This weekend, I introduce to you 3 women that inspire me. They remind me that wherever in the world that I find myself, I can still excel and enthuse others to success. These women have crossed my radar as we have common friendships and I am delighted that I can share their success stories with you on DC.
A real life Tooth Fairy – Dr Uchenna Okoye
If you watch Channel 4’s “10 years younger” make-over programme, then you must have seen Dr Uchenna Okoye in action. Proudly of Nigerian heritage, Uchenna has carved a niche for herself in Cosmetic Dentistry in the UK. Having qualified at the prestigious Guy’s Hospital, London many years ago, she is now the Clinical Director of London Smiling Dental Group. Dr Okoye owns 3 state-of-the-art clinics specializing in bespoke dentistry. Fondly called “the tooth fairy” or “the Chanel of Dentistry”, her practice is a favorite with celebrities or anyone for that matter seeking a fantastic smile.
I particularly like her explanation of why she got into Dentistry- a terrible experience where a dentist in Nigeria extracted her tooth without an anesthetic! The oldest of her siblings, Dr Okoye attributes her success to the fabulous upbringing given to them by her dad who owned an ice-cream factory and mum who was a pharmacist.
Dr Okoye started her practice in 2000 with just personal savings. Her vision, in her words, was to “create an environment where people could come and actually enjoy having their teeth cleaned and to help people who were dental phobic like myself not to be frightened”. I dare say she has accomplished her objective going by the online testimonials. In her clinics, patients sit on a £25,000 dentist’s chair and can take their minds off what’s happening by donning 3D movie glasses! Go figure!
Africa meets Dubai – Mrs Stella Obinwa
Stella Obinwa fondly called “Stylo” by those who know her is the face behind the Department of International Operations, Dubai Tourism. Her principal responsibility is to drive the planning, supervision, development and marketing of Dubai’s Tourism sector.
Why is Stella, a Nigerian woman holding such a lofty position in the Middle East? Possibly because she has garnered world class expertise in tourism in her over two decades of experience in the sector.
Stella has a B.Sc in Business Management from the Franklin University Columbus, Ohio as well as an MBA in Finance and International Marketing. Various stints in Deloitte & Touche and Walt Disney positioned Stella for the Director of Operational Finance and Compensation in Wyndham Vacation Hotels and Resorts. It is worth knowing that the Wyndham Hotel Group, with over 7,400 hotels is the largest Hotel Company in the world.
Relocating to Nigeria in 2013, Stella secured the position of Chief Marketing and Product development officer for Wakanow.com; one of Africa’s leading travel booking portals. It is from this post that Stella took up the mantle of promoting Dubai in Africa. Dubai Tourism’s aim is to become the world’s number 1 holiday destination and Stella’s strength in marketing strategy, innovation and policy formulation is taking it one step closer to achieving its purpose.
In addition to her day job, Stella is a wife and mum to 4 grown up kids!
Her Heritage in a Bottle – Malee Cosmetics by Zeze Oraikhi-Sao
“At the height of the recession in 2009, at just 24 years old, and unemployed despite having two degrees, ZeZe moved to South Africa. The country inspired her vision for a cosmetics range that drew from African beauty rituals. On her return, she decided to use her passion for all things natural and created cosmetics brand Malée, teaming-up with leading cosmetic chemists and perfumers to create a range that reflects her own wanderlust”. Zeze’s words, culled from the Telegraph.
When I read this, I became even more curious about this product and its uniqueness but first let’s explore Zeze’s world.
Zeze Oriakhi, born in Nigeria is the daughter of an expat father and a serial entrepreneur mum. She studied mostly in Europe with a Bsc in Informatics and a Masters in International Business from the Grenoble Graduate School of Business. Marriage took Zeze to South Africa in 2009 and with no one willing to hire her in the recession, Malee was birthed. Malee means “Learned Woman” and is a tribute to Zeze’s great grandmum who was an embodiment of knowledge.
Malee started off on the dining table but now has offices in South Africa and the UK. Their newly launched website tells the story of an accomplished business even though the modest Zeze still refers to the business as a start-up.
Having researched the Malee Science offering, my view on what sets them apart is their emphasis on nature. It would appear that the product is greatly researched, well thought out and is very kind to the skin.
In an interview, Zeze offered 5 top nuggets for beginners in business:
- This will not be easy
- You will need to be patient
- You may believe in your idea but that doesn’t mean everyone else will
- You will need to be persistent
- Be ready to adapt
So much wisdom from this 31 year old!