We are honored to recognize Ovue Jennifer Bakenne. Her energetic and positive energy is contagious and her career journey is nothing short of inspiring. In this short Q&A interview, Jennifer opens up about who inspired her to start a career in F&B, the accomplishments she is the most proud of ,and the advice she has for other women who want to break the glass ceiling.
Q. Let’s start from the beginning. Where did you grow up? What inspired you to start a career in the F&B industry?
A. I grew up in Nigeria and have lived there for close to 4 decades. I was inspired to start a career in the food and beverage industry by an Aunt who worked for a multinational company when I was 10years old. I always had a passion for good food and excellent quality beverages, which fed my zeal to get involved in ensuring that I contribute to make this a consistent reality for everyone.
Q. Can you share what your career journey has entailed? Where are you today?
A. My career journey has spanned for 17years to date. I had the opportunity of working for 2 Fortune 500 companies which I am so pleased about (Diageo & Coca Cola Hellenic Group). My career exposure has led me to different arms of the business such as Brewing, Innovation, Operations improvement, Manufacturing Excellence, Quality, Food safety, and Sustainability Management.
The interesting part of working for these companies is the depth of training and exposure to visit other countries where you get to network, make new friends, learn best practices, and travel the globe in search of knowledge and better insight into your passion — to deliver your goals and purpose.
I have recently migrated to Canada and I am optimistic about opportunities to grow my career in North America.
Q. What accomplishments are you the most proud of?
A. Growth in my career and being able to coach and mentor teams/other professionals to achieving their goals and great heights.
Learning new skills as I built on my passion to succeed and be the best.
Being recognized in both companies I worked for as an exemplary people manager, certified coach and mentor, and recipient of an award for the partnership for sustainable QSE improvement.
Q. What are your areas of expertise for Females in Food members to connect with you on?
A. Quality & Food Safety management
People and Change management
Use of continuous improvement tools to achieve great results.
Q. What do you enjoy doing most in your free time?
A. I love to stay indoors and spend time with my husband and sons reading, cooking, and baking.
Q. What advice would you give your younger self? Or What advice do you have for those who are just coming into the food industry?
A. My advice to those who are just coming into the industry will be, give your best shot to all that you intend to do within the industry. Never be afraid to break the glass ceiling. This can only be done with diligence, focus, and extreme commitment to achieving your goals. Alongside ensure you practice work-life balance to make you a well rounded and fulfilled individual.