Orode Uduaghan: I look inward for growth
Having lost some of her loved ones to cancer, Orode knew there was a strong purpose she needed to fulfil. Today, this entrepreneur is making it her duty to help as many women fight against breast and cervical cancer. In this interview, she tells us how she’s able to integrate her work and philanthropic acts into motherhood. She also shares how she’s able to stay focused on her journey of being a serial entrepreneur. We hope this interview inspires you!
Who is Orode Uduaghan, and what does she do?
I am an entrepreneur/philanthropist. I currently run a few businesses that can be identified as lifestyle brands.
From your description it seems you wear many hats, would you describe yourself as a serial entrepreneur?
Yes, I would
What spurred your journey to becoming an entrepreneur, how did it all begin?
I never planned to be an entrepreneur in the business sense, I had always done social enterprise but solely for the purpose of community service and development. Coming into the proper business world was unexpected. I wanted to continue a legacy that started from my mum and one thing led to another and expansion began, with expansion came interest to continue in the business world and become a household name across Nigeria and soon Africa.
Now it seems being an entrepreneur is the fad, or “in-thing.” How do you differentiate your brands and businesses from the rest?
I am proud to set trends in many areas with my business. I can say that even If I was not the first with most things, I came with a new way to do certain things and I am proud that I can look at other businesses and say this began with me. I tend to look inwards for growth than at others, I look outwards to know what to do differently and better. I always want to stand out in everything, if everyone is tilting towards something, I’d go the other way. This is how I have kept my business and managed to grow. I try as much as possible to be unique in everything and be excellent and it does make me smile when I see it elsewhere because it always reminds me that I am doing something right.
The last 18 months have proved to be very challenging for most Nigerian entrepreneurs, has it been the same with you? How have you navigated the challenges?
To be honest, last year was a bit challenging for my businesses but 2017 has really come with some amazing progress. I try as much as possible to see beyond the Nigerian economy or what the news is saying, and pay attention to adding value through my business and meeting needs, looking at what people want and being the solution. This is how I have thrived in what others will call a recession. 2016 was difficult because I joined the complaint wagon, but this year with God’s wisdom I made up my mind to be a solution to problems with my businesses. When a business meets the needs of the community and target market and adds value, it can never suffer in any season. I am proud to not complain anymore and enjoy the strategies God has given me to add value.
In all your years of being in business, what are the top three things you’ve learned about being an entrepreneur?
One: push through, entrepreneurship can leave you beaten and battered, but when you are determined and persistent, you will survive. Two: it is a 24/7 way of life. Three: when leading a pack of team members, run your business by example. I have learnt to show how it’s done rather than say what to do.
What’s the game plan for Orode in five years – personally and in business?
Personally, I am currently doing an EMBA and that’s the only major goal I have right now. Business wise, expand my company across three African nations by God’s grace.
Let’s talk about the Pink Pearl Foundation – what’s the idea behind it, and how did it start?
It was founded to help raise awareness for breast and cervical cancer. It started as a medium to give back to the community that was then ignorant about breast and cervical cancer and paid little or no attention to it.
But why did you choose to focus on breast and cervical cancer? Any particular reason?
I had lost an aunt at the time and realized the awareness was really low. Along the line, I lost my grandmother and another aunt to cancer. This made me even more determined to try and find a solution to cancer in Nigeria.
How would you rate the organization so far in the fight against breast and cervical cancer?
We have done a lot in this sector but I’ll say in recent times we have slowed down a bit for a few reasons, but generally we are proud of what we have achieved. The foundation is 10 years this year and has done a lot to help create awareness for breast and cervical cancer.
What legacy would you like to pass down to your children?
With Jesus all things are possible. Work hard, stay humble, serve God.
As a single mother, what are the highs and lows of raising children on your own, and what have you learned from it?
I’ve learnt to keep pushing, stay focused and stay happy always.
Name three women you look up to and why?
My mother, she’s been a huge support system in every single way. Helen Emore, she always wants me to excel, she pushes me to be everything and more without reservations. She has been my guardian since I was 11 and that grew into her becoming my mentor especially in business. I’d actually mentioned two names for this one Minister Esther Grey and Rev. Wonu Adefala, these are very young women in our generation. In fact, they are my sisters and friends, but have both impacted my life spiritually and have both helped me grow in my walk with the Lord. There is nothing more satisfying or greater than having women your age who are all for Jesus and not afraid to help each other in that regard.
How do you unwind and rejuvenate?
Honestly, I don’t know how to, I try to do a few things, watch a movie, I’d say read a book but I always do that even in the car so that’s not really unwinding. If sleep counts then I like to sleep. No, I love to sleep. Oh yes and I don’t play with a good manicure and pedicure session. I can mess around with everything but my nails are always on point.
Advice for upcoming female entrepreneurs and businesswomen
Always look inwards for the answers. You might look outward for the missing piece but finish the puzzle from within. It’s always important to learn to adapt to change. The world changes, the needs of your clients always change as well, so does the requirement to satisfy them. You should never be too rigid in your business that you are unable to adapt to change. Change results in growth, however, change does not mean losing consistency. It simply means reinvention.