WEST AFRICA – Nestle has appointed Joëlle Abega-Oyouomi as the first ever female factory manager in Nestlé Central and West Africa.

Joëlle was appointed to the post earlier this year and she heads the Yopougon factory in Côte d’Ivoire, which is the third largest Nestlé factory in the region.

The factory produces Maggi cubes and seasonings 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.

Her appointment to the traditionally male-dominated manufacturing sector serves as a means for Nestle to inspire African women to aim high especially at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has caused most schools in Africa to be closed.

To this end according to Nestle, the school closure will hit girls hardest, while many girls will eventually continue with their education once schools reopen, others will never return to school.

“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.”

Mauricio Alarcón – CEO of Nestlé Central and West Africa

Nestle through its Gender Balance Acceleration Plan, aims to increasing the proportion of women in the group’s top 200 senior executive positions from around 20% currently to 30% by 2022.

Mauricio Alarcón, the newly appointed CEO of Nestlé Central and West Africa 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,” he added.

Educated as an engineer in food technology, Joëlle joined Nestlé in 2001, working on product development at the Research and Development (R&D) Center in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

She went on to gain international research and development experience at the R&D Center in Shanghai, China, and at the Nestlé Research Center 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, Joëlle was appointed as Head of R&D Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire where she helped to transform the center’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,” said Jöelle. “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.”

Charting the non-traditional path, for young women like Abigail, a trainee engineer at Nestlé’s Technical Training Centre in Nigeria, Joëlle’s appointment is very encouraging.

“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,” explained Abigail. “I feel so motivated and determined to work hard and benefit from any opportunities, without gender bias.”

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