A Day With Ugochi Obidiegwu; Author, Cabin Crew, Health & Safety Educator, the Safety Chic!

Have you ever seen someone so admirable and you thought, ‘Oh my gosh! If I had just one day with this person …?’

That was my thought exactly when I found the Safety Chic on Instagram. She had shared a video about wrong sitting and standing postures, that affect our spines and I had been awfully guilty of everything. I went through her page, realized how consistently she shares Safety & Health tips, and followed her immediately. But that wasn’t the only thing that struck me. I found that Ugochi also has a heart for social service – an attribute that has taken her on various platforms, such as YALI to serve, teach, lead and volunteer. She’s authored a book on Child Safety, called ‘The Adventures of Muna’, which was launched in 2017. She is also a cabin crew, a very beautiful one at that and most recently, got shortlisted for the Safety and Health Excellence Awards in the UK.

Today, we get to spend a day with Ugochi and she shares with us everything from what drives her, and the most difficult thing she’s ever had to do, to the two celebrities she would be if she had a chance and that one food she could eat all day!

Enjoy.


Why the name ‘SafetyChic’?

Years back during NYSC, one of my friends updated my name from Ugochi to Ugochic. When I became a safety officer at work, people started calling me Safety or they’d add it to my name. Then my business started. In a conversation with Steve Harris about an identity for me, I mentioned that I wanted something that communicated safety but was “tush” to the ears. This was important because in branding, these seemingly little things go a long way. At the time, my Instagram handle was @simplyUgochic. So I presented some variations, SafetyUgochic, SafetyChicUgo but something wasn’t just right. Then he said, The Safety Chic. It was perfect. It talks about what I do and it is “tush”, lol.

You studied Communications and Language Arts in school but work now in Aviation and teach on safety, how did you switch?

I’ve always had a flair for aspects of Communication. So I always wanted a job that would involve lots of communication, ability to think and create strategy. Growing up I wanted to be a newscaster but by my third year, I saw that Advertising and Marketing Communications suited my plans. When it was time to take up a job, the Aviation offer was better at the time but I knew it was just a platform to build something. Few months into the Aviation job, the safety role came up. I read about it and I loved what I discovered, so I applied myself into getting relevant training and doing volunteer work. Now, I see that every aspect of my education and work prepared me for what I do now. So it’s not really a total switch. I finally can do all I love to do in the course of doing my work.

You started a company in Health and Safety. That’s quite a competitive market and at such a young age. What inspired you?

Honestly, it was divine inspiration. Even though I had built my Health and Safety competency, I wasn’t planning to start a company. I wanted to work for others but God pointed out some gaps in the existing market. When I looked closely, I saw them too. I had lost my mum in a car accident and it was handled wrongly from the accident scene till we found her. Also, I kept seeing stories in the news of people getting injured, dying, losing property to avoidable accidents. I knew it didn’t have to be that way. My background in aviation helped me see the importance of knowledge and safety systems in preventing accidents. So I got to work because I strongly believe that an enlightened society is a safer place for all.

Since you started, what’s been the absolute highlight of your career?

I’ve had quite a lot that I’m not even sure which to choose. Permit me to mention a few. First; Speaking on the same platform as the top guys in the industry on the World Day for Safety and Health 2017. I was the youngest and only female. I had the first presentation and by the time the other guys got to speak, they kept saying “As Ugochi said” or “the first speaker has said it all”.

Second, I organised a School Safety Summit where we had over a hundred parents and educators. Representatives from various Federal agencies were involved and the feedback was amazing.

Then, I wrote a child safety story book which I self published on Amazon. That book has birthed a series, a sequel is now out. I never thought I’d write a book because I honestly do not like to write but the feedback has been amazing because the characters are African Inspired and it passes the safety message in a way children will relate and learn from. My best moments though are usually at the end of my safety presentations in Schools. The enthusiasm in the faces of the students and teachers give me so much joy. I just need to close my eyes and I can hear the screams and applause of the girls in Enugu; the senior students in Zaria and the pupils in Abuja. It always makes me smile.

