‘We need women at the top to mentor those in entry level and middle management’
Passionate about the development of young women, she says it is her aim to place women in positions of power so that they can break all the glass ceilings and become agents of change in every industry. In the last two years, Elizabeth has redefined and reenergized the luxury goods space in Nigeria through culturally curated elite experiences that showcase, not only the brands, but Nigeria on a global stage, highlighting all that the country has to offer to both locals who have never experienced such events and to the whole of Africa and the world at large. In the process, enhancing the lifestyle experience in Nigeria and encouraging travel tourism for Nigeria all year round. In this interview, Elizabeth talks about the upcoming Moet film gala to celebrate veterans of the Nigerian film and movie industry, settling in Nigeria from the United States, her work with SMEs, supporting young women and getting more women to the top, importance of mentoring women, key things female entrepreneurs must do to succeed in business amongst others.
Did you always know you were going to make a career in PR?
I knew very early on in my education that Marketing and PR was the career I wanted to pursue.
Having worked with well-known brands internationally, what made you decide to settle in Nigeria?
Working with Moet Hennessy for me was a natural evolution for my career. I started out in sales, straight out of university. From there I moved on to the direct mail advertising, then digital with Johnson & Johnson and brand marketing with Pfizer. After moving to Nigeria, I worked on several brands from a digital standpoint including Nigerian Breweries and Nestle. Moet Hennessy allowed me to round out the event activation aspect of marketing.
How does PR and the industry itself here differ from abroad? What can we do better?
The biggest difference is that the marketing teams are a bit smaller and that’s mainly due to the fact that in many industries, Nigeria is considered a market that’s in its infancy stage. In terms of what we can do better, we should strive for excellence on a global scale always. Sometimes, many of us settle for mediocrity because we haven’t seen it done better here.
With almost two decades of experience spanning various industries, what lessons have learned over the years?
Over the years I’ve learned that it’s important to be authentic. Every brand has a target audience. Be authentic with the brand’s offering in a way that makes your campaigns ownable. One mistake I’ve seen with some brands is replicating another brand’s effort and although this may seem like it works at first, it always puts the brand one step behind. I’ve learned that it is best to be authentic with yourself and original with your efforts.
As a key player in the luxury goods space, do you think Nigerians, in general, are appreciative of luxury?
Luxury is mainly about experiences and I have found that Nigerians are very appreciative of luxury. It is developing and improving. People are becoming more aware of the value of luxury experiences. However, there is still an opportunity for luxury brands to come in and add more definition to the luxury goods space.
What can we expect from the upcoming film gala holding next week?
The Moet & Chandon Film Gala will be a night of glamour, arts and exquisite dining aimed at celebrating the ever-blooming film industry in Nigeria. It’s the second edition and we’re really happy to continue this new tradition of honouring the film industry in Nigeria. We have long since enjoyed a special relationship with the big screen and we are so thrilled that we are able to further this relationship with the second year of this first-of-its-kind film event in Nigeria.
Tell us some ways the brand has supported Nigerian cinema over the years?
We have been synonymous with cinema for over 90 years globally and in the past few years, we’ve ventured to support the film industry in Nigeria as well. We do this through product placement and presence at premieres. We are privileged to have been part of some of the most iconic movie premieres and film celebrations in Nigeria and it is our desire to even do more with the industry in the coming years.
What will be different with this year’s edition? How long do you plan to sustain it?
As we enter the turn of the decade, the theme of this year’s event is “Iconic” and pays homage to the top moments from the decade- game changers and their devotion to the craft. The crème de la crème of the film industry will converge for a night that is truly an appreciation and celebration of the industry. We plan to sustain this as long as possible being that it is a first-of-its-kind event, I expect that it can develop into something truly impactful for the industry in the next couple of years.
As a member of the African Business Fellowship, how are you helping SMEs grow & scale?
