Patricia Kenneth-Divine is the Principal Consultant and Trade & Investment specialist for Synergy Systems Consults (UK) Limited and the president of Association of Certified Protocol Practitioners in Nigeria. In this interview by TAYO GESINDE, she speaks on her passion for empowering women among other issues.
I worked for over 12 years with the ‘’Foreign and Common Wealth Office (FCO) Lagos, Nigeria on International trade advisory and business development. In 2015, I was appointed as Africa Representative on The Foreign and Common Wealth Board, where I was able to influence polices on local staff issues. I have also occupied major roles on international women leadership platforms promoting women in the business environment, and providing partnership platforms for them have always been my passion. I was awarded an honorary fellowship certificate in 2015 by the Institute of Carbon Accountants and Traders, UK at the Lancaster House, London. I am presently the Principal Consultant and Trade and Investment specialist for Synergy Systems Consults (UK) Limited, a company that specialises in promoting and identifying partnership and investment opportunities within Africa, with Nigeria in focus. It is our objective to influence dynamic changes in view of exporting international expertise that will enhance productivity in Africa.
We are currently promoting and supporting major projects within the renewable and oil & gas sectors that will bring significant job creation to the Sub-Saharan market, especially in Nigeria. We are very focused in supporting the right partnerships and investments to promote opportunities in Africa.
Driving new opportunities, dynamic initiatives and ensuring they are successful have always been an exciting experience for me. Being the president of the Association of Certified Protocol Practitioners in Nigeria has given me the platform to influence and institute change within the industry driving international standards, best practices, influencing investment opportunities and rebranding the concept of protocol practice in Nigeria. The rebranding journey of the protocol industry has been a success story as over 150 protocol experts have been engaged under the platform giving a new framework of successful business networks, delivery, and achievements. Protocol Practice has become a strategic asset in business, this singular act of facilitating and managing various procedures for people of different culture to find common purpose to significantly creating long-term relationships.
On what Association of Certified Protocol Practitioners in Nigeria is about
The Association of Certified Protocol Practitioners in Nigeria (ACPPN) is a non-profit and non-governmental organisation aimed at promoting and raising the standards of protocol practice in Nigeria and sharing best practices globally. The Association is also focused on advancing the career, skills, and visions of its members by rebranding the concept of protocol professionalism through the best certifications and qualifications that will enhance capacity building and good leadership qualities. ACPPN also provides a platform to develop good business relationships and methodologies for promoting service delivery and strengthening supply chain. Protocol officers are one of the most crucial components of any successful organisation defining proper procedures, systems of rules, organisation from presidential to diplomatic; we have defined a true sense of decorum, etiquette, and cross-cultural respect. Today, we celebrate our strengths and commitment as we announce a rebranded protocol face, a rebirth to professionalism, a consciousness of integrity and embraced diplomatic influence. The Association of Certified Protocol Practitioners in Nigeria – is a testimony of vision.
On women empowerment
The 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development defines the realisation of gender equality and women empowerment as priority to sustainable development.
The empowerment of women has a great potential to boost economic growth and facilitate the goal of an inclusive sustainable development. There is need to change the story of women empowerment especially the successes and transformative framework that will build stronger economies. This will also help to improve the standards and quality of life for women, families, communities, workplace, job creation, poverty eradication and so on.
According to a 2016 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur Report, women entrepreneurs are also more successful and ambitious, 90 per cent of the female entrepreneurs that took part in the survey expected to see an increase in profits within the next year and were reporting higher revenues than their male counterparts. It is expected that women will make up 50 per cent of the workforce by 2020 if they are given the opportunity to reshape traditional work environments.
The importance of women involvement in the supply chain recognises the fact that women have a low-risk tolerance and have high values of financial management which tend to have wider community benefits according to the World Bank. There is a growing recognition within the private and public sector of the importance of promoting women as business leaders. Although, women-led SME’s involvement within the supply chain are faced with financial and non-financial barriers. Social, cultural, legal and gender specific barriers also deprive women of engaging in some industry supply chains that is extractive industries.
Most studies have shown that women will reinvest their income up to 90 per cent, in their communities, families compared to 40 per cent for men. Also, it is relevant that women’s equality is advanced, including economic participation. The engagement of more women in the work force could add up to $12 trillion to global growth by 2025 according to McKinsey.
Investing in women-owned business and assimilating them into corporate supply chains can also contribute significantly to the world’s economy. Today’s economy records less than one per cent of spending by large businesses on suppliers as produced by women-owned business, generating new employment opportunities and so on. By closing gender gaps, organisations can unlock opportunities for increased growth, profit, and innovation. To strengthen competitiveness, the greater indicator of a robust and innovative culture must centre on women empowerment. Integrating women into our political, economic, and cultural institutions is the most important step a country or organisation would take to achieve an innovative environment.
Addressing women’s inequality within the value chain and across the globe has become a complex issue. I think with an extensive strategic partnership with relevant networks, NGO’s, financial institutions, market research groups there could be a successful initiative that will promote the role of women in nation building.
Secret of success
Over the years, people have asked me how I became a successful oil and gas expert especially within the Nigerian oil and gas sector. It has been a lot of hard work, motivation, determination, and zeal to provide excellent support for numerous international/local companies who have recorded good success stories within the Nigerian oil and gas sector.
I think our attitude to life helps us manage our opportunities or challenges. If you can dream, believe, and achieve then you are sure for success. It will surprise you to know that my first degree was in agriculture from the University of Benin. I took interest in the oil and gas sector when I was posted to Shell Lagos for my youth service assignment, after which I worked briefly before joining the British Deputy High Commission, Lagos, in 2003, and then I was assigned with responsibilities in the oil and gas sector.
To drive my interest in the oil and gas sector, I embarked on a self-development training programme and short courses, among which was a mini MBA course with the CWC School of Energy in London. In 2006, I obtained a Master’s Programme on Public Administration from the University of Lagos just to satisfy my political interest. I started off politics early in school days, voted into the Student’s Union Government of the University of Benin and became Acting President. That same dynamism, led me to be appointed in 2015 as Africa Representative on The Foreign and Common Wealth Board where I influenced policies on local staff issues.
In the quest to know more, I started exploring the Nigeria renewable sector, getting foreign investors to engage with new opportunities. It is interesting to see some of those projects become successful. To understand the technicality of the renewable sector, I secured training certificates from the Robert Gordon University Aberdeen on Energy and Sustainability. We can achieve anything if we put our hearts to it.
Today, I am an Energy and Sustainability Expert with proven ability for developing and leading new strategic business’s, advisory, leading on implementation of huge projects, turning around global opportunities, and increasing export performance for both international and local companies.
The fact that I am married to Kenneth Divine, who is my coach, best adviser and a strong motivator to my success is an advantage.