Quincy’s daughter on fame, success & succession …The untold story of Dr. Keeney + How she re-branded the Quincy brand in 7 years

Dr. Tobi Ayodele Keeny with Mum & Dad, Dr. Mrs. Quincy & Engineer Ayodele

It was sometimes in year 2002 that
famous Nigerian Herbal expert, Dr. Mrs.
Quincy
Olasumbo Ayodele told a
Lagos based soft sell journal, Global
Excellence
that her kids were to take over from her in few years’ time.
Thirteen years after that prophecy, her first child Dr. Mrs. Tobi Ayodele Keeney has taken over her multi-million Naira
herbal medicine empire Quincy Herbals
as Chief Operating Officer.

Dr. (Mrs.) Quincy
Olasumbo Ayodele
who is the pioneer Secretary General
of Traditional Medicine Practitioners Association of Nigeria and a Special
Adviser to World Health Organization (WHO) on Development of African
Traditional Medicine can be described as a very lucky mother as her kids are
fast reliving her by ensuring a great succession plan for her brand
  Dr. Tobi Ayodele Keeney, a  University
of
Maryland USA trained
Biologist took over the running of the affairs of her mother’s herbal empire
couple of years bringing in lots of innovation that has suddenly shot the
pedigree of the Quincy brand to
international standard and acceptance with majority of their slimming and
therapy products now wearing a branded new look.
 Dr.
Keeney
is also responsible for the mass attention of the Quincy brand on various social media
platforms in Nigeria and abroad. Penultimate Monday afternoon, Africa’s number
1 Celebrity encounter blog, Asabeafrika
caught up with this young and dynamic CEO in her late twenties for the first
time ever and  spent an interesting 60
minutes with her as she opened up to this blog on her humble background, mum’s
influence on her career and how she wrote a letter to success at a tender age.
Find your favorite drink and enjoy the excerpts.
Dr. Keeney to Asabeafrika….’My mum raised us with a very strict hand and it payed off eventually’
Since you took over Quincy Herbal
Slimmers, you have brought a whole lot of innovation to the business, how have
you been able to do it?
It is not
just about me, it is about the discipline that has been instilled in us to run
systems. It is a family business and we are all in it. I have myself and I have
my siblings and my husband, Trevor
Michael Keeney
.  I assist my mum in
running the organization; health practitioners don’t retire because it is a
knowledge based field; the longer time you spend in the practice the more you
know and the more you know, the better you are. So, for my mum, she is the
foundation while I and my siblings are right now serving as pillars.
“I made sure we had much of social
media influence which we didn’t really have much of it before I came on board
and since everybody is moving into the social media, it doesn’t make any sense
for us to say we are not going there, we are balancing both the traditional
media and social media because it is good to always scout your audience from
all platforms”.
Dr. Keeney with Dad, Mum & the GDA

What exactly did you study in school?
I have a
biochemistry discipline as first degree and I have a master of science in the
health field, I moved back to Nigeria some seven years back and joined the team
and since then we have been putting up a lot of strategies that will aide
innovation and development. You know something you have been doing for 15
years; at that time, mum has been running the business for 15 years and it has
been working at least to her own knowledge and to her own capacity and you now
come in and you say everything has to be reformed and re-modeled. We took all
products and put them into a new package; same content, but with a new face
because obviously mum has build the name. She has indeed build the brand, she
has build the effectiveness and efficacy and the everything but to take the
business to the next level was a desirable venture and mum was just only one
person. So, what many people can do is what somebody is doing. To get her to
adapt to our own new way of doing things was not quite easy and it took us
almost five years, to get ourselves to this level. My husband is an American
and a consultant; he is an engineer and a business consultant. He looked at the
entire process and we agreed to throw everything out and put in a more
international standard process in place. With that international standard
process in place, it is easier to market the brand on a global international
scale. I will say he is the one that is really behind the re-branding and
re-packaging. I, my mum and my sister had the intuition but the branding came
from him. I know what to put inside, I know what to put in the brand; he is the
one that gave it a re-touch and a feel of uniqueness.
Dr. Keeney to Asabeafrika….’Growing under mum gave us the experience to learn how to start little

