Women in shipping - Amy Jadesimi, chief executive officer, Lagos Deep Offshore Logisics Base

Amy Jedesimi

Amy Jadesimi. Credit: LADOL

Amy Jadesimi did not originally embark on a career in the oil industry. In 1999 she graduated from Oxford University with a degree in medicine and from there she was recruited by Goldman Sachs. She told Fairplay that she did not “decide to leave [medicine] per se,” and that she is just someone who embraces new challenges, adding “I went into banking and I loved it”. In 2004 she returned to her homeland, Nigeria, and joined her father’s company Lagos Deep Offshore Logisics Base (LADOL), a maritime and logistics service base, and in 2009 she was appointed as its chief executive officer.

As a black woman from Nigeria growing up in the United Kingdom and United States, Jadesimi discovered that she had no positive role models, and that she “found a sense of worth in family but not society”. This led Jadesimi to develop a strong sense of herself, an attribute that she used to her advantage when she went into the workplace. By the time she got to Goldman Sachs, she said she was “used to proving myself”.

“When you are the only black woman in the room, you get attention,” she said. “In banking it is very useful”.

She noted that as a woman you encounter more problems the more senior you are within a company. People make assumptions that women “don’t have what it takes”, she said. “You have to be even more professional.”

Jadesimi, who has an MBA from Stanford University, believes it is important to be vocal about having equal representation for women but sees the “huge mountains” there are to climb to realise the potential of women in low income countries like Nigeria.

However, her rationale for empowering women extends beyond doing what is morally right for society and individuals and told Fairplay that there is a powerful business case to do so.

Gender equality is the one of the United Nation’s sustainable development goals. She quoted figures from a discussion paper in which she is featured – Behind every global goal: Women leading the world to 2030 – which states that if the goals are achieved in 60 of the fastest growing markets it may “be worth more than USD12 trillion a year for the private sector by 2030”.

She also highlighted a 2015 McKinsey Global Institute Report that said the GDP could grow by USD28 trillion by 2025 if women were included in the labour force to the same degree as men.

Jadesimi specialises in incorporating sustainable practices into the private sector to build scalable businesses, a philosophy that lies at the heart of the vision and mission of LADOL. For Jadesimi this is a process that must come from the top down, and she has restructured the company to address these aims.

She told Fairplay about the raft of initiatives that the business has either rolled out or are under discussion, from flexible working hours for both men and women; meritocratic hiring; recruiting from the local area; an upskilling academy that will open in 2019; and tool box talks on gender empowerment and the role of women.

The company is also in discussion with other organisations to see how it could better support gender empowerment initiatives. “A company like LADOL is a part of the business economy,” she noted.

Although there is a still a long way to go, she is seeing a gradual shift in gender equality in Nigeria, with more women in all levels of business working in the capital, Lagos. Across the country, however, Jadesimi noted that women mainly work in the informal sector and are “less empowered because of the sector they are in”. She said added that “on average we still live in a paternalistic society”.

She noted, however, that 15 years ago the idea of a female president would have been off the table, but now it is a possibility.