Meet, Georgia Akwudike, Director at Amazon and an Executive DJ.

Meet Georgia Akwudike, the powerhouse behind Amazon UK’s Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) Operations by day, and an Executive DJ by night. By the sun’s rise, she navigates the corporate landscape, orchestrating calls and harmonizing business strategies. But as twilight descends, she effortlessly transitions to the DJ booth, setting the rhythm for vibrant soirées.

In a world where conformity often reigns supreme, Georgia defies the norm as a consummate professional and a captivating outsider. Her accolades speak volumes, from being honored as the Best Female Chartered Accountant by ICAN in 2013 to receiving the UK Everywoman in Logistics ‘Above and Beyond’ Award in 2019, and the prestigious African Achievers Diaspora Impact Award in 2022.

In this exclusive interview, Georgia Akwudike unveils the art of balancing these dual worlds with finesse. Prepare to be inspired.

Can you tell us about your journey into the corporate world and your role as the Director of Sub-Saharan Africa Operations for Amazon?

My journey is honestly one of Grace and Favour. In 2011, I graduated from University of Portharcourt with a B.Sc. in Accounting. Then I started my career journey as an Accountant in Seamfix in same year, and wrote my Chartered Accountancy (ICAN) Exams in 2011 and 2012. In Nov 2012, I became a financial services audit associate in KPMG, and in Jan 2015, I moved on to become a senior audit associate in PwC. 2015 was really my turning point year, as I recall receiving an email from Total Energies, stating that they had seen my CV in their unsolicited CVs repository, and noticed that I was qualified to apply for their scholarship program, and asked if I should be put through the process if interested. I leaped for joy and went through the screening process and passed, and I got a fully funded scholarship from Total Energies for my masters. In October 2015, I moved to France to study International Accounting and Finance in EDHEC Business school.

As I was wrapping up my M.Sc. program, I started looking for jobs back in the finance industry, both in Nigeria and France, and nothing was working out, but one day Amazon came to my school for a career fair, and talked about the Pathways Operations Management program, which is an accelerated management program for recently graduated MBA students with ~4years of experience. I was quite excited about the program because it was going to teach me supply chain operations, how to become a good people leader (leading large teams of ~3000 employees), and then put me on the track to become an executive in the company, so I jumped on it. I didn’t have an MBA but an M.Sc., however, I still applied in faith, and I’m glad I did, as in October 2016 I started my first role with Amazon UK. 7.5years, 5 promotions, and 6 cities later, I’m thriving in a job I love, I lead and I’m also led by great people, I get appreciated/recognized appropriately, and I keep learning each day. What more could a girl ask for?

In my current role as Director of Sub-Saharan Africa Operations, I am responsible for the launch and execution of operations in the region starting with South Africa. When I say Operations, I mean the Supply chain, procurement, warehousing, distribution and transportation of our inventory to our e-commerce customers, ensuring they get the right customer experience.

Exciting! However, how do you balance your responsibilities as a corporate executive with your passion for music and DJing?

I’m not even going to lie, this is not an easy task, but I love both responsibilities, so I try to strike as much balance as possible. Typically, I work Monday to Fridays (and really long hours), and then I’m a resident DJ at a club on Saturdays. When I was first offered the DJ residency, I declined a Friday slot to avoid burn out, because I knew I’ll be super exhausted to DJ on Friday nights. However, by Saturday night I should be well rested and able to give it my best. When I initially started DJ’ing, I was excited to take on a lot of gigs – weddings, private events, carnivals etc. I remember one weekend I had 4 gigs across the Friday to Sunday weekend, after a very long week, so I started to burn out very quickly, and realized I needed a sustainable pace so that my performance in both roles did not become mediocre. So now, I try to keep it minimal by just doing my Saturday night weekly gigs, and once a quarter, I take on additional gigs and also take time to create really nice content for my social media page (The Executive DJ on IG).

What inspired you to pursue DJing, and how do you integrate it into your life alongside your demanding corporate career?

