MADE MY MEMBERS • March 2022
This month, we’re sitting down with environmentalist and social entrepreneur Jewel Okwechime, who spends her days advising global businesses on how to limit their environmental impact and investing in innovative enterprises that shine a spotlight on Africa. Armed with a wellness-tastic flight routine and love of First, the frequent flier checks in…
Why did you join the Executive Club?
My mum is my super travel buddy, and she’s been a Gold Member with British Airways for as long as I can remember, so it wasn’t rocket science! I knew I just had to join and enjoy the rewards of our mother-daughter exploits around the world.
What’s been the journey to your current Tier?
I make the commitment every year to travel to new and exciting places in addition to my business travel. Exploring new countries and cultures is my favourite pastime, but I love comfort on long hauls, so travelling in business or First means I have a relaxing journey to look forward to, especially after a tough working week.
What do you like best about being a Member of the Executive Club?
Surprise upgrades, using my Avios on Reward Flights and getting Companion Vouchers through my British Airways American Express Credit Card.
What’s your favourite thing about flying with British Airways?
I have had consistently great experiences, from booking to landing. It’s reassuring to know that I am in good hands, that I am going to be taken care of. Plus, I always look forward to the First fine dining on board, which tends to be ketogenic and always tasty.
What is your most flown route?
Recently, I would say London Heathrow to Lagos. When coming back to London, I board just before midnight and know I will have a good night’s rest on board, then arrive at London Heathrow, refreshed and ready to start the day’s work. I’m a huge advocate for enterprise in my home country of Nigeria and look forward to visiting family back home and attending business meetings there regularly.
What’s your top tip for others looking to rise through the Tiers?
I have found upgrading to be a good way to scale the Tiers. I’ll upgrade from Club World to First, since there are some pretty good offers that come up from time to time.
Best advice for a comfortable, entertaining, stress-free in-flight experience?
I’m travelling a lot throughout the year, so I have my routines pretty dialled in. I take some timed breaks from watching movies and spend some time letting my eyes adjust. I’ll break the time up on board relaxing and catching up with journaling or listening to some podcasts. A good set of noise-cancelling headphones means I stay pretty absorbed in writing, listening or relaxing. Rather than drink alcohol while flying, I prefer to take an isotonic electrolyte drink, which I have found relieves any headaches or other effects of jet lag.
Aisle or window seat?
Window. I like to sit back and appreciate the nature on display below.
Any travel quirks, hacks or superstitions?
I like to work out intensely before heading to the airport, as I find being a bit tired ahead of long-haul flights works wonders for avoiding jet lag at the other end. I also adjust my routines to the destination time zone, so I’ll drink coffee at breakfast time as I usually would do.
Your three hand baggage essentials
A harmonizer cartridge EMF protection and sleep aid by Gary Greenfield, Redmond real salt pocket shakers hydration/electrolyte salts, and Cymbiotika’s Liposomal Magnesium L-Threonate sachet for better quality sleep.
Which is your favourite hotel in the world, and why?
Mandarin Oriental, London (above) I celebrated my mum’s birthday here and they made the occasion so special. It was an unforgettable short stay with spa treatments, afternoon tea and great dining.
If you could live in any other city in the world, where would it be and why?
Despite having travelled to some really exotic locations. I would have to say Stockholm. The old town, art and architecture within the natural beauty of the parks, lakes and archipelagos are matched only by how kind and happy the Swedes are as people.
Which destination is highest on your travel bucket list?
The Maldives – I would like to explore the islands on a yacht. And I’m constantly fascinated by coral reefs.
How do you spend your Avios?
Well the great thing about the membership is the link between American Express and Avios. Being able to collect Avios in my day-to-day spending and then through car hire and flights means I have enough Avios to make those upgrades to First, pay for entire Club World flights and get those all-important Companion Vouchers.
What’s a recent endeavour that’s exciting you right now?
My time in the boardroom is spent between African investment group VFD Group and Abbey Mortgage Bank, and right now I’m extremely excited about ARTSPLIT – an art trading platform that democratises the ownership of investment-grade African artworks (as pictured above), meaning art lovers can trade, own and lease artworks for as little as $10. I’m also one of the creative directors of the West African Amapiano Ghana Tour, helping to improve the impression of Ghana and Africa (see video below) and a partner in Billion Strong to support the billions with disability.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
I wake up motivated. I absolutely thrive on connecting people and doing business successfully – where all parties feel excited about the relationships created and run projects efficiently based on a common goal and trust. I also really enjoy sharing my experiences with my mentees and supporting the next generation of extraordinary entrepreneurs.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Stay present with the process, rather than obsessing over the result.
Which celebrity would you most like to sit next to on the plane, and why?
Tina Turner. I watched her biography on the BBC recently. She’s 82 now and such a strong woman and ground-breaking performer. I would ask her how she remained at the top of her game for so long while navigating her way through a really challenging life.