The key for small to medium-sized enterprises in Nigeria is ensuring the business’ operations are fail-proof. Understanding that this is not an easy feat in this environment, but it doesn’t matter how much a business spends on advertising and recruiting new customers if the operations prohibit that business from flawless delivery of the product or service, that business cannot survive for very long. This is the work that I’ve done for businesses in Nigeria, helping them to ensure the operations are set up and working effectively. Then ensuring the brand’s online presence would follow.
You say you’re passionate about enhancing the lifestyle experience and encouraging travel tourism for Nigeria, how are you going about this?
Before I started in this role, brands were activating but not with as much detail as we see today. In a sense, I’ve encouraged the movement by raising the bar. With my activations, I ensure there’s an element for consumer engagement beyond just a photo wall. We can see much more of this in the market now, in general. I started the brunch movement with the first-day brunch that I did for Moet Grand Day in 2018. Furthermore, I see a lot more Nigerians abroad as well as African-Americans venturing to the country to be part of the events that they’re seeing trending online. I’ve shown a side of the lifestyle in Nigeria that isn’t usually publicised abroad in a large way.
In the course of your career, have there been any incidents that threatened to derail you? If so, how did you deal with it?
Every career has its own challenges and I definitely have had more than my fair share. With every challenge, however, comes opportunities. The fact that I’m still here is a testament that I’ve been able to overcome these challenges despite how tough they seemed when I was in them.
As someone passionate about the development of young women, tell us some of the things you’ve done/are doing in this regard?
I often host a group of young women, whom I mentor, to an evening of dinner and conversation. There are a number of strong platforms already that cater to women. What I find missing sometimes is the intimate environment that allows us to hear one-on-one specific situations and help with insights from my own experiences. That’s the touch that I add.
How can we get more women to the top of their respective industries?
We have seen steady progress over the years, locally. We have women in various leadership roles and now there’s more conversation about gender ratios, even in government. We need to couple these conversations with actions by having women at the top mentor women in entry-level and middle management. Only then will we help open the doors for women in leadership positions.
Tell us some key leadership advice you would share with Nigerian women?
Be bold, trust your voice and let it be heard. The fact of the matter is you have what it takes to succeed, so just trust yourself and use the God-given talent that you have been blessed with.
Quickly, mention three things each woman entrepreneurs must do and avoid?
First, don’t play with your integrity. Secondly, do trust your gut and finally, do be bold and confident.
Do you think mentorship is important for women? Who are your mentors?
Mentorship is critical for success. How will you know what lies ahead if you can’t rely on support from someone who has been there to help you? Also, it’s good to have someone to hold you to your goals, ensuring that you’re checking the boxes to get to your dreams. I have several mentors that I confide in both here and in the US and I’m grateful to these mentors for all of the time they take out of their very busy schedules to support my development and growth.
As manager of a multinational brand, what does your day-to-day role entail?
There are no two days that are the same. Every day has its own set of challenges. Some days I can find myself researching the champagne environment in the landscape, other days I’m picking out the right shade of black for menu design. My goal is to build a desirability of the brands so, day-to-day, I’m working towards that however large or small the job may seem.
What is your passion? What drives you?
Story telling is my passion. Showing different perspectives and bringing out the best that a brand has to offer; whether the brand is an object or person.
If you could influence change for Nigerian women, what’s the first thing you’ll change and why?
If I could change anything about Nigerian women it would be recognizing our talents early and developing the confidence to execute the power that we have. We are so powerful, our voices are powerful, our talents are powerful yet because of our upbringing or certain things that were expected of us early on, we’re scared to speak up. This is something that I would change.
Life at this level can be tough, how do you make everything work?
At this level it takes lots of prayer and determination. I’m determined to make it work and I’m passionate about what I do, so that makes it a little easier.
What last words do you want to leave with readers?
I talked a lot about small business, mentorship, leaders and my work at Moet Hennessy. For the Film Gala next week and everything else that I have been able to achieve, I have a team of people who support me, my tribe, the people I surround myself with. I would encourage everyone looking for a breakthrough in their personal or work life to be very intentional about their tribe. These are ultimately the people who will help you to the next step and make your challenges seem a lot smaller than they may be.
No comments yet