She breaks barriers, she builds brands: Stories from Pernod Ricard Nigeria

Pernod Ricard Women

Navigating the corporate world as a Nigerian woman is like braving the bustling streets of Lagos during rush hour – thrilling yet challenging. Balancing boardroom negotiations with family obligations demands a delicate dance of resilience and adaptability. It’s about seamlessly blending career aspirations with personal growth, managing everything from morning meetings to evening family commitments.

Your voice is your power. Embrace your unique strengths and sharpen your negotiation skills to stand out. Find mentors and sponsors who understand your journey and can advocate for your advancement. And remember to pay it forward by mentoring others and fostering a supportive community of growth.

A supportive company culture is crucial. Look for organisations that value diversity and offer programs to help women succeed, such as flexible work arrangements and childcare support. Be an advocate for change when needed—diversity not only enriches but also strengthens company culture.

To illustrate these points, we interviewed several inspiring women from Pernod Ricard Nigeria, the local affiliate of the global leader in wines and spirits. Pernod Ricard boasts a stellar portfolio of premium and luxury brands, including 16 of the top 100 spirit brands worldwide, such as Jameson Irish Whiskey, Beefeater Gin, Martell Cognac, Seagram’s Imperial Blue Whisky, Absolut Vodka, Ballantine’s, Chivas Regal, The Glenlivet Scotch Whisky, Olmeca Tequila, Malibu Liqueur, and Mumm Champagne. Their stories highlight the triumphs and trials of women excelling in leadership roles within a supportive and dynamic corporate environment.

Finding your voice and building support

Evane Chenuet - Pernod Ricard

“Even though the spirits industry remains predominantly male-dominated, I have worked hard to deliver complex projects with high standards and results,” says Evane Chenuet, reflecting on her twelve-year journey with Pernod Ricard. Having worked in four countries and under eight managers from seven nationalities, Evane’s career has been diverse and enlightening.

Over the years, Evane has gleaned invaluable lessons from her varied experiences, particularly from two female managers who significantly shaped her leadership style. She credits these relationships and collaborations as key elements in her progression to the role of Marketing Director for Pernod Ricard’s business in West Africa and Nigeria. “My achievements, the relationships, and the collaboration I have built along the way are the key elements that supported me in accessing my role,” she explains.

Evane feels fortunate to be part of a company like Pernod Ricard that actively supports women. The company’s robust training and mentoring programs have not only facilitated her growth but also paved the way for new opportunities. “I am proud to open the way to other women and show that we can achieve it,” she says, highlighting her commitment to mentoring and empowering other women in the industry. Through her story, Evane underscores the importance of resilience, support, and continuous learning in navigating and succeeding in a predominantly male-dominated field.

Work-Life Harmony: A symphony, not a balancing act

Pernod Ricard - Bodam Taiwo“I strive to orchestrate a symphony where each aspect seamlessly complements the other,” says Bodam Taiwo, describing her approach to balancing personal fulfilment and professional excellence. As the Head of Portfolio (Bond & Connect) at Pernod Ricard, Bodam has embraced the concept of work-life harmony, viewing life not as competing priorities but as a blend of diverse roles.

Bodam acknowledges her multifaceted responsibilities, from her pivotal role at Pernod Ricard to her engagements as a speaker, content creator, author, mentor, and advocate for feminine leadership and women’s empowerment. “By acknowledging these multifaceted responsibilities, I’m able to chart a course that honours both my professional commitments and personal well-being,” she explains.

Central to her approach is a deliberate emphasis on self-care. Bodam understands that she cannot serve effectively if she is depleted, so she ensures to carve out moments for rejuvenation daily. Whether it’s indulging in a spa retreat, savouring a tranquil cup of tea, or enjoying a captivating film, these moments help her recharge. “Sometimes I opt for a staycation that allows me to reconnect with my surroundings and recharge my spirit,” she shares.

Bodam also highlights the importance of nurturing relationships. She reflects on the longest study on happiness, which identified relationships as a primary key to lasting happiness. “I took this to heart by nurturing relationships and fostering connections with my loved ones,” she notes. Cherishing moments of shared laughter and heartfelt conversations fortify the bonds that enrich her life.

At the core of Bodam’s pursuit of work-life harmony is her quest to cultivate a life of purpose, passion, and profound fulfilment. “My aspiration is to craft a life so rich and rewarding that I have no desire to escape from it,” she declares. For her, authentic leadership is about inspiring others not through the magnitude of accomplishments but through the depth of alignment with purpose and joy.


Company support and mentorship

 Pernod Ricard - 
Tokunbo Omobolanle

“Pernod Ricard Nigeria has consistently shown support for women in various ways, resulting in significant impact,” says Tokunbo Omobolanle Alabi, reflecting on her experience with the company. As a Regional Sales Manager, Tokunbo feels a deep sense of confidence and belonging, knowing she is part of an organisation that values fairness and equality.

Tokunbo appreciates the numerous opportunities provided by Pernod Ricard Nigeria to voice her opinions, acquire new skills, and receive active mentorship. “I appreciate the opportunities provided to voice my opinions, acquire new skills, and receive active mentorship,” she notes. This environment has not only fostered her professional growth but has also reinforced the company’s commitment to gender equality.

Pernod Ricard Nigeria’s dedication to recognising and nurturing female talent is evident, and Tokunbo is grateful for the support she has received throughout her career. “Pernod Ricard Nigeria’s commitment to gender equality is evident, and I am grateful for the recognition of my career and professional aspirations,” she explains. Her experience underscores the importance of organisational support in empowering women and fostering a culture of equality and growth.

