If there’s one piece of career advice to live by today, it’s this shared by Georgia Wilson;
“I’d say go after what you want in your career with boldness, do your best in current roles whilst understudying for the next level up…You never know when that big opportunity is around the corner. “
Georgia Wilson was recently announced as the Global Group CFO of Together Group, a role which she starts in October 2021. We caught up with her to learn more about her career journey, the bold moves she’s made, and how Career Masterclass has impacted her journey so far.
Tell us a bit about Georgia Wilson.
I am a chartered accountant and the Head of Finance for the UK data centres at Global Switch, serving as a senior leadership team member. Before this, I worked at Deloitte, Shell and Centrica in various progressive finance roles.
Outside of work, I am active in my community in various voluntary capacities. I am the Co-founder & Treasurer of Queen Bees Investment Club which seeks to educate black families on investing in shares for long term gain. I also run a traditional savings scheme called a Susu/Pardoner and coach parents on how to plan a successful 11+ campaign.
When I’m not working, you will find me relaxing and spending time with my husband, children, extended family and friends.
When and how did your career journey start?
My career journey started in Grenada. First, I was a teacher at my alma mater, St. John’s Christian Secondary School, for three years. I spent two summers working in the management and finance team at De La Grenade Industries whilst I was a student at the University of the West Indies reading for my bachelor’s degree.
Upon completion of my studies, I secured a junior economist role at the Ministry of Finance. However, one year into the role, Grenada was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan, and the Agency for Reconstruction and Development (ARD) was set up to rebuild the country. I was asked by the Chairman of ARD, the late Sir Alister McIntyre, to join him on secondment.
When I did leave the ARD, it was to further my studies at University College London. After that, I embarked on a finance career in London, winning a Deloitte graduate scheme as an auditor.
We are super excited and very proud of you for bagging this new role as the CFO of Together Group. What particularly influenced your decision to accept this position?
Firstly, it is a fantastic opportunity to become Group CFO of an ambitious and exciting venture. From a professional development perspective, I will add value, learn and grow into my first CFO role.
Secondly, my values and that of Together Group align based on what I have seen of the team. Professional chemistry and team camaraderie are so important to allow one’s career to flourish.
Thirdly, I hope to be a positive and successful role model to women and black professionals who would like to join the C-Suite someday.
You were a part of our very first event held in 2015. How did you hear about Career Masterclass?
I heard about Career Masterclass through one of my best friends, Tobi (Osho) Dada. I managed to scrape into the event when Tobi asked Bukola to release more tickets on Eventbrite so I could purchase a ticket. Plus, my daughter was only 2 months old, so I took her with me.
What role has Career Masterclass played in your career?
Firstly, the choice of topic, The Confidence Code, for the very first conference was timely. Watching capable black mothers, including Bukola Adisa, navigating their careers was inspirational, and I resolved to regain the boldness that was in danger of slipping away from me. Later that year, I left Deloitte for Shell and Bukola, and other Career Masterclass volunteers were very helpful in coaching me through this.
Also, my upcoming Group CFO role at Together Group came about because Career Masterclass was asked to find someone as a match for the role, and they recommended me. Thank you, Career Masterclass.
How has the STRETCH Conference influenced your career journey?
STRETCH has been a powerful tool whereby I have listened to people who have had highly successful careers share their trade secrets and real-life stories.
As a good student, I have sought to adopt any techniques that are relevant to me. It helps that at STRETCH, there are speakers from various backgrounds and personality types. Hence, there is a high chance that at least one speaker would resonate with each attendee in some way and that you would leave with a plan of action for your career and with renewed confidence that you can be successful in your career.
If you were going to convince someone else to sign up for Career Masterclass membership, what would you tell the person to look forward to?
Look forward to challenging the status quo. You will be made to ask yourself key questions such as, are you where you are meant to be now? If so, how come and where do you want to go from here? If not, how do you plan to get yourself where you’d like to be?
Furthermore, you will be armed with real-life techniques on salary negotiation, exiting from a current employer gracefully, onboarding successfully onto a new role and building rapport quickly with your team, planning a dynamic career trajectory, among other hot topics.
Bukola always tells members that they are CEOs of their own careers, and Career Masterclass shows you how to execute this.
Lastly, what’s one piece of career advice that has changed your life?
My career journey started by asking for opportunities in my network in Grenada. I did not get every role that I asked for, but those I did secure have immensely shaped my journey.
I’d say go after what you want in your career with boldness, do your best in current roles whilst understudying for the next level up and building and looking after your network. You never know when that big opportunity is around the corner.
Making Power Career Moves: Leading Career Professionals Share How They Did It
In today’s competitive world of work, if you’re thinking about what the next big step or level in your career could be, you’re not alone.
