Mokutima Ajileye has brought about innovation and creativity during her more than 17 years of experience in marketing and business within Africa and Europe. She has been able to successfully transition from Manufacturing to Marketing while embracing new challenges.
Her innovative capabilities have led Procter & Gamble to improve its product portfolio. One of her core values is to build inclusive economies and improve humanity by developing potential and fostering women’s leadership.
She became the first female Managing Director of Procter & Gamble (P&G) Nigeria in July 2021. Since then, the company has steadily increased sales, profits, and market share while fostering innovation and the development of talent.
Academic history & career
Ajileye has a Bachelor’s degree in Food Science & Technology and an MBA from the University of Warwick. She also obtained certifications at INSEAD and International Institute for Management Development (IMD).
She worked at Nigerian Breweries for two years and moved to P&G in 2007 starting as the Brand Manager for Ariel West Africa (Nigeria and Ghana) before rising to the position as Managing Director in July 2021. Mokutima brings fresh ideas and an innovative approach that will enhance and help revamp P&G Nigeria’s operations sustainably. She has also been able to align the company’s goals with her personal goals.
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Speaking on her appointment, Mokutima said, “I think it’s a proud moment not just for me as a person but for Nigeria because I’m the first female, but actually I’m also the first Nigerian to actually lead Procter & Gamble, Nigeria”.
Incorporating cultural nuances into advertising
According to Mokutima, good marketing communication must push the envelope and take into account underlying cultural nodes in addition to the intended message. According to her, “I strongly believe that the consumers have the final say. They know what their needs are and all we have to do is listen and let insights guide the development of our products”. This was something she and her team did; consequently, Ariel Ankara, a successful variation of one of P&G’s products, was born and has achieved success among consumers.
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Raising women leaders and growing talent
Having been raised by her mother, her outlook in life made her passionate about being a successful woman in every endeavour, as well as business. It gave her the much-needed empathy to give others a fair chance in life and push boundaries while being entrepreneurial. She says, “I want to be able to give others a fair chance at success”.
On gender equality, she says, ”When we talk about diversity or gender equality in the world, it is not just a nice to have it is actually a strategic imperative for organizations for communities because when you educate a woman you empower a woman… We’ve achieved the 50: 50 splits at the managerial level so it’s something we’re really proud of. We also made sure that we have an extended maternity leave and then we also introduced an eight weeks paternity leave for fathers.
“We have initiatives such as the Always Keeping Girls in School program and limitless to advocate for people living with disabilities to get employed in the workforce and have access to our products”.
Interest and passion
When she’s not at work, Mokutima enjoys having a vacation, eating out with friends, journaling, or reading fiction written by African/ Nigerian authors.
She regularly mentors women because, according to her, mentoring can help people take courageous actions early in life and make more deliberate professional choices. She states, “I actively mentor and coach women, offer training, and advocate for women in the workplace. Those who came before me paved the way which I have followed, and I am excited to hand over the baton to the next generation helping them build successful careers”.
Creative solutions through ingenious thinking
She intends to be radical in her approach to things by bringing about change or doing things differently. Her greatest motivation throughout her career has been the desire to prove to the world that Nigerians can build long-lasting and sustainable businesses, despite the challenges of doing business in Nigeria. As a result, she supports the idea of localization and backward integration efforts wherever possible.
She states, “We are focused on localization in line with the policy thrust of the government to localize and then to backward integrate as much as is possible…Today I’m very proud to say that we have 100 local employees in Nigeria. The backward integration efforts that she and her team have led include creating over 4000 jobs for Nigerians and developing small businesses that are linked to the company.”