Determination is one of the biggest driving force to attaining success; it’s through determination that commitment and dedication is birthed. Even if you’ve had your doubts about that, listen to the story of the Dav-Oz Blog Person of the Month, February; Mr. Ifeanyi Eugene Iloanaeke and you might be convinced. From a humbly comfortable home, he made his way amidst numerous challenges to co-mastermind the creation of what can be regarded as an Iconic beauty pageantry on the road to registering its name as one of the top beauty pageant competitions in the nation, The Paragon Queen Nigeria. But that is not the conclusion to the list of his achievements. With an amazing speaking voice void of enunciation irregularities, he’s made a name for himself in the entrepreneurial world.
On the 25th of January this year, I had an exclusive interview with Mr. Iloanaeke and one quality that kept spelling out from his replies was determination. Read below for the full conversation.
DOB: Good day, sir. Hope you’re good?
Ifeanyi Eugene Iloanaeke: Sure I am. Good day.
DOB: So first of all, can we get to know a little about you?
IEI: I’m Ifeanyi Eugene Iloanaeke; Ist Son and 4th child in a family of 7; I’m a native of Umuchu in Aguata LGA, Anambra State, Nigeria; and a final year student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University studying Geological Science. I’m also the Creative Director, Paragon Queen Nigeria Pageant; A host, Voice Over Artist and Social Media Strategist.
DOB: I mean, I don’t even know where to start. The 4th out of 7, how has that being for you, especially given the fact that you’re the first son?
IEI: (laughs) Well, we all know being the first son isn’t so easy, coupled with the fact that my father is late and all the responsibilities are lying on your shoulder. But then we keep pushing.
DOB: I’m really sorry for your loss sir.
IEI: It’s fine.
DOB: If you don’t mind, can I ask how the death of your father affected you? Would you say you’ve gotten over it completely?
IEI: My dad was sick for 9 years before he passed on, he was a very strong man who tried all he could to overcome the sickness but then life happened. We both already had my life figured out; Education, Career, but all that came crashing because he lost his job quickly after he fell ill. His death is still fresh in my memory, 2016 still seems like yesterday but I’m thankful to God because he has shaped me to become a better man to carry on my father’s prestigious legacy.
DOB: I can only but imagine how painful it must have felt. Losing a parent can be very heart breaking. Once again, I’m sorry for your loss.
IEI: Thank you.
DOB: So let’s talk about your siblings, how would you characterize your relationship with them especially given the fact that being 7, competitions must have ensued when you were little?
IEI: (laughs) Nah, I would have my mother to thank greatly for that because she made sure to love everyone equally. I love my younger brothers greatly and would conquer the world for them. I also have an amazing relationship with my sisters who are all married now. Though for my brothers, sometimes we get to fight, but we make up in split seconds. So in answer to your question, no, there’s was no sort of competition and there would never be because we are all out to protect each other.
DOB: I mean; you make your life sound enviable (Laughs)
IEI: (Laughs) Don’t envy me oo, we all have our sad stories.
DOB: Don’t we all. How much would you say your siblings were influences to who you are today?
IEI: They all in different ways have sharpened who I am today which I won’t be going into details right now (laughs), but in all I thank God for my Siblings.
DOB: That’s amazing sir. Moving on, let’s talk about Paragon Queen Nigeria, you mentioned you were the creative Director, were you among the vision bearers of the pageantry?
IEI: Yes, I co-founded the brand with my best friend, Vishwas Kotai.
DOB: So early last month, the organization crowned its 4th Queen. As one of the vision bearers, how did you feel about that? Was there ever this excitement or disbelief as to the fact that the pageantry was in its 4th Year?
IEI: Well, this 4th Edition was the most challenging but yet Most Successful since its inception. Organizing an event with the current financial crisis in Nigeria was really tasking; so many times we wanted to cancel, so many times we were dejected, it got so bad that we were having series of bad dreams as to the event not holding or flopping (laughs), but we give God thanks because he came through for us and the event was amazing and a success.
DOB: Goes to confirm the notion that a successful event is usually as a result of sweats and tears from people behind the scenes.
IEI: Yes, you can never know the stress of organizing an event that turns out successful until you do one.
DOB: Trust me, I have an experience. So where did the idea and concept of initiating Paragon Queen Nigeria come from?