Growing up under her tutelage, what
did you learn from your mum as a mother and CEO?
I learnt
strictness from my mum. My mum is a very strict woman and she always tell us
that working for somebody will only pay your bills only your business is going
to make you not just rich but fulfilled. And what is the point of making
somebody else rich when you can do it by yourself? Mum is very hardworking,
very, very, very hardworking. And she is not proud. So, she was not someone
that started on a big level because a lot of people have this misconception
that she started very, very big. No. we started very, very, very small and she
put all of us in it; all of us know about the business, me, my sister, my
brother, my father and my husband. My mum told us that you don’t need one
million dollars
to start something, if you have five thousand Naira,
just start. Even this product that we put on ground, we didn’t wait till one
contract came from God knows where, we just make use of the available funds we
have and with that, we can run the trade and earn more. My mum is a humble
starter, she is not into ‘oh, I am looking for Fifty million to start it or whatever, if you have five thousand naira or whatever seed
you have, just start. Mum is someone that loves to start from humble beginning
to big heights and she also believes that whatever is worth doing at all is
what doing well. That is her business philosophy and that has really worked for
the group. You have to keep re-inventing yourself or you become stagnant. 
“The moment we peep through the
window and we see her at the gate, ‘aah, this woman has return’, we will be
running around, trying to throw things under the pillow or under the bed;
trying to straighten things in the living room and all that and we will quickly
sit down and behave as if we are reading our books and even upon that one, she
can still beat us”
An array of Quincy’s newly re-invented and re-branded products

When you came into Nigeria, what were
those things you were able to put in place that turn around the running of the
organization?
We had to
integrate my mum into the system we put in place. It is a transition and like
with any great process in the world, there is always a time for re-invention.
For instance, inventory, tracking of invoice, I made sure we had much of social
media influence which we didn’t really have much of it before I came on board
and since everybody is moving into the social media, it doesn’t make any sense
for us to say we are not going there, we are balancing both the traditional
media and social media because it is good to always scout your audience from
all platforms. So, I came up with the social media plan from instagram
to twitter
to other platforms. I don’t even go on twitter; she is the one that
goes on twitter. I make sure she is always updating her facebook,
twitter
and other accounts. Right now, we are on Konga, we are going to be
on Jumia
and lucky enough we have been able to get on amazon.com in the United
States of America. Even the way our processes work, our administration, we have
to change it a little bit because once you graduate from a small business to a
big business; you must have a big business sense and process to drive your
administration. My husband has an MBA in finance and his ideas come handy.
Dr. Keeney with mum & her two lovely American kids

You are a mother of two boys, so how
do you manage as a mother and CEO?
Yes, I have
two boys but I think it is good I am working for myself if I was working for
someone else it would have been tasking. I don’t know how my mother did it when
she was working in the bank and still had children and all that; for me, it is
not bad because I run the show here. I am flexible with my time and I can bring
my kids to work, I can schedule my work to fit my motherly attention for
pre-school time and post-school time schedule with my kids. And when you run a
family business, there is no closing time. Everybody closes at 6pm but we are
still working till 12 and even 1am brainstorming and looking at strategic ways
to move the business ahead.

Dr. Keeney to Asabeafrika….’Success in business is a merge of focus and ability to manage let downs’

From what you have learnt from your
mum as the founder of a renowned brand like Quincy, what do you think is the
secret of success?
If you have
passion for what you are doing, you will succeed. You have to have passion for
what you are doing, you can’t think of it for money first. If you think of
money first, you will only make money for few years and it will go away because
you are going to have ups and downs in the business. That is how all businesses
started in the history of successful businesses in the world. Businesses are
full of up and downs, looking for how to catch up with the best strategy. So,
you have to get passion for what you are doing first of fall and within that
passion, you have to work hard at it to making sure you know about what you are
doing. And number two, whatever you are doing, you must never relent on the
quality and the efficacy. You must not say ‘oh, because I have managed to make
a fortune let me reduce the quality or dilute it, you will end up losing your
margin eventually. Even if it means you are going to make enough profit margins
in the course of quantity, you will discover that you are loosing out because
you won’t earn customers’ loyalty in the long run. It is better to make profit
margin with quality and you will see that your profit margin will eventually
rise at the end of the day because your quality is constant. 
“My parent work hard to give us the
best education within their means, we grew up on budget and I can tell you that
we were always on budget because our parent were democratic enough to tell us,
‘look, this is how much we have o and most of it has to go for your school fees
because if we don’t educate you well, you wont be useful to us”.

