Cameroon-born, Joëlle Abega-Oyouomi, has been appointed factory manager to head Nestlé’s Yopougon factory in Ivory Coast, the third largest Nestlé factory in the West and Central Africa region.
She is the first-ever female to be appointed in that capacity, in Nestlé Central and West Africa.
In a press release, Nestlé chronicled how Abega-Oyouomi charted the non-traditional path. It reveals that when she joined Nestlé as a Research Associate nearly 20 years ago, she had high ambitions for her career – but managing one of the world’s largest bouillon producing factories in Africa was not quite on her radar at that time.
Reacting to her appointment and the confidence bestowed on her by Nestlé, Abega-Oyouomi remarked: “I was young, hopeful and eager to learn. I had a narrow vision of where I could end up in my career, but Nestlé prepared me for much more than I expected,” said Abega-Oyouomi.
The Nestlé stated that Abega-Oyouomi’s appointment as the first African woman to head a Nestlé factory in Central and West Africa, challenges the prevalent notion about the traditionally male dominated manufacturing sector.
The Yopougon factory, now headed by Abega-Oyouomi, is where MAGGI cubes and seasonings are produced to serve the Central and West Africa region. It is the largest bouillon market for Nestlé in the world, with over 120 million MAGGI bouillons sold daily.
Abega-Oyouomi’s Career Ladder
As an engineer in food technology, Abega-Oyouomi, joined Nestlé in 2001, working on product development at the Research and Development (R&D) Centre in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. She went on to gain international research and development experience at the
R&D Centre in Shanghai, China, and at the Nestlé Research Centre in Lausanne, Switzerland, between 2003 and 2009.
She returned to Ivory Coast as R&D Product Development Manager in 2009, then moved to Ghana as the Central and West Africa (CWA) Regional Manufacturing Services Manager in 2015. A year later, she was appointed Head of R&D Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire, where she helped to transform the Centre’s dairy business for healthy cereal solutions; drive its confectionery business with cocoa plant science, and refocused the facility’s commitment to bringing affordable nutrition to African consumers, before taking up her current position as Yopougon Factory Manager.
On her career growth at Nestlé, Abega-Oyouomi stated that, out of her 19 years with Nestlé, 17 were dedicated to innovating in R&D.
“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 realise that all dreams are attainable,” she intimated.
Abega-Oyouomi’s Story: An Inspiration To African Girls To Dream Big
Abega-Oyouomi’s career growth is serving as an inspiration for young women like Abigail, a trainee engineer at Nestlé’s Technical Training Centre in Nigeria.
“It is exciting to see more and more women in leadership positions, especially in fields like engineering, where women traditionally do not see themselves climbing up the ladder… I feel so motivated and determined to work hard and benefit from any opportunities, without gender bias,” Abigail said.
Commenting on the record-making appointment, Mauricio Alarcón, CEO of Nestlé Central and West Africa Ltd., stated: “We believe that diversity is key to Nestlé’s growth. Empowering women and enhancing gender balance in our company enables us to serve our consumers better. “We are fully dedicated to empowering more women to take roles in technical and management sectors, so that we can have many more ‘Joëlles’ in the future. It is the smart and right thing to do for our company and for society,” Alarcón said.