best practices for University-Industry collaborations and partnerships; elucidated the opportunities available with existing international organizations or associations, highlighted 3 successful cases of industry-university partnership in Nigeria as sign post to possibilities. He also delved into the modifying role of government for the sustainability and propriety of the selected collaborations.
Responding on behalf of the recipients, Popoola said “we are happy about your attainments as a university and we promise having a better relationship with your institution. Let us watch our character anywhere we find ourselves. Manners make a man.” He encouraged students of FUTA to make the best use of what they learned at the lecture and described Ekanem as someone who always walks his talk. “Ekanem is not just a talker. He has lived his working life in the industry. He understands collaborations” he said.