“As there is a growing emphasis on advocating for gender balance and fairness in the workplace, more women are finding inspiration to pursue roles in STEM2D fields.” — Oyefunke Jaiyesimi.

About Oyefunke Jaiyesimi

Oyefunke Jaiyesimi, is a pharmacist by training. She is an Associate Member of the Institute of Marketing, UK. She possesses more than 18 years of professional background in the Pharmaceutical Industry, working with various international companies. She is a knowledgeable business leader who is dedicated to helping individuals and organizations in optimizing resources and fulfilling their ultimate

She is passionate about advocacy programs that foster the strength and confidence of youthful intellects.

In  this inspiring conversation with her, she takes us through her career journey, achievements, challenges and nuggets for those coming after her. Read and be inspired.

Can you share an overview of your career journey, specifically how you entered the pharmaceutical industry and your path to becoming a  Marketing Manager? 

Following my Bachelor of Pharmacy degree, I gained comprehensive experience in the field. I graduated with distinction and undertook short stints in both hospital and community pharmacy settings. I began my professional journey in 2005 as a medical representative with an indigenous pharmaceutical company, promoting various medications across different therapeutic categories in the South-West region. Later, I transitioned to a  global company specializing in Insulin production, where I refined my skills in account and stakeholder management as the sole representative in the  South-West. Progressing to a Senior Medical Representative role with another global firm allowed me to focus on cardiovascular diseases and its  treatment, enhancing my proficiency in business strategy and negotiation  due to the competitive nature of the portfolio. 

As a Sales Manager at Nigeria’s largest pharmaceutical company, I developed  a keen interest in leadership and people management, and I take pride in  having mentored a successful group of leaders during my seven-year tenure.  I ventured into brand management to complement my sales background with  the largest healthcare company globally in my quest to becoming a versatile  commercial leader. In my role as a business unit leader, I collaborate across  various functions within a matrix structure to achieve business goals while  contributing to the promotion of a healthier lifestyle for people. 

What motivated you to work in the pharmaceutical sector, and what  inspired you to specialize in marketing within this industry?

Pharmacists are the authorities on medications. Moreover, the field of  Pharmacy provides avenues for ongoing education and career advancement,  which is particularly motivating for individuals like myself who relish  intellectual challenges and personal progress. Witnessing people recover and  thrive is something I find deeply fulfilling. I am captivated by the world of  medicine and healthcare, and I hold a strong commitment to ensuring the  safe and optimal use of medications. It brings me great joy to empower  individuals with accurate information that can enhance their overall quality of  life. The principles of marketing assist in effectively conveying the message  of holistic well-being to the appropriate audience.

Can you share some of the challenges you’ve faced in your career, and  how did you overcome them? 

Overcoming challenges has been an integral part of my journey towards  success. Initially, determining how to forge a career in Pharmacy practice  posed a significant hurdle as a new graduate. Despite attending numerous 

interviews for roles in banking and other fields, I reluctantly pursued a  Medical Representative position, which unexpectedly revealed untapped  potentials within me. Fueled by a fervor for learning and professional growth,  I successfully completed two separate Masters degrees and now proudly hold  an associate membership with the Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK. This  path has been demanding, yet immensely fulfilling. Ultimately, the impetus  to positively impact individuals’ lives and contribute to the broader healthcare  community has consistently propelled me forward, reframing every challenge  as an opportunity for learning and growth

The pharmaceutical industry has unique marketing challenges. How do  you navigate and adapt to regulations, ethical considerations, and  market dynamics in your role?

The Pharmaceutical Industry places paramount importance on maintaining  high standards, with quality as its cornerstone. Handling human lives  imposes a significant responsibility on healthcare practitioners to consistently  uphold these elevated levels of excellence in all engagements. Even the  smallest tasks and activities are governed by established protocols (SOPs).  Ongoing education on the Code of Business Conduct, learning and  development reinforce the imperative of consistently adhering to legal and  ethical responsibilities. It is incumbent upon everyone to hold one another  accountable for safeguarding the health of the global community.

In your view, what are the emerging trends or challenges in  pharmaceutical marketing, and how do you plan to adapt to these  changes in the industry?

Globally, biologic drugs, which are derived from living organisms, are gaining  prominence in the pharmaceutical industry. These therapies offer innovative  approaches to treating a wide range of diseases, including cancer,  autoimmune disorders, and genetic conditions.

In sub-Saharan Africa, access to quality healthcare is a major challenge that  requires urgent attention. Health insurance plays a pivotal role in enhancing  access to quality healthcare. Firstly, it provides a financial safety net for  individuals and families, mitigating the burden of high medical costs. This  means that people are more likely to seek out necessary medical attention  without the fear of incurring exorbitant expenses. Regular check-ups,  preventive care, and early intervention become more feasible, ultimately  leading to better health outcomes. 


As a woman in the industry, have you faced specific challenges or  opportunities, and how have these shaped your career and your  perspective on gender equality?

The typical industry in Nigeria continues to be predominantly male-oriented.  In addition to meeting the evident qualifications for a position, a woman  often needs to demonstrate exceptional competence to be considered for a  leadership role. I undertook a position that was linked to a promotion and  necessitated a relocation to a different state. While managing professional  and personal priorities was demanding and daunting, it was certainly  achievable. My experience during that period motivated other women to take  a chance on this type of gender-biased privileges at workplace.  As there is a growing emphasis on advocating for gender balance and  fairness in the workplace, more women are finding inspiration to pursue roles  in STEM2D fields, which have traditionally been more inclined towards male  representation.


Based on your experiences, what advice would you offer to individuals  aspiring to enter your field or profession?

The healthcare profession is a call to service. Regardless of where you  choose to practice, the aim remains to bring joy to someone’s life and  improve the quality of life of people.


Are there any specific lessons or insights you’ve gained that you  believe could be valuable to others?

Fostering valuable virtues like compassion, accountability, self-development,  strength of character and integrity of purpose hold significant worth. Being  acknowledged by the esteemed institution, 9to5Chick, as one of the  recipients of the prestigious top 100 Career Women in Africa during the  International Women’s Day 2023 serves as evidence of the boundless impact  we, as leaders in our respective spheres, can wield.

Thank you for having me.

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