By JOSEPHINE IGBINOVIA
Rosemary Akaette Duamlong is one lady that has carved for herself a silver-spoon through diligence and hard-work. An English graduate and alumnus of the Lagos Business School, the mother of two is exceptionally adept in the business of international tourism and events managements.
The unprecedented success she made of Benue State’s Akata Fishing Festival 2013 earned her the name Iveren(Blessing) from the state government which was stunned by her organisational dexterity. In this interview, Rosemary who is CEO, Gren Business Dimensions, a multifaceted firm, opens up on the secrets behind her great strides.
Your kind of business requires high-level networking; how do you handle that?
A lot of people ask me that question and I tell them I’m just connected to one person- God. You won’t believe it but I have no god-father out there. But I can confidently tell you I have goodwill; and that goodwill comes from diligence. If you’re diligent in anything you do, opportunities will come knocking at your door. In the little you’re doing, are you diligent in it? People throng into my office despite it’s not on any highway, and I tell you, over 80% of the jobs we do are based on referrals. Why will people refer others to you if they’re not satisfied?
What’s inspires your reverence for diligence and integrity?
I would say I took some things from my dad. My mum was my best friend until her demise. My father is one person who speaks a lot in idioms. One thing he always says is: “Rosemary, I may not have the luxuries of life to give you, but I have a name you can hold on to”. Most especially, I got born again quite early; at age 13. I grew up that way and you understand what it means to get born again and grow up in a Deeper Life Church.
That moulded me a lot. Integrity is not you doing people a favour; it’s you doing yourself a whole lot of good, and that has always guided me. If you come to me today and I swindle you of your money, you cannot come tomorrow. And these are the things I tell people in business. Integrity pays beyond any other thing. I have seen it work in my life and business. So, I’m never going to compromise integrity for anything.
What exactly is the focus of Gren Business Dimensions?
We started with business tourism. That’s an avenue through which we provide networking platforms for business owners by networking them with like-minds in other countries. I actually learnt about the power of networking while working at the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce. You see, the world is a global village and that’s why no one can succeed in isolation. In fact, you can achieve ten times more of whatever you have achieved in life if you network rightly.
By virtue of our business tourism engagements, we had to register with a lot of embassies, and soon, we found ourselves in the business of providing visa services. Ticketing and hotel reservation soon followed. That led us into family, educational tours and more, for individual clients and groups. Apart from exposing children to the real western world so that they are not misled by what they see on TV, educational tour helps build for them a travel history so they won’t have to suffer at embassies in future.
You didn’t say how you ventured into events management…
(Laughs) Events management, for me, started as a passion. I like organising! I’ve been putting together events for about a decade but actually set up Gren Business four years ago. In fact, I love playing with new ideas and events management affords me the opportunity to do so.
I was able to hone that skill at the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce where I was Programs and Publicity Officer. My job was to come up with ideas for programmes for the chamber, plan, coordinate, get sponsors and make sure people attend the event. I’ve never trained in events management but today, I manage all manner of huge events. That also led me into public relations services because no one can wink in the dark and get noticed.
Didn’t you have to attend training on visa services and ticketing?
I had trained on the job.
Was that while at the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce?
No. I think God actually planned my life out. Everywhere I have worked in life has added up to the experience I’m using to run my business. I started with the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce where I was planning events as Publicity and Programmes Officer. I left there for HSSL Global where I was Senior Marketing/PR Manager.
There I went for training at the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, NIPR. I later became Corporate Affairs Manager, running both the marketing and PR departments. Later, I introduced business tourism to the management because I had learnt it in my previous employment. They believed in me, gave me the opportunity and for the two years I worked with them, we had three successful tours; two to South Africa and one to Canada.
I later joined Five Star Travels as General Manager of Business Development. There, I learnt everything on ticketing, hotel reservation and visas, and also went for some certifications. Starting Gren Business Dimensions is simply drawing from my experiences in these three places.
Tell us in what ways you proved yourself a ‘blessing’ in your business dealing with Benue State?
It played out in a whole lot of ways, especially for the fact that I’m not from that state. I had the support of the government, local governments and youths to manage an event I knew nothing about. Akata had run for 34 years without visible impacts but in 2013, we ended up uniting local chiefs in the state with it, attracting investors to Benue and giving the festival an official logo, among others.