By Merit Ibe
The new Director-General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Chinyere Almona, who assumed duty few months back, has promised to bring her experience to bear on her role to achieve objectives of the Chamber while maintaining growth and stability within the institution.
The corporate governance professional, who has about 30 years of diversified experience in multiple disciplines in management consulting, advisory services, strategy and human capital development, founded Vantage Governance Services, with an extensive professional network across Africa. She promises to drive the Africa agenda and support members in their AFCFTA journey.
Almona led the Africa Corporate Governance Program of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which provided a wide range of corporate governance reforms across 13 African countries.
She was a director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, leading the Corporate Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) Practice, which she established.
Almona was one of the 40 Top Women from Africa on the 2020 African Women in Banking and Finance Awards list.
She is also a member of the editorial team at Emerald – Corporate Governance – The International Journal of Business in Society. She is a published author of seven books, and co-founded the Authors Win Academy, to support and inspire young aspiring authors, leveraging her authorship journey.
I’m a seasoned professional with a broad range of experience. As the DG of the Lagos Chamber, I am responsible for developing and directing the implementation of strategy to ensure achievement of objectives of the Chamber.
My primary responsibility is to develop strategy and direct its implementation.
We have gone through the painful period of the COVID -19, which has been a heavy blow on our institutions. So, I’m trying to ensure that it’s stabilised.
We have to build on the successes of the past DG, Dr Muda Yusuf, who had a lot of projects. I have to ensure that such projects are sustained, continue with our advocacy drive across the different levels of government and ensure we remain the voice of the organised private sector in Nigeria and across Africa. It is also critical for me to diversify and grow the Chambers revenue sources and improve efficiency and service delivery to members to increase member engagement. With the support of my team, I will improve the Chamber’s visibility via regular programs and active use of social media.
I have an African network, because my last role was maintaining cooperate governance across Africa. Having worked in various sectors of the economy, and international development, with a strong network across Africa, I will lead the outreach to the rest of Africa, supporting our members in the AfCFTA journey.
So one of the things I plan to do is to drive the Africa agenda and support our members with their AFCFTA journey to ensure the borders are open and they understand what needs to be done in addition to that, this is a membership organisation, so our members are critical; that will occupy my time more.
Member engagement will be increased through the creation of value-added membership benefits which will lead to increased member recruitment and retention.
I also plan to get the membership teams to communicate more to ensure that our members and potential members are up to date on the benefits we provide. The members should also be involved in the creation of new member benefits.
Also, I will support the sectoral groups to continue to be a strong platform for discussions of topical business issues, knowledge sharing, advocacy, networking, and improvement of government/private sector relationship.
With my 30-years’ experience, I will lead the repositioning of the Business Education Services and Training (BEST) Unit to maximise opportunities and position it as a leading business resource centre in Nigeria.
In addition, LCCI already initiated the annual Africa Hall and Africa Special Day projects to contribute to the growth of trade within the African continent during the annual Lagos International Trade Fair.
The Lagos International Trade Fair (LITF) is the largest fair in West-African region, and it attracts about 500,000 business visitors and above 2,000 exhibitors from various countries yearly.
The fair will provide the business community with a platform to promote their products and services to a target market, create brand awareness, and demonstrate market leadership.
It will also give businesses a unique opportunity to get robust customer feedback and enable them explore business-to-business trading, including building a customer database from the visitors to their booth.
If LCCI can help businesses to boost revenue in these austere times, it will have an impact on th e economy. We are working hard to continue to provide our members with the support they need to promote their businesses to a wide range of customers locally and internationally.
As part of the LITF, we are providing an opportunity for exhibitors in African countries to showcase their goods and services in the ‘Africa Hall’. A day would be dedicated to these countries during the 10-day fair, (Africa Special Day). There will be opportunities to make presentations, organise B2B sessions, panel discussion, product unveiling or have interactions on intra–African trade initiatives.
Work and family
I am able to combine work and family by establishing my priorities and planning time, in advance, for both. I like to be realistic about what I can do and what others can do for me. It has taken a lot of practice over the past 30 years to get the right balance and maintain a good rhythm.
Communication is also critical in ensuring that stakeholders at work and home are aware of my schedule and priorities. Proper delegation and empowerment of my staff at LCCI have helped me to stay afloat.
I am a work-life balance enthusiast and advocate. I make every effort to walk the talk, as well as encourage my team members to ensure an effective work-life balance.
Coming on board during the COVID-19 season has been very challenging. There is depressed revenue and rising costs. In addition, our members were stressed by the pandemic and the struggle to keep their companies afloat, making it challenging to engage effectively. For instance, being unable to visit members because some still work from home, and others discourage visitations due to the pandemic.
As a woman leading the organisation I feel normal.
I’ve led for several years. I’ve led very high levels across Africa in different countries. o, I don feel it as an unusual thing. It’s so normal. it’s like asking a fish how is water. Things have changed and still changing. The truth is that both female and male genders are important and both genders must be heard. As Nigerians, we must begin to use 100 per cent of our capacity and be able to communicate that to the girl child that she is relevant, important and that we can’t do without the girl child.
Let our girls feel wanted in the society. and for all of us as adults , we have children, it plays on how we bring them up. There should be no segregation between them. Bring them up to do everything. Create a balanced play field for them. Once we can do that in our homes, communities and in the business world, then we have started.