Meet Olabisi Talabi, Managing Director of Landmark Foods Ltd, Nigeria, and a 2014 VV GROW Fellow. She joined 21 other women business leaders in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania earlier this month for the VV GROW business training.
1. Tell us what inspired you to get involved in your family business?
My father started a hospitality company, Landmark Foods Ltd, in 1985 tailored to the catering and housekeeping needs of the oil and gas sector. The foundation my father laid, and the reputation of the company was inspiring and I knew I had to build on it.
2. What challenges did you face in taking over the business?
Taking over the business was challenging because I was labeled a “daddy’s girl” by clients and even employees. Being a female in a male dominated business also meant I was spoken to in derogatory manner. I had to constantly keep proving myself not only to clients, but also to my father. He would say things like “This is the way we do it,” or “I built this company my way and it’s successful, so don’t tell me how to do things.” Now he appreciates my innovation and introduction of processes and procedures – at least I hope so.
3. How did you hear about the VV GROW Fellowship and what made you apply?
I heard about the VV GROW Fellowship through Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ), a Nigeria based business women’s network. I was drawn to the program because of its ability to strengthen business women and make them leaders both economically and socially.
4. How has Vital Voices helped you and your business grow?
VV GROW has given me an invaluable network of women business leaders. But more importantly, I have gained a deeper understanding of myself-in terms of where I am coming from, where I am now and where I see myself in the future. The program helped me realize that I owe it to my community to pay it forward and share the knowledge that I have gained.
5. When you think of your business in 5 years, what do you envision?
I envision Landmark Foods to be the preferred catering and housekeeping company in Nigeria because of its dedicated workforce and consistent standard. I envision a turnover three times what we presently have based on strategic alliances and marketing. I also envision operating a very successful new retail business which will give women their first opportunity to be financially independent.
6. What do you hope the big impact of your business will be on you and your community?
Particularly with the new retail business I want to start next year, I hope to directly impact tens, thousands, and even millions of young women to take charge of their lives financially by gradually venturing into entrepreneurship.
7. What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs?
My advice is to be passionate and patient. Take the time to listen, gather new knowledge and then act.