Very few people accept a position at a company with the intention to stay in that same role forever. There’s always going to be the desire for growth, either within the organisation or by pivoting to a higher level in another company.
To do this successfully, it’s important for you to be fully prepared and informed, with facts, data, insights, and lessons from people who have walked in the same shoes as you. As the saying goes, “experience is the best teacher”.
To help you plan for your next career move, we spoke to 5 professionals across different industries about what inspired them to make Power Moves, and what strategies worked for them.
See what they shared and which strategies you can adopt for your next power move:
Tosin Omowole, Account Manager, Propeller Group
I think my biggest career move to date was moving into the B2B Comms space in the UK after working in B2C for almost three years in Nigeria. It was like starting my career from scratch but I was willing to take the chance. It was a tough move and I struggled initially in a new country and a new space but it has shaped my career to date. I can boldly say I have delivered excellent results for global clients across Africa and this has inspired my recent move to work with clients across the UK and the US.
If you could speak to a young professional, what’s the one career strategy you’d tell them to make a part of their toolkit and why?
One career strategy that has helped my journey so far is having a solid network. It is really important to know people within and outside your industry who can help you if the need arises…
Of course, you must also add value to them somehow. How can you meet people? Attend events, follow them on social media, and interact with them.
Olajire Adekola, Manager at PwC, Nigeria
One career move I am most proud of is following my interest in accounting and finance. I had more than a passing interest from the ’08 financial crash and when I got the opportunity to make this into a career after NYSC, I grabbed that with both hands.
My strategy first was to gain the right knowledge necessary to be able to take the opportunity when it presented itself. It was also key to understand the industry, the major players, and the entry requirements; and to actively work to meet those requirements as quickly as possible.
If you could speak to a young professional, what’s the one career strategy you’d tell them to make a part of their toolkit and why?
I would say be a ‘discerning sponge’. Leverage the experiences of senior colleagues, learn from their mistakes and use that to guide your steps. I reckon it helps to have a mentor, though I would not consider that to be a necessity.
It also helps to start your career in an organisation that consciously dedicates resources to grooming young professionals to build their capacity and trusts them to deliver early enough in their careers.
Nnenna Ukachuku, Finance Administrator at United Trust Bank Limited, UK
After accepting voluntary redundancy in 2018, I came to realize that I could reset my career and be more strategic about it. So I made the big move to start over again in the world of Finance.
While the last 20 odd years of work didn’t inspire me or give me a sense of achievement, I concluded that I’ve still got another 20 years of work-life left. The big question I ask myself is: What can I do differently?
One major strategy that helped me was to leverage my desire for growth. I knew that to succeed you can’t stay in the past, you have to possess a new mindset, strategies, inspiration, tools, guidance, surrounding yourself with new people and that’s how my journey with Career Masterclass began.
If you could speak to a young professional, what’s the one career strategy you’d tell them to make a part of their toolkit and why?
Visibility. You want to ensure that the value you are adding is being seen by the right people who in turn will recognize your talents and advocate for you. You know you’re visible when the senior management of your organization is speaking your name in meetings you’re not privy to. Be visible and work on becoming a key person of influence.
Fiyin Toyo, Senior Innovation & Equity Manager (West Africa) at Mondelēz International, Nigeria
Transitioning from working in an SME to several multinationals is one career move I will always be proud of. It was a big dream for me and I was able to achieve this by harnessing the opportunity at the SME to learn as much as I could even though I wasn’t earning as much as I wanted.
If you could speak to a young professional, what’s the one career strategy you’d tell them to make a part of their toolkit and why?
This is tough because I believe in so many strategies like learning, networking, visibility but let me shine the light on the one we like to underestimate which is the power of what you know. It doesn’t stop there. You have to do the work of ensuring that people know, that you know!
Adding value to any organization is key but ensuring that the right people know about this is huge as they will most likely be the ones to accelerate your growth within the company and of course in your career.
Kingston Nwosu, Institutional Sales, Investment Research Division at Euromoney Institutional Investor, UK
So far, my biggest career move has been making the transition from Nigeria to working in the UK. The first step towards achieving this was enrolling for a Master’s degree course at Cranfield University. In addition to broadening my knowledge of Finance, I also thought it would give me a soft landing and help me adapt better to my new environment.
Graduating at the peak of the Brexit transition, and later the Covid pandemic, seemed to make my goal more elusive. During these periods, the strategies I adopted to achieve my target included arranging informational interviews with people who worked in the industry I was interested in, attending conferences at top business schools and career events to learn the latest trends and build my network, and volunteering at career development organizations like Career Masterclass.
