Mrs Bukky George is the Founder and CEO of HealthPlus Limited and CasaBella International. She is a registered pharmacist with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain and the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria. She shares the benefits of focus, knowledge, networking and going the extra mile to succeed in life and business.
Her Growing Up Years
She was born in 1970, and grew up in the laps of poverty, being the ninth of thirty six children from a polygamous home. Hence, her mother had to quickly become the sole provider for her and two other siblings. This would become her impetus, a driving force for success.
She attended the School of Pharmacy (now Faculty of Pharmacy), College of Medicine of the University of Lagos from 1987 to 1992, graduating with five awards as the best student of her graduating class. She enrolled for her internship programme at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi Araba, while also moonlighting at Onyx Pharmacy, GRA, Ikeja where she got first hand experience in retail pharmacy.
During her youth service year, she worked at Smithkline Beecham – now GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and quickly learned the ropes in production, quality control and sales. Upon finishing her youth service, she worked with May & Baker Pharmaceuticals as a medical representative, serving also in this same capacity upon her return to Smithkline Beecham.
The skills honed in sales, exhibition, and presentation during this period helped transform her into a confident young professional who always emerged the best representative of the month due to her diligence, and according to her, careful attention to small details.
Donning Her Entrepreneurial Hat
Though, she had worked for four years with leading pharmaceuticals companies, she wanted more from life as she sought for her true passion and life purpose. Taking stock of her skills set – excellent salesmanship, fastidious in matters of details, highly organised and entrepreneurial – she was convinced that she had the right mix of ingredients to be a successful retailer, one that could strike out on her own.
Imbued with this self-belief, she resigned as an assistant manager. This auspicious year was 1999. Her company, HealthPlus, though had been incorporated as a limited liability company since December 1996. The time, she felt, had come for her to put her money, energy and vision where her mouth was.
HealthPlus thus started full operations as a registered pharmacy in April 1999, building the company from inception upon the advice she got from a friend that any business was always better if it started with clearly crafted mission, vision, core values, big hairy audacious goals (BHAGs) and strategy.
With these set in mind, she proceeded to understudy London’s landmark pharmacy – John Bell and Croyden – which gave her insight into how a pharmacy ought to be run, and the difference she ought to push for in her business; one being that passion and excellence must never be compromised. This passion for excellence thus permeated her entire business structure such that they became quickly differentiated from competitors in key areas like customer service, staff training, and keeping themselves up to date with trends and industry facts.
Her Big, Bold, and Audacious Dream Gets Bigger
CasaBella International Limited, another of her company, was incorporated in 2008. Different from HealthPlus, this was a beauty supply business that catered to the grooming and beauty solutions for men and women and opened its flagship store in July 2010 at The Palms Mall, Lagos.
Over the past seventeen years, her group of businesses have grown to include more than forty strategic branches, with a staff strength of over 429 employees. Her secret? Investing in human capital! This, she believes always wins.
If you are very prudent and run your business properly, she says, people will buy into your ideas and invest in your business.
Recognition and Responsibilities
- She is Chairman of Sanofi Pharamcy Advisory Board, and a member of the Pharma Strategic Committee which maintains the well-being of the pharmaceuticals industry in Nigeria, as well as an associate member of WIMBIZ.
- She was invited to be a panelist at the IFC Euro Finance Week in Frankfurt, Germany in 2012
- She was selected for the Fortune 500 Global Women’s Mentoring Program, and is the first recipient of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria Board of Fellows’ Award for Excellence in Community Pharmacy.
This dear woman is not done dreaming, as she aspires to make her company the Boots pharmacy of Nigeria – Boots, being the leading health and beauty pharmacy in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
To her, gender has never posed an impediment, because she believes that a mindset of success and being target driven gives the same results to anyone – man or woman.
Her personal mantra is “To every problem, there is a solution”, as she avers with passion and equal measure of feeling that the combined application of orthodox medicine and natural remedies always give better treatment outcomes.