• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Women in tech are leaders, mentors opening doors for well-rounded industry – Okeke-Ojiudu

Jennifer Okeke-Ojiudu is the Senior Ecosystem Engagements Manager at AfriLabs. In her role, she Heads/Drives the most impactful convening of the African technology and Innovation Ecosystem. Okeke-Ojiudu also serves as a strategic bridge, fostering positive relationships between AfriLabs and African governments, international bodies, and stakeholders to enhance the organisations image, promote its objectives, and ensure its alignment with regional and international interests. In this interview with IFEOMA OKEKE-KORIEOCHA, she speaks on Working Mother’s Guide, a project she spearheaded designed to assist mothers in balancing their professional and family responsibilities. She also speaks on other issues as it concerns advancing women in technology.

As the Senior Ecosystem Engagement Manager at Afrilabs, can you share some key initiatives you’ve spearheaded to empower women within the tech and innovation ecosystem?

That’s a really interesting question, in my role at AfriLabs I work in different capacities. However, one project that holds particular significance to me is The Working Mother’s Guide. This aims to support working mothers, especially those in the technology and innovation sector. The guide, which I spearheaded, is designed to assist mothers in balancing their professional
and family responsibilities. It offers valuable insights for mothers to seamlessly continue working during and after pregnancy. It also provides guidance for parents, including fathers, to take time off work after the arrival
of a new baby, this also helps organizations create little but effective changes, fostering a work environment conducive to the continued presence of working mothers.

Can you share success stories of women who have benefited from AfriLabs’ programs and have made a significant impact in their respective industries?

This entrepreneur’s success story echoes the collective achievements of empowered women:
RevUp’s unwavering commitment and dedication have been instrumental in our success. Under their guidance, we’ve achieved remarkable milestones, including consistent revenue growth, heightened customer satisfaction, streamlined operations for efficiency, expanded market reach into new territories, and enhanced team performance.

Our revenue has seen month-to-month growth, a testament to RevUp’s invaluable insights into our sales strategies. Their feedback has not only
elevated our customer service but also improved our product offerings, resulting in significantly increased customer satisfaction scores.

RevUp’s recommendations for process improvements have optimized our operations, reducing costs and boosting overall productivity.

With their support, we’ve successfully entered new markets, broadening our customer
base and increasing our market share.
The impact extends beyond financial metrics—RevUp’s coaching and training programs have elevated our team’s performance and morale.

This has fostered higher levels of collaboration and innovation within our organization.

In essence, RevUp’s consistent efforts have played a pivotal role in our business’s remarkable success and growth. Their dedication to propelling us to greater heights is truly commendable.”

This testimonial encapsulates the tangible and multifaceted benefits that women entrepreneurs experience through AfriLabs’ initiatives, fostering not only individual success but also contributing to the broader landscape of empowered and impactful women in various industries.

Read also: AfriLabs’ annual summit draws tech titans to Rwanda

As a woman leader in the tech and innovation space, what have been some of the most significant lessons you’ve learned throughout your career?

Over the course of my professional journey, I have garnered valuable insights that underscore the significance of resilience, continuous learning, and the strategic utilization of one’s unique strengths. Embracing challenges rather
than shying away from them has been a fundamental principle that has propelled my growth in the dynamic landscape of the tech sector.

Challenges, when viewed as opportunities for learning and growth, have the potential to shape individuals into more resilient and adaptable
professionals. Maintaining a curious mindset has proven to be another pivotal aspect of sustained success in the ever-evolving tech industry. The rapid pace of technological advancements demands a proactive approach to acquiring
new skills and staying abreast of industry trends.

This commitment to continuous learning positions individuals to not only keep pace with the dynamic nature of technology but also to contribute meaningfully to innovation and progress.

Building a robust support network has been a cornerstone of my career journey. This network, comprising mentors, peers, and collaborators, provides a safety net during challenging times and a platform for collective problem-solving. The power of collaboration and mentorship cannot be overstated; it not only accelerates personal and professional growth but also fosters a sense of community within the tech sector.

Furthermore, the importance of recognizing and leveraging one’s unique strengths cannot be emphasized enough. Each individual brings a distinct set of skills, experiences, and perspectives to the table. Embracing and
celebrating this diversity not only enhances the richness of ideas and solutions but also contributes to a more inclusive and innovative tech ecosystem.