One advice you’d give to young people looking to start a business?

I’d say identify the problem you want to solve, come up with a unique way of solving it; determine how you will make money from it and be able to communicate this appropriately. You must be able to make money to remain in business, this is important. Find how the solution makes money so that you can be sustainable. It is also important to plan for a structure no matter how small the business is.

You are the Safety Chic, an entrepreneur, an author, an educator, a Cabin Crew, and currently the interim coordinator of the YALI Lagos Network. Your work is amazing! What drives you and how do you do all these things?

I am a Doer. If something needs to be done, rather than just talk, I follow it up with action. Then because I believe whatever is worth doing is what doing well, I put in great work. I do not like to do shoddy stuff so that keeps me in check.

How do I do all these? Well; I’d say proper time management. After deciding on things that needs to be done, I decide the ones I need to handle myself, decide the ones to be outsourced and the ones to be delegated to others. Depending on the categories various tasks fall under, I use my to-do list to follow up so that nothing is forgotten. And I’m a woman so I run the house too. My system is not totally perfect though because there are days I just want to rest or laze about but then after reasonable rest, I continue.

Has your age ever been a limiting factor?

I do not think so. Maybe the adults have misgivings when they see I’m young but when I’m done talking, I see the misgivings have disappeared. So being confident and knowing ones stuff helps the age thingy. For my student audience though, my age is a great advantage. I can gist and play with them at their level and this makes me approachable. My goal for the students most especially the girls is for them to aspire to be more than me.

What’s the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do?

Going through my mum’s death like I wasn’t going through anything. Hearing the news, finding her body hours after the accident; being the one to break the news officially to each sibling, advising, comforting and motivating each one till they accepted. Having to always be strong and not cry publicly because others were relying on my strength.

Biggest lesson you took from that experience?

I learned I had such huge inner strength. You know, among my siblings they tease me that I’m the “butty” child. So they had these funny names they call me to buttress my “buttyness” (Tomato Jos, Eggovin, all sorts really). I remember my mum used to say then to them that I was much stronger than they gave me credit for. I knew I had some capacity but didn’t know how much till I had to go through that phase. There’s this saying that you never know how strong you are until being strong is all you’ve got. I lived that sentence.

'You never know how strong you are until being strong is all you've got.' Click To Tweet


What was your greatest childhood illusion?

I doubt I had this. I was too practical, lol.

What’s the best part of being a Cabin crew?

For me personally, it’s the fact I can travel conveniently at the drop of a hat.

What’s the worst part of being a Cabin crew?

Again for me, it’s the mornings I have to wake up too early because my house is not particularly close to the airport and I love my sleep. Thankfully this doesn’t happen every day so there is some balance.

Best advice you give to passengers in the event of a {crazy} air turbulence?

Keep your seat belts on and stay calm. Usually if you still see the crew moving about; it is really nothing to worry about. Just keep your seat belts on.

One place you’d love to travel to and why?

Greece. It looks so lovely and clean.


If you could be anything in this world, other than what you currently do, what would it be?

An Intelligence officer, lol. Too much reading of espionage novels kindled my interest.

What’s that one thing you’d love to see yourself do one day?

Strategy sessions with different Heads of Government in Africa on institutionalizing Safety Education across board.

If you could be a celebrity (African or foreign) for one day, you’d be one of these two and why?

The Obama’s (Barrack and Michelle). I love the professionalism, sense of duty, family ethics and charisma they exude.

Mention two people who really inspire you.

My mother, she was just something else. I learned so much I use in my life from her: attitude to life, handling conflict, managing a home, spiritual balance and planning with limited resources.

I don’t really know who the second person is, lol.

What one thing would you say to your younger self now?

Do not let your mistakes define you. Learn and move on.

When younger girls and boys look at you, what do you hope they see?

I hope they see that you can be young and excel. I hope they see that being young does not make your dreams invalid. I hope they get motivated to work on their dreams and soar. I hope the girls see that it is possible to look good and still be on top of their game in any sphere of life. I hope they see that diligence and hard work pays and they can aspire to be much more in life.