The importance of women supporting women

Pernod Ricard - Amaka Okachie

“Her guidance, wisdom, and unwavering support have been invaluable in navigating challenges and seizing opportunities,” says Chiamaka Cynthia Okachie, reflecting on the pivotal role female mentors have played in her career. As a Trade Marketing Manager, Chiamaka’s journey in the drinks industry began with the support of women who recognised her potential and fought to showcase it.

In the earlier stages of her career, Chiamaka faced significant challenges, including unwanted advances from male colleagues that threatened her career progression. “A fellow woman recognised my potential and fought to showcase it to top management, securing my permanent position within that organisation,” she recalls. This act of advocacy was a turning point, providing Chiamaka with the confidence and resilience to pursue her ambitions.

Inspired by the mentorship she received, Chiamaka is committed to paying it forward. “I strive to advocate for and empower other women in the workplace,” she explains. She actively mentors and supports younger colleagues, sharing insights and offering guidance to help them thrive in their careers. “By fostering a culture of collaboration and empowerment, I believe we can unlock the full potential of women in the workplace and drive collective success,” she adds. Through her story, Chiamaka highlights the transformative power of mentorship and the importance of women supporting each other in professional settings.

Advice for aspiring leaders

Ruth Apaka

“Believe in yourself like your life depends on it! If you’re not your own biggest cheerleader, how can you expect anyone else to cheer you on?” says Ruth Apuka, passionately advocating for self-confidence. As a Supply Chain Planner, Ruth emphasises the importance of self-belief, particularly for women who often fall into the comparison trap. She insists, “You’re more than enough, just as you are,” reminding women to bring their unique flavour to the table every day.

Ruth’s journey began with struggles of self-doubt, which she realised were detrimental to her confidence and performance. “At the beginning of my career, I struggled with self-doubt, but I came to realise that doubting myself reduced my confidence and made me function sub-optimally,” she reflects. Learning to overcome this was a turning point, helping her to see challenges as opportunities for growth.

She advises finding the silver linings even in the stormiest situations. “Life can throw some wild curveballs your way. But here’s the secret: train yourself to look for the silver linings,” Ruth explains. By adopting an optimistic outlook, challenges become less intimidating and turn into opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Ruth also stresses the importance of embracing failure as a stepping stone to success. “Failure is often your greatest teacher,” she says. Each stumble and misstep is a chance to learn, grow, and evolve into the leader you are meant to be. “Remember, the road to success is paved with many failures – embrace them, learn from them, and watch yourself soar,” she encourages.

Taking care of oneself holistically is another pillar of Ruth’s philosophy. She emphasises mental, spiritual, and physical well-being as non-negotiable. “Mentally, make time for meditation, dive into empowering books, and kick those negative thoughts to the curb. Spiritually, stay connected with your creator. And physically? Move that body, nourish it with good food, and don’t forget to drink your water,” she advises, highlighting that a well-rounded self-care routine sets the foundation for success.

Lastly, Ruth points out the practical importance of skills like Excel. “The knowledge of Excel opens boundless doors to a lot of career opportunities in operations, finance, data analytics, and many more,” she notes, urging women to equip themselves with valuable skills.

“In summary, believe in yourself, find the good in every situation, and embrace failure as a stepping stone to success,” Ruth concludes. Her journey is a testament to the power of confidence, positivity, and resilience. “Your journey won’t always be easy, but with a healthy dose of confidence, positivity, and a willingness to fail forward, there’s nothing you can’t achieve. So go out there and show the world what you’re made of. I’ll be cheering you on every step of the way!”

The power of perspective

“Gender equity is sacrosanct to a company’s success,” declares Evane Chenuet, underscoring her firm belief in the importance of supporting women in the workplace. As a Marketing Director, Evane has seen firsthand how Pernod Ricard’s commitment to gender equity has positively impacted company culture and performance.

Evane has actively contributed to this mission by recruiting two strong and competent female leaders as Heads of Portfolio. “These women have brought the right energy, empathy, and expertise to the team,” she explains, highlighting the significant value that diverse leadership brings to the table.

In collaboration with Pernod Ricard’s leadership in Nigeria, Evane has been instrumental in creating opportunities for women to express themselves and maximise their potential. “We have been able to support women within the business to express themselves and maximise their potential through mentoring and workshops,” she notes. Her dedication to mentorship is evident, as she works tirelessly to enable other women to bring out the best in themselves.

“I believe there is no limit to what anyone can achieve (including women) if they apply themselves and put their minds to work,” Evane asserts. Her story is a powerful reminder of the importance of gender equity in fostering a supportive and dynamic corporate environment. Through her leadership and advocacy, she continues to inspire women to pursue their ambitions and achieve their fullest potential.

What is your action plan for reaching the top?

Nigerian women leaders navigate a demanding global stage, balancing boardrooms with families. Their journeys offer powerful lessons for anyone seeking success.

These inspiring women, like those at Pernod Ricard Nigeria, emphasise the importance of self-belief, even when doubt creeps in. Mentorship emerges as a powerful tool, with leaders crediting their own mentors while actively supporting others.

Company culture also plays a critical role. Supportive environments with flexible work arrangements and empowering programs are crucial. Pernod Ricard Nigeria exemplifies a company fostering diversity and inclusion.

These women’s stories transcend one company, resonating with a universal message of resilience, growth, and perspective. They remind us that challenges are opportunities to learn, failure is a stepping stone, and self-care is essential for thriving.

So, the next time you face a demanding situation, channel the spirit of these Nigerian leaders. Embrace challenges, find your voice, and build a support system. With these tools, you, too, can compose your own unique symphony of success.


  • Coco Anetor-Sokei

    Meet Coco, the delightful and eccentric Content Editor at Marie Claire Nigeria. With a passion for mindful living and ample sleep, she's been weaving words since 2015. As a devoted mother, Coco cherishes moments with her inquisitive, spirited daughter, exploring the world to find deeper meaning in life.

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