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Owen Omogiafo – The Wonder woman in Nigeria hospitality industry

It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the hotel and hospitality business is a tough one, especially for a woman growing a career in the traditionally male-dominated industry.

It is therefore interesting to know that Owen Omogiafo, has grown progressively in her career, breaking every barrier to become the current Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director (MD) of Transcorp Hotels Plc., one of Africa’s award-winning hospitality brands.

Until January 2019, Omogiafo was the Executive Director, Corporate Services at Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc. (Transcorp). Transcorp is a conglomerate with interests in the power, hospitality and oil & gas sectors, headquartered in Lagos. Transcorp Hotels Plc, the hospitality subsidiary of Trancorp, is best known for its award-winning Transcorp Hilton Abuja and the iconic Transcorp Hotels Calabar.

Omogiafo has over 18 years’ corporate experience in organisational development strategy, human capital management, banking, and business management. Her work experience includes; the former Chief Operating Officer of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Director of Human Resources at Heirs Holdings, Chief of Staff and HR Advisor to the GMD/CEO at United Bank for Africa (UBA) and was an Organisation and Human Performance Consultant at Accenture.

Growing up as the only female child of her parents, Omogiafo grew up in a male-dominated household, an experience that reinforced her belief that no gender is disadvantaged.

She obtained a degree in Sociology & Anthropology from the University of Benin and a Master’s degree in Human Resource Management from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is a certified Change Manager and a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, UK. Owen also trained at the Harvard Business School (HBX), possessing a Certificate in Disruptive Strategy with Clayton Christensen.

Owen believes that ‘nothing comes easy’, a belief she is passing on to other women that with strong conviction and determination, everything is achievable.

A review of the company’s financials revealed that it had a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5 per cent for the last 4 years. Building on the foundation laid by her predecessor, Valentine Ozigbo (now President/CEO, Transcorp) the Omogiafo-led Transcorp Hotels at the end of the first half of 2019, reported revenue growth of 16.5 per cent from N8 billion in 2018 to N9.3 billion.

Its operating profit was up by 47 per cent from N1.9 billion in H1 2018 to N2.8 billion in H1 2019. This was driven by improvement in its occupancy especially on weekends amongst other growth strategies targeted at creating value for all its clients.

Transcorp Hotels Plc has been an important member of the conglomerate, Transcorp, considering its contribution to the group’s performance. Transcorp as a group continues to deepen its play in existing markets and also expand into new areas. Apart from being the leading power generating company in Nigerian through its Transcorp Power business, Transcorp Consortium recently emerged the preferred bidder for Afam Power Plc and Afam Three Fast Power Limited with a combined installed capacity of 966MW. Both entities were recently put up for full privatization by the Federal Government of Nigeria, who currently own

them 100%. Once the acquisition by Transcorp Consortium is completed, the combined installed capacity of power plants of Transcorp Group would be 1,935MW. This will take Transcorp closer to its strategic goal of contributing at least 25% of power generation in Nigeria. In addition to Power, Transcorp has a strong foot in the energy section through its oil prospecting licence. The group is poised to develop this asset in the first quarter of 2020. The long term goal is to provide gas to its power plant in Ughelli.

Transcorp Hotels Plc carried out a $100m full-scale upgrade of its flagship property, Transcorp Hilton Abuja, extending the hotels lifespan and making it at par with similar properties worldwide. The company has continued to put innovation at the forefront of its strategies by evolving with ever-increasing consumer needs. It recently launched its ICE intelity app at Transcorp Hilton Abuja to allow guests customize their stay even before getting to the hotel, the launch of Transcorp Rewards, the first loyalty scheme in the Cross-River State for its property Transcorp Hotels Calabar which rewards guests for their stay. In addition to driving innovation through technology; Transcorp Hilton Abuja launched the first Afro sushi bar at its in-house Oriental Restaurant. Afro sushi offers fine, quality, affordable sushi rolls with an African twist. This means that the sushi is cooked with Nigerian ingredients while retaining the discipline of Japanese cuisine.

Transcorp Hotels Plc. has created a niche for itself as one of the most respected names in the hospitality industry in Africa, little wonder that its property, Transcorp Hilton Abuja for the fourth consecutive year, emerged the winner of the World Travel Awards 2019 for being; Nigeria’s Leading MICE Hotel, Nigeria’s Leading Hotel Suite, Nigeria’s Leading Hotel, Nigeria’s Leading Business Hotel and Africa’s Leading Business Hotel. Similarly, the Hotel received Trip Advisor’s Traveller’s Choice award 2019, the highest honour from Trip advisor in honour of truly exceptional businesses, in addition to the 2019 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence award.

Since its opening in 1987, Transcorp Hilton Abuja has over the years been the preferred destination for hosting landmark events. From hosting the Inaugural ECOWAS Summit, it went on to host fifty-four heads of states and delegates in 2004 during the first Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting hosted by the Federal Government of Nigeria, successfully hosted world leaders and captains of industry at the World Economic Forum on Africa in 2014 and just recently hosted the largest gathering of African entrepreneurs during the annual Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum. At the same time, the hotel also hosted the UBA Marketplace, a platform created by UBA for vendors to showcase and sell their goods and services to thousands of Africans. It was excitements all the way as participants at the Forum and the Marketplace experienced the hotel’s world-class facilities and hospitality.

The company plans to expand its footprints beyond Abuja and Calabar with the proposed Hilton branded hotels in Lagos and Port Harcourt.

Passionate about contributing to its operating environment, the company has contributed to job creation in Nigeria, one which will see an increase with its planned properties and through other initiatives such as its Business Empowerment program for women which trains women with sewing skills and basic entrepreneurial skills.

Omogiafo’s brilliance has earned her several academic recognitions and awards. She is a Certified Change Manager with the Prosci Institute, USA. She was in 2019 recognised by Leading Ladies Africa as one of the Leading Ladies in Corporate Nigeria, by The Guardian as one of Nigeria’s 100 most inspirational women and has also been named in the YNaija! Power List for Corporate Nigeria.

Owen is evidence that hard work and consistency pay regardless of gender, background or religion.

This article was featured in Business Day Newspaper on the 6th of August 2019

One comment

  1. Her pedigree is apt. The potentials of the hospitality industry is highly underrated in Nigeria. Perhaps, if we have more multinational Coys like Transcorp investing in this sector of the economy we will witness a great drop in our unemployment rate, with better paycheck like we have in the Banking and Oil & Gas sector.

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