International Women’s Month is the celebration of women. For women, celebration can be in different tribes where growth and positivity are inspired. ‘As-sisters’ is one of such tribes. A group of 22 women, nurturing and caring for each other through different stages of their lives. Lessons of life from 6 women from the 22 inspires togetherness, sisterhood and comfort. KEMI AJUMOBI, Associate Editor, writes.
Lead Coach/Founder, Smart Stewards
Sola Adesakin is a seasoned finance coach and chartered accountant with a wealth of experience spanning over two decades. Her unwavering passion for empowering individuals and businesses to comprehend the intricacies of “make-manage-multiply money” has seen her establish Smart Stewards Financial Advisory Limited and Smart Stewards Advisory LLC, in the United States of America.
Through these ventures and other platforms, Sola has transformed the financial lives of numerous people across 40 countries, helping them transition from financial stress to rest, from debt to wealth, and from mediocrity to an extraordinary life.
Sola is a strong supporter of SDG5 and SDG10, as she seeks to close the gender gap and reduce inequality through financial education, financial technology, and access to funding.
Her dedication to achieving gender equality and reducing inequality is evident in her work as an alumna of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs, an initiative of the US Embassy in Nigeria, and the Cherie Blair Foundation’s Road to Growth Program. She is also an alumna of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women program and a member of the Select Global Women in Tech (SGWIT) Mentorship Network of the United States of America.
Her impressive academic credentials include a BSc and an MBA degree from Oxford Brookes University and Edinburgh Business School, respectively. She is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants of the United Kingdom (ACCA), and a member of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada.
Sola’s impressive track record includes facilitating government parastatals and private institutions, being a Tony Elumelu Foundation Mentor, and sitting on the boards of two Nigerian NGOs. Her outstanding accomplishments in the finance and business industries have not gone unnoticed, garnering numerous accolades, including being recognised as one of Nigeria’s 100 most inspiring women in 2020. Her expertise in finance and business has earned her recognition from top Nigerian companies who regard her as one of Nigeria’s finest upcoming business women.
Sola is a well-known author who has written eight books and a number of articles that haven’t been published yet. All of her work is about making money less mysterious and spreading the message around the world. Her recent admission into the Forbes Coaching Council is a testament to her relentless pursuit of leveraging global alliances and partnerships to empower people to achieve their financial goals.
With her extensive experience, academic credentials, and global partnerships, Sola is well-positioned to empower people worldwide in their pursuit of financial success.
She is happily married, and from her base in Lagos, she works with people and businesses all over the world.
What began as a prayer group among friends has blossomed into something truly remarkable. In 2010, I founded As-sisters with the intention of providing a safe space for women to support each other in prayer. However, as our sisterhood grew and evolved, so too did our mission.
Today, As-sisters is a tribe of dynamic and accomplished women who offer unwavering support in every aspect of life. We are bound together not only by our shared faith, but also by our deep commitment to emotional, financial, spiritual, and career growth. As-sisters is a sanctuary of sisterhood, a place where we can lean on each other through life’s triumphs and tribulations, knowing that we always have each other’s backs.
What sets As-sisters apart is the collective strength we bring to the table. Our diverse backgrounds, experiences, and talents create a powerful tapestry of resilience and compassion. We are not just a prayer group, but a community of fierce women who believe in lifting each other up, no matter what. Together, we are forging a path towards a brighter, more equitable future for all women.
As an entrepreneur in Africa, I am well aware of the challenges that come with building a successful business. The lack of needed infrastructure, support for business, and leadership inadequacies can often make business uninspiring. My personal strategy is to live locally and think globally. This means that while I am committed to growing my business within my local community, I also keep a global perspective in mind. By seeing myself as a global citizen and leveraging everything at my disposal, I am confident that I can achieve my goals and make a positive impact on the world.
To C-Suite female executives, focus on these three Cs: capabilities, collaboration, and confidence. Continuously develop and refine your capabilities to meet life’s demands and challenges. Collaborate with the right people to learn, work effectively and build meaningful connections. And finally, cultivate confidence as an essential tool for success, as it allows you to take risks, make bold decisions, and navigate uncertainty with ease. Remember to persevere through the inevitable tough times and maintain your momentum towards achieving your goals.