If you could speak to a young professional, what’s the one career strategy you’d tell them to make a part of their toolkit and why?
I would say don’t be afraid to pursue whatever you desire. First, get rid of the fear of failure. If you’re going through a new path, there’s a chance that you will stumble or fail at some things initially even after giving your best. It could just mean there is a knowledge gap on your part.
Be humble enough to acknowledge your weakness and find ways to improve. You get better as you learn from your mistakes or failures. Make sure to apply the lessons as you proceed on your career journey. Those experiences are the building blocks for the success that lies ahead.
To learn more about how to make strategic career moves, watch the replay of the phenomenal Masterclass session Power Career Moves: Strategies for Taking the Next Big Steps with Kimberly B. Cummings, a Career and Leadership Expert here. This is available for registered members only. Not a member yet? Sign up for a 7-day free trial and access the career resources on the platform.
We also have a FREE checklist to help you double-check yourself and your skills to know if you are ready for your next move. To get the NEXT BIG MOVE CHECKLIST delivered to your mailbox, click here.
After the most amazing time at the STRETCH Conference last year, a group of HSBC colleagues came together to ensure that they continued to maximise the momentum they had gained at the event. Tejal, Team Lead of the cohort called STRETCH45 shares about their collective experience so far.
What’s your name and what do you do at HSBC?
My name is Tejal Joshi, and I work for HSBC Bank as an Insurance Commercialisation Manager. Simply put, I optimise the customer journey for clients taking Insurance policies.
What’s your regular day at work like?
I work for HSBC Bank as an Insurance Commercialisation Manager. Simply put, I optimise the customer journey for clients taking Insurance policies. I work with different departments across the bank to be able to look at ways of improving the way we serve our customers. My regular day involves me having meetings with different departments and delivering projects to improve the customer experience.
My favourite part is working with the STRETCH45 Team (an initiative we started following the STRETCH conference), to be able to guide and support a cohort of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority Colleagues improve the trajectory of their career, supported by Career Masterclass!
I’m blessed that my regular day at work right now also includes getting home made food by my mother! ☺
When you’re not working, what do you do?
I am a coach outside of work, and absolutely love helping people get out their own way to succeed. I am extremely passionate about personal growth and I’m usually reading or finding new ways to learn… I also host a podcast, Chai & Waffle, talking about subjects that are considered as taboo in the life of a British Asian. This has opened up a whole host of conversations with people that thought they were alone in the experiences they’ve gone through; we use the platform to reach out to people and unite as a community.
Tell us a bit about your experience at STRETCH last year.
The STRETCH conference was extremely eye opening and came at a great time where we were all settling into the norm of remote working, it was invigorating to hear from leaders across the world and set new goals. The conference enabled me to pause and reflect on where I needed to focus to grow; I would recommend the conference to anyone looking to lead their career intentionally.
How was STRETCH45 formed?
Following the conference, we wanted to support and continue the newly gained momentum by the cohort that attended the conference. We appreciate that growth is easier when you’re supported by a community around you on the same mission therefore we wanted to create a Black, Asian & Ethnic Minority community to break down invisible boundaries to be able to grow and help others up. We started with the end in mind, which was to support these colleagues, to improve their career trajectory by 45 degrees and with this came the birth of STRETCH45.
We have built a wider community which includes all of our members and we get together on a monthly basis, these sessions create a space for everyone to be honest and share how they’re feeling and we have guest speakers to support the growth in their careers. Being a group of BAME colleagues, it is great to have an open dialogue of cultural barriers that we may be knowingly, or unknowingly, facing and how to overcome these.
We have also created smaller ‘Mastermind Groups’, these are groups of 5-6 colleagues that meet up regularly to help each other to grow and share best practices. The colleagues are completing 2 Masterclasses on Career Masterclass each month to build momentum in improving their career.
In H2 2021, we are looking to give them a business related project to be able to showcase their skills to senior leaders & be able to effectively put into practice the skills learnt from the Masterclasses.
How has STRETCH45 influenced your career?
STRETCH45 has given me the realisation that serving a purpose bigger than ourselves is what we, as humans, thrive on. I’ve taken my role within STRETCH45 as a privilege and a key responsibility that we should all be doing as much as we can to make the company more diverse and inclusive across all areas.
We speak so much about personal branding at CM, and to help our members take that first step towards building their own personal brands, we entered a partnership with Perfocal UK, so that members of Career Masterclass get to enjoy an amazing discount on their professional headshots.
Tomi Ibirogba, HR professional and Career Masterclass member got her headshots done recently, and shares her experience with us, and why investing in her personal brand matters to her.
