Let your voice be heard and make it count!

Jumoke Obembe leads the People Operations and Central Support Services function at Cars45. In this role, she provides leadership and strategic direction for HR related duties as well as supporting the operations of all Cars45 retail locations.  With over 15 years of work experience across banking, logistics and project management, HR consulting, Jumoke bares his mind on a wide range of issues.


What was your first HR job; why and how did you get into HR?

My first Human Resources role was with a project management training consultancy. I was responsible for staff management, coordinating Project Management training programmes as a PMP certified professional and monitoring service delivery compliance across the organization. My journey into the HR space was totally unplanned. Even though my first degree is in Business Administration, my first job was in the financial services working as an asset officer and then as a customer relationship manager in a tier two bank. An opportunity came from facilitating project management trainings at the consultancy and I felt that I could add value and structure to the firm, that’s how I made the move. It was borne out of me spotting a need in that system and believing that I could help them create a functional system and processes that can ensure the sustainability of the consultancy. I didn’t see myself as a HR person at that time, I was just organizing people and systems and I became known for it. So, looking back at my career trajectory, it has been woven around that sense of relating with people to drive business productivity.

What is a normal workday like for you in Cars45?

My work-day schedule at Cars45 has evolved over time. When I joined the business in January 2018, my work focus was around all things admin, HR, sourcing for retail centre locations, security operations. As we went along, we realized that there was need to properly segment these functions – security, opening and supporting retail centre(s) and their operations, as well as core HR functions. My daily work schedule became saner after this. There are no free days – emails to answers, people issues need to be sorted out promptly, stakeholder meetings and engagement all take up the bulk of my time. With proper planning, I can prioritize, delegate and make things work.

Can you provide insights into Cars45 talent philosophy and how the company is driving global mobility of talents?

As a business, we believe in growing from within which is premised on our world class recruitment process that enables us to get the best and the brightest into our system. We provide a wholesome environment that encourages our talents to prove and become better versions of themselves as well as fail at times. Failure provides the experience of better ways to deal with problems. We are also big on ownerships – so every employee is a “mini- CEO” as they take ownership of tasks from start to finish. We also bring in subject matter experts from time to time to help our people upskill and become more knowledgeable.

One thing you can be sure of is that if you have worked with Cars45, you can manage an entire team because of all the things that you have been exposed to. We do a lot of work that exposes you to a rich cocktail of work areas – negotiation, sales, marketing, basic accounting, people management, design thinking and innovation. Our employees are usually very confident and excel in other climes when they leave us because of the grounding and exposure that Cars45 avails them. Currently, we are building exchange programmes that would see high-flyers travel to our other operations in Kenya, Ghana with a view to sharing knowledge and expertise. We are also big on succession planning and we have an initiative, Middle Manager Fast-track Programme that caters to this objective. Being able to contribute to the career progress of a lot of people has been very fulfilling and gratifying.

Can you describe yourself?

I am a very principled person who knows what she wants and goes for it. I have a strong belief in myself and the values that define and guide me as a person. I am also very goal oriented – I put a date to it and work at getting it done. Sometimes I win, other times, I miss but I would attain the goal, that’s the end game. God is also at the centre of everything that I do and that’s where I place my trust and get the verve to go out and win.

Can you sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence?

You must stand for something, else you’ll fall for everything and anything that life throws at you. Own and stand by your truth till the end. You don’t know who’s watching, model the right kind of behaviour.

What is the best advice you have ever received in your career that has aided you?

Speak up and don’t silence yourself. There are times where we unconsciously self-sabotage, speaking up allows you to show what stuff you are made off and empowers you to take on the opportunities that might present themselves. Let your voice be heard and make it count. You know that feeling when after a meeting is over, you feel very sad and remorsefully, saying, “I should have said this or that”. It will be on record that you said A or B or C.

One fun fact about you.

I can get easily bored and so I love to try out new things. I also love to cook a lot, particularly new dishes. I love travelling to new places and collecting artifacts that represent those places.

What’s your all-time favourite book, tv show and film.

Not sure I have all time favs but I can share a few things that have intrigued me. My goal this year is to read 60 books, five books every month. I am currently on 45 books. Sam Adeyemi’s Parable of Dollars, Think and Grow Rich, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, You Are A Badass. How To Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, by Jen Sincero, How to kick the worry habit by Jim Rohn. I loved watching the Greenleaf TV series which has Oprah Winfrey as Executive Producer.

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