March 4, 2021
‘Surviving & Thriving’ – championing the women across Virgin Atlantic; sharing individual stories of how they’ve survived and thrived over the last 12 months.
Tell us a bit about your role at Virgin Atlantic…
I lead all marketing for the US. My role is to build demand for travel from the US to the UK and our rest of world destinations, driving preference and brand love for Virgin Atlantic amongst US consumers. I started at Virgin Atlantic in December 2019.
What were your ambitions growing up, and did you see any barriers to getting where you wanted to be?
As an undergrad, I actually started as a pre-med major and was planning on going to medical school to become a doctor. I did a programme in which we had to go to a hospital and learn more about the profession. I realised I’m extremely squeamish and quickly pivoted to business!
What gives you the most job satisfaction?
One of the most rewarding things about working on a globally loved brand has been the countless letters I’ve received from consumers about their experiences with us. A brand that conjures up indelible emotions and strong, positive memories. I am energised by working alongside my co-workers who are equally as passionate about the Virgin Atlantic brand.
What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
Through my experience in brand management, I have built a strong career at the intersection where leadership, data-driven thinking, and heart meet. I’m really proud of the reputation that I’ve built as an empathetic leader who is always willing to go above and beyond.
I took a risk to leave my job and go back to school. Graduating from business school was certainly a very proud moment because my experience at The Wharton School challenged me and helped me to become a more well-rounded businesswoman, giving me the confidence to pursue my personal and professional post-MBA goals.
What has been your experience of living through the pandemic?
Throughout the pandemic, from a marketing communications perspective, we’ve had to become a lot more flexible as travel restrictions and consumer sentiment about travel changes on a weekly basis. The team has gotten smaller, but it’s also enabled us to collaborate more and I’ve learned so much about our other regions.
Despite the craziness of the pandemic, I managed to plan a micro-wedding with my fiancé of five years, and we’ve gotten to spend a lot more time together as we’re both working from home. He’s a corporate attorney and tends to work long hours so it’s been great to have him at home more. In the US, well, really Atlanta, we were only “shut down” for about a month or so, (we were the first state to open up last year), so life hasn’t changed that much for us in that regard. I’ve been playing a lot more tennis, spending time with my parents and sisters who were here from Lagos, Nigeria and trying to use the gym in our building more frequently.
Which women have inspired you growing up?
Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama have always inspired me. Michelle Obama has consistently championed the importance of a better education for girls and equal rights, and has spent a great part of her career motivating young people to succeed. Her impressive background is also inspiring. Oprah is a fantastic example of a woman who is extremely hardworking and philanthropic and has triumphed despite her tough childhood.
However, I am most inspired by the women in my life, my friends and family. They are amazing women who are leaders in their communities and professions.
How do you think gender equality in the workplace has evolved over the years?
While there has been dramatic progress in the movement toward gender equality in the workplace, roughly 8% of all Fortune 500 companies are led by women. And less than 1% of women on the list of Fortune 500 CEOs are women of colour. It’s been great to see more women added to executive boards. It is encouraging to see so many companies publicly announcing the steps they are taking to prioritise gender diversity in the workplace.
A marketeer in travel must have some great stories! Can you tell us about your favourite trips?
At Wharton, I solidified my love for travel! While there, I travelled to Morocco, Costa Rica, Mexico, Ghana, Senegal, Jamaica, Anguilla and explored a lot of the United States through trips to New York, Miami, Vermont and Colorado with classmates. One of my favourite business school experiences was a trek I led to Nigeria with over 60 of my classmates to show them more about Nigerian culture and the many business opportunities within the country. For many of my classmates, it was their first time on the continent, so it was really exciting to explore my hometown with them! I cannot wait for the world to open up again as travel makes the world seem so much smaller and gives us something to look forward to.
Describe what it’s like to work for Virgin Atlantic in three words…
Fun, collaborative, fast-paced!
Find out more about the inspirational women of Virgin Atlantic on our International Women’s Day page