Our first WIMBIZ story for the year features Bukky George, founder and CEO, HealthPlus Pharmacy, CasaBella Beauty and WIMBIZ Associate since 2007.
My first encounter with WIMBIZ was the 6thAnnual Conference in 2007 with the theme “Women in Leadership – Playing to Win”. The conference was informative and very relevant to my circumstances at the time. It was just what I needed to plug back into the business world having been away in the UK for a few years and feeling somewhat disconnected. Soon after the conference, I began attending WIMBIZ programs – the monthly Roundtable Lunch, the Annual Lecture Series, the CEO/Policy Maker Interactive Series etc. My two brands, HealthPlus Pharmacy and CasaBella Beauty, have participated in the WIMBIZ Market Square, an expo where businesses are connected to potential consumers.
”In 2007 when I first attended a WIMBIZ event, HealthPlus had 5 retail outlets and 40 employees. Today we have 65 retail outlets, 735 employees with multiple personal and corporate awards. My story cannot be written without dedicating a section to WIMBIZ!”
I got the opportunity to be a speaker at the 2009 Annual Conference when I spoke on “Attracting and Retaining Talent in Your Business”. In 2014, I also spoke at a Roundtable Lunch on “Building a Business from Scratch – Lessons from a Home Grown Entrepreneur”. These opportunities have increased my professional visibility within this network of progressive women as I received several positive feedback about the impact of my presentations. I have been a speaker at the Winning Without Compromise (WIWIC) event at the University of Ibadan. These students are indeed privileged as such opportunities did not exist in my University days! I have moderated at a break-out session during the annual conference and I have never seen a more animated group of ladies, all determined to dust their competitors.
I have had the honour of being featured in the WIMBIZ coffee table book “Inspire Me, Images of Nigerian Working Women”. I have a group of bestos whom I met through WIMBIZ. We support each other professionally, socially and even with our fitness goals. We are real women on a mission to bring real change to our industries, our country and to hand-hold other women, young and old, so that they too can achieve their full potential. Nothing compares to the joy of mentoring a budding entrepreneur and being a catalyst to catapult them to their next level with measurable progress. The WIMBIZ Mentoring Program provides a perfect platform for this.
My networking quotient has dramatically increased, learning from gurus like Mrs Adeola Azeez. I learnt how to show-up at social events, in fact show-up at multiple events, after the memorable debate by Mrs Morin Desalu at an annual conference several years ago. With WIMBIZ, I have been armed with business and soft skills that are indispensable in achieving my potential as the CEO of a fast growing company. The members of the Board of Trustees and the Executive Council have been supportive. Several have been my pillar of support in times of success and difficulty. Permit me to single out Mrs Adeola Azeez who was the last man (woman) standing as she provided me with practical assistance with a professional challenge – a woman supporter indeed. Whoever said women don’t support their own specie?
In 2014, through WIMBIZ, I found out about the Vital Voices’ Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Program. I was nominated and became one of 23 leaders from 18 emerging economies. The program took me to Washington DC and New York City where we were coached and mentored by Fortune’s Most Powerful Women. Simply phenomenal! This program positively impacted my professional and personal life. My mates on the program have become lifelong friends.
Over the years, I have volunteered several times as a member of the Conference Planning Group. Beyond the satisfaction of being a part of making a successful and impactful conference happen, the side benefits include getting the know-how on how to plan a cutting-edge conference which of course I use within my own organisation.
I can go on and on about my WIMBIZ experience but will like to end by saying the following: In 2007 when I first attended a WIMBIZ event, HealthPlus had 5 retail outlets and 40 employees. Today we have 65 retail outlets, 735 employees with multiple personal and corporate awards. This journey has been facilitated by my association with WIMBIZ. I have been inspired and empowered to lead my organisation, transform my sector, impact my community and my sphere of influence, and support other women. My story cannot be written without dedicating a section to WIMBIZ!