On belonging to a ‘tribe’, being part of an inner circle can help you grow personally and professionally and give you a sense of belonging. As we evolve as individuals and progress through life, our needs and interests change, and expanding our social networks can provide fresh perspectives and experiences. Although stepping outside of our comfort zones or into activities that align with our interests may feel challenging, it can lead to meeting new people and potentially developing strong connections.
In celebration of IWD 2023, it is important to note that the significance of International Women’s Day lies in its ability to raise awareness about gender inequality and women’s rights. By recognising women’s struggles and contributions, we can encourage positive change and work towards a fairer and more just society for everyone. Gender equality benefits everyone by ensuring that everyone, regardless of gender, has the same opportunities, rights, and freedoms.
To all women out there, success is a deeply personal and subjective concept that cannot be defined by external factors alone. True success comes from the integration of both internal fulfillment and external achievement. It is not enough to be seen as successful, there must also be a sense of inner fulfillment and happiness that comes from the people and things that truly matter. It’s about being authentic and staying true to yourself.
GM, General Medicines and Country Lead for Sanofi in Nigeria
Folake Odediran is an inspiring and dynamic leader with a frame of management that liberates the energies within a system. She creates the right environment for people to deliver great results and believes in empowered and accountable teams. She is passionate, connected and visionary.
She has worked in the Pharma industry for more than 20 years and brings a wealth of experience across different therapeutic areas and beyond borders in Africa and more recently, United States.
Prior to joining Sanofi, Folake previously worked at Astra Zeneca and Pfizer Global Pharmaceuticals in various roles of increasing responsibilities and has a strong record of results, accomplishments, and leadership in diverse roles of increasing importance.
Currently, the General Manager, General Medicines and Country Lead for Sanofi in Nigeria, Folake leads the Nigeria team at Sanofi to pursue purpose and discover the extraordinary, working together to chase the miracles of science to improve people’s lives.
She was recently appointed as the first Global Lead for Culture and Origin+ Employee Resource Group at Sanofi, and currently a member of the Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Board at Sanofi.
Folake holds a Master of science (MSc) in Marketing from Edinburgh Business School; Heriot- Watt University UK, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Lagos State University, Nigeria and graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University, (ABU) Zaria, Nigeria with a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree (B. Pharm).
Folake is passionate about inspiring greatness in others.
As-sisters is an incredible support platform. A great community for spiritual renewal and encouragement. A fantastic leverage for improving our shared value and for social interaction and mutual benefits.
As a C-suite executive, one faces many challenges ranging from the complexity of the operating environment especially around macroeconomic indices, dynamics of the industry. Pharma being a highly regulated landscape, evolving and sophistication of the consumer, managing ambiguities and operational day to day issues, however this is really what it is all about especially as I believe our opportunities are always within our challenges.
For top female executives navigating career paths, develop relevant competencies and capabilities, dedicate time to build relevant skills, take the shackles off your feet. Be clear on your aspirations and pursuits, build credibility by doing credible work, work hard, take risks and take yourself out of your safe places, add visibility to your credibility especially if you are interested in roles of increasing importance, (allow your competence to how through), understand and maximise the place of mentors, coaches, and sponsors as applicable on your journey. Switch the light on for others as you go and earn and take your place at the table.
It is good to belong to a tribe. Be clear on what it’s all about, be clear on your role within the tribe, leverage and provide support to others as is applicable, be a lifetime learner and most importantly, respect all.
Regarding International Women’s Day, I want to say women’s empowerment is not about benefiting one gender over another, it’s about elevating society as a whole. It’s about making society more adequate and equal use of skill sets and expertise of a previously unrealised half of the population. Imagine a gender equal world, a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination, a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive, a world where differences are valued and celebrated.
To women, generally, take yourselves out of your safe places, learning happens at the edge of discomfort. Build relevant skills, the skills for the frontlines are learnt in the sidelines. Have a sense of purpose and culture, have a mindset that values others. Be humble and confident.