The Cover of the magazine where Quincy Predicted the taking over of her empire by her kids in 2002

Do you have the intention to run
Quincy for life or you will like to do other things later in life?
What a
question! I plan to run it for life. I mean, it doesn’t take an extra-ordinary
act to run one’s own vision. Yes, within Quincy
group
as an herbal medical producing company, we might diversify. There is
always a room for diversification; we will diversify but within the field of
our expertise. There are so many things that we will love to do in the long run
but it will be within the whims of medical care giving either in foods, drugs
or any related practice. So, yes, we will diversify within Quincy herbal group, we will diversify. You can look at Coca-cola; they don’t sell Coke alone; that is their premium
brand. They sell other stuffs that you wouldn’t even know they are the one
behind it not until you look down at the bottom line, then you will know Coke is the producer. So, for Quincy, we will have a lot of
sub-products and services. For me, this is my life; this is my business, where
do you expect me to go next?
Dr. Keeney with her Mum, Dr. (Mrs.) Quincy Olasumbo Ayodele, Founder, Quincy Herbals

Growing up with your mother, did she
ever spank you or was she just a pampering mum?
Aaah! My
mum? My dad was the one we were always wishing that he will just come and save
us from this woman. My mum didn’t joke with cane; today my mum has become our
best friend and I see that as an irony because when we were younger, she was
the one we fear most. The moment we peep through the window and we see her at
the gate, ‘aah, this woman has return’, we will be running around, trying to
throw things under the pillow or under the bed; trying to straighten things in
the living room and all that and we will quickly sit down and behave as if we
are reading our books and even upon that one, she can still beat us. She was
very strict and never joked with our early years conduct and that really helped
us because today, all of us are okay; there is none of us that is doing drugs
or misbehaving in any form or the other; she closed her eyes and trained us
well. With benefit of hindsight, I can say she is the best mother in the world.
How many of you?
Three of us,
two girls, and a boy (One Scientist, one lawyer and an engineer) her training
really paid off because today, our strength of character emerged from that
background she gave us. And today, anytime she is not around, I try to do that
to my own children, you know grand mothers will always pamper their grand kids.
There are some things she didn’t take from us and I see her let it go with
them; so, anytime she is looking elsewhere I will quickly apply her style on
them and I think it is working. They can take all the pampering from their
grand mother and take all the spankings from me.

Dr Keeney to Asabeafrika….’Getting mum to adapt to our new business sense was a bit tasking’

Where do you see Quincy in the next
50 years?
I will need
to ask my own kids that question when they grow up that where do they see Quincy in the next 50 years? Where do
they see their family business in the next 50 years? I see us at the
conglomerate level, with hard work, high standards and faith in God; we will be
at the global level. Quincy will be
a household name in natural health care. That is our own specialty and we don’t
plan to diversify from natural health care because natural health care is quite
diverse.
Give us a formal resume of Dr. Tobi
Keeney?
I am Tobi Ayodele Keeney. I attended the University of Maryland, United States of
America
for both my undergraduate and my graduate schooling. I worked a
little bit in the US, gained experience before I returned to Nigeria to join
the family business.
Dr. Keeney to Asabeafrika….’I was never born with a silver spoon’

There is this perception that
children of the rich are never do wells, do you share this opinion?
Well, I
don’t know how to answer this question because I wasn’t born into a rich family
You don’t look like someone born
without a silver spoon?
We were born
lower middle-class; we sold Puff-Puff
and struggled like any average child of our time. By the time we started making
any money, I was almost getting married. So, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon
in my mouth and I don’t know how to define the psychological state of children of
the rich because honestly speaking I didn’t come from that background. My
parent work hard to give us the best education within their means, we grew up
on budget and I can tell you that we were always on budget because our parent
were democratic enough to tell us, ‘look, this is how much we have o and most
of it has to go for your school fees because if we don’t educate you well, you
wont be useful to us. Even though we attended rich schools but we were one of
the most humble kids in our school and I was not the type that when I graduate,
my father will now give me a hundred million naira to open a boutique. So, you can’t
define me as a silver spoon kid, I can tell you that I grew up in a working
class family and we worked hard to earn our experience.
GDA display a package of Quincy Slimming Garri
What advice do you have for young
people going into entrepreneurship?
They should
always maintain their focus, don’t get distracted as many things will get you
distracted but you owe yourself the obligation to be focused. Don’t say ‘this
one is not working, let me try that one’. If you have a passion for what you do,
whatever it is, even if it is selling water or shinning shoes, build a focus
around it; work hard at it, don’t sleep and don’t think things will come so
easy. Try and spread the awareness out there; try and preach your good news and
eventually things will work out with God on your side. You will be successful
some day.

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