IEI: The Motto for Paragon Queen Nigeria is “Beauty for Impact” We wanted to set up an organization that’ll empower young beautiful girls who’d make indelible marks in the lives of people, putting smiles on faces and being an ambassador for positive change. We thought the best way to achieve this was by setting up this amazing pageant organization and I would say in our 4 years of existence, we’ve touched over 2000 lives from our numerous projects
DOB: That’s quite impressive and undoubtedly true Sir. What has been the biggest challenges you have faced all the while partaking in the production of Paragon Queen Nigeria?
IEI: Finance has always been a major challenge.
DOB: Even though I find that hard to believe due to the ever improving status of past events, how do you go about it to make it awesome?
IEI: Well we have an amazing Board and team members who go out of their way to see we achieve a mind blowing show, truth is we don’t even know how it happens. Bobrisky will say “It’s the Lord’s doing” and it’s actually the lord’s doing and it’s marvelous in our eyes.
DOB: It is truly. Speaking of the team members, in the four years you’ve worked as one of the principal leaders of the organization, have you worked with the same team or you usually change?
IEI: I’ve worked with the same set of persons every year, because this guys have always been there for the Brand but that doesn’t mean we don’t let some persons into the team too
DOB: You mentioned earlier that the PQN was co-founded by you and your best friend, Vishwas Kotai; First of all, how would you describe working with your best friend on such a huge project as this?
IEI: Well, we’ve been friends for 9 years now and I would say he’s the best person to do business with because we understand each other so well and he has been really supportive and amazing. In our 4 years of business, we’ve never had any fracas and I doubt that would happen at all.
DOB: Wow, I’m one to believe that leading a business alongside a best friend can be detrimental to the survival of the business. I must say, it’s amazing to see it’s not always so. Let’s get back to you now. Just curious though, have you worked behind or even in front of the scene for any other pageantry apart from the Paragon Queen Nigeria?
IEI: Yes, I’ve been privileged to produce so many pageant all around Nigeria, I would have mentioned but then they’re so many. Currently, I’m producing the Mister Model Nigeria Pageant.
DOB: Would you describe pageantry as a very important part of your life?
IEI: Yes, it actually is. It’s something I enjoy doing, so yeah, I would say it’s a very important part of my life
DOB: So I’m sure you didn’t just wake up one morning and decide “Hey, I love pageantry, I’m going to go into it”. I’m sure it took years of watching beauty pageantries, reading about it etc. I want to know; how did you realize your love the industry?
IEI: (Laughs) Sincerely I was never a fan of beauty pageantry, in fact, I never loved pageants. but something happened which changed my narrative, it’s a long story though. So I began my pageant life around 2014/2015, I won Mr Teen Anambra 2014 and went further to represent my state in the National Level at Lagos (Mr Teen Nigeria) where I emerged 2nd Runner Up. Now I don’t know how it happened but my love for beauty Pageantry grew so much from then that I would stay up all night watching YouTube videos of Miss Universe, Miss World etc. That’s how I became a Pageant Lover.
DOB: (Laughs) A classic case of “fateful event”. Now, of course with the successful running of the Paragon Queen Nigeria, there’s been some sought of jealousy or envy you’ve felt from colleagues, friends and rivals; how do you usually handle such situations?
IEI: Wow, hmmmm, yeah, I’m a very accommodating and selfless person. The truth is that I get hurt when some of these traits are from supposed friends in the industry but then the jealousy and envy is actually a driving force for me to do more and better than I did the last time. The Sky is large enough for every bird to fly freely so why the hate and jealousy?
DOB: A question that has remained unanswered for centuries. If you really want to excel, then start flying. If not, leave those that are flying to keep on flying. Now, we learn every day, but so far, what was your most unexpected lesson while getting to this stage of your life?
IEI: Do not mix business with pleasure, your friends are meant to support and grow your business and Career but some just want to use you till they’re satisfied and have nothing tangible to give in return.
DOB: So true. So in conclusion, what would you say to upcoming event organizers, pageant personalities and most especially, to people out there who’ve given up hope in executing that project they have in mind
IEI: Whatever is what doing, is what doing well. All you need is strong will, determination and hard-work; you don’t need to break a bank to start up that business or organize that show. START TODAY with the little you have and everything will fall into place. And please, STOP PROCRASTINATING.
DOB: Well said Sir. Before we close the pen today, should we be expecting a Season 5 of PQN this year?
IEI: Yes; December 2021, Paragon Queen Nigeria 5th Edition will be holding
DOB: Well then, we can’t wait. Thanks a lot for your time today Sir. It was an honour.
IEI: You’re welcome.
To get to know more of Mr. Ilaoanaeke below are his social media handles:
FaceBook: Ifeanyi Eugene Iloanaeke