Vice President in the financial science sector
Lade King is a highly accomplished Vice President in the financial sciences sector. Throughout her more than 17 years of experience in the FinTech industry, she has offered her leadership expertise to the companies she has worked for through her innovative ideas, intuitive people skills, and strategic problem solving techniques. Lade’s value for hard work and dedication to excellence leveraged her career start in FinTech as a software analyst at Goldman Sachs London. She quickly rose through the ranks at GS due to her exceptional intellectual curiosity, acute analytical awareness, and leadership dexterity.
In 2015, she took mobility to GS New York and has held various leadership positions in Engineering departments within the financial services organisations including: Vice President, Executive Director of Product Management, Full Stack Software Developer and DevOps Engineer.
As a Vice President, Ladé pioneered the successful development of several key initiatives that empowered the organisation to not only survive the learning curve of difficult transitions but thrive after these initiatives were implemented.
Her proficiency in product management, technical depth from previous experience and roles as a Software Developer & DevOps Engineer, has enabled her to identify new opportunities for growth and drive and deliver products that improve developer productivity and overall user experience.
Lade has earned the respect of colleagues on 3 continents and 3 countries through her early-to- tertiary education in Nigeria, continuing education and the launch of her career in the UK, and the eventual opportunity to expand her vocation on Wall Street.
Her presence and position as a positive influencer in the workforce advocate for those who may find themselves underprivileged or overlooked due to race or gender. Inclusion and diversity in the workplace are values Lade has championed her entire life. She has been and remains actively involved in diversity recruiting where she had the tremendous opportunity of launching and leading the Goldman Sachs Africa Recruiting Initiative (ARI). With ARI in its 6th year, GS has hired well over 60 graduates from universities in Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya into Engineering analyst positions in London and Hong Kong.
Outside of work, Lade is an avid traveler and enjoys exploring new cultures and cuisines. She shares a keen interest in real estate development and construction along with her entrepreneurial husband John Richard King; owner and president of King & Company, Inc and KingDomain, LLC, a real estate construction company headquartered in Lancaster Pennsylvania.
Ladé holds a MSc. In Information Systems from the University of Westminster, London and BSc. Computer Science from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
I was invited to join As-sisters back in 2010 through a close family friend who was already a part of the group. We started out as a prayer group and have built a bond of sisterhood over the years even as we are based in different countries. As-sisters has impacted my life in more ways than one. I can trace the major milestones of my life these past decade, directly to the prayers, prophecies, encouragement and support from As-sisters Prayer Group. My life would not be the same without this group!
As a C-Suite executive, I have learnt to master the tension of maintaining excellence in my work while letting go of perfectionism. There is a salient but subtle difference between perfectionism and excellence. As women, we tend to want our work (projects, code, deliverables and so on) to be perfect, however, we often get in our own way when perfection becomes the enemy of good. So, I’ve had to learn to navigate this tension over the years, and as a software engineer, I always start off with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), then iterate on the MVP over time to go from good to great!
On navigating career paths, I admonish C-Suite executive women to be true to themselves. One thing that I’ve found to be true in my career, and of the countless men and women that I’ve had the chance to mentor and be mentored by is that, you will always have peaks, troughs and plateaus in your career journey. The key to not only navigate but thrive in these career phases is to first understand and identify the phase that you’re passing through. Successfully navigating through each phase requires a distinct set of tools. These tools such as career transition or pivot, stretch assignments and so on, can be obtained through experience, mentorship, delivering high impact results and sometimes through personal research.
On belonging to a tribe, I want to state that we weren’t created to live in isolation. We were built for familial and communal bonds. In essence, to thrive in every aspect of our lives, we need to belong to a tribe, a community of like-minded individuals or a support network. Your tribe is a group of people who share similar beliefs and values as you. Find them, those are your people!
On celebrating women this month, I want to say that it is important to celebrate how far we have come in our journey towards empowerment as women. There is still a lot of work to do to achieve equity and equality, but we aren’t where we were a couple of decades ago.
