Rosemary Layode is an accomplished business leader with over 20 years of experience driving growth and innovation across consulting, wholesale, and retail sectors. Currently the Head of Customer Engagement for a leading luxury goods company, Rosemary Layode is known for building high-performing teams, maximizing customer satisfaction, and spearheading sales initiatives. Her achievements include launching a successful customer referral program, implementing data-driven strategies, and optimizing customer acquisition.

With previous experience at Total Nigeria Plc, the former Head of Customer Engagement at Montaigne AH LTD holds a postgraduate diploma in Marketing Management, an MBA, and a BSc in Geology. Her diverse background and passion for excellence make her a powerful voice in the business world.

As part of our annual Women’s History Month spotlight, we chat with the retail maven on all things women, career advancement, and more. Enjoy!

“Exploring alternative career paths can lead to fulfilling opportunities“

Rosemary layode

Glazia in conversation with Rosemary Layode

What does Women’s History Month mean to you, and what are your thoughts about activities during this month?

Women’s History Month is not just a time to celebrate and honor the contributions and achievements of women throughout history but a crucial period for our society to critically examine women’s journeys and learn from their successes and challenges. 

It’s an opportunity to recognize women’s vital roles in shaping our society, culture, politics, and more. From groundbreaking leaders and activists to everyday heroes, it’s a chance to reflect on and celebrate the progress made and the work to achieve gender equality.

As professionals in the beauty industry, we recognize the significance of Women’s History Month and the unique opportunity to honor and empower women. Leveraging our expertise in sales, we make the most of this month-long celebration to create meaningful and memorable experiences for our female clients and those who love them. By doing so, we not only contribute to the recognition of women’s achievements but also foster a deeper connection with our customers and build a community of empowered women.

Rosemary Layode
Rosemary Layode

There are various activities one can participate in during Women’s History Month. Educational events like panel discussions on women’s leadership, Film screenings of documentaries highlighting women’s achievements, Art Exhibitions showcasing women artists, Community Events like fundraisers supporting women’s causes and organizations, Volunteering to support women’s empowerment initiatives or organizations dedicated to helping women in need; Workplace Initiatives to support women should be encouraged as well as supporting women-owned businesses. 

Please share a little about your career journey in customer-centric service and sales.

Understanding the nuances of selling to different genders is not just a significant insight but a key to success in customer-centric services and sales. It’s a realization that priorities, communication styles, and environmental factors vary between genders and among individuals, and this understanding can significantly enhance our interactions with customers.

Starting from an assistant sales manager trainee and now the MD of a leading skincare distribution company, I’ve noticed that my approach can sometimes lean towards treating women with extra attention and care, almost like royalty, especially when there’s a man present. However, I’ve also found that involving men in the service process can be incredibly helpful.

Maintaining an awareness of these differences and striving to provide a personalized experience for each customer, regardless of gender, is critical. Ensuring every customer feels valued and respected without reinforcing stereotypes or biases is essential.

By fostering an inclusive environment and adapting to the diverse needs and perspectives of our customers, we can enhance their overall experience and build stronger relationships, delivering excellent service while being mindful of the unique considerations of each customer.

What influenced or inspired your career path and current shift into retail marketing?
[Laughs] The challenges the country faces in providing jobs for graduates were indeed significant in my mood, as well as being someone who can accept challenges and abase and abound. As someone who studied geology and worked in an oil company for two years, I experienced firsthand the limited job opportunities in my field. Despite the potential to secure a job in oil and gas, I ultimately decided to pursue an opportunity in skincare, which aligned more closely with my passion for beauty and wellness. While it’s essential to consider the constraints in the job market, following one’s passion and exploring alternative career paths can lead to fulfilling opportunities beyond traditional sectors like oil and gas.

In your experience, what are some common challenges women in your field face, and how can they overcome them? 

In the retail sector, women frequently face challenges, including unequal pay, limited avenues for career advancement, and instances of gender discrimination.

I vividly remember applying for a Head of Commercial position within a company. Despite possessing the requisite qualifications and experience, the hiring manager conveyed a preference for a male candidate. This bias was incredibly disheartening, particularly considering the Managing Director was a woman who appeared to doubt my suitability for the role solely based on gender. However, I am grateful for the opportunity provided by a female leader who, despite the prevailing biases, recognized my potential and saw beyond gender stereotypes, offering me a chance to prove my capabilities.

To effectively address these challenges, it is crucial for women to extend mutual support within the industry, fostering an environment that promotes equal opportunities and embraces gender diversity. Notably, sectors like banking and other progressive organizations should actively encourage women to pursue roles traditionally seen as less female-friendly.

Additionally, women can empower themselves by advocating for their value, seeking mentorship, and establishing supportive networks with fellow professionals.

Furthermore, by actively raising awareness about gender biases, advocating for policies that promote equality, and fostering a culture of inclusivity in the workplace, we can collectively contribute to fostering a more equitable retail landscape.

As we celebrate Women’s History Month and beyond and reflect on our journey, what is the #1 advice you would offer to today’s women aspiring to make a significant impact and achieve success in their careers?

The #1 advice I would offer today’s women is to believe in themselves unapologetically. Embrace your unique strengths, talents, and perspectives, and never underestimate your potential to effect change and excel in your chosen field. Cultivate resilience in the face of challenges, seek opportunities for growth and learning, and build a strong support network of mentors, allies, and peers. But above all, never shy away from advocating for your worth and standing up for your ambitions with unwavering confidence and determination. By staying true to yourself and your goals, you can pave the way for a remarkable journey of achievement and empowerment.

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