L-R: Mr. Huub Stokman, CEO, OVH Energy; Mrs. Iquo Ukoh, CEO, Entod Marketing; Mrs. Olaposi Williams, Deputy CEO, OVH Energy; and Mrs. Adaeze Nwakoby, GM, Legal and Company Secretary, OVH Energy at the company’s International Women’s Day event at the company’s headquarters, Apapa…recently

Yinka Olatunbosun

In commemorating the International Women’s Day, a leading energy company, OVH Energy made the global theme of ‘Press for Progress’ its central focus during the monthly learning and development series that took place at its headquarters in Marine Beach, Apapa, recently.

The monthly series was designed for staff for the purpose of knowledge sharing and skills development. However, the last edition was extended to some retailers and a handful of friends. The CEO, Entod Marketing, Iquo Ukoh was the facilitator for the March edition which was kick-started by some opening remarks by the CEO, OVH Energy, Huub Stokman.

Stokman observed that the group exercise that preceded the training is one that usually starts off as chaotic but with interesting outcomes. He urged his listeners not to focus too much on gender but on skills and experience in order for them to make significant progress in their careers.

“I will not promote anyone based on gender. You have to earn it,’’ he said.
Understandably, the programme was restricted to women only. However, a few men were allowed to participate in the panel discussions where their insights were needed. Once they had done their part, they were expected to leave the training room for the women.

The facilitator, Ukoh offered very practical advice to the women on work-life balance. Given her years of experience as a corporate woman in a lead position at a multinational organisation, Ukoh understood the challenges of contemporary women who are ambitious in their careers. Hence, she cited her personal experiences while explaining to her audience how to keep their jobs and homes.

With soaring divorce rates, many women have taken to the back seat in their various places of work to avoid challenging positions that may put their marriages at risk. Still, Ukoh said women who desire certain degree of fulfillment in their career need to work on personal branding.

In an effortless demeanor, she spoke convincingly about the prevalence of gender imbalance in pay rolls and promotion. Sadly, many women are breadwinners in their homes.
“It is assumed that a woman is not paying as much bills as men. But if I bring to the table the same knowledge and competence as a man, should I not earn as much as a man?’’ she said, rhetorically.

She encouraged the women to be prepared for advancement in their careers by writing down their career vision, reskilling while regularly engaging in self-marketing. The women were charged to pay attention to their online professional profile, pictures and comments because the online platform has become the first port of call with many employers when assessment is made.

More importantly, the married women were exhorted to ensure that their domestic affairs do not weaken their professional life.

“If you don’t have a supportive husband, it can be challenging. It is about humility,’’ Ukoh added.
She encouraged the women to be good listeners and supportive to their husbands both emotionally and financially. They should also prepare the minds of their spouses for any career change.

The CEO, OVH Energy, Mrs. Olaposi Williams explained the rationale behind the monthly learning series and why the last edition was special.

“We try to get everyone to participate so we ask at the beginning of the year: what would you like to see the organisation do for you? We agreed on mentorship.

“Every year, the International Women’s Day is celebrated across the world. So, we look at all these significant days in the world to bring about empowerment and development even if it is not just the women. For instance, we celebrated the Valentine’s Day. We went to the schools that are close to us and shared gifts, in the spirit of love.

“International Women’s Day is just one of those days that we celebrate. We are presenting all the women in the organisation cupcakes; we are taking pictures and the same goes for all our branches,” she said.