Foluso Gbadamosi is a business and technology professional who currently works at Junior Achievement Nigeria as the Executive Director. She has significant experience harnessing organisations to use digital technology to build and sustain a digital culture and be effective and responsive in a digital environment, having worked for global and indigenous businesses in telecommunications, fast moving consumer goods, financial services/fintech, development, and Oil & gas sectors.
She is an author, speaker, trainer, and also a Gallup Certified Strengths coach who helps individuals leverage their talents to achieve greater performance in different areas of their lives. Her most recent book, ‘Unleash your superpowers©’ redefines talents through research and fact-based theories to take you on an empowering journey of self-improvement based on awareness and application of your innate talents. The book gives you the keys to living a fulfilling and all-round successful life.
She serves on the board of directors of Swift Networks, Cousant Technologies, Intense Digital, and the advisory board of Skool Media. She is a WIMBIZ Associate and immediate past executive council member of the organisation.
Foluso is highly enthusiastic about improving the welfare of humanity, seeing people walk in their purpose, and being change agents to transform societies. In 2013, she co-founded a non-profit organisation, Serving with Love (SWL) where she currently serves as a member of the board of trustees.
She has a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Pittsburgh and a master’s degree in Management Information Systems from George Washington University. Foluso is a John Maxwell certified team member, a certified management consultant, and holds certificates from the Yale CEO College, IE Business School, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is a recipient of numerous awards.
Foluso lives in Lagos and is married with two children.
Share your childhood memories and influences with us
I am the first of four children. I like to say I grew up in a home with open doors and high ceilings–everyone was welcome to our home and my parents held us to the highest standards. Consciously and unconsciously, my parents deeply instilled core values of humility and love for people in me. I learnt a lot about being responsible, loving people, the importance of family, being content, being generous and so much more from my parents. I realize now that children learn more from our actions than mere words. Most of the values I have today come from observing my parents. Gender was never a limiting factor in our home, and I was raised to know that nothing is impossible.
Tell us about your career progression
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and a master’s degree in Management Information Systems. Naturally, I started my career testing software and managing databases. It took years of developing expertise in technology to discover my sweet spot: using technology as a tool to solve problems. As my career progressed, I transitioned to more senior managerial roles requiring people skills which helped me discover depths of my love for people and a deep desire to see people maximise their potential by leveraging their innate talents. Along my career journey, I’ve also discovered my passion for not only connecting people to solutions, but also resources, other people and just about anything that can support their goals and objectives on the journey to becoming their best selves.
Share with us on being Junior Achievement Nigeria’s executive director
Junior Achievement Nigeria runs programs to empower the Nigerian Youth to own their financial future. We are pragmatic and ambitious in our approach to youth empowerment. We recognise that not every Nigerian youth will complete their education or get a job, therefore, our programs empower youths to think outside the box and solve problems, so they are empowered to start their own businesses. Our programs are experiential and focus on financial literacy, work readiness, entrepreneurship, leadership and digital literacy. Junior Achievement Nigeria is part of Junior Achievement Worldwide, the world’s largest non-profit economic education organisation with a 120-country network. As part of a global network, JA Nigeria leverages resources and expertise to deliver localised in-school and out-of-school programs to young Nigerians aged 5 – 30 years. One of our in-school programs is the flagship of the JA company program, where students come together to form a company, start and run their own business successfully with the support of a volunteer.
The organisation started in Nigeria in 1999 and between 1999 and 2021 we had reached 1,000,000 youth. I am responsible for leading the organisation to our very ambitious goal to reach 1,000,000 youths in 5 years by leveraging technology. I am extremely proud to say that with the support of amazing funders, board members, staff, volunteers, schools, partners and more, we have reached close to 400,000 youths in the last 2 years.
With two decades of experience in diverse fields, what have you learnt?
In two decades of building a multidimensional career across multiple industries, I have learnt the importance of building networks and never burning bridges. The people I have worked with, met, and served have been instrumental to the various successes and accomplishments on my journey. A significant number of our current funders at JA Nigeria are the result of tapping into networks I built in other roles. Regardless of age, I highly recommend being intentional about building your networks – the value of those networks cannot be overemphasised. We must also ensure that our personalities and temperaments do not stand in the way of building networks. We can all build strong networks in different ways. I advise networking in a way that is most natural to and comfortable for you. One person may prefer smaller events to larger ones, another person may prefer group discussions as a mode of connecting with others. Either way, find what is most authentic to you and use it to build a strong network. I’ve also learnt the importance of seeking to add value in building a network. In my experience, the easiest way to build relationships, the core of networking, is by adding value to someone else. As you interact with people, make a habit of spotting opportunities to add value to them. Networking is simply a tool to achieve a broader objective or goal. Once you are clear on why you’re networking for instance, to grow sales in your business, to move to a new industry, and so on, you’ll be motivated.
Tell us about being a Gallup certified strengths coach
I became a Gallup® certified strengths coach because of my passion to help individuals and organisations live out their purpose, by leveraging their strengths so they can reach their full potential and impact society. Donald O. Clifton, the Father of Strengths Psychology says “Each person’s greatest room for growth is in the areas of his or her greatest strength” and I firmly believe that. If you spend time studying the most successful people in the world, you will see that they harness their strengths and create support around them to manage their weaknesses. No one is perfect. No one has all the talents in the world. We are all built differently. It’s all about understanding yourself, managing yourself and leveraging the strengths of those around you.
In what ways are you passionate about improving the welfare of humanity?