To all women, Napoleon Hill, the author of “Think and Grow Rich” said, “The Master Mind principle: Two or more people actively engaged in the pursuit of a definite purpose with a positive mental attitude, constitute an unbeatable force.” Again, find your tribe, you need them to win in life and career!
Founder, Kiddies Treasures
Tolulope Adegbite is the founder of Kiddies Treasures, an e-commerce and physical baby and toddler store that has catered to the needs of families all over Nigeria for 12 years. The business also empowers smaller scale businesses run by women by supplying them products within Nigeria.
Tolulope is also an Early Childhood Educator, with a passion for educating young minds and is currently doing a Masters of Education. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Obafemi Awolowo University. She runs an online Yoruba school; “Akeko Yoruba”, for Nigerian children in the diaspora.
Her other interests lie in building wholesome families, working with young children and families, and writing/blogging.
She blogs at @lagoscanadamom where she shares stories about mom life, parenting, activities for children and the things she gets up to with her family.
She is married to her best friend and they have two children. She enjoys spending time with her family, cooking and having fun experiences with them.
As-sisters is a place where love, support and sisterhood is strengthened. We are friends, we are prayer partners, we are a community. This is one group I can go to when I need support and I know people will stand with me.
As an entrepreneur with multiple interests, I face the challenge of time and people management, and work life balance. I outsource training for staff and other activities. I am learning to deliberately unplug and unwind by creating “me time”. I also carve out focused family time.
To every woman in business, please know that nothing good comes easy, you must pay the price for success, so be ready to work hard. Have a support system and listen to them. Be accountable and if you happen to not succeed immediately, gain new knowledge and get back on your feet. Rely on God a lot.
On belonging to a tribe, a tribe provides connection, a support system and people you can do life with. To find your tribe, you need to connect with people of like minds, or people who have common interests with you. If you don’t find an existing one, create one and ask like minded people to join you.
In reference to IWD2023, it is important because it is a time to showcase and celebrate women and their achievements. It provides an opportunity to advocate for gender equality and inspire future generations.
To all women out there, trust God, believe in yourself, find and spend time with the right people, be kind and make giving a part of your life. Don’t forget your self care.
Mental Health Professional
Ose is a mental health professional, with almost 10 years of mental health training and service delivery. Ose has a deep passion for helping people become their very best self through essential steps like, building resilience, healing from trauma, and driving with determination towards their purpose and vision.
Ose has built a thriving career through the pursuit of excellence and person-centered care. This earned her the award of Best Candidate of the Psychiatry Faculty in the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria in 2016, and a rare opportunity to present her work at the 2017 World Psychiatry Association Conference in Berlin, Germany.
She has consistently engaged in public forum discussions, community town-hall meetings, in an effort to shed light on the mystery of mental health disorders. Her goal is to encourage honest conversations about mental health and well-being, eradicating the prevalent stigma and its associated consequences.
She has incorporated well founded principles of psychotherapy into her practice to help people live their best lives, free from emotional trauma and pain.
Ose has continued to blaze the trail, and most recently, has gained the opportunity to further train as a specialist in Psychiatry in Alberta, Canada.
She holds an MBBS from the University of Benin, and is also a member of the West African College of Physicians.
The vision of As-sisters (As-sisters) is our sisterhood, a place where our individual and collective visions have been dreamed, birthed and refined. I personally have benefited from being in such a nurturing environment that inspires growth in all spheres.
As career women, climbing the professional ladder comes with various challenges of the corporate environment, including restricted opportunities, diversification, and work-life balance. I have learnt over time, to imprint an image of the me I intend to become in the future and superimpose that on the current challenge. That way, I am always inspired to transform into my best self.
As a top female executive, at whatever level you might be, approach it with the work ethic, enthusiasm and drive you would in your dream role, and always remember that challenges are test grounds, opportunities for expressing your core values and inner capacity. Don’t shy away from them, embrace them, and watch a greater you emerge from the “fire”.
As women, belonging to a tribe is important. I describe the power of a tribe very simply as Gestalt: the whole that is so much greater than the sum of its individual members, with every tribe member having unrestricted access to almost infinite power. I would say that God places people in families of different kinds. Sometimes, all we need are seeing eyes, hearing ears, and a discerning heart to identify our tribe.
