Joëlle Abega-Oyouomi has been appointed as the first-ever female factory manager in Nestlé Central and West Africa.
Abega-Oyouomi joined Nestlé as a Research Associate about 20 years ago. She started with high ambitions and she has remained consistent in her chosen career.
“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.
She was appointed as the first African woman to head a Nestlé factory in Central and West Africa, challenging prevalent notions about the traditionally male-dominated manufacturing sector.
Abega-Oyouomi heads the Yopougon factory in Côte d’Ivoire, which is the third largest Nestlé factory in the region. MAGGI cubes and seasonings are produced to serve the Central and West Africa region – the largest bouillon market for Nestlé in the world, with over 120 million MAGGI bouillons sold daily.
Educated 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, Côte d’Ivoire.
She went on to gain international research and development experience at the R&D Centre in Shanghai, China, and at Nestlé Research Centre in Lausanne, Switzerland between 2003 and 2009.
She returned to Côte d’Ivoire 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, Abega-Oyouomi was appointed as 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 refocus the facility’s commitment to bringing affordable nutrition to African consumers, before taking up her current position.
“Out of my 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,” Abega-Oyouomi said.
Commenting on Abega-Oyouomi’s appointment, Chief Executive Officer of Nestlé Central and West Africa Limited, Mauricio Alarcón, said: “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.”