Tell us about yourself and your career background
I have an LLB in law from The University of Southampton and MSc in Human Resource Management from LSE. After graduation, I went back home to Lagos, Nigeria to launch my career starting off as a teacher and then onto the ExxonMobil graduate scheme to work in the Global Facilities department. I moved on to an HR role after this and eventually left Nigeria in 2018 for the UK. I’m currently an HR Advisor at a global Maritime leader where I oversee HR operations for Europe.
When did you become interested in/intentional about building your personal brand?
Moving to the UK, I experienced first-hand the struggles of professionals abroad trying to break into the job market of a new country. I struggled to navigate the job market and land any opportunities and I would say this was due to the subtle cultural differences, lack of a solid network, lack of confidence and lack of a brand! I was failing to clearly communicate who I was, what I can do and how I stand out to prospective employers. I had so many goals I wanted to attract and uncover, but I was failing to do this because, essentially, I was not actively branding myself as someone worth working with. Therefore, I spent time learning to craft my story and how I could share that with the world.
Why does investing in your personal brand matter to you? Investing in my brand is important to me because I want to build my recognition and credibility.
Coming into the job market, I wanted to differentiate myself and bring something unique to the spaces I was entering. The goal is always to set myself apart by playing to my strengths. Additionally, up to 80% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process. Thus, I invest in my brand to be able to clearly communicate who I am and what I can do. I wanted to attract and uncover multiple opportunities, interviews, partnerships, job promotions but how would that happen if I am not actively putting myself out there? All of these goals pointed to the need to consciously work on my brand.
What does an appropriate, on-brand headshot on social media look like and why does it matter?
My top tips for an on-brand headshot are: • Ensure the picture is recent; you want to ensure you still look like you. • Clear, bright and high-resolution images only. Blurry pictures don’t portray you in the best light. • Ensure you’re the only person in the picture! We want to see as much of your own face as possible. • Have a welcoming expression; you want to look warm and approachable. • Keep it professional. Dress how you would in a formal or semi formal setting. • If you have the means, invest in a professional photographer. You will not regret it.
It takes a split second to form a first impression of you based on your profile photo. Plus, LinkedIn research says that just having a picture makes your profile 14 times more likely to be viewed! Your photos are a key element of your personal brand and, in my experience, investing in proper photos has increased my response and referral rates, presented me as friendly, likeable, trustworthy and made it easier for people to engage with me.
What was your shoot-day experience with the Perfocal team, and what did you think about the end results? Seamless. My photographer (Iyanka) showed up early, tested out the lighting in the different rooms, then we settled on a shooting location and 4 outfits. He asked for my vision, showed me some ideas, rearranged my home to look like a set and within one hour, we had shot 4 different looks. I think it was all perfect and I got my pictures within 24 hours.
What would you say to a professional who is still unsure about investing in their personal brand? Step out of your comfort zone and build your brand because, everyone has a brand! The difference is just that while some actively influence their brands to work in their favour, others passively let the world define theirs.
As you invest in your brand, remember to be yourself and do what you love. This will help you build a reputation as someone credible to work with, which will give you a unique competitive advantage and industry recognition which helps you attract likeminded people and opportunities. Internally, your brand inspires and gives you tremendous confidence.
Once I began to devote time to working on my brand, I have been able to move up in my career journey, establish partnerships with various organisations, reach thousands of people via my social media content, secure speaking engagements, uncover job opportunities that are not advertised and even launch a business that gained traction quickly.
Tell us one fun thing about you I love to travel! I’m an avid traveller and actively devote time and resources to seeing the world. I have a travel bucket list and before COVID hit, I was well on my way to visiting 40 countries before 2022.
What’s a quote you live by? “Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result…” by Michelle Obama.
What was the last book you read? Becoming by Michelle Obama.
Career Masterclass is launching a transformative, high-impact accelerator programme designed to help experienced Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority professionals push to the next level in their careers, as part of its B2B offerings to companies seeking to invest in the development of their Black and ethnic minority workforce.
The programme aims to equip early to mid level career professionals with skills to build successful careers including leadership, building successful networks, confidence building, resilience, etc. The programme experience applies a blended learning approach, incorporating Masterclasses, drop-in Q and A sessions, mini-challenges and activities, group sessions as well as one to one mentoring sessions with industry leaders.
The programme will be delivered by highly skilled industry leaders and professionals who have built successful careers and are familiar with the challenges faced by ethnic minorities in trying to progress their careers.
It will also be supported by access to the Career Masterclass digital learning platform, which has been designed to leverage personalisation via its proprietary technology to ensure that the solution is tailor-made for each participant’s individual career needs and requirements. It offers a unique solution to reinforce learning and provide ongoing support for participants at all times.
