She is not just a beautiful woman with a good heart, she is a person of multifaceted grace and auction to be all she wants to be, the journey didn’t start for her overnight; it took her years of dogged practice and resilience to be the woman she has become today. Our Mogulette of the week is not just a successful woman but someone who thinks and believes that women should move and thrive from being successful to being relevant in life. There are so many successful people on earth but how many people are relevant in their society? If you will ask me, Mary Ikoku is one of them.
A Yale Alumni and a fellow of NLI – NIGERIA leadership initiative, Mary Ikoku is also a graduate of English language from the prestigious Abia State University and has a Master’s in International Relations from Lagos State University including professional degrees from the University of California Davis and the London School of Public Relations.
As a career driven woman who ventured into the cooperate world as early as can be, she was the former Department for Foreign Development’s (DFID)/Nigerian Infrastructure Advisory Facility (NIAF) Consultant working as the Head of Communication at the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) of the Federal Government of Nigeria. She also works as the Lead Consultant at Access Media Ltd and served as Special Adviser to the Minister of Information and Communications; a role that helped her implement schemes to expand government outreach, generate funding for advocacy campaigns and refine governmental communication processes.
As a purpose focused mogulette with a desire to touch lives and leave a legacy on the sand of time, she founded Working Moms Africa, an organization dedicated to helping women cope with the challenges created by mixing professional careers with parenthood. The organization publishes Working Moms Africa magazine that celebrates professional mothers in the society.
Mary does have a niche for almost every sector in our world. As regards children, she believes in raising every child in a good and godly standard which also conforms to the society in which they belong. In an interview with the nation newspaper, she stated that children should be encouraged to dialogue in their mother tongue before embracing other trend:
“There is something spiritual about the mother tongue, so we are trying to reinforce that culture which is also a United Nations (UN) requirement. English is only a target language, not our primary language. Speaking English does not make you classy. What defines and stands you out is your language. It could even save your life. People can warn you of dangers with your native language to prevent a foreigner from harming you. What defines you is the language that you speak when you are separated from the English language.”
Through her initiative, Moms Africa, a women/children advocacy group, she has continued to clamour on the government to promote teaching and speaking of mother tongue in schools to prevent them from going extinct.” As an all round woman who understands that it is okay to support other women and help them grow, Mary graced the just concluded 2016 Mogulettes Meetup where she inspired the young ladies sharing some life nuggets with the ladies in these well captured statements:
“To succeed in life, there are things you need to put in place as young ladies. I am a prudent person and anytime I want to spend money on something, I always put myself in the shoes of the people who don’t have. Also, work on your skills, do internships and volunteer to work for free, it takes you far and it helps you grow. The skills you need for a job are not taught in school, they are out there so work while you school. In marriage or relationship, have a man who supports you and make sure he is someone you can marry, do not compromise your standards for a man. As a woman, be independent too and don’t be a liability for any man, he won’t respect you. On purpose, she said: as a woman or as an individual, you have to get to a point where you think of making impact and relevance in your society. You have to get to a point in your life when all you want to do is to save humanity but in doing that, seek support and help because you cannot do it all alone. on relationships and business, she said humility and contentment is key, don’t take people’s interest in you for granted and do not mortgage your self esteem by begging for money, instead, think of ways to add value to those new people and see how things work out. She also said that a product or service should not be overpriced or reduced in value and relationships should be built than giving of tip offs.
On self discipline, she said: mediocrity can get you in the job but it can never keep you in the job. So anytime you have a new job or you need to do a new project, ensure that your name, your professionalism and your integrity is not polluted. That is the personal principles I live by and it has helped me a lot.
She also shed light on the need to work with the Men folk in speeding up things when she stated that: “ If you want to end domestic violence today, involve men, trust me, they hate it too when women are hurt in any way and they can help”. Finally, she also made a similarity between Lagos and Abuja when she said:
“Lagos keeps you on your toes and Abuja makes you relaxed and laidback, so if you need to keep your relevance, Lagos is the place to be. On managing criticisms and distractions, she said: “the only way people will not talk about you or criticize you is for you to say nothing, do nothing and be nothing, and that when people talk or criticize you, it is time for you to throw a party (literarily) because that means, you are becoming relevant in whatever you stand for as a person.” – Mary Ikoku, founder, Working Moms Africa.
If you call her a devoted Wife, a loving Mum, an astute Mentor, a serial entrepreneur, Women & children Advocate, Good Governance evangelist and a leader of reputable standards, you are so right so anytime you pause to wonder if there are still Proverbs 31 women in Africa, do not hesitate to mention the name…Mary IKoku!