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bCODE Magazine Issue2: From The Desk of The CEO

Posted on March 08 2021

bCODE Magazine Issue2: From The Desk of The CEO

 

From The Desk of The CEO

  Wonuola Okoye is an accomplished leader with a track record of developing purpose-led brands, driving consumer-centric and digital innovation for business growth. She brings a great mix of leadership skills, technical and operational expertise, passion for enhancing customer experience. She was appointed the CEO of BrandCo Nigeria on Monday, 9th March 2020 and has successfully overseen the overall responsibility of charting BrandCo’s direction and delivering business results till date. We sat down with her to discuss what it takes to be a CEO of a multinational company in a male leading industry. 


 

 

  • Tell us a bit about yourself and your journey in the retail industry in Nigeria?   

My name is Wonuola Okoye. I am a business strategist with experience spanning across industries such as retail, advertising, financial services and investment banking. I hold a master’s degree in Biochemical Engineering from the University of Birmingham and a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom. I am married with 2 children.  

  • How do you balance work and life responsibilities? 

 I’m very intentional about how I spend my time. I’m the ultimate believer in balance and I make a conscious effort towards achieving it. As a big fan of LifeLi , I follow their model and allocate time to each of my 9 facets of life: – Work & Business, Career Development, Personal Development, Spirituality, Health & Fitness, Relationship, Self-care, Sleep and Travel. Knowing how much time I need to spend within each facet every week and planning accordingly ensures that I avoid burnout (Well mostly, because - LIFE!!) and that I don’t miss out on the things that really matter to me.  

  • Describe yourself in 5 words?  

Diligent, Resilient, Organised, Balanced, The ultimate plug (A whole sentence because....Why not?)  

  • As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career?  

To be honest, I’ve been fortunate enough that my career hasn’t been contingent on my gender. However, I will say that as a mother, I did go through a time when I was completely enamored by my children and my need to be with them to care for and protect them. It meant that I didn’t want to think about work or anything else at that. So, taking that sabbatical had an impact on my career at the time, as all I wanted to do was mother. Thankfully, When I was ready to move into the next phase of my life, I was able to pick up from where I left off.  

  • What advice would you give to the next generation of women?  

LIVE – Whatever that means to you. LIVE. Take breaks, enjoy your life, don’t be hard on yourself, FORGIVE yourself. Connect with your family, friends, GOD. Be intentional about who and what you give your time to. Think long term but don’t let it get in the way of enjoying the moment you’re in. Be present! Smile – You are beautiful!   

 

  • What is some of the advice you share with young women entering a male-dominated profession?  

 Take up room and be unapologetic about it. They’ll call you aggressive, but you’re just being assertive.  

  • How would you describe the bCODE brand?  

 bCODE is a wellness fashion and lifestyle company and multi-brand retailer that sells apparel and accessories like Adidas, Sketchers, and Havaianas, to customers across West Africa. bCODE is everywhere you are, so you can go anywhere you want to be. Buy online and receive at your doorstep or shop in store. bCODE is for everyone — young and old, female and male, and everyone in between. 

 

  • What is the difference between BrandCo and bCODE? 

 BrandCo is our retail business corporate identity, while bCODE is our retail identity. In other words, BrandCo is the holding company for anybody whom we are having our franchise agreement with while bCODE is how we are doing retail online via our website, www.shopbcode.com, our digital platforms and just generally engaging with customers. 

  • How did bCODE come about?  

bCODE was established to have a retail online platform where we can bring all our brands together in one space to make online shopping option available for our customers. 

 

  • How were you able to stay afloat through the pandemic?  

When you are given the responsibility to oversee 100+ people's livelihoods, you’ll do everything in your power to keep your head and theirs above water. The pandemic was a major eye opener for us. It gave us a good view of the areas we were excelling in and forced us to be better in the areas we weren’t. One thing is for sure is that it taught us how to be resilient and malleable. We were forced to adapt so fast, there was absolutely no room for failure. What I will say is that the team showed a new level of discipline. The fact that a lot of us were working from our beds and still churning out our deliverables is a testament to the real BrandCo grit!   

  • What are the lessons you learnt from the year 2020 in regards to bCODE?  

Being adaptable! At the beginning of the lockdown, we had an e-commerce platform but hadn’t looked at it as a platform that could compete with the stores in terms of revenue generation. Of course, when the stores had to shut down and we had no other means of selling, we had to very quickly make some significant updates to our e-commerce platforms and the processes around fulfilling orders. It meant that we had to build a dedicated team and begin to reach our customers in a way we never had. Seeing the reception from our customers and the opportunity in that space, we decided to invest more in developing our e-commerce platform and its entire value chain.  

  • What are you looking to achieve with the Brand this year?  

This year, we are trying to leverage on the bCODE and really establish it as a household name in Africa. We have developed our brick and mortar network of stores and will now focus on extending our reach beyond Nigeria. So naturally we’ll be relying on technology and tech enabled solutions to grow and scale the business in the most efficient way possible.  

  • In what ways would you say the brand distinguishes itself from its competitors?  

We go beyond being retailers and have the consumer at the top of mind in every decision we make. We are committed to delivering the best brands and good service to bat. Our ultimate goal is to be so responsive to our consumers' needs that it becomes intuitive.  

  • What is your favorite part of being the CEO?  

The fact that I get to work with a team of brilliant minds. They make the job even more fulfilling.  

  • What should the consumers expect from the brand in this year?  

Onboarding even more of your favorite sports and athleisure brands. Strategic partnerships and more ways for us to engage with and add value to our customers.