Ogilvy Africa set to sack staff in Nairobi office in business re-modelling exercise

With just weeks to Christmas festivities, a month to the New Year and the attendant budget commitments of January, the prospect and news of being sent home by your employer is arguably the most dreaded by many. Waiting to receive the news can certainly send one into a state of panic, while its arrival could surely lead one to possible depression.

However, this is the situation tens of staff at Ogilvy Africa offices in Nairobi are currently staring at after the PR and Communication agency’s top management announced that it would conduct what it termed a “limited-scale employee rationalization exercise” in the team based in Nairobi.

In an internal notice from the Ogilvy Africa issued on Thursday November 23, 2021, the Ogilvy Africa group CEO Vikas Mehta has informed staff that in order to evolve the business to the global operating structure, and future needs of the industry, the company recently undertook a remodeling exercise. The notice states that the exercise was conducted with the participation of the HR and leadership tea in the Nairobi office.

“We have reviewed all the aspects of our structures and workflows to arrive at a model that is optimal for current business realities and geared to reflect our strategic intent for the future. The exercise also brought out opportunities to create operational efficiencies in our structure and ways-of-working, that would help prepare the company for what lies ahead,” states Vikas Mehta.

“One of the things, as part of the re-model, is a limited-scale employee rationalization exercise in the team, based in Nairobi.”

“While this is likely to affect a small number of our colleagues, in the spirit of transparency towards internal communications, we hereby notify all employees of this upcoming exercise. For people holding positions being considered for redundancy, HR will individually notify and invite to a consultation. It is our top priority that the process is conducted in complete conformity to the prevailing Labour Laws and regulations of Kenya,” he added.

Even though many firms and organisations, from across almost all industries, have had to let go of staff due to the Coivd-19 pandemic, the restructuring exercise of Ogilvy Africa’s operations in Nairobi comes unexpectedly and will definitely take many by surprise.

Of course there’s no denying the fact that the PR agency has lost some key accounts – the best example being Safaricom which has since been signed up Oxygene – which we’re sure could have led to  a possible dent in overall revenues. But Ogilvy has also retained some major clients, including Equity group.

From early this year, the firm has announced a number of changes to its structure as well as additions to its Management and Creative team. In March, Ogilvy appointed Keenan Mulvaney as its Group Creative Director, to be based in Nairobi.

This was followed a month later with the appointment of Anne Ngatia to head the firm’s newly-created Strategic Initiatives unit. The strategic initiatives office works with Ogilvy Africa’s key clients to create custom One-Ogilvy solutions that are built around their current needs and future goals. The role also entails driving innovation and thought leadership in areas that are shaping the industry.

Then in July, the company named Alex van Niekerk as Group Creative Director, a role also based in its Nairobi office. Alex joined the network’s creative leadership team to a portfolio of brands managed by Ogilvy Africa from Kenya and select countries across sub-Saharan Africa.

For now, we can’t speculate further, only wait for the (possible) formal announcement of who from among the company’s staff will be affected, being picked and axed in the restructuring exercise.


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