Now is probably the best time to be a woman.
Some decades ago, it was almost like a taboo for women to aspire beyond the veiled precincts of the home-front. Those who dared to alter the status quo attracted a barrage of attacks and name-calling.
But today, the story is different. A woman, just like the man, can be anything she so desires – either as top CEO of a multi-billion dollar corporation or the president of a country as powerful as Germany.
In a world where gender roles are still as sharp as the edge of a sword, the rise of a new wave of powerful women in corporate boardrooms lends credence to a recent study by Deloitte that organizations that embrace corporate diversity were more likely to witness diversity of perspectives in the boardroom and better bottom-line.
Now, consider this interesting twist. While studies show that boardroom diversity enhances corporate performance, the boardroom composition and management echelon of most organizations in Nigeria today still suggest that not many organizations allow women to fly as high as the male folk.
But Wakanow is different.
A look at the company’s C-Suite managers alone shows that a whopping 75% of them are women. A further review of its group senior heads reveals a substantial number of women driving critical units of the business.
Here are 7 of the leading women behind Nigeria’s largest online travel company.
- Toyin Odutayo – Executive Director
The highly versatile tech whiz has over 25 years of IT and management consulting experience in the UK and Nigeria (Phillips Consulting, Arthur D. Little, and Citymax (now EDS).
Toyin is the Executive Director of Information Technology at Wakanow. She is a highly versatile executive manager, having directed IT functions in several blue chip organizations including Virgin Nigeria (pioneer IT Executive Manager) and Oando Plc (Head of IT).
She has a proven track record in the development and implementation of IT/Telecoms strategies. She holds a Masters in Business Administration (Cranfield School of Management), an MSc. with Distinction in Information Systems Engineering (London South Bank University) and B.Sc (Hons) Computer Science (University of Lagos).
She is responsible for driving the entire technology and digital marketing spectrums of one of Africa’s biggest e-commerce brands.
- Victoria Onwubiko – Chief Marketing Officer
This award-winning marketing maestro leads the group’s marketing efforts globally. She has over 20 years of marketing management experience leading large companies in the B2B and B2C product and service offerings. She has extensive brand management experience in East, West and Central African countries, and in the UK & France.
Prior to Wakanow, she was Head of Brand Management for First Bank Nigeria delivering strategic marketing solutions for businesses in 11 countries (Africa & Europe). As Head of Corporate Marketing in Airtel Nigeria (V‑mobile), she saw the business through various brand transitions and national service roll-out. She left Unilever as a Senior Brand Manager on the company’s flagship products and has agency experience with DDB WorldWide Lagos. A seasoned marketing professional with a demonstrated track record in exceptional performance, Victoria won the CEO Merit Staff of the Year Award in 2011 at First Bank and the Outstanding Women in Marketing Award at the Marketing World Awards in Lagos in 2016.
- Titilayo Ademiluyi – Chief Technology Officer
The fast-rising tech expert began her career at Capital Bank Plc (now Access Bank Plc) as a system developer for 4 years and then at Zenith Bank Plc as Lead, Business Systems Analyst for 6 years.
As CTO of Wakanow.com, Titilayo has over 10 years of experience in IT System Development, Electronic Payment System Integrations, System Analysis, Business Process Re-engineering, Product Development and Project Management. She joined Wakanow.com Limited as an IT Project Manager in 2013 and rose to the rank of CTO in August 2014. A Certified Prince2 practitioner, Titilayo has a B.Tech degree in Computer Science/Mathematics from the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State.
- Oreoluwa Asuni – Head, Corporate Products & Packages
Oreoluwa has 21 years’ experience in Banking, Tax & Revenue Regulatory, Law, Hospitality and Travel Industry spanning across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).
She is a graduate of Law from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, with a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Glamorgan, Wales. She also has a Postgraduate Diploma in Hotel Management from Glion Institute of HE, Switzerland. She has previously worked in Zenith Bank Plc and Ecobank Plc, Inland Revenue (Wales), OJS Laws (London), Burj Al Arab Hotel (Dubai), Unika Travel Group (Dubai), and Intercontinental Hotel.
- Josephine Fifi Rurangwa – Head of African Expansion
Fifi is experienced in Travel, Aviation, Media, Telecom and FMCG industries, with 21 years of experience in Sales. Her ability to speak 7 languages (including 4 African languages), as well as her passion for customer satisfaction, ensured an exciting career in various organisations such as British Airways, MTN Rwanda, Bralirwa (Heineken group), and Rwandair.
In the course of her career, she has worked in Uganda, Rwanda, Congo, Kenya and Nigeria. She has received several awards including the Overall winner of the MTN Yello Stars Awards in 2008 for living the MTN values. In 2011,
Fifi launched RwandAir operations in Congo Brazzaville, Gabon and Nigeria. She held the position of Country Manager for 4+ years respectively in Congo and Nigeria. Her strong Africa experience will contribute to developing the Wakanow.com footprint in Africa.
- Funmi Le Moign – Head, Wakanow UK
Funmi is a seasoned business manager with a wealth of multi-country and cross-cultural experience in leading diverse teams to achieve organizational goals. She has a broad-based background across industry sectors including Travel & Tourism, Hospitality, Retail Management and Consumer Marketing. She is very thorough with a burning passion for achieving results.
Funmi holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from the University of Ibadan, a post-graduate diploma in Advertising and an Executive Certificate in Management from Kingston University UK, in addition to being a recipient of various executive management programs certifications.
Prior to joining Wakanow, Funmi has held various positions such as Group Head (Prima Garnet Ogilvy), Retail Brand Manager (Vodacom/VMobile), Senior Consultant (Amberfield Limited UK), Marketing Manager (Lancelot Wines) and Marketing Director respectively. In 2012, as a member of the NHC steering group for the Nigerian contingent to the London 2012 Olympic Game, Funmi was appointed the chairperson of the welfare committee that rallied huge UK support for the athletes, artistes and officials attending the Games.
- Yvonne Onobode – Head, Legal & Compliance
Yvonne has over 22 years of professional and multi-dimensional experience. Her specialties include Corporate Governance, Regulatory Compliance, Company Secretarial Practice, Dispute Resolution Practice, Risk Management and Mediation.
A graduate of Law from the University of Benin, Yvonne was called to bar in 1992. She has a post-graduate diploma in dispute prevention and resolution from the University of Westminster. She is a certified Mediator, Negotiator and Conflict Resolution expert with the Negotiation and Conflict Management Group (UK) and a Certified Ethics Officer from the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa. She worked with Airtel Networks Nigeria Limited as Head, Company Secretariat and Compliance. She has also worked in various capacities with Celtel Nigeria Ltd, VMoblie Nigeria Ltd, Serious Fraud Office, London and Legal Services Commission, London.
To cut a long story short…
Across the globe, women remain largely under-represented in most boardrooms. In 2016, women occupied a paltry 19.7% of board seats of Fortune 1000 companies. Even though the numbers have started to improve gradually, most organizations still deny women the opportunity to prove themselves, which dims their chances of an upward swing to positions of power and influence.
If anything, Wakanow has shown just how profitable African brands can be when the doors are flung open for women to thrive, and make contributions to the business. As more global brands have started to embrace boardroom diversity, albeit slowly, there’s enough evidence to suggest that African brands could grow faster and be more profitable when diversity in the boardrooms is a rule rather than the exception.
Wakanow is a case in point.