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Nichole Onome Yembra: Former CFO, Venture Gardens Group Says She Would Love to Have a Lunch Date With Beyonce

Nichole Onome Yembra is the Founder and Managing Director of The Chrysalis Co which houses The Chrysalis Capital, a new $15M Africa and Diaspora early stage tech fund and The Chrysalis Advisors, a strategy and investment advisory firm. Previously, she was CFO of Venture Gardens Group. There, she drove the company’s financial progress and actively served as the local partner for foreign investors eager to transform African technology startups. She has guided the formal legal structure of the fund and led the investment into 8 new ventures in 2016; raising the group to the 14 companies it has today. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina, and a Masters degree in Accounting from Wake Forest University School of Business. She is one of 200 participants of the inaugural Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa program. She has also been named one of the Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD) in 2018.

Nichole Yembra takes our Career Conversations questionnaire.

What is your number one hack for dealing with difficult colleagues/bosses? 

Understanding yourself and then understanding them. I am obsessed with personality assessments and between understanding a person’s personality type, communication style, and leadership style, you can usually figure out how to connect with them. If you take the time to understand how a person likes to receive information (direct vs more detailed explanation for example), and you tailor your approach to them, you can usually reach them. It’s also important to try to understand what motivates people (fact/data vs emotion vs reasoning) and use that to effectively work with them. With my teams, I am constantly talking through our different personality types so we understand how to work with eachother better and bringing in other assessments so we can improve our relationship.

2 things you do when you are having a bad day?

Eat chocolate chip cookies and watch cartoons. I love Nestle tollhouse break and bake cookies and I bring tons of them back when I travel. A few freshly baked cookies and cartoons like Archer, Rick & Morty, Family Guy, and American Dad and I usually feel better.

When you are creatively stuck, you…? 

Take a nap, work out, or complete another project. I try not to dwell on the one task because there are so many other things to do. Funny enough though, I usually get the answer to my creative rut while I sleep because my mind never actually shuts off. Science shows that when we sleep, we access a lot more of our brain, so I let nature do the work.

2 tips for navigating office politics? 

Most of my life, I believed that if you simply kept your head down and did the work, nothing else would matter. Coming to Nigeria, I’ve seen that it’s not exactly the case. Above all, strive for competence; never let anyone be able to challenge the quality of your work. Next, take the time to get to know people, genuinely, and they will begin fighting your battles for you.

If you could have a lunch date with one woman you admire – who would that be and what would you ask her? 

Beyoncé Giselle Knowles Carter. Her mind, business savvy, work ethic, discipline, creativity, and strategic thinking are unmatched. She works so hard that she makes everyone around her look lazy (even when they’re not). There are three examples that I came across recently and they are some of the reason I will forever Stan.

The 2019 Coachella headliner was paid $8M for her performance which featured several other celebrities which she had to pay plus set costs, so she may have taken home $1-$2M for that performance. Beyoncé negotiated $4M for her performance (which only featured her family members) and exclusive rights to the content which she then sold to Netflix for $60M. She dominated the 2019 Coachella news cycle and used it to launch her new partnership with Adidas.

That brings me to example (2) in how stories circulated that she met with other brands for the relaunch of her line and walked out of those meetings because there were not people on the team that reflected her background and heritage.

Do you know how dope that is to use your privilege to be able to give opportunities to brilliant people of color? To give them their well deserved seat at the table?

Lastly, it was leaked that Beyoncé performed at a private Uber event for $6M in restricted stock options. When she said “pay me in equity”, she was not joking! Imagine what those shares will be worth when the company goes public at their suspected $90B valuation?

I must throw in one more example; She rehearsed 8 months for a 2 hour performance at Coachella. How many of us will put in that much thought and attention to detail to our craft? And, this was just months after having a very difficult pregnancy with Twins! If you study her life, you’ll see that there were key defining moments that have shaped this impact she has today; I would want to discuss those with her and how she was able to make those choices that have made her a living icon.

If you could wear the same hairstyle to work everyday, it would be? 

My curly fro. My hair is natural, but I swear by natural hair extensions to keep it protected with my workouts and this weather, so I would keep those curls popping daily!

Your all time favorite book is..?

Harry Potter series. I only read fiction which shocks people and I absolutely love recurring characters.

That lipstick hue that leaves you feeling “badass” is?

Uniformly fabulous by Mac. It’s a blackened grape color and it brings out my full badass personality.

First of its kind in Nigeria, the #50LeadingLadiesinCorporateNigeria list, published strategically on May 1, (Worker’s Day) makes a case for increased representation and appointment of women in leadership positions within the world of business. The list encourages more women to aim higher and show up for the change and impact that is so needed within the corporate and business sector.

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