Swiss multinational food and drink processing conglomerate, Nestlé, has appointed Joëlle Abega-Oyouomi from Côte d’Ivoire to Head its Factory in Central and West Africa, making her the first African woman to occupy the position.
Before she landed the traditionally male-dominated seat, Joëlle, who joined Nestlé in 2001, worked as a food technology engineer. She worked on product development at the Research and Development (R&D) Center in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire’s largest city.
Reacting to the appointment, Joëlle said it is a new terrain that she is ready to take on, as it would give her an opportunity her to acquire new skills.
“I am happy to have this new management opportunity to bring me out of my comfort zone and help me grow and face new challenges, while still contributing to support our company’s growth in the region. It is also a good chance for me to use new skills that will complement those I previously developed. In doing this job that I love, I also hope that I inspire other young African women to realize that all dreams are attainable”, she said.
Joëlle did not land the new position on a platter of gold, it was as a result of hard work and commitment to learning and acquiring requisite skills. Between 2003 and 2009 she embarked on a skill-acquisition mission at the R&D Center in Shanghai, China, and at the Nestlé Research Center in Lausanne, Switzerland – from which she gained international research and development experience.
Six years after returning to Côte d’Ivoire in 2009 as Nestlé’s R&D Product Development Manager, Joëlle moved to Ghana as the Central and West Africa (CWA) Regional Manufacturing Services Manager.
Consequently, she was appointed as the Head of R&D in Abidjan, where she helped to transform the center’s dairy business for healthy cereal solutions, drive its confectionery business with cocoa plant science, and refocus the facility’s commitment to bringing affordable nutrition to African consumers. This impeccable track record qualified her for the new position.
According to Nestlé, in addition to Joëlle’s professional qualification for the position, the company is deliberately committing to “empowering women and enhancing gender balance” in its technical and management sectors.