The high-impact accelerator programme will be packed with real life case studies, practical knowledge and tools and offered by industry professionals. It aims to drive transformative change by providing BAME professionals with insight and resources needed to advance in their careers, while also encouraging UK firms to create more inclusive environments.
The programme will help address the issue of lack of BAME representation in senior positions within UK organisations. McKinsey’s Delivery Through Diversity report revealed that in the UK, 22% of university students identify as Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME), yet only 8% of UK executives in the study’s sample share this identity. However, companies with the most ethnically/culturally diverse boards worldwide are 43% more likely to experience higher profits.
“Diversity is essential for running a healthy business,” said Career Masterclass founder, Bukola Adisa. “To address this we need companies to invest in the development of their mid-level BAME employees to assist them in accessing senior level positions and, ultimately, enter the board rooms.”
Bukola who has led large teams in leading financial organisations in the UK remembers, “When I was at the top of my game, leading 100+ employees in a blue chip firm, I witnessed how rare it was to see Black and minority people in the boardrooms and in leadership positions. To address this disparity, I started hosting career development sessions in my free time to help Black, Asian and minority professionals, by arming them with necessary tools to succeed in their career.”
What started as a campaign in her free time to help a few chart their path into boardrooms by offering advice and training – has become a core business today with Career Masterclass boasting 12,000 members in 15 countries.
Career Masterclass has a track record for delivering dynamic talent development programmes designed specifically for organisations to attract, support and develop their diverse talent pipeline. Bukola has been invited by international companies such as Amazon, Deutsche Bank, Google Africa, Shell and HSBC to lead professional development sessions focused on inclusion and talent development.
Adisa said, “The challenges facing BAME professionals in the workplace are well documented and we provide tips and concepts to help overcome roadblocks and barriers to enable professional growth for participants.”
“Our programmes are designed by professionals who have used tried and tested principles to build successful careers. The programmes are underpinned by authentic, real-life examples of professionals’ experiences, which help to bring the concepts to life. We understand that as each participant is unique, so is every business. As a result, we offer a flexible delivery model to fit individual company needs or requirements.”
Talent development organisation Career Masterclass launches in Nigeria
UK-based Career Masterclass – which has carved a place for itself in the careers market for democratisation of opportunities – enters the Nigerian market to offer quality career advice and training to established and aspiring professionals.
It has already worked with leading companies including Google Africa and AG Leventis in Nigeria.
Career Masterclass helps create a level playing field within the corporate world by arming middle level professionals with the right tools to help them to break the glass ceiling.
It has worked with leading multinationals including Amazon, Deutsche Bank, Google and Visa in the UK, Nigeria, the US and Canada.
Career Masterclass programmes are targeted at both companies and individuals.
The Nigerian entity will offer a range of training programmes and tools including access to masterclasses from leading experts, content and resources and customised talent development programmes. It will also help connect with mentors and offer valuable insight on how to achieve your career goals.
Speaking about opening its office in Nigeria, the Founder of Career Masterclass, Bukola Adisa, who hails from Nigeria said, “Nigeria is an important market for us. We are a global platform but most of our users are from the UK, followed by Nigeria and the US. We also have substantial following in Canada and India. Having run career development programmes for leading multinationals in Nigeria and given the amount of interest we garnered, I believe it was time for us to launch our Nigerian entity.”
The most popular training programmes in Nigeria are: Cracking the confidence code, the art of negotiation and navigating organisational politics.
Speaking about her passion for democratisation of opportunities in the corporate world, Bukola, who hails from Nigeria, said, “I am both an immigrant and a woman and I have managed to break the glass ceiling to be the highest ranking Black professional in a leading international bank. I can do it and so can others. We, at Career Masterclass, want to share our insight, knowledge and experience so that others, like us, can benefit from it.”
Launched as a UK based entity in 2015, Career Masterclass has an international outreach via its global platform. It holds both in-person training sessions for leading organisations and online events. The company has grown from strength to strength and plans to launch its crowdfunding later this month.
Building in Heels: Nuggets from 12 Female Career Trailblazers Who Are Challenging the Status Quo
International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global annual event that brings the world together on March 8th to recognise and celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political contributions of women – while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender equality. this day and every day, we celebrate and honour the women who break barriers, make a difference and play a vital role across social, economic, cultural and political spheres. By challenging societal norms, bias & inequality and even themselves, these women are paving the way for other women to thrive in their professional and personal lives.
For this year, the theme is #ChoosetoChallenge, and it reminds us that as individuals, we all have a role to play in challenging bias, questioning stereotypes and taking collective action for equality.
