One On One with Obiagboso Chinenyenwa Nwadiuto – Plant Quality Assurance Manager – Olam Nigeria Ltd.

Describe your current role, key responsibilities, and the most critical deliverables.

As the Plant Quality Assurance Manager, I have the mandate of ensuring quality process and product for 120 tonnes daily biscuit line capacity with 15 running SKUs.

My key responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Overseeing the activities of quality assurance department and staff; researching and maintaining a system of quality control and reliable validation and manufacturing and other processes.
  • Managing the plant quality assurance function in a complex and challenging high-capacity manufacturing facility.
  • Driving accountability with team leads and their teams to meet quality performance goals and ensure program standards are met on a week-by-week basis
  • Providing leadership to ensure that organizational policies, regulations, and procedures are in-line with Food Safety Standards.
  • Overseeing an effective QMS by continuously identifying opportunities for improvement while maintaining adherence to project driven key performance requirements (Project Pride & OLAM 2.0X) in view of FSSC 22000 certification plan (proposed for last quarter of 2021)
  • Developing and delivering quality management and quality assurance training for all employees engaged in quality and performance monitoring.
  • Working closely with Research and Development team, Production Team and Technical Support to ensure that quality objectives of all NPD and recoup are met within schedule constraints
  • Align with top management on the performance of food safety audits, drive corrective action for quality compliance

What are some of the most important skill sets in achieving success in your role?

Some of the key skills sets in my career include statistical data analysis, HACCP implementation, change management and control and internal audit coordination. Others include audit process management, document and records control, sensory evaluation and analysis and planning and organizational skills.

This role also requires me to be a creative problem solver, have good understanding of good manufacturing practices be a team player and have clear communication skills with defined strategy.

How would you describe your journey to the role you are currently having? How has your childhood and growing up guided your choice for this career option?

My journey to the role of Quality Assurance Manager was indeed a tough one. I started off my career as a Quality Control Officer, which involved ensuring that all process parameters are complied to with the goal of leading to zero customers complaint. Having handled this role to the top management’s satisfaction, I was promoted to Shift Production Manager. In this role I managed a team of over 200 people, while ensuring that production output targets were met without compromising quality standards and GMP. During this period, my team won the Excellent Team of the Year two (2) years in a row.

These contributions led to my promotion as the Quality Assurance Manager of the organization, which saddled me with the responsibility of ensuring process control, QMS and Food Safety Management. These has translated to a paradigm shift in my career.

Literally, my mum played a great role in my career path. My mum is a retired Home Economics Teacher. While in active service and during my secondary school days, Home Economics Teachers Association of Nigeria (HETAN) do conduct annual general meetings, which they rotate state wise. My mum always carried me along for these annual meetings, which mostly came up during the long vacation. I remember telling her at some point that “Mummy I want to be like you but in a more advanced career path.” She then told me about Food Science and Technology and how this role can take me to greater heights in the food industry. Today, I am glad I made the right decision (big shout out to my mum!). I am living my dream while I strive to go higher in the manufacturing sector.

What are some of the quality, food safety and compliance certifications your company has achieved? How would you say these certifications have shaped up your company to achieve its goals?

In my previous company I led the team that achieved QMS 9001:2015 and currently I am preparing my plant for ISO 22000: 2018 (FSSC 22000 Vs 5.1). Though this is still in-view, but I must say this has greatly improved my company’s quality/food safety culture as well as infrastructural improvement.

How does your company ensure that food safety culture is inculcated within the teams? What are some of the challenges your team and company face in ensuring compliance throughout the business?

Consumer satisfaction is our driving force with room for zero tolerance to non-compliances. In my organization Food Safety Culture is inculcated to the team through weekly trainings, ensuring good hygienic practices across the board (handwashing and frequent hand sanitizing), use of signages (where applicable), active continuous monitoring/review (to ensure compliance to standards) and of course management commitment.

Some of the challenges we face is constantly having new workers due to various capacity expansions of the factory to meet up with demand. Likewise, dealing with people from different socio-cultural backgrounds is a challenge, but this is taken care of by training and continuous monitoring.

What are some of the quality, food safety and compliance your company challenges on a regular basis? What are some of the processes you have put in place to ensure that raw materials, in-process, and end products meet your requirements?

Some of the quality, food safety and compliance challenges include in-process deviations from the product standard and recent scarcity in supply of packaging materials.