It is possible to look good and still be on top of your game in any sphere of life.


Do you ever get social media envy? If yes, what do tell yourself when it creeps in?

No, I don’t. I’ve learned to admire and appreciate others without discrediting my own journey. The reason is we all have different paths and different timelines. So, it’s possible the person has actually earned that success or the person is just giving a show. There are a lot of things on social media that are untrue. I refuse to judge my life on uncertainties. Therefore, I can look and admire but I do not allow certain things breach my personal space. I value my mind.

What’s that one food you can eat all day?

I love hot fried plantain and sauce. I don’t like the soggy ones though.

Kindly give two life-saving safety and health tips we all should know.

I’d say we all need to be wary of text neck. Text neck is a repeated stress injury arising from poor posture when using handheld devices. Today a lot of people even children are becoming fixated on their mobile devices. It is important that we maintain the right posture when using our phones. We should raise the device up instead of lowering our heads.

Still on mobile devices, when driving or walking, we should put away all distraction as it could lead to avoidable accidents. I’d also add that we need to all become more safety conscious in our various environments. This is because the thing we take for granted today might come back to hurt us tomorrow.

Please complete this using your own words. ‘Being a woman …’

Being a woman is phenomenal. The ability to blend into various roles and be successful at it is a treasure to the world.

Ugochi.


I loved and enjoyed this interview so much. Felt like Ugochi took some things right out of my mouth, like the part where she said you can look good and still be at the top of your game? How true! Ooh, and the fried plantain part? That one got me beaming. Fried plantain would always, always be a fave for me too. 🙂

I know I’m inspired by Ugochi and what she does and even though, I couldn’t completely capture every bit of her into this post, I hope you are also inspired from reading the few things that she’s shared with us here.

You can check out her site at www.thesafetychic.comfollow her on Instagram here, and buy her educative book on Child safety, ‘The Adventures of Muna’ here.

With love 💛,

Tirzah.

pS: If you took anything out of this post, I’d like to know, so let’s talk in the comments below.

ppS: Please share this post with your friends. Thank you!

If it's worth sharing, spread it.

Author: Seun Olagunju

Just a simple 23 year old all out to making an impact.

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  • It was really worth my time
    I learnt how you can be young and still make impact in the lives of people around and that what is worth doing is worth doing well so don’t waste time on irrelevant things

  • She’s so beautiful and smart. I love her choice of words… Especially when. she answered the social media question.

    Thanks for sharing, Seun… It’s a good one.

  • I was guilty on that “text neck” part while reading the post. The moment I saw it, I quickly lifted my phone. That’s very informative!
    What I really found intriguing is the communication part and how she managed the transition, cause I’m at that point in my life right now.
    Going for what I love and not what I’m currently studying.

    Thanks Seun for this interview.
    I love it.

    • Lol! Aren’t we all? I’ve had to remind myself over and over to bring my phone up to my face when on it. Even as I’m typing this now, let me not just bring my dirty linens out here in public. I’m glad you took something out of here, Maureen. All the best in your chosen career!

  • Inspiring. The part where she said you can look good and be on top of your game, and where she said she is a doer got me. Some many times, we say things we dont do and eventually, we give excuses because it seems easy. She is young and yet so many things as the same time. I pray for such strength. Thank you for sharing this Seun.

  • This was a lovely post. Went to Uni with Ugochi and it’s exciting to see all she’s achieved! Well done you both.

    kacheetee.com

    • You both went to U.I.! That’s true! It feels really good seeing you here, ma’am. Thank you so much. Your blog was a huuuge inspiration for this interview {as you might have noticed, lol.}

      As usual, I’m sending kisses to Baby J. 🙂

  • I am really inspired. I’ve learnt so much. Thanks Seun for this opportunity to bear words of wisdom. Thank you! ❤

  • I am inspired!!! Thanks a lot Seun, I’ve learnt so much already! Thank you got the opportunity to hear these words of wisdom!