By ADEBAYO OBAJEMU
Nigeria’s corporate world is to a large extent, patriarchal in nature. Many boardrooms are dominated by men, and it is only few women that have broken in to the exclusive club of top league in corporate Nigeria. But in the last two decades, the trend has been changing.
The appointment in March of Mrs. Oyeyimika Adeboye as the new managing director of Cadbury Nigeria Plc, is the latest in the pantheon of affirmative action to redress the imbalance skewed in favour of men in the top echelon of the corporate world in the country.
“That Adeboye was chosen is an affirmation of belief and confidence in her ability to take Cadbury to the next level,” Professor Hassan Saliu, former Dean, Social Sciences, University of Ilorin told this newspaper. In his own response, brand expert, Dr. Olufemi Omoyele, of Redeemer University said “You don’t become the first female managing director of a topmost, 54-year-old company in Nigeria if you have not paid your dues — perhaps even in excess.”
Her appointment, according to Cadbury, “is part of our commitment to promoting gender equality, diversity and inclusion.”
Abayomi. Obabolujo, chief executive officer of Stockswatch noted that “Her appointment comes at a time women are increasingly being recognised for their contributions to the growth of companies operating in different sectors of the economy. She has a rich pedigree. “
Not many Nigerians are aware of her background and solid industrial pedigree. Oyeyimka is the daughter of Chief Timothy Odutola, the Ijebu Ode industrialist, and one of the giants of early indigenous industrialists in the country. As nee Odutola, she had cut her teeth and learned the rope from her parents.
Along with Alhassan Dantata (Aliko Dangote’s great grandfather) and Louis Ojukwu (father of Odimegwu Ojuwku, the Biafran leader), Timothy Odutola — Adeboye’s father — were the pioneers of indigenous manufacturing in Nigeria.
Timothy Odutola and his brother, Jimoh, were foremost industrialists celebrated not just in Nigeria but in Africa during their lifetimes. Timothy was once a business partner of Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, and was also the first president of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) when the body was founded in 1971. He was the natural leader.
According to a Harvard Business School research material, he created a “multimillion-dollar conglomerate including three factories, a retail franchise, a cattle ranch, a 5,000-acre plantation, a sawmill and an exporting business before the end of British colonial rule in 1960”. The British royal family honoured him with the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1948.
Oyeyimika Adeboye is a chartered accountant, who joined the Board of the Company in November 2008, as Finance and Strategy Director, West Africa. According to Cadbury Nigeria Plc, Adeboye’s appointment attests to the company’s commitment to promoting gender equality, diversity and inclusion.
Before moving to Cadbury Nigeria, she was the Director of Finance and Chief Financial Officer of Nigerian Bottling Company Plc. She previously had a stint at the erstwhile Accounting and Tax Practice of Arthur Andersen & Co as well as the United Kingdom Accounting practice of Midgley Snelling & Co., Chartered Accountants.
“Adeboye has an impressive track record in finance, strategy and business administration both in Nigeria and the United Kingdom,” the company said. She has been a long time fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Nigeria.
Adeboye has a Bachelor of Science honours degree in Economics and Social Studies from the University College Cardiff, Wales and executive management education certification from the Institute of Management Development (IMD), Lausanne, Switzerland.
Adeboye joins a growing list of top female executives at the helm of affairs in multinational companies with operations in Nigeria. After her first degree, she gained immeasurable years of experience with a track record in finance, strategy and business administration both in Nigeria and the UK.
Between the year 2000 and 2007, she attended various management and leadership courses at the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne, Switzerland. Adeboye was well primed to take on the role of MD, having worked at board level for some 23 years both at Cadbury Nigeria and Nigerian Bottling Company Plc, according to her profile on LinkedIn.
She is a board member of Cadbury Ghana Limited and also sits on the board of the Timothy Adeola Odutola Foundation, named after her father, and also a member of the executive management committee, and member of the risk assessment committee of Cadbury Nigeria. She had served as a member of the audit committee of the company until October 19, 2016.
As part of her philanthropic work, Adeboye serves as the chairperson of the advisory board of Genesis House, a home for disadvantage young women which was set up by Freedom Foundation.
She is also a member of the board of The Parity in Income and Education Foundation.
As the company will soon release its second quarter result which will showcase Adeboye’s opening signature as a sound manger who can turn around the fortunes of the company, the first quarter result was not too bad.
The company announced revenue of N9.283billion for the three months ended March 31, 2019. This represents an increase of 12.7 percent over N8.235billion revenue realised within the same period in 2018. The Company also recorded gross profit of N2.375billion, representing an increase of 32 percent over the N1.799billion, which was reported for the same period in 2018.
Cadbury Nigeria’s profit for the period stood at N506million, which translates to 2200 percent growth, when compared to N22million realised in the first quarter of last year. Cadbury Nigeria’s first quarter result reflects a sustained positive trend in the Company’s performance. In its full year result for 2018, profit before tax surged by 242.9 percent to N1.2billion, from N350million in 2017.
The Company also reported an increase of 174 percent in its profit after tax from N299.9million to N823million, within the same period. Cadbury Nigeria Plc, a publicly quoted company, is the pioneer cocoa beverage manufacturer offering some of the most loved brands in the country.
Cadbury Nigeria is a 74.99 percent-owned subsidiary of Mondelēz International, a global snacking powerhouse with an unrivalled portfolio of brands. The remaining 25.01 percent of shares are held by a diverse group of indigenous, individual and institutional
By ADEBAYO OBAJEMU