We are still celebrating women this month and I want to say that I think that a celebration of one’s self, in terms of identity, accomplishments, struggles, triumphs, hopes and dreams, all of the things the International Women’s day stands for, undoubtedly serves as inspirational bursts on the way to becoming.
To all women out there, please know that you matter. You really do. The world is desperately seeking something that is locked up inside you. Unlocking your gifts might mean the difficulty of breaking through a tough exterior, but it will definitely result in the release of a sweet fragrance that will permeate your entire world.
Country Manager at ShopexTV
Olajumoke is a specialist in marketing communications management, with 13+ years’ experience in the effective management of people, processes, projects and a lively career progression to show for it.
Voted Marketing Professional of the Year 2022 by Business Insider Africa, her professional experience spans business development, human resources, retail operations management, with experiential knowledge of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC).
She is currently Country Manager at ShopexTV, a direct-response tele-shopping e-commerce business modelled as the QVC of Africa. Prior to that, she was Chief Marketing Officer at Jumia (JMIA:NYSE), Africa’s first unicorn, where she managed the end-to-end marketing value chain of the ecommerce, food delivery (Jumia Food) and fintech business (Jumia Pay).
She was also Head Of Marketing at Wakanow.com Limited, Nigeria’s biggest traveltech company, where she oversaw the marketing function for Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya.
Olajumoke has relevant agency experience as Chief Marketing Officer at Cerebre Digital Limited, a boutique digital advertising agency in Lagos.
She wasn’t always a marketing rockstar though, as she originally studied to be a Microbiologist. She is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) with a Post-Graduate Diploma in Digital Business.
She loves to spend quality time with her children, travel and try out new recipes.
As-sisters is a close knit sisterhood of professional Christian women formed with the vision to provide a safe space to share each other’s burdens, encourage one another, pray and grow together. It’s a tribe of women with an interestingly diverse demography – matured singles (over 40), married and now separated women, married women with kids, married women still expecting kids, women living in Nigeria, others in diaspora, salaried executives, entrepreneurs, and one of us is a Sickle Cell warrior! Name it, and we have it in As-sisters.
What is special about us is that our diversity, rather than dividing us, has created a sense of belonging, empathy and genuine love borne out of an honest desire to see each other conquer our limitations and thrive! I am a beneficiary of the empowering love of this strong tribe of women. If I ever feel stuck, in need of godly counsel and encouragement, prayers, I go to As-sisters.
As a female C-Suite executive with young children, the biggest challenges I face are personal – Isolation and an unrealistic expectation of what work-life balance looks like. Isolation because in many rooms at the board level, I am most often the only woman in the room. It can sometimes feel like a boys club. I remind myself that I have worked hard to earn my place at the table. I stay humble but speak up loud and often and I demand what’s mine as needed.
With work-life balance, I have learnt to go with the ebbs and flow of what is required by day and by season.. Some days, I am more at work than at home, other days, I have more time for home. I have put a strong support system in place both at work and at home to ensure that someone is picking up the slack wherever I can’t.
Nevertheless, I advice C-Suite women to be ambitious and work as hard as you are ambitious! Don’t put a cap on your dreams, don’t listen to any voice that seeks to do that either. You can do and be everything you want to be within your sphere of influence. Be humble, don’t feel entitled, embrace continuous learning, do not be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. No one expects you to know everything.
Cultivate mentor, coach, and sponsor relationships. I would not be where I am without the guidance of mentors and the vote of confidence of sponsors who speak for me in rooms higher than my pay grade. You can and will succeed!
Regarding having or joining a tribe, please understand that we are social creatures, wired to connect and belong to a community. The saying “it takes a village” does not apply to just children — we all need a village or tribe to help us find our way through this world. Your tribe is that village. Find people with whom you have shared goals, values and purpose. These people can be in church, at work, at school, in your neighbourhood, a professional association, and so on. Connect intentionally, vet those you let in, nurture those relationships, open up and be vulnerable, celebrate each other’s wins and grow together.