To celebrate this important day, at Career Masterclass, we asked 12 female career trailblazers to share their thoughts and insights on how they are challenging themselves to do more and be more as a professional women; and what they are choosing to challenge as a women who want to level the playing field for the next generation of professional women.
1. Aisha Nkiru Craig, Hybrid Banker, Barclays Bank UK
Aisha is a Corporate Governance professional by day and a beauty enthusiast, podcast co-host and small business owner by night. She currently works with one of the UK’s leading high street banks. Along with her husband, they offer counsel to couples who are thinking about getting married and have also co-founded SuruLereLove, an online dating service for the discerning African single.
These days I try to focus on being more rather than doing more. I find that both generate activity, but where one is often activity for its own sake, and the other is purposeful, directional and developmental, leading to a greater sense of fulfilment and yields more sustainable workplace progression. My current goals for 2021 are to BE a healthier, happier, more centred version of myself and to bring my best to the work I do every day.
In the modern workplace, women are less likely to attain the top management positions because of the struggle to balance family commitments with career progression. The list is endless, from maternity to menstruation, and these can negatively impact female growth opportunities in a male-dominated environment.
Recently, I have been championing the versatility of the female employee in my workspace by demonstrating excellence in a new hybrid role, that combines a 50/50 split between working remotely from home and in-branch, to deliver a tailored service to our clientele. The long term consequences of this will be greater opportunities for women to balance family commitments with career progression, and a potential increase in female executive level positions in the next decade.
2. Benita Adelore, Head, Human Resources Operations, AG Leventis Group
Benita Adelore has deep functional experience and expertise in Human Resources Strategy, Employee Relations and Leadership Development honed over a decade and a half of shaping multi-sectoral corporations. She serves as a staff counsellor and mentor to a cross section of employees and remains a champion of performance management. Benita continues to thrive at the nexus of corporate excellence, bridging generational knowledge gaps, and facilitating strategic problem-solving skills across the various business units within her current employ.
As a professional woman, you must understand that you have need clusters which if not properly defined and managed will hamper your productivity and your journey towards having a fulfilling career. The need clusters are Self, Family, Work, and your Community.
Self is the most crucial out of all the need clusters. Being a woman comes with a lot of societal pressure; however, what I feed my mind with and how I prioritise my wellness keeps me motivated to take on the other need clusters in my productivity map.
As a professional woman who wants to be more, I keep learning, I stay confident and believe in myself. I don’t hesitate to seek help and will accept my mistakes and learn from them. I strive to be a good example to others and empower other women I am privileged to meet along my journey.
I am choosing to challenge the culture at the workplace. I believe women should be given equal rights as their male counterparts if they have the same qualifications and requisite skill sets. Phrases such as, “you’re a woman, you’re supposed to do this.” or “you’re a woman, that role is not for you” should no longer be heard by in this day and age. This is the time to speak up, be assertive and remember that our voices are always worth listening to.
Bunmi Adeniba is an experienced marketing professional and commercial operator with over 2 decades experience that spans across brand building, innovation design, and quality management system. She currently manages the Homecare division of Unilever and sits on the HomeCare Leadership Team for Africa. Bunmi is passionate about women empowerment and raising phenomenal leaders in the marketplace. She holds several formal and informal corporate coaching for mid-level and career starters.
I challenge myself by showing up fully every time, everywhere, being my best and giving my best, realising that I carry the responsibility to hold up a torch for the next girl who walks through the door, blazing in on merit.
I am choosing to challenge that we break out of expectations or any stereotypical character set for us to fit in or be accepted. It is okay to show up – the full package – inclusive of all the emotions that makes us who we are – emphatic, passionate and connected. We ought not be embarrassed by our emotions. Managing them well begins with owning them fully, then deploying them situationally and contextually. The energy expended on bottling emotions up, serves us all better when channelled to the actual work and the results we aim to deliver competently.
4. Dr. Chonnettia Jones, Vice President, Research at the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research in British Columbia
Dr. Chonnettia Jones has more than two decades of experience in science and health research, strategy and policy in the US, UK/Europe and Canada. Chonnettia is a long-standing mentor of emerging leaders and speaks publicly on issues of equity, diversity and inclusion.
I’m drawn to challenges that will grow and stretch me. In fact, I’m learning that I thrive in conditions of change and uncertainty. At the start of a worldwide pandemic, I moved internationally to start a new job. Not only have I had to learn to live and work in a new country isolated from my family and friends, but I’ve had to establish professional credibility, virtually and relatively quickly, to make contributions in science and health research that will improve the health and well-being for people and their families during an unprecedented crisis.
