BusinessDay

“The watchword is passion and hard work”

Mrs Tolulope Onalaja, Executive Director, RevolutionPlus Properties Group
Mrs Tolulope Onalaja, successful entrepreneur, businesswoman and philanthropist, is the Group Executive Director of RevolutionPlus Group, a conglomerate founded alongside her husband, BamideleOnalaja.

She is a graduate of the University of Ibadan where she studied Counseling Psychology and also has a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from the University of Calabar. An alumnus of the Enterprise Development Center (EDC) from Pan Atlantic University (CEM 40 Class), Onalaja has a mini MBA from Loyola University, Chicago (Quinlan School of Business) in 2021 and currently an MBA Student at the University of Leicester, England.

Onolaja is a real estate expert with 18 years work experience. Her industrious zeal and love for entrepreneurship earned her various awards and recognitions including “Most Enterprising Woman in Real Estate,” “Real Estate Amazon of the year” “Female Real Estate Top Performer in Marketing” among others. She is a member of the Institute of Directors (IoD) and an Associate Member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR).

In this interview, Onalaja talks about the role of women in the nation’s development and the importance of creating a solid foundation in any relationship. Excerpts.

The RevolutionPlus Business Concept
Businesses are operated and run on structures. If you run a business, and the business runs around you, you are setting up yourself to failure because you need people to run the vision. So, for each of these businesses, there must be a business head; accountant, admin, sales, and marketing amongst others. The business heads report to the Group Head Managing Director. So, it’s like each business has its own MD but they are not called MD but GM. And they run the business as the head of that business unit and report to the Group Managing Director.

Role of women in nation building
I don’t think women are doing enough because there are still lots of gaps that women need to fill, I think we women can do much more. Why do I say this? Naturally, as women, God has given us the ability to multitask.

We are given the womb for childbearing, we are expected to take care of our husbands also, and most of us are career women. Gone are the days were women do full housewives. But these days, we combine taking care of the children, and the husband with our careers. So it means that God has given women the capacity to handle multiple tasks. When you think about the womb, it means the ability to take in a lot. We carry children for 9 months which shows the tenacity of a woman. It shows that we have the ability to incubate, carry it and bring it to fruition.

However, Nigerian culture does not really give a proper place to women in society. We believe “it’s a man’s world”, especially in this part of the world. There is still a lot to be done to change the narrative, and I think it’s getting a bit better. The few women who have tried in their various fields of endeavour to go up the ladder, I am sure, faced lots of challenges because it’s still a man’s world and I do salute those women who focus and stand strong in their careers.

Managing a successful career

Naturally, I am a passionate person. Whatever you gave to me, I ensure it comes out better. If you give me a task to manage, you can go to sleep and expect nothing less than good results. I’m very dependable. That’s what drives me. Anything I handle will be a success because I can’t afford it to fail in my hand. This has always been me even before I got to this position. I worked for about 14 years before I came to join my husband in RevolutionPlus. I’ve gotten to the position of Chief Operating Officer at 32 in my previous job, running a business with over 2,000 staff.

What am I saying is that the watchword is passion and hard work. Success does not fall on anybody’s lap. There is a difference between hard work and hard labour. So, what has kept me going are my values, which are hard work, tenacity, focus, goal-getting, and being a determined person and I don’t see any impossibilities. That is what has been helping me in life and of course the God factor. You cannot do anything in life without God.

Social Media and its societal impact
I think social media has done more harm than good. Why do I say so? Just recently, I was on phone with a young lady who has picked me as her mentor likewise lots of ladies in society. She was telling me she saw me on a TV programme talking about how I met my husband. And the girl said to me, “You need to have a programme for young people, because, during your teenage years, there were no social media”. And I agreed with her.

But now, there are lots of pressures from social media that we never faced during our time. And it was easy for you to make some decisions then because of less pressure. So, I told her marriage is not a decision you make by pressure or by what you see now, there is a time you will need the direction of God for making certain crucial decisions about your future. After the discussion with the girl, I made up my mind that I am going to have a programme for young ladies. And it will be a mixed stream for both online and offline.

Advice for young girls in the society

Let me start by saying that a journey of 40 years is not what you see today. If you acquired success through shortcuts or other dubious means, it will lead to instant failure. Anything that you do in a hurry never lasts. Whatever you will build that will last, must take years to stand. You can’t build a skyscraper in one day. The higher the building, the deeper the foundation should be because you spend more time on the foundation. If I am planning to build a 3-storey apartment, I may spend longer years on the foundation while another person will spend one or two months building a bungalow because we are not actually building the same apartment.

So, to the young ladies, what are you building? That is the first question. Do you want to build what is going to last, what is going to stand the test of time? Then you need patience and God. There is always the God factor to lead and guide you to the right path.

And also, face your own vision. Our thinking differs. Do not follow the bandwagon and also avoid social media lifestyles. There are lots of fake lifestyles on social media. In all, be focused, know what you want and keep to your vision.