Aisha Dania Ogieriakhi, one of Nigeria’s prides in the diaspora and a two-time United Kingdom, UK Coordinator for the Institute of Information Management(IIM), recently turned 55 years old. Best known for her bright personality, Aisha has dedicated a better part of her life to the service of humanity. She is the founder of Blueberry Support Initiative (BBSI), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) dedicated to the upliftment of the less-privileged including orphans, vulnerable children, children with health issues and the downtrodden In this interview with OBA MICHAEL SOYEBO, she spoke about her new life at 55, business, family, and how she juggles her many roles. Excerpts:
By way of introduction, may we know you better?
I’m Aisha Dania Ogieriakhi. I come from Auchi in Edo State, Nigeria, and grew up in Ibadan. My educational journey includes St. Williams Primary School, Bishop Akinyele Grammar School, St. Anne’s College, and OSCARS for A-Levels. I pursued my OND in Sec Admin at The Polytechnic, Ibadan, and earned my HND from Yaba College of Technology, Lagos. I have also completed a couple of professional courses in the UK, including a Diploma in User IT Skills, Customer Service and most recently Data/Business Analytics. I work as a seasoned Data/IT Administrator for a reputable construction company in the UK. I have had the privilege of serving as a two-time UK Coordinator for the Institute of Information Management (IIM) – Africa. Additionally, I am a beauty consultant and a fashion enthusiast. I am happily married with a beautiful daughter. I currently reside in the UK.
How do you feel celebrating?
Celebrating 55 is an incredible milestone that fills me with a profound sense of gratitude and reflection. It’s a time to look back on the experiences, accomplishments, and lessons learned throughout the years. I feel a sense of pride in reaching this age, as it signifies the wisdom and resilience gained from navigating life’s challenges. It’s also an opportunity to celebrate the relationships and connections that have enriched my journey. While I embrace the wisdom and maturity that comes with age, I am also excited about the possibilities and adventures that lie ahead. Turning 55 is a reminder to cherish each moment, continue growing, and make the most of every opportunity that comes my way. Overall, celebrating 55 is a reminder for me to cherish the past, embrace the present, and look forward to the future with gratitude and optimism.
How would you describe your journey to 55?
My journey to 55 has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride. I was born into a life without the privileges that often come with a silver spoon. It was a path filled with challenges, obstacles, and moments that tested my resilience and determination. However, those very circumstances shaped me into the person I am today. As a child, I learned early on that hard work and perseverance were essential to overcoming the limitations that surrounded me. I embraced every opportunity to grow and succeed, whether it was through education, personal development, or seizing chances that came my way. I understood that I had the power to shape my own destiny, regardless of the circumstances I was born into.
Throughout the years, I encountered ups and downs, triumphs and setbacks. There were moments of doubt, but also moments of immense joy and accomplishment. Each hurdle I faced served as a stepping stone towards personal and professional growth. I learned valuable lessons about resilience, resourcefulness, and the importance of maintaining a positive mindset even in the face of adversity.
I sought out knowledge and education as a means of empowerment. I pursued my studies diligently, recognising that education was a powerful tool to unlock new opportunities and broaden my horizons. Along the way, I surrounded myself with supportive individuals who believed in me and pushed me to reach my full potential.
Despite the challenges, I embraced the roller coaster ride of life with a spirit of gratitude and determination. I recognised that every twist and turn, every climb and descent, contributed to shaping my character, building my resilience, and deepening my appreciation for the journey itself.
As I approach 55, I can look back on my life with a sense of accomplishment. I have surpassed the expectations that society may have had for me, proving that one’s background does not determine one’s ultimate success. I am proud of the person I have become and the impact I have made along the way.
Ultimately, my journey to 55 has been a testament to the power of perseverance, self-belief, and embracing the opportunities that life presents. It is a reminder that no matter where we start, with dedication and determination, we can create a fulfilling and meaningful life, leaving a positive impact on the world around us.
May we know you you chose your career path?
Choosing my career path was an interesting journey that I would describe as fate rather than a deliberate plan. Initially, my dream was to pursue a career in the media industry as a newscaster or media personality, driven by my passion for literature and reading. However, life took a different turn, and I found myself pursuing a course in Secretarial Administration at the Polytechnic.
While it may have seemed like a detour from my initial aspirations, I have no regrets about this path. In fact, I believe it was meant to be. Studying Secretarial Administration equipped me with valuable skills and knowledge that have had a profound impact on my professional journey. It provided a strong foundation in office management, organization, communication, and other essential skills that proved to be instrumental in various aspects of my career.
Interestingly, my secretarial knowledge also played a significant role in enhancing my IT skills and professional growth. It provided a solid framework for understanding administrative processes and paved the way for me to delve into the world of data and IT administration. This fusion of secretarial expertise and IT knowledge has been a valuable combination, allowing me to excel in my field and adapt to the evolving technological landscape.
