By Kenneth Jukpor
Chief (Mrs.) Nneamaka Joy Obelle is the amiable Director of Zenith Shipping and a nominee for special recognition as an amazon in the Nigerian maritime industry as MMS Woman of Fortune Hall of Fame (WoFHoF) celebrates 2019 International Women’s Day in a fortnight. She marked her birthday in style on Wednesday last week and was celebrated lavishly by her family, colleagues, friends and well wishers. MMS Plus was there to squeeze out this special interview. Enjoy it:
Happy birthday ma! Can we meet you?
My name is Mrs. Nneamaka Joy Obelle. I am the Director, Zenith Shipping Company. The company is a Bonded Terminal Operator, while it is also into shipping, freight forwarding, import and export services, haulage, warehousing, group-age services, international trade, door to door delivery of consignments, shipping consultancy, general merchandise, among others.
Research has shown that women are better managers of persons and resources, but I am really impressed by the unity and cohesion among your workforce. How have you been able to manage the workers?
In life, when you are humble, people around you will learn a lot from you but when you are proud you cannot get what you want from those around you. It is a simple facet of life but it is very important in leadership. I think my humble attitude and listening ear has led to the modest success I have recorded in leadership and modeled my relationship with the members of staff. However, I’ll keep learning and keep providing avenues for other people’s opinion because I know this will always help me get the best from them and position me as a better leader. I cannot do it alone, so I need their support and I’m grateful to have such great followers.
While we were celebrating your birthday, the CEO gave an employee a car gift for his level of diligence and dedication. This is a commendable act that every employer should emulate and it also shows the extent to which the company is touching lives. What can you say about this?
This is something that we have been doing in our company. We seek to reward people who put in extra effort. Anyone that is doing well deserves to be appreciated and we would continue in this manner to encourage them to do more and steer others to emulate them via productivity and diligence. It’s not the first time we are doing something like this.
When and why did you pick an interest in shipping and logistics sectors?
Well, my husband has been doing it for over a decade and I just joined him 2-3 years ago fully. Since that time I have been fully involved in the business with him. From my short but worthwhile experience, I can say it is not an easy venture but God has made it possible for us to keep making progress.
The business environment is quite difficult at the moment but we have been sustained by God’s grace. We are surviving one of the most challenging times in shipping and logistics in Nigeria. The state of the roads leading to the ports is bad and this is really affecting the business. If the government can fix the Apapa –Tin Can road, I think it would help in haulage and also reduce the shipping company’s losses via demurrages.
The business is still seen as a male dominated one but you are excelling in this aspect. What can you say to other women out there who are willing to join the industry but think it is only for men?
I want other ladies to know that there is nothing too hard to do in this life. If you have interest in this sector, then you go for it. Women can play a role in this sector if they make up their minds to do so.
When it has to do with the family, women need to understand that they can assist in the growth of the family at home and manage family businesses as well. We have to develop ourselves to the level where we can support our husbands as they can’t do everything alone. So, if a woman can come in and assist in one way or another, it would go a long way to ease the burden on her husband and as you rightly pointed out earlier women can also be astute business managers.
What do you have to say to young ones that are starting up their careers in shipping, logistics and other related industries?
It is important to note that the beginning of any business, career or venture in life is not easy but with determination and God on your side, the future is always bright. My advice to them is to be dedicated and display high level of resilience. They should know that tough times don’t last but tough people do. With this kind of mindset and attitude to work, success is guaranteed for any woman.
You have been nominated as one of the outstanding women personalities in the maritime industry to be celebrated by MMS WoFHoF during the upcoming International Women’s Day. What does this mean to you?
It’s an honour to be considered as a nominee to be celebrated by the MMS Woman of Fortune Hall of Fame (WoFHoF) on the International Women’s Day. It means people are actually observing the efforts I’m making here at Zenith Shipping but it is also an encouragement to continue to put in more efforts.