I choose to challenge societal stereotypes of women and dominant notions of how women should show up or behave in leadership. My leadership style reflects my personal values – trust, authenticity, empathy and inclusion. I have developed an exceptional ability to make deep connections with people to find synergies, and to work through opposing views to find satisfactory compromises. But I am unapologetic for speaking up and challenging the status quo, using my platform to ensure that diverse voices, world views and experiences are brought to bear on decisions that will impact others, particularly those that are underrepresented and underserved. I also give back through sponsorship and mentorship, lending support to the next generation of women who are developing their own leadership platforms.
And, amidst it all, I somehow managed to co-author a book chapter on equitable partnerships in health research to solve societal challenges. It’s been trial by fire, but I’m looking forward to the future, and exploring ways to capitalise on the unexpected new opportunities that have arisen because of a crisis.
Foluso Gbadamosi is the Executive Director, Junior Achievement Nigeria. Her career spans over 15 years in the Telecommunications, FMCG, Financial Services and Oil & Gas industries. She is also a Transformation Coach who helps individuals on the journey towards becoming the best version of themselves.
I challenge myself by pushing beyond the boundaries of what I consider my ‘comfort zone’ and taking on new challenges. I do this by getting involved in work, projects and programs that stretch me beyond my imagination. I take my Personal Development very seriously and I invest in myself by constantly learning. I also intentionally work on strengthening my strengths and using my energy towards being more productive by focusing on what needs to be focused on and delegating the rest. I also ensure that I network and talk with people who are going where I want to be or have been where I am; I get advice, tips and strategies from them. Lastly, I make sure I share the knowledge I have with others, connect people and lend a helping hand whenever I get the opportunity to do so.
I challenge the underrepresentation of Women in Technology, the notion that life must be lived in a box and there is a standard template for success everyone must follow – especially women! It is very possible to be a successful professional woman, blazing her trail in a male-dominated field, who wears multiple hats successfully. I believe that life comes in seasons and we need to embrace each of these seasons as they come. I also know that it is very possible to be a multidimensional woman in and out of these seasons – following your passion and building the life you want to live as well.”
6. Fon Browndy, Volunteering Partnerships Manager, Wellcome Trust
Fon Browndy is a community engagement advocate working as a Volunteering Partnerships Manager at the Wellcome Trust. Fon cares deeply about social justice and is a member of a Race Equity Network as well as Anti-Racism Forum. Fon is also part of a Leaders of Colour Network aiming to support and advocate for social change
At work, I make a conscious effort to get involved in projects and programmes outside of my immediate role and often outside of my comfort zone. This is the best way to grow both personally and professionally. I actively try and build networks of people that I can work with, support and in the process learn from.
I am choosing to challenge injustice and inequity when I see it and when I feel it. I am also telling my own personal stories more as this brings to life many issues for people who have no personal experience of racism and discrimination for example. It challenges the view that if you are successful / have a good job / above average salary / are well-travelled – things considered to be privileges it means that you haven’t experienced or can’t have faced discrimination. It also highlights the strength and perseverance it takes to be successful as a woman of colour. But by challenging and speaking up we can hopefully drive social change and make the playing field a little easier for future generations.
7. Hannah Awonuga, Global Diversity and Inclusion Vice President, Barclays
Hannah Awonuga is a Global Diversity and Inclusion vice president within the Financial services. She has been working for Barclays since she was 17yrs old and for the past 15yrs has spent time in the Retail bank, business and corporate bank before transitioning into Diversity and Inclusion in 2019. Hannah is a certified career coach and spends most of her time outside of work supporting young female professionals to grow and excel their careers.
“For me, it’s important to always reflect on my skills and abilities in order to keep growing and learning. I challenge myself each day to be better than the previous day and continue to learn from the amazing people I have around me.
I am choosing to challenge the thought that if you don’t see it, you can’t become it. We often say that we don’t see women who look like us in senior positions. I am committing myself to the challenge that if I don’t see women who look like me in senior positions, I will become that woman! My goal is to become a role model and mentor to the young women who are coming up after me, my advice to them will always be, be fierce, be intentional and believe in yourself.
8. Kachi Tila-Adesina, Tech Lawyer and Founder, TheUpWomen
Kachi is a multi-faceted woman passionate about all-round growth, purpose and personal development. She’s an in-house lawyer in the technology space advising primarily on exciting startups and innovation. She’s also the Founder of TheUpWomen, a platform and membership community creating space for ambitious women to advance their careers and businesses.
