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Women in Business: Folake Soetan

Folake Soetan is the Acting Chief Executive Officer of Ikeja Electric Plc, the largest privately run Distribution Company in Sub-Saharan Africa and the foremost in Nigeria by revenue and innovation.

She oversees the ongoing transformation at Ikeja Electric, which has earned the company the remarkable recognition of the ISO9001 & OHSAS18001 certification – a mark of IE’s commitment to high safety and quality management standards. This is a testament of Ikeja Electric’s continuous improvement – a leading model in the sector – in loss reduction, innovation and customer-centricity.

Her journey to the exalted role at Ikeja Electric has been challenging to say the least, yet, inspiring – especially in a sector traditionally dominated by men.

This journey commenced in 2015 when Folake joined Ikeja Electric as Deputy Chief Commercial Officer. She was immediately tasked with creating strategies and initiatives to reduce commercial and collection losses. She also had the crucial responsibility of improving customer service delivery while also building a team of young, agile and committed employees to provide fresh ideas for turning the business around.

Folake joined the company when Ikeja Electric was at a pivotal stage of implementing its transformational plan. The newly privatized business had commissioned an Asset Mapping and Customer Enumeration program to help improve the database of the company in relation to its customer numbers and infrastructure, with the ultimate objective of being able to serve Ikeja Electric’s customers better.

Within a year, Folake was made Chief Commercial Officer of Ikeja Electric, ushering in one of the most amazing turnarounds the industry has witnessed from a commercial point of view. She and her team introduced several initiatives that are currently being implemented in curbing energy theft, addressing issues around estimated billing, improving customer complaints resolution, and reducing commercial and collection losses.

In 2019, Soetan was promoted to the position of Chief Operating Officer with the goal of transforming not just the Commercial Department, but the Technical Department and other key operations in the organization. Folake and her team introduced several initiatives that engendered the improvement of the quality of power supply in the Ikeja franchise areas, from an average availability of 12 hours to about 16 hours supply daily. She was also in charge of the team that delivered the Bilateral Power initiative in August, 2019 – a Willing-Buyer-Willing-Seller scheme, which for the first time in Nigeria, witnessed the provision of a minimum of 20 hours of power supplied through the National Grid to customers.   

Folake’s experience in change management, business transformation, passion for team building and nurturing talent is valued immensely by the staff and management of Ikeja Electric. Through teamwork, the company has reduced its ATC&C losses from over 41% to as low as 24.9% in 4 years, the best so far in industry standard. The company continues to innovate and rely on technology to deliver quality and stable power supply for customers in its franchise area.

She left Virgin Nigeria and joined SO Aviation, Lagos (a Sahara Group company) in 2009 to manage a turnaround project that led to the sign up of major international airlines; thus moving the company from Number 7 to Number 3 in market share. Then, in Ghana, as the Vice President (Downstream) West Africa, Folake was primarily responsible for three Sahara subsidiary companies.

Soetan has over 20 years of professional experience in the management of start-ups, Sales and Marketing, Change Management, with over 13 years in leadership roles.

Folake is a graduate of Banking and Finance from the University of Lagos. She is also an alumnus of Harvard Business School where she acquired certification in Advanced Management. Over the last 20 years of her career, she has garnered several certifications in various professional courses.

 

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