Some of the processes put in place to ensure standards are maintained include ensuring compliance to incoming goods inspection (IGI) for both raw materials & packaging materials (for instance ensuring right specification of packaging materials, burst/compression strength, and GSM); deploying of process control parameters (PCPs) and SOPs; continuous training of the warehouse and sales team on finished goods handling with relative to burst compression strength of the secondary packaging materials.

Some of the key skills sets in my career include statistical data analysis, HACCP Implementation, Change Management and Control and Internal Audit Coordination.

Obiagboso Chinenyenwa Nwadiuto


Tell us about your company and how it fits in with career goals. Briefly, what is the typical day like in your role and at your company?

I work with the largest biscuit, wafers, and sweet company in Nigeria, with over 30 years in manufacturing which means that my company has a robust structure that promotes manufacturing excellence, which has helped us to develop higher capacity towards delivering the best process/product quality that always guarantees food safety.

This fits perfectly with respect to my career goals which is producing food using more robust and automated processes – though I will not mind diversifying because as the saying goes ‘variety is the spice of life’.

My typical daily routine is engaging with the team to review Process Deviations, Analyzing the RFT, Food Safety Deviations (CCP/OPRP functionality checks), attending to official meetings (if any), and support R&D in NPD/Packaging developments to meet our customers’ requirements.

What have been some of the previous roles before the current one? How important were those roles in shaping your current role?

Like I earlier mentioned, I worked as Quality Control executive and Shift Production Manager.

These two roles helped me to build a stronger capacity for product/process quality; have a detailed understanding of GHP, GHK, HACCP and process validations; improved understanding of Quality Management System, FSMS, Good Laboratory practices and clear understanding of 5S.

What have been the key turning points in your career? Have you ever had a change in career direction? If so, how did you handle the change? What lessons did you derive from this change?

The turning point in my career was when I was promoted to Quality Assurance Manager. I had a minor change when I moved from Production to Quality department, which I appreciated and made me to stay in the food industry.

Personally, I am someone that always like orderliness and “Quality” you must agree with me, implies the same.  Bringing in my personal attribute to my job makes it more enjoyable and easier to get things done the right way. My greatest learning is never to give up on your dreams irrespective of all the odds.

What makes your role interesting? What do you enjoy most about your role? What has been the role of mentors and family in the achievement of your professional goals?

 Being a product gatekeeper for the consumer makes my role interesting by ensuring that there’s no customer complaint for every batch of product produced and sent to the trade.

What I enjoy most is being able to protect the consumers’ rights and ensuring a satisfying experience at every bite of the product we produce at the factory. Secondly, I enjoy learning new ways of implementing standards, trainings and being trained (especially in working in a system like QMS, FSMS).

My family has been of great support in my chosen career path and my mum is my number one mentor followed by the late Dora Akunyili (Former Director General of NAFDAC) for ensuring that consumers rights are protected to prevent food/drug adulteration.

What challenges do you face in delivering on your current role and how do you overcome them?

Some of the challenges I face in delivering my current role are:

  • Output target – Production wanting to drive volumes at the expense of quality. This is controlled by ensuring continuous engagement with all the stakeholders and strict adherence to SOPs.
  • Testing gap – This have been addressed by getting automated testing equipment with less human interference. Currently, I am building a more robust physio-chemical laboratory and retention sample/sensory room.
  • Constantly renovating the products to ensure that business growth is not impacted while maintaining quality due to the current economic crisis.

Generally, I am employed to add value to the organization, hence challenges for me are a steppingstone to success.

How do you wind down after a hard day at work? What are your personal hobbies? How do these hobbies contribute to your personnel and professional development?

I wind down by listening to soothing music, cooking, exercising and connecting with people. My hobbies are reading, fashion designing and trying new dishes – they help me to learn new things that positively impact my personal/spiritual and professional life

How can young people who may aspire to a career choice like yours plan their journey? What advice would you give them to succeed in their careers and life?

My advice for young people who aspire to be in my career path is to be objective about what they want. I would like to advise them to have mentors and coaches that they can tailor their career with.

They should also not allow any body to tell them otherwise with relation to their course of study and chosen career path – people may tease them but they should not lose focus and must train their mind on the bigger picture.

What would you want to accomplish in your career before you step away from the industry? What else would you want to do in the future?

I aspire to get to the position of Quality Director before leaving the industry. My future aspiration is to own a manufacturing factory and a fashion house.

This feature appeared in the September/October 2021 issue of Food Safety Africa. You can read the magazine HERE.