“When you have consistency, product quality, and able to relate well with your consumers, your brand will stay at the top” – Ore Famurewa, E.D, Corporate Affairs, Friesland Campina
Mrs Oreoluwa Famurewa is Executive Director, Corporate Affairs at arguably Africa’s biggest diary outfit Frieslandcampina. With over 30 years experience in the management of corporate communications, she has carved a niche for herself as a passionate Public Relations and Marketing guru with proven track record.
With a humble mien and unbridled love for helping people, Ore graduated from the University of Lagos in 1992 with a B.A Hons in English after which she also bagged an MBA in Marketing from the Lagos State University. She believes the youths should be encouraged to be creative and pursue their passion, and women to be bold with high integrity to get ahead in today’s world.
In this interview with MANNY ITA of she bares her mind on her work, passion and other issues bordering women and youths. Excerpts.
Every young woman has a passion and a dream. Growing up, what was yours?
I have always been a creative person and I have always loved to help people, right from when I was a little girl. I would always go to neighbors homes to help support their babies, even when their families were not my parents’ friends. Once I hear the baby cry from another home, I’d go there. I love to give a helping hand and that’s part of me.
I remember, as eventually I grew up in my career, one of my CEOs who was leaving at the time said to other colleagues, ‘Ore loves to help, please don’t belabor her too much, because she doesn’t say ‘No.’ I always go out of my way to see that something that is needed is done, even when it’s not official.
If you look at an image maker, apart from trying to keep the image of the company, you also have to ensure that you keep relationships. Relationships are very important. You can get a lot of things done by having solid relationships; also expecting nothing back in return when you do what you do. It always helps wherever you go because then you’re doing things straight from the bottom of your heart. I know people may think, as a senior management staff, you are not supposed to do things straight from your heart, but maybe I’m a bit different, because I know you have to rationalise a lot of things when making decisions. Sometimes I have to refer to my heart before making a final decision, and maybe that’s part of what you call having emotional intelligence. For me, it is very critical that, even the woman at the top must always have that emotional intelligence. That would make you go far in your career and in whatever you do in life.
How has Frieslandcampina been able to consistently stay ahead despite the fierce competition?
The answer is already within your question because you mentioned ‘consistent.’ For us as a company, quality is our watchword and it’s important that in whatever we do we remain consistent, that is why we have a heritage of quality. Peak has been in the Nigerian dairy industry since 1954 and it is still doing well today. It has the best nutrients, It is creamy and our consumers love the milk. Peak is Nigeria’s number 1 milk and we prefer to still be at the top of our game. Basically when you have consistency, product quality, and you’re also able to relate well with your consumers, then your brand will remain at the top. For us, there might be competition and there should be, because then competition helps you stay on your feet always; so we love competition because without it you could become complacent.
How do you get inspired?
To be honest, I get inspired as I mentioned earlier, when I help people. I always ask the question, “why do you come to work everyday?” Is it just because of the money? No. You also come to work because you have a team which is like a family. Yes, you have to work, everyone has to be a good performer. I myself do not like mediocrity; I like people to be at the top of their game. So if you’re doing something, do it well and excel in it. You shouldn’t need anyone to look over your shoulders. I always tell my people, “be your own boss, don’t wait for me. If you know you have something to do, just do it. You can report it afterwards, but be proactive and know what you’re doing.” So for me, my team really inspires me because when I come in and see them, they are like family and I draw a lot of inspiration from there.
Do you have any pastime?
I love to watch films and I love to dance. I’m big-at least that’s my opinion-and people call me Triple B, but I’m more; I’m big, I’m brilliant, I’m beautiful and I’m bold naturally. I encourage young women also to be bold. We need to be bold to get ahead. We need to have high integrity to get ahead. So in everything you do ensure that you put in courage. You need to ensure that you have that courage, boldness and charisma to be able to get what you want at any time. You may be an introvert but it doesn’t hurt to be bold.
Tell us one memorable experience you’ve had
There have been several, both in my personal as well as my professional life. It’s always good to keep to the pleasant ones and not the ones that would make you feel like crying. There have been several and if I have to talk about them, I’ll also need to mention some people who were key in supporting me during that. I really don’t want to talk about that.
When you decide to throw in the towel here, in which area would you bring your acumen and experience to bear?
Hmm…very good question. I will probably be a PR consultant. I think it will help a lot to be able to give back from the innate experience that I have. If you look at when I graduated in 1992, I have over 30 years postgraduate experience on this job, and I’m also a marketer. So I think it will help a lot to give back to the upcoming; maybe by way of training in this area and also by way supporting key companies in what I know how to do best.
Talking about encouraging our young ones, more and more, there is an exodus of these young ones to supposedly ‘greenlands’; is this because of a dearth of opportunities in the country?
I believe there are opportunities in Nigeria. I believe even if our youths go abroad or the diaspora; they can get the knowledge, because it is also good to have broad knowledge and exposure, but should after then come back to Nigeria so that together, we can make Nigeria great again. I think it’s important. And there are opportunities. Nowadays, you don’t need to wait for white collar jobs. You can actually think up and in a very creative manner come up with something you can do on your own and be a great entrepreneur. We have a lot of talented young girls. My daughter is a lawyer but she does a lot of make-up, because it’s her passion. She’s also an artist and draws remarkably well. I couldn’t stop her from doing that because, if it’s her passion, then by all means go ahead with it and make a living for yourself. So as far as I’m concerned we should encourage our youths to be very creative and do what they love to do. You should be able to do what you set your mind to doing. What’s important is to have that owner’s mindset, which we encourage in our company; and that owner’s mindset entails, being accountable, being thoughtful, so you know what to do, and before you know it, the sky is not even the limit.
It was nice talking with you.