In cultivating a culture of collaboration and mentorship, I have witnessed firsthand the transformative impact it can have on unlocking the full potential of women in the tech sector. By creating environments that encourage knowledge sharing, mutual support, and the celebration of
achievements, we pave the way for aspiring women to thrive and make meaningful contributions.

In essence, my career journey has taught me that resilience, continuous learning, leveraging unique strengths, and fostering collaborative
environments are not just individual attributes but crucial elements that collectively propel the tech sector forward.

Could you highlight a specific success story where your efforts in ecosystem engagement directly contributed to the advancement of women in technology?

At this Year’s AfriLabs Annual Gathering event I was thrilled to launch The Working Mother’s Guide. Currently, we are actively collaborating with our hubs across all 54 African countries where AfriLabs operates to integrate this
guide. I am elated to share that we have received endorsements from notable figures such as Sonia Agu, CEO of SA Consulting in Nigeria, Paula Ingabire, Minister of ICT and Innovation in the Government of Rwanda, and Berna Rusagara, Executive Director of Women for Women in Rwanda.This is a huge step in the right direction for working mothers in the innovation ecosystem.

What strategies do you employ to encourage mentorship and networking opportunities for women within the Afrilabs community?

Within AfriLabs, we have established ‘The Women of AfriLabs Platform,’ an initiative fostering a network for female hub leaders, facilitators, and partners.

This platform serves as a hub for mentorship, providing opportunities for women to engage in meaningful dialogue, share experiences, and offer mentorship to one another. Each woman within the network contributes by submitting a profile detailing their expertise, qualifications, and what they are happy to teach another woman. This initiative empowers women to
connect, learn, and support each other within the innovation landscape.

Read also: Social expectations, stereotypes discourage women from entering male-dominated fields – Executive Director AfriLabs

Can you share your perspective on the role of women in shaping the future of innovation in Africa?

Women, with their multifaceted experiences and perspectives, play an instrumental role in shaping the landscape of the innovation and technology ecosystem. Their unique journey through life, distinct challenges, and varied backgrounds bring forth a rich tapestry of insights that significantly impact the industry. In the realm of technology, diversity is not just a checkbox; it’s the driving force behind innovative thinking and problem-solving.

Women in tech frequently demonstrate a collaborative and sympathetic leadership style, which is a strong influence in the industry. In a world where cooperation and connectivity are critical, women’s capacity to promote teamwork generates an environment at work that thrives on collective intelligence. This collaborative spirit not only enhances problem-solving but
also leads to the cultivation of a supportive and creative atmosphere.

The story of women’s influence is one of flexibility, resiliency, and dedication to diversity. Women in tech are leaders, inventors, and mentors who open doors for a more progressive, dynamic, and well-rounded industry that values the range of experience and ideas that characterizes the voice of women as a whole.

What advice would you give to young women aspiring to pursue a career based on your own experiences and achievements within Afrilabs?

For young women who aspire to build successful careers, I believe resilience is paramount. Developing a tough skin and facing challenges head-on are crucial aspects of this journey. Personally, I’ve navigated career pivots by embracing resilience and understanding my greater purpose. Many women may lack the confidence to persist through difficulties, and societal expectations sometimes push us to be more fragile. However, as young women in Africa, it’s imperative to persevere, view challenges as opportunities for growth, and keep pushing forward. The greater the challenge, the more rewarding the outcome can be.

Looking ahead, what are your goals and aspirations even as a woman who has done well for herself in the corporate sector?

Collaborating with other strong women at AfriLabs and in my surroundings, I recognize the significance of leadership, training, and opportunities for young women. Leadership roles and opportunities are often limited for young
women, particularly in Africa. To address this gap, I aspire to establish a leadership academy for young girls, nurturing their innate leadership skills. In my role at AfriLabs, I would like to keep working on initiatives like the RevUp’s Women initiative, The Working Mother’s Guide, and The Women of AfriLabs Platform which will bring opportunities to the typical or to the local African
female to propel them to leadership roles. I would like to ensure that women in the workforce accelerate into leadership positions.