Lilian Odim is the CEO, The Audrey Pack Company that focuses on consumer goods for pregnant women and new mums. In this inspiring interview with Executive Hub on www.thepenvoiceblog.com, Lilian Odim talks about how she has continuously championed the cause for a global effort in urgently addressing the tragedy of maternal and child mortality particularly in Africa while advocating a call for action by political leaders…Excerpt
What is The Audrey Pack Company about?
The Audrey Pack Company is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals to reduce maternal and child mortality in Nigeria. We partner with several Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies to create packs that contain free samples of mother and child products. These packs serve as incentives to encourage more pregnant and nursing mothers to come to the hospital.
What led to the establishment of your company?
My daughter was born prematurely and at that time, I realized that there was not much information available for me to handle the situation. I did a lot of personal research and I began to think of the huge number of women that may be in this position that I am in right now. I decided to do something about it. Even for the women who choose to stay at home to deliver their babies, I thought to myself that there has to be a way to encourage them to come to hospital to receive the appropriate information to take care of themselves and their babies. That is where the packs came about.
How much was the capital you started with?
The Audrey Pack Company started based on the need for change. I had a passion for change and an initial investment of fund. Starting capital depends on the venture. But passion for what you are going into is the most important initial investment.
Looking at the challenges facing manufacturers in Nigeria, how have you been able to succeed?
The Audrey Pack has started its own line of baby products called Audrey 123. At the moment, we are partnering international companies but will also produce locally-made products.
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As a woman, what are the major challenges you face in this industry?
It is no surprise that we live in a male dominance society, but the narrative is gradually changing. There are more women on the Board of Directors of companies or as CEOs of companies. Women are being taken seriously in the work place and I encourage more women to take leadership role.
Executive Hub with Lilian Odim
How have your products affected the maternal focus?
Our primary focus is on the reduction of maternal and child mortality and we are huge proponents of women receiving the appropriate healthcare they need. This has also allowed being implementation partners for other organization that work in this field.
What particular product stands out among others and why?
It is a bit difficult to say because our products have different usages. We realize that one mum may like how a particular product feels on her baby’s skin, while another may not. I will, however, encourage manufacturers to do more on manufacturing products that are specifically for the black skin and for our climate.
What makes your company different from its counterpart?
The Audrey Pack Company is a marketing and business Management company that has a focus of a NGO without being an NGO. We are big on partnerships and function to drive goals and policies. We started with the Millennium Development Goals and now we have transitioned to the Sustainable Development Goals.
As a She-CEO, how do you manage your male staff?
Actually, I don’t see gender in the workplace. I am a task oriented person. Therefore, as long as you are doing your work effectively, that is what matters.
What can you say about employer-employee relationship?
I think having a good employer-employee relationship is very important. I don’t believe in a dictatorship, because employees can contribute to developing policies that facilitate the growth of the company. Actually, The Audrey Pack does a lot of field work and because I cannot be everywhere, I depend on my team for information and contributions.
Executive Hub with Lilian Odim
How do you manage keeping the CEO traits away from your roles in the family?
I watched my mentors such as Indra Nooyi (CEO of Pepsico) and Condolisa Rice balance work and family. Indra Nooyi says you can’t have it all, but you can build a good support system around you. I still work when I am at home, but I have a good support system to ensure that there is home-work balance.
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Do you think the Nigerian economy is suitable for young aspiring entrepreneurs? Why and how?
Yes, Nigeria is ripe for young entrepreneurs. There are a lot of opportunities available to entrepreneurs now, CBN has worked to make funds available to entrepreneurs. There are lectures (free and paid) for entrepreneurs to gain skills, information and knowledge to start a business. It is now in the hands of these entrepreneurs to find out what it is that they want to do.
What keynote advice do you have for young African women?
Nothing can stop you from achieving what you want to do. Sometimes it feels like women are just being groomed to take care of the home front. Although, there is nothing wrong with that, young African women need to know that in addition to that, they can do so much more. There are no limits.
On a lighter mood, how do you unwind?
I have started a Fashion line called Lily Rae, and working with designers has helped my creative side. I also like music. So, that is how I unwind now.
What are your favourites?
Hanging out with my daughter, Fashion and Music.