As a global company with 18 regional offices, IIL has employees and associates in every corner of the world. Each month, you’ll get to know a dear friend or member of the IIL Team in our “IIL Spotlight” series.
Here, we introduce Melina Africa, Client Services Manager at IIL’s Global Distribution Center in Monett, Missouri. This month’s IIL Spotlight was written by Melina’s husband, Colby.
Don’t let her gregarious nature, charming smirk, or the occasional bout of laughter distract you. Practically growing up in the company, Client Services Manager Melina Africa is a dedicated member of IIL who learned how to produce, design, manage, and inspire throughout her 16 wonderful years of work.
She hails from small-town Monett, Missouri, the very same town from which IIL CEO E. LaVerne Johnson calls home. Melina has always worked hard, figuring out how to get things done not only at work, but at home as well. As a strong mother of two children, her 15-year-old daughter Tayler and 9-year-old son Parker, she balances major responsibilities that go beyond her usual work duties.
From IIL’s own humble beginnings in a small office above a small-town print shop, Melina recalls her first role working in the shipping department which she received after finishing high school. Unbeknownst to her, she was on her way to be thrust into one continuous motion of learning and change.
Since her start date, Melina has always demonstrated a strong work ethic. Working in a small team at the time, they would be there every day if need be, as long as it took.
“I started straight out of high school,” she said. “I didn’t plan on staying, but things worked out amazingly.”
So Melina kept at it, working up from one position to the next, always impressing both those in the company, and eventually, those outside including trainers, vendors and suppliers. She wanted more, so once again she put her head to the grindstone and did whatever was necessary to keep IIL moving forward.
In 2005, Colby Africa—then CIO at IIL and good friends with Senior Vice President Judith Umlas—was asked by Johnson and Executive Vice President of Operations Steve Osborn to make a trip down to Monett to take a look around, meet the team, and attend the annual Christmas party.
Little did Colby know, he would meet the love of his life during that trip. Initially, a friendship began between Melina and Colby and, over time, flourished. In pursuit, Colby asked Melina to join him at the New York City office.
With Johnson and Osborn’s blessing, she made the move. It was there where her innate people skills, mainly her ability to connect with people quickly and meaningfully, became a huge asset to the company.
“I moved from Monett, which was very small. It was definitely an adjustment, but [the city] feels like home,” said Melina.
Melina remembers living in Midtown Manhattan, undoubtedly one of her favorite places to have been. She loved the freedom of “being able to walk and do whatever you want,” taking in the many sights to see. She’s also fond of the Financial District where the World Trade Center resides, describing the city life as a “surreal feeling” to her, enjoying every last second.
After an incredible experience in the city, she figured it was time to return to Monett. Of course, Colby followed her there as they became closer and soon brought in a new member of their family, Parker.
Tayler enjoys playing softball in her spare time and hopes to be a pediatrician, as it has kept her interest for the last several years. Parker has taken on Taekwondo and wants to be a professional Xbox video gamer, participating in e-Sports events.
One thing is for certain about Melina: she always yearned to travel. In high school she was able to make a few trips to Mexico, The Bahamas, and the Florida Keys and saw the beauty of the water and was inspired by the people she met while traveling. This is what drives her to reach her current goals at the company which are running the Monett office one day and to travel around IIL’s global offices.
“Being here for so long, I know the backbone of the company,” she said.
There is no holding back a woman like Melina. She is able to translate her internal fire and native desire to do something special with her life into a way about her that makes people comfortable. With two kids, an “interesting husband,” and constantly displaying her working ability and adaptability, there is no doubt she will continue to thrive and surprise us at IIL.