In Nigeria’s busy events industry, one determined man is on a mission to provide a world-class service to his clients. With the help of AVIXA™, the InfoComm show, and a mastery of Google searches, Kunle Olorunesan, CTS®, has spent the last few years learning everything he can about global business practices and AV … and now he’s educating his coworkers too.
In 2012, two years into his freelance career as an events producer, Olorunesan first heard about CTS from a friend and it rocked his world.
“I had come from a network and servers background and was volunteering at a church, where I was exposed to camera operation, cable management, systems and lighting setup, streaming services, and so on. I was basically learning on the job,” remembers Olorunesan. “When I started reading the CTS Exam Guide I began asking questions, delving into the why things were done in certain ways, and learning about the science behind everything. It was amazing to me.”
Around the same time, he heard a sermon that really spoke to him. “The pastor said that to be successful, you should get yourself into the top 10 percent of what you do. It made me think and question: but that’s if you’re competing locally. If you want to compete globally, you need to be in the top 1 percent. That’s what led to me pursuing my CTS certification, and it’s still something that drives me.”
Olorunesan was the ninth person in Nigeria to obtain his CTS, which he did by grit and determination, studying late at night, online and tuning into webinars.
“I Googled a lot, and looked up everything I could. I like to say I graduated from Google university! When I’d finished studying, I applied to do the exam. There is no AVIXA office or representation in Nigeria, but I found a centralized testing center in Lagos, and was able to take it there.”
He passed, and felt compelled to take the knowledge back to his coworkers at Daystar Christian Centre, one of the largest churches in Nigeria and his premier client. He is now leading CTS study groups, as well as studying for his CTS-I.
“There are 60 people working in production at the church. I have more than 20 people in my unit who, under my guidance, are now also studying to take their CTS exam,” he says. “I try to help them understand that I didn’t just get here today, it’s a process. You have to dedicate yourself to training and acquiring knowledge. And when you get it, it’s important to share as well.”
Olorunesan is certain that having the CTS certification has helped not only his career but is, little by little, elevating the entire AV industry in Nigeria.
“I see the magic that CTS invokes when I go to meetings. Clients can see clearly that I know what I’m talking about and that, with a seal of approval from a globally recognized institution, they can trust what I’m telling them.”
He describes the industry and working environment in Nigeria as very different to the United States. “You have to be a 360-degree kind of person,” he says. “Here, you have to do everything. There might be parts of your job where you function better, but you need to have a solid idea of all aspects of the work, including the business side.”
He also notes that they don’t have nearly the level of sophisticated equipment that American installers have at their disposal, something that was really brought home to him when he attended his first InfoComm show, last year in Orlando. Arriving a few days before the show opened, he was afforded the opportunity to walk around the exhibition halls and observe while the event was being set up.
“You have virtually everything you need to work with. In Nigeria it’s about improvising. Any height above 6 feet — we climb a ladder and rickety scaffold! I’ve had to climb 40-foot ladders to adjust connections, with people on the ground holding the ladder steady while I’m hoping I won’t fall. When I got to the U.S., I saw all the hydraulics and lifts, and rigging that distributes your weight. You harness yourself on, press some buttons and up you go! It gave me such an adrenaline rush to see this in action. Technology advances are far slower to arrive in Nigeria and it’s not so easy to get access to companies to ask questions.”
As a self-described entrepreneur and lead consultant at his own business, Syncessentials Services, Olorunesan is motivated to implement some of what he observed in the U.S., especially concerning preproduction.
“I saw everywhere a high level of precision and detail that was given to planning and the preproduction angle,” he says. “There are only a few people hell-bent on having that in Nigeria. But every job needs strong preproduction meetings, and it’s something I’m working hard on here.”
Olorunesan plans to return to the U.S. for this year’s InfoComm show to build on the knowledge he picked up last year and benefit from some of the trainings on offer. “This time, I will bring my wife!” he says, clearly enthused about sharing the positive experience with his nearest and dearest.