Barbara Ndugbu is the Creative Director of Oven Secret Bakery in Lagos State, Nigeria. The Engineer turned Entrepreneur has taken the company from a small startup in 2015 when it was founded to a major brand and has trained over 500 people, inspiring some of them to launch their own business. In this interview, she tells her exciting story about how switching career paths has led to her current level of success.
As much as no one can predict the future, I always knew and believed that I possessed something yet to be explored and brought to reality. Yes, I believed I would reach my success level, but didn’t know how, where and when it would happen. My focus, drive, and constant hunger to be successful confirmed my vision. My current level in business and other aspects of my life confirmed my vision. I look forward to greater things ahead if I consistently focus on my “why”, which is to be ultimately successful.
My Driving Force
To understand what drives me, I knew I had to have a clear idea of what my ‘why’ was. The ‘why’ behind my journey to succeed has always been to live the life I deserve, take care of my needs effortlessly, invest and secure my future. I always ask myself if I really know what I want to achieve, why I want it and if I am really hungry for it. These questions help me put the goal in perspective. If I am hungry enough, then, I am definitely on my way to achieving it. This is what has always been my driving force. My goals and aspirations are my major driving force.
Being listed as the first Nigerian Baker on the Forbes 30 under 30 Africa power list in 2019 still remains one of my most memorable milestones. It was, for me, a very huge achievement, and I am completely proud of getting such recognition for the work I do.
One saying I love so much from Former US First Lady, Michelle Obama is “there’s no limit to what a woman can achieve”. This saying has fueled a lot of things I have gone to do and achieve in my life.
I have picked up a couple of lessons over the years since I’ve been in business. These lessons have shaped my growth and still help me navigate the murky waters of business. One that stands out is to always know what you stand for, and what you don’t. It gives you clarity. I stand for persistence, hard work, and never taking shortcuts. This way, I am clear on my values.
Another lesson I have picked up is to never rest on your laurels. Instead, always strive for something outside of your comfort zone. Take the risks that move you somewhere new. I changed the course of my career at age 25, kickstarted my business and look where it took me to today.
Don’t be afraid to do the unexpected. That nervousness you feel means you’re growing. Trust your inner compass, even when the naysayers do not. But, above all, always remain humble. It’s always better to give more credit than you take. Also, never stop learning, because it gives you courage. The more knowledgeable you are, the more comfortable you feel.
On Women Empowerment
It is important to note that in many ways, the playing field of work is still tilted in favor of men. The economics of inclusion are compelling, yet there is a gap between what the data tells us and the experiences women encounter in their careers. I believe so much in Gender Equality. I believe that in all works of life, both genders should be given equal opportunities to thrive and explore their untapped talents.
For all I know, the future is female’.’ There has been a notable paradigm shift in society. Women are advancing, making big moves and killing it in their careers. Take for example, the likes of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. She is doing very well and has become an inspiration for so many young girls.
I have a degree in a supposedly male-dominated course/area of specialization; I have a degree in Electrical Engineering. In retrospect, one would think I wouldn’t be able to cope with such a tasking course like engineering, but I did and in flying colors. Women are smart, fast-thinkers, great leaders and everything a man can be. They should be given a fair chance.
At Oven Secret Bakery, we empower women by training and encouraging them to acquire a skill, start their businesses and conquer the world. Our staff is made up of 70% women. We give scholarships and internship opportunities to women who show interest but can’t afford the training fees.
My Spark has been God and His gift to me, my talent. This is the superpower that has helped me through. For those looking to discover what The Spark is for them, I’d say be patient. Patience is a virtue. Focus on your path and strive to be better than you were yesterday. Always remember to only outdo yourself not people. Confidence has no competition.
Barbara Ndugbu is the Creative Director of Oven Secret Bakery in Lagos State, Nigeria. The Engineer turned Entrepreneur has taken the company from a small startup in 2015 when it was founded to a major brand and has trained over 500 people, inspiring some of them to launch their own business. .