While my career path may not have aligned precisely with my initial aspirations, I have come to appreciate the unexpected turns that life takes. I believe that every experience and opportunity we encounter contributes to our growth and ultimately shapes our path in ways we may not have anticipated. So, I embrace my journey with gratitude, recognizing that the skills and knowledge I gained through my secretarial education have truly enriched my professional life.
When did you start your own business?
I started my business at a young age, inspired by my mother who worked hard to provide for our family and ensure we had access to quality education. Business has always been a part of me, and even during my school years, I would sell various items like perfumes and clothes to generate income. As the eldest daughter with siblings to support, I recognized the importance of survival and helping my family. Thus, I started early to earn money and contribute to their well-being.
Kindly share with us some of the challenges you faced on your career path?
Rather than perceiving them as challenges, I consider the experiences I faced on my career path as blessings in disguise. When I initially embarked on my IT journey at Mobil Oil, I had no idea it would lead to an extended six-year tenure with the company. This opportunity became the starting point of my career, opening doors for me to work in esteemed organisations across various sectors in Nigeria, including banks, oil companies, government parastatals, and the tourism industry.
How did you grow your business to what it is today?
Growing a business is a journey that often requires a combination of strategies that are tailored to different situations. In my personal experience, I have faced both challenges and successes while growing my business. I’ve encountered setbacks, such as being duped or experiencing failures, but I didn’t let those obstacles discourage me. Instead, I persevered and used them as learning curves as I progress.
Initially, I invested significant amounts of time, energy, and money into my business. While there were failures, there were also moments of considerable profit. I understand that setbacks and failures are part of the entrepreneurial journey, and resilience is key to overcoming them.
At present, I have decided to slow down my business activities to focus on personal and career development, my NGO and family. However, I am also planning to establish an online retail one-stop store – “SUITS YOU” – clothing line that would cater for fashionistas. While it has been on my agenda for some time, I believe there is no need to rush. I understand the importance of patience and careful planning when it comes to launching new ventures.
I firmly believe that there is no easy one-size-fits-all strategy for business growth. It requires adaptability, a willingness to learn from failures, and a continuous drive for improvement. As I continue my entrepreneurial journey, I remain committed to exploring new opportunities, staying open to innovation, and taking calculated risks.
Ultimately, I am confident that with time and perseverance, I will achieve my goals and successfully grow my business, fulfilling my aspirations in the online retail space.
You also have a Foundation; what informed its establishment?
The decision to establish a Foundation was driven by my passion for humanity, benevolent, compassionate, and purposeful mindset. I find great joy in improving and positively impacting the lives of others. It is my belief that we have a responsibility to complement God’s work in making this world a better place. I aim to be a life-changing force, utilizing my gifts and talents to bring about positive transformation. Living an average, mediocre, and purposeless life is not fulfilling to me. My goal is to fulfil God’s destiny and leave a lasting positive legacy by uplifting humanity.
At what point in your career can you say you hit the success mark, and could you please share the success highlights in your career?
In my career, I have been fortunate to achieve several noteworthy successes. Some highlights include Professional Growth: Throughout my career journey, I have consistently pursued personal and professional development, expanding my knowledge, skills, and expertise. This has led to advancements in my career, allowing me to take on more challenging roles and responsibilities. I have had the privilege of making significant contributions in every organization I have worked for spanning Banking, Retail, Tourism, Education. Whether it’s through improving processes, or delivering exceptional results, I take pride in leaving a positive impact on the teams and projects I have been a part of.
Over the years, I have received recognition and accolades for my achievements and contributions. These honors serve as a testament to the value I bring to my field and further motivate me to continue striving for excellence.
I have had the opportunity to assume leadership positions, where I have guided and inspired teams towards success. Being entrusted with these roles has allowed me to showcase my leadership skills and influence positive change within the organizations I have been a part of.
One of the most fulfilling aspects of my career has been receiving positive feedback and testimonials from colleagues, superiors, and clients. Knowing that I have made a difference in their lives or helped them achieve their goals is incredibly rewarding and serves as a measure of success. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to be entrusted with high-profile positions and responsibilities, and I am proud to say that I have consistently delivered and exceeded expectations. These opportunities have allowed me to showcase my capabilities, expertise, and dedication. I have approached each role with a strong work ethic, attention to detail, and a commitment to achieving outstanding results. Being reliable and consistently meeting or surpassing expectations has been a defining characteristic of my professional journey. These success highlights serve as milestones in my career, reminding me of the progress I have made and motivating me to continue pushing the boundaries of my potential.
Where do you see your business in the next five years?
In the next five years, I envision my business expanding its reach, establishing a strong online presence, and becoming a recognised leader in the Fashion industry.