There is a Fav song of mine with the lyrics ‘Music heals your body, heals your spirit, and makes you whole, so get in the music’.  In my happy or sad moments, music has always been my safe space. Ironically, I can’t sing to safe my life, but I do love listening to music, and I’m a fire dancer (probably should have been a choreographer). It irks me when I attend events and witness DJs with poor transitions that just kill the vibe, so I often thought to myself that I could do a better job. However, with my busy schedule I just never had the time to explore that thought deeper. But in 2022 I changed roles and had a bit of breather on my schedule, and seized the opportunity to enrol in DJ school and I fell in love with the craft. Graduating from the beginner to professional courses within three months, I made the bold decision to move from the practice studio to the dance floor. I reached out to club and event managers on Instagram, offering my services initially for free. Through perseverance and learning from my initial failures, I gained confidence and landed my first two gigs in December 2022. The journey was not without its challenges, but with each performance, I grew and improved. Creating a viral launch video from my third gig propelled me into a career that has exceeded my wildest dreams. Over the past year, I have had the privilege of performing at over 60 events, including weddings, festivals, carnivals, and every Saturday night, I am honoured to DJ at one of Manchester’s most popular afrobeats clubs – Roots.

It’s not easy balancing both, however, despite the challenges I may face in my professional life, stepping onto the stage on Saturdays to give joy to people who just want to have fun, ignites a fire within me that I will always cherish.

As an ‘Executive DJ,’ what unique perspectives or skills do you think you bring to the music scene that differentiate you from other DJs?

Good question, let me try to give you context. My full stage name is The Executive DJ P.I.P. The acronym P.I.P is one that has resonated with me for years, and stands for Primus Inter Pares meaning First amongst Equals. It’s a symbol of a level of excellence that I’ve embodied most of my life, by the Grace of God. This has been evident in the feedback and multiple awards I’ve received on my journey, from Best Graduating student awards (B.Sc, M.Sc, ICAN) to UK’s Women in Logistics ‘Above and Beyond’ award, African Achievers award, etc. So, even as a DJ, I apply that level of excellence with my service and to my clients. For example, when I’m called for gigs, I do my homework to understand the hosts, the audience, their music taste etc., to ensure I have everything I need plus extras. I dress up in cute suits to portray the Executive image, and my level of professionalism during the event is top tier. If you view the content I put out on my IG page, you’d also see and feel that executive presence, as I ensure it’s not just a name, but also an experience – hence my tagline #ExperienceTheExecutive (#ExTheEx). Moreover, in everything I do, I always desire to learn more, and to be more, so even as a DJ, I’m not satisfied with just the status quo, I put in the time to learn, get better and keep improving my craft so that someday, sometime soon, I’ll be one of the best in the industry.

As a woman in a leadership role, what initiatives or changes do you believe are necessary to foster greater diversity and inclusion within the field?

Which of the fields are you referring to, as I’ve somehow found myself in 2 male dominated industries, lol.

However, generally I think the first ingredient to DEI is intentionality. The leaders need to be intentional and passionate about making DEI a priority for the company. For starters people need to be educated on why diversity is so important. Once it’s properly understood, then they can take on deliberate actions to ensure they have diverse interview candidates by partnering with relevant associations for that (e.g. women in logistics, women in engineering etc). When diverse employees are hired, the next step is to be intentional about inclusion. Diversity is really about numbers, but inclusion is where the hard work is, because it involves ensuring that the work culture fosters the retainment, engagement, development and inclusion of the diverse talent. Programs that could help with that include relevant DEI training for all employees, breaking conscious and unconscious biases during talent reviews if promotional parity issues are detected, mentorship and sponsorship programs to support diverse talent, digging deeper into root causes of attrition of diverse employees if it is not at parity with rest of the organization.  There is a long list of actions and so much that could be done, but only intentional leaders ever move the needle on this.  

What advice would you give to other professionals looking to pursue their passions outside of their primary careers?

My message is simple: Just Do It, do not be afraid to take the first step. You will never know where it may lead until you try. Age should never be a barrier to experimentation. At 33 years, just when I thought my nightlife days were long behind me, I found myself fully immersed in the scene once again but for different reasons. Carving out time for your passion is crucial, healthy and gives joy, plus it doesn’t hurt if you’re able to convert it to another stream of income.

Looking ahead, do you have any plans to further integrate your corporate expertise with your passion for music, or vice versa, in the future?

Who knows, I could become the CEO of Amazon Music someday, lol. Ok jokes apart, I don’t really know, this is all new to me, and I’m avoiding the pressure by just taking it one day at a time. Contrary to what a lot of folks think, I don’t have my life all figured out (yet), lol. What I do know though is that my aim is to be a corporate DJ hence my current branding. I’ve already had 2 big corporate gigs including DJ’ing for Amazon EU’s 20th Anniversary event, and I have an even bigger Amazon gig coming up in May in the US, so I’m really looking forward to it and future corporate gig opportunities that will help solidify my brand.

 

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