Arguably one of the Nigeria’s most effective brand managers, Ufuoma Lily Udjoh brings a fresh feel to marketing communications. With grit, passion and perseverance, Ufuoma whose advent into brand management started as sales executive, is diligently making significant industry impact on her way up. Ufuoma, now Brand Manager of the Baileys Premium Core Brands, is responsible for the disruptive campaigns from the women-friendly brand. In this interesting interview, Ufuoma shares her instructive journey and plans to woo the teeming youth market with TopNaija.ng’s Isaac Oladipupo. Enjoy!
First of, congratulations on the recently concluded #BBNWonderland event. How would you rate the impact of the project?
The project is one of the brand’s annual events that allow us live our purpose which is to get consumers to indulge. We bring brides from across the country together and treat to the Bailey’s type of pamper. Beyond indulgence, we added a session where respectable Nigeria who have been married for long shared marriage experiences amongst other things so that brides realize that there is an ever after to marriage. Each edition establishes minimum of 30 new feminine connections amongst people that didn’t know each other providing them a shared memory that will fosters relationship and this is the impact we always strive to create. Thank you for acknowledging the success and we could not have done this without our partners Bella Naija.
You’re clearly one of the most effective brand managers in the country. How did you get into the media and brand management?
Some huge compliment. I started my career in sales in Guinness Nigeria and after a year and some months ,I was moved to Brand Management working with the Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff team. A year later I was moved to Baileys and the rest is history. It has been fun working on Baileys honestly and I have loved being part of the team that brings the brand purpose to life daily especially for women.
You were responsible for the first ever Consumer Experiential Fest in Nigeria – BAKEFEST – which was said to have reached over 3 million people on Social media within a month. Tell us how you pulled that through?
BAKEFEST is indulgence from another perspective because it’s an immersion into the world of Baileys, infusing our unbeatable liquid into everyday treats and the agenda itself is motivating. The team (DDB, R&B, QUORUM, ZAPPHIRE, SPONGE and I) always prioritize 2 things, quality execution and reach, simply staying true to this is what delivered success for us.
For over 3 years now, you have passionately represented the Baileys brand and executed key projects. How has the overall experience impacted you?
As a brand, Baileys has a unique character. There is a playful spirit at the heart of our product and our brand; we bring to life our impulsive and unabashed personality to create rewarding moments that put a smile on your face. The brand is positioned to be that co-conspirator in the pursuit of pleasure whenever one wants to relax and indulge. This has given me the opportunity to explore a variety of things that will keep the brand alive in the mind of the consumer
Tell us about growing up; what was your childhood dream? Did you always want to be in the media?
Growing up, the dream was to become a doctor, specifically, a gynecologist. Somewhere along the way, I discovered my love for sales and marketing and I never looked back. By the way, Media is just a part of brand management, what I do is the latter and I think my love for organizing and executing a project end to end has helped me grow in my current path.
What inspired your career decision to work at Diageo and how did it happen?
The values which Diageo stands for prompted my desire to be a part of the company. The value that touched me the most is ‘Proud of what we do.’ It drew me in and I have never looked back. I hear the name Guinness or one of our brands and I smile like my name has been called. It leaves me with an indescribable feeling everytime, and I’m so happy to be a part of this family.
Does your educational background inform what you do today?
When I discovered my love for brands, it propelled me into getting a degree in International business with my concentration in marketing.
Away from the media and her brand manager persona, who is Ufuoma Lily Udjoh?
I am from a very close knit family of 8, a Manchester United fan and a lover of dogs. I am at home in a library of books or watching movies. I like to believe I am the writer yet to be discovered and the greatest movie critic ever.
Having had close engagement with quite a portion of the Nigerian female community. What would you call that one thing that strikes you about the Nigerian woman?
The Nigerian woman is resilient and a go getter and it makes me proud to be one of this beautiful population.
Having a career at Diageo is quite the goal for a number of young Nigerians eyeing brand management as a career. Can you share with us some tips that contributed to where you are now?
Eyes on the price – focus. My mother puts it this way – it’s not every dog that barks at you as you go along that you throw a stone at ( something like that).
What short and long term plans has Baileys got to connect and empower the dreams of young Nigerians?
Saying it here is letting the cat out of the bag, I will say, watch this space.
What have been the high points of your career in the past three years?
It will be difficult to pick one. Each curve has taught me a valuable lesson for the future.
And the lows?
The lows have knocked me down for a second, just a second, may be a fraction of a second but the most important thing I learnt was to come back the next day with a new outlook.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Still championing female activities at a scale that reach a larger part of the population.
Our world seems to celebrate entrepreneurship over career people who are also needed to drive entrepreneurship. What’s your take on this?
At the heart of the celebration is the recognition of people who are making a difference really, truth is as long as what you do impact people positively and they see a potential role model in you, you will be celebrated and as a brand our mantra is to remind all to celebrate all wins – big or small. Take time out to say well done to yourself.
Where does your inspiration come from and how do you unwind?
My inspiration comes from my family and my belief that there is a greater purpose for my life on earth; they are my greatest critics and supporters so it is easy to push myself. When I want to unwind, I travel to a quiet place where I can recharge.
Top two most inspiring book you ever read on career and success?
To Every Man a Brain- Kenny Salami and How Brands Grow- Byron Sharp
Who are your role models in brand management? Name women who inspire you and why?
Mrs Patience Udjoh, Aigebeme Okonknwo, Adenike Adebola and Samuel-Ikes Jody. They stand up for what they belief in.
What would you love to be remembered for?
A woman that impacted a lot of lives.
Words of counsel for young people looking to toe your career path?
When you discover what you want, say it to yourself every day and believe in yourself… look for every opportunity to learn, no one is above this.