Vice President, Corporate Communications and CSR, Airtel Nigeria
He is, unarguably, one of Nigeria’s leading experts in crisis communication, leadership transition and rebranding. There can be no better proof than the dexterity with which he managed the leadership, ownership and management crises, as well as seven leadership and six brand name changes that Nigeria’s second GSM service provider has undergone from inception, namely, Econet, V-Mobile, Vodaphone, Celtel, Zain and Airtel.
A graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, with a post graduate diploma in international public relations from the The Management School, London, Opara had stints in communications with Patine Communications (1991-1992); Candid Communications (1992) and Richland Communications, from 1992 to 1994, when he joined Cadbury Nigeria as media relations manager.
Shortly after the introduction of the global system of mobile communication (GSM), he joined the then Econet Wireless as corporate affairs manager in 2002. Two years later, when the company became V-mobile, he was made public relations manager with responsibility to act as adviser to the management on the role of communication and public relations in building and managing the company’s reputation; ensure public relations mileage for the various products of the company as part of an overall communication and perception management strategy; liaise with the company’s public relations consultants for corporate communication purposes and liaise synergistically with other departments in the projection of the company’s strategies, plans and objectives, in line with its vision, mission and values.
He also had responsibility to manage all the company’s publications and corporate communications; provide environmental monitoring, intelligence, analysis and feedback services to the company; act as first line spokesman of the company on all corporate and brand issues, and develop strategies for the management of the company’s media relations and publicity to external and internal publics.
In February, 2007, Opara became the head of division, public relations, events and sponsorship for Celtel Nigeria Limited, with responsibility to leverage the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and collaborate the relevant directorates in the implementation and communication of the company’s CRS programmes; liaise with the company’s commercial group to provide speedy and up-to-date brand information to consumers and employees in order to make them knowledgeable brand ambassadors.
He also liaised with the company’s human resources department on the implementation of programmes that engender effective cross-functional collaborations and team spirit; manage the company’s relationship with the media across various media platforms and act as the company’s spokesman, presenting its position on all issues at all public events as delegated by the chief executive officer.
Opara’s current position as vice president in charge of corporate communication and CSR for Airtel places on his shoulders the responsibility to lead the team that develops strategies and executes various activities in the management of media relations, social media communications, consumer affairs, internal relations, government relations and investments. His deep and high level knowledge of the workings of the local and international media, as well as government and regulatory agencies, enables him to maintain a wide network of contacts and friends in the media, social media, the federal and state governments, and the National Assembly.
He has skills in various aspects of public relations such as corporate communications, crisis management, strategy, corporate social responsibility, integrated marketing, sponsorship and publicity. A member of various professional associations including International Public Relations Association; International Association of Business Communicators; Nigerian Institute of Public Relations and Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, Opara is actively involved in causes that have to do with children, economic empowerment, education, health, politics, poverty alleviation and social services.