Featured: Oyeyimika Adeboye, Cadbury Nigeria’s First Female MD in Over 50 Years

Oyeyimika Adeboye is a woman of many parts, the most visible being her position as the Managing Director of Cadbury Nigeria Plc. In April 2019, she was announced as the successor to Amir Shamsi, the erstwhile Managing Director of Cadbury Nigeria Plc. By this development, she became the first female MD of the company in its over 50 years of existence.

After consciously building a career in finance, strategy and business administration, both in Nigeria and the United Kingdom for over two decades, one can almost say that Oyeyimika had spent all the years preparing for the top. Her appointment was a testament to the company’s commitment to promoting gender equality, diversity and inclusion, as well as their sharp eye for fine talent.

Oyeyimika was born to late Chief Timothy Adeola Odutola, a foremost entrepreneur of his time. It is on record that he was one of the pioneers of indigenous manufacturing in Nigeria, alongside the likes of Alhassan Dantata (Aliko Dangote’s great grandfather) and Louis Ojukwu (father of Odimegwu Ojuwku, the Biafran leader), and was the first President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) when the body was formed.

Being daughter to the man who created a “multimillion-dollar conglomerate including three factories, a retail franchise, a cattle ranch, a 5,000-acre plantation, a sawmill, and an exporting business before the end of British colonial rule in 1960” must have been an inspiration, in addition to having a mother who was a very successful businesswoman. Oyeyimika recalled in an interview that her parents were her role models.

After her basic and secondary education, she proceeded to the University College Cardiff, Wales, where she bagged a Bachelor of Science honours degree in Economics & Accountancy in 1986. She also got executive management education certification in Finance and Business Administration from the Institute of Management Development (IMD), Lausanne, Switzerland between 2000 and 2007.

After graduation, Oyeyimika started her career as an articled clerk with a United Kingdom accounting practice, Midgley Snelling & Co., Chartered Accountants and was on this job while she qualified as a Chartered Accountant. She became a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Nigeria.

She returned to Nigeria in the 90s and took up a job with the erstwhile Nigerian Accounting and Tax Practice of Arthur Andersen & Co for a couple of years. From there, she moved to Nigerian Bottling Company Plc in 1994 as the Director of Finance and Chief Financial Officer for about 13 years.

Returning to Nigeria from the United Kingdom was a career-defining moment for Oyeyimika, and she recalls the trigger event thus: “My first “ah-ah” moment was triggered by a conversation I had with an English friend and colleague who was a senior manager in a firm while I was still working in the UK. She had worked in this firm for many years but remained a senior manager while the firm admitted other male managers into partnership.

“She didn’t seem bothered about this and simply admitted that she was not expecting to be made a partner in that firm because it was a “traditional” English firm. It dawned on me that my career limitation in the UK may be two-fold – female and black. The decision to relocate back to Nigeria was not a tough one (in any case my father wanted me back home – for other reasons).”

In November 2008, Oyeyimika was headhunted to join the board of Cadbury West Africa as Finance and Strategy Director, West Africa; and a director on the board of Cadbury Ghana Ltd. She was also a member of the audit committee of the company until October 19, 2016. She is a member of the executive management committee, and member of the risk assessment committee of Cadbury Nigeria.

She spent a total of 10 years and seven months with Cadbury before being appointed as MD, Cadbury Nigeria Plc in April 2019. Her LinkedIn profile confirms that she also became MD, Mondelez (Cadbury) West Africa, two months later. Mondelēz International is the parent company of Cadbury Nigeria Plc.

Outside work, she sits on the Board of Trustees of the Timothy Adeola Odutola Foundation, named after her father. The foundation targets its philanthropic activities towards providing educational, industrial and technological development for Nigerian youths that may be unable to gain admission into tertiary institutions for their higher education.

Oyeyimika Adeboye also serves as the chairperson of the advisory board of Genesis House, a home for disadvantaged young women, which was set up by Freedom Foundation. She is also a member of the board of The Parity in Income and Education Foundation.