The 7000km journey to senior leadership

January 15, 2024
senior leadership at Phillip Morris

It’s a little over 7000km from Lagos to London. Somewhere in that vast space, Abimbola Nibson-Niboro crossed over from being a hopeful criminal defence lawyer to being the Ethics & Compliance Head at Philip Morris Limited UK (PML). PML is the UK affiliate of Philip Morris International (PMI).

Of course, it wasn’t that simple, and it didn’t all happen in a single trip between the Nigerian commercial capital and one of the world’s major corporate centers. Abimbola’s experience has been rich in opportunities to learn and expand her legal training. How she managed to get to the top is a story worth telling.

senior leadership at Phillip Morris

“My career journey has been an adventure!” She tells us.

“I was privileged to practice in Nigeria first as a Barrister and Solicitor under a fused system and then as a Solicitor specializing in Business Law.”

This led, she says, to being offered roles as in-house legal advisor in two large manufacturing and consumer goods companies.

This was a valuable foundation for what was to come.

“My time at top tier law firms in the fast-paced business environment gave me robust exposure to a wide category of clients and complex transactions from an early stage.

“The volume, breadth, and depth of the transactions was extensive, ranging from an airport concessioning project to a bank restructuring.”

Building a career

Abimbola started working with PMI seven years ago.

Five years ago, she says, she got the opportunity within the company to explore an Ethics & Compliance role and she has continued along this path with two continents and across multiple markets.

“Starting off as a generalist legal practitioner, then specializing in business law to manage the legal affairs of large Fast-Moving Consumer Goods companies, and now being an Ethics & Compliance professional at PML has been quite something.”

She says her career is one of her proudest achievements.

She has allowed, she believes, the lessons of each phase to pave the way for the next. This is in line with her core approach to career development.

“If you have decided the career path is for you, make sure you take ownership of that journey early.”

She credits Philip Morris for enabling her to follow her own instincts and agendas to create a win-win situation for both employee and employer.

senior leadership at Phillip Morris

“Working with PML has deepened my experience incredibly. The dynamics of the market and the business itself present great learning opportunities.

“My current position is my first role in a European market as I previously worked in markets within the Middle East and Africa region. So, doing the same role in a matured market gives me a unique perspective in applying my experience.”


A people business

But, for all the high-level corporate experiences and highlights, says Abimbola, it’s the people at Philip Morris that make coming to work a pleasure.

“One of the benefits of working at PML is definitely the access to its community of bright minds.”

She singles out a few of those she has worked with who have lit up her journey so far.

My People and Culture Manager, Nas, is so solutions-driven and is always open to finding practical ways to address the everyday challenges of managing employee topics. She is a great collaborator.

On the legal side, I work closest with Alpa, the Labour & Employment Counsel. Alpa is also outcome-focused, and her risk averse approach ensures the company is not unduly exposed.

Finally, there is the Political Affairs Manager, Russell, who is a strategic thinker with a detailed approach in his presentation of issues.”

Abimbola recalls that during the interview process, she became aware that PML
was a fast-paced business environment with clear business objectives and high standards.

Did you know that PMI are open to discussing flexible working at the interview stage? 

Discover more benefits and policies here.  

She has seen this translate to a successful balance of employee outcomes and business objectives.

“I can think of multiple moments that demonstrate this at work”, she says.

“For instance, I have observed many times how the company actively empowers and inspires employees by keeping them informed and engaged on given topics or issues.

“The intentionality with which this is done is commendable.”

And, for Abimbola, the interaction with her colleagues across various sectors of the business operation has been both productive and inspiring.

senior leadership at Phillip Morris

“It has also been heart-warming to see great cross functional collaborations.”

Always a people person, Abimbola finds that the commitment to high levels of leadership at PML also rank well for her as far as job satisfaction goes.

She singles out the management’s interest in their employees as a particularly exciting space at PML.

The company’s support for causes that improve the workplace experience for everyone is second to none,” she says.

It’s this kind of commitment to business integrity, especially as reflected in the workplace, she adds, that gives her the feeling that she made the right career decision.


Could you see yourself working at PMI?

Abimbola is keen to let prospective employees know that there is value in ‘bringing yourself’ to the application process, because, she adds, this is exactly what the company is looking for.

We all have our internal obstacles and, often imagined, limitations and Abimbola is keen to use her own journey to pave the way for others who are earlier on their journey to help them work through them.

Phillip Morris, she is sure, will bring out the best in you. If you allow it.

“The biggest impact for new employees at PMI will be that they are encouraged to bring their authentic selves to the work and ditch whatever limitations they hold about themselves on their career journeys.

“It’s about them seeing their achievements and recognizing that they are important.”

For women looking to assess the prospects as PMI, Abimbola says that:

“The exposure and opportunities across all fronts will be most valuable for them.”
She also says, innate curiosity is an asset that will be well received, as will a willingness to stretch themselves outside their comfort-zone in the interests of personal growth and career development. Both of which are high value qualities at the company.

“Career growth, a chunk of fulfillment, and the privilege of mingling with the brightest minds across functions are what awaits new joiners at PMI.”

Finally, says Abimbola, you must be passionate about what you do.

“Explore opportunities and don’t get tired of learning. Your career is your journey through life, so allow yourself to enjoy the ride.”

And Abimbola has shown that success on that journey is possible if you truly believe in yourself.

Want to learn more about the benefits of a career at Philip Morris International?

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About the Author

Jacynta Clayton’s career started in recruitment advertising and employer branding, working with global clients to create and deploy strategic and creative content. Now she combines her industry experience with the knowledge from her psychology and professional writing degrees to write unique and resounding stories. As a WORK180 storyteller she relishes the opportunity to elevate the voices and experiences of so many amazing people, while also empowering and educating audiences on how to choose a workplace where they can thrive.

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