I believe every single person has a bunch of innate talents that when discovered, developed and deployed, will cause them to walk in their purpose and live successful lives. When we begin to intentionally deploy our talents, we inevitably transform the spaces we are in because we are doing what we were created to do.
What is the vision of Serving With Love (SWL)?
Serving With Love Foundation was founded in 2013. It was created by a group of friends and I out of a shared desire to help our community. There are so many problems to be solved around us all and if we all played our part, I really believe the world would be a much better place. The reception has been wonderful, we have received immense support and our membership database keeps growing. This has also helped us really strengthen and expand our various initiatives.
The future is digital, and most of the Nigerian youth are unprepared for the future of work. There is a real need to provide technology training to young children in Nigeria, especially those from low-income families, who would otherwise have no access to computers or digital training. We launched a Digital Life After School Program (DLASP) last year and the objective is to bridge the digital divide and provide much needed technology education to children from low-income families, thereby giving them employable skills and an outlet to express their innovation skills.
What inspired your book, ‘Unleash your superpowers?’
The book is called ‘Unleash your superpowers’ and it’s all about the power of our individual talents. In the book, I write about talents through the prism of research, fact-based theories, and the CliftonStrengths®️ assessment to take readers on an empowering journey of true self-improvement based on awareness and application of your innate talents. By teaching you how to focus on developing your talents into strengths instead of trying to turn your weaknesses into strengths under the guise of ‘doing better’, ‘Unleash your superpowers’ hands you the keys to an energised life marked by all-round success and fulfilment. My desire is that as readers engage with concepts in the book, they kick-start or continue the journey of discovering their talents, proceed to deploying them in different areas of life, develop them into strengths, and ultimately dominate the areas they were created to and live a life of purpose.
What role does mentorship play in the life of an individual? How have you given and also been a recipient of this?
The first step is to determine what the mentor is for. It could be for professional, personal, business, spiritual, family or other purposes. I have different mentors for different areas of my life. Some mentors may be all-encompassing- covering all areas, but not all are. You must not miss out on a great career mentor because you are fixated on having a mentor that covers all areas.
To seek a mentor, you must be as willing to give as you are to take. Don’t be a parasitic mentee. I also see a lot of people who try to outsource their lives to a mentor. Understand that if you want someone to be your mentor, the person is likely a very busy person and cannot handhold or babysit you. Schedule meeting times, maybe monthly or quarterly, and each time, have specific updates from previously agreed ‘next steps’ and specific issues you would like to address.
In seeking a mentor, it’s often a good idea to find someone accessible within your network. If someone declines your request to be mentored for one reason or the other, don’t take it personally. You could also explore structured mentorship programs operated within firms for their employees, or by independent organisations, whereby mentors are matched to individuals over a specified period.
What day remains unforgettable to you and why?
One of my most unforgettable days is the day I realized the magnitude of impact Junior Achievement Nigeria is making. I was speaking to Iyin Aboyeji who is Founder, Future Africa, co-founder of Andela, and was the former managing director of Flutterwave. He mentioned that he was a student of the Junior Achievement Company Program in secondary school and how the experience sparked his interest in entrepreneurship at such a young age. I truly believe that the potential of every nation is in its people. To hear Iyin, who has built very successful companies as an operator and investor, connect the dots of his entrepreneurial success to Junior Achievement was testament to the amazing work we do at Junior Achievement to sow seeds and lay the right foundation in the youth that we reach.
What advice do you have for ladies unsure about their career path, those beginning their career and those who are in it already?
For those unsure about their career path, I would say the best way to figure out what you love to do is to just start doing! I truly believe in the saying, whatever your hands find to do, do it well. Especially as you begin your career, it’s really a journey of discovery. It is in the process of working that you begin to determine what you truly enjoy, don’t enjoy, what energizes you and much more. In addition, to rise in your career, there are many things you will have to learn outside of your technical comfort zone or job function. It is very important to learn those skills when training opportunities present themselves. As you discover areas you’re lacking, be sure to explore training opportunities and cover the cost if your employer wouldn’t. To pay for these training and learning opportunities, you must plan and save. You spend money on what you value.
I am also a strong proponent of self-awareness. If nothing else, I think any professional should work on becoming more self-aware. There’s a tendency to fit people into some sort of mold and many people have a hard time expressing themselves because they think they should be a certain way. While building a career is important, it does not define you entirely so it’s important to be self-aware as you build that career. For instance, you may work in finance, a stereotypically cut-throat industry, and have a very nurturing personality, so while you are “doing deals” and “killing it”, you also find yourself mentoring people in your organisation and caring for them in a way other finance professionals don’t and that’s completely fine, you don’t have to fit into the mold. We should not identify ourselves solely by our professions/industries.
What is your take on imposter syndrome? What is the solution?
Imposter Syndrome is a big issue that limits many of us. It’s a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalised fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. It’s also based on limiting beliefs which are beliefs that get in the way of owning our power and our essence.
The solution lies in surrounding yourself with the right voices and resources. It is also to own who you are and accept that you are where you are because you are supposed to be. Instead of letting the things you don’t know cause you to have imposter syndrome, or freak out, label them as knowledge gaps you have and make a plan to fill those gaps!
Be intentional about your life in 2023. Focus on knowing and owning who you are. Discover yourself, your talents, the things that energise and drain you, the things that get you excited and the things you are passionate about. Intentionally develop your areas of talents until they become strengths. Leverage the talents of others in the areas that are not your strengths.
Never forget that no one is perfect, no one has all the talents in the world. We are all built differently to achieve our own unique purpose. The path to success is largely about understanding yourself, managing yourself and leveraging the strengths of those around you. Checkout my new book for more.