I’m challenging myself to always put my best foot forward. As a professional woman wearing quite a number of hats, it can be a bit difficult to fully show up in the different ways necessary at work and in life. To do this adequately means I try to be intentional about prioritising what’s important at the various seasons in my life. I’m setting clear goals, managing expectations, delegating and accepting help. I’m also challenging myself to self-care as you can’t pour from an empty cup. So I’m making time to rest and recharge. I’m challenging myself to growth and to stay learning from the stories and experiences of incredible people around me. Finally, I’m challenging myself to cultivate and build genuine relationships and a supportive network because no woman is an island and together we can do much more.
There are quite a number of gaps I’m intentionally choosing to challenge. Generally, I’ll define it as the opportunity gap between where women are and where they want/ought to be in their careers and businesses. I strongly believe women have incredible potential and often only lack the connections, resources, tools, knowledge and opportunities to fully tap into this potential. Through The UpWomen — a digital platform and membership community — my mission is to connect more ambitious women together, curate expert knowledge, share impactful conversations, opportunities and make space for more women to see what’s truly possible and fully achieve their potential. They can elevate their network, grow their careers and access more opportunities. They can influence policies and practices which trickle down to matters like pay gap, award gap and leadership gap.
In addition and as a mother, I’m also choosing to challenge maternal bias. Women who choose to have babies should not be penalised in the workforce whether — outrightly or in a subtle way. I’ve personally challenged an organisation’s maternity policy because it seemed to either be a product of (unconscious) maternal bias or simply didn’t take into consideration their women who choose to have children. Finally, there’s the ethnicity bias. It’s important to me as a black African woman, that there’s more adequate representation, and stereotypes and biases are done away with. I choose to educate and challenge these where necessary.
9. Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde, Head of Brand and Reputation, Google Africa
Jola is the Head of Brand and Reputation for Google in Sub-saharan Africa. She is passionate about technology and its ability to unlock human potential and improve the general good. Working at Google, she has built relationships working in business development across various product areas and leading sales in Nigeria. She is now focused with her team on delivering Google’s commitments to drive economic opportunity in Africa by supporting entrepreneurship, job creation, education and gender equality. She is a strong diversity and inclusion champion, as well as a mentor, and advises on various programmes and boards.
I am challenging myself to do more and be more by strengthening my coaching and mentoring relationships more than ever – learning, unlearning and challenging myself to be an all-round better human. I am intentionally investing in the inner work – examining holistically “this woman in the mirror”. In addition to this, I am continuously learning – reading, listening to audio books (my latest hack), podcasts, masterclasses etc.
I am choosing to challenge the representation of women in STEM by being very deliberate about gender representation from scratch in our programs at Google especially those programmes that are perceived to be too technical, being a role model for younger professionals and girls, sharing my story deliberately and encouraging them to pursue their dreams and be all they can be, as well as advocating, championing, sponsoring, celebrating female leadership in technology.
10. Obehi Ojeaga, Corporate Communications and CSR Manager, Oando Energy Resources
Obehi Ojeaga is the Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility Manager for Oando Energy Resources. Obehi is passionate about diversity and inclusion where she is a proud member of the Oil and Gas Council: Africa Assembly Women’s Council as well as the Africa Oil Week AOWomen, that aims to close the gender gap in the oil and gas industry.
I am of the opinion that you cannot challenge yourself without first setting clear goals. You must know what you want to accomplish before you can determine how to accomplish it. I am an ambitious and goal-driven woman and in the pursuit of my career goals, to gain the leadership qualities requisite for the actualization of my ambitions, I always ask the question “Am I doing enough; am I a good manager, co-worker, or employee?” These are my power gaps – gaps that robs women like me of what we need most to succeed which includes energy, confidence, clarity, commitment, connection, and influence.
I choose to challenge the barriers to an inclusive workplace; I choose to work towards a level playing field for younger women in my profession. Luckily, an increasing number of women are going into the energy sector, who just need the right nudge, I chose to help them find themselves in the workplace/sector. I don’t take the opportunity I have for granted. So, I choose to pay it forward. I get to sit on advisory boards for conferences in the energy sector, although male dominated, and I’ll continually champion showcasing high visibility of women at industry associations, conferences and events.
Oyeyemi is a Senior Associate at Templars, a leading commercial law firm in Nigeria. She is an experienced business lawyer with cognate experience advising international and Nigerian clients across different sectors on corporate and commercial law. Oyeyemi is a Non-Executive Director at the Baton Initiative, a social enterprise that works to equip young Africans for success via Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) based programmes geared at financial literacy, language proficiency and family wellness support.
I’m challenging myself not to “cancel myself” every time the state of play does not suit me. The pitch I make to myself daily is to never stop or settle. Starting out my career, my paradigm was that career success was a sequence of sprints and spurts of energy highs and I would not give myself permission to try again anytime it did not play out this way. I have since learnt that career success is a marathon and to do more and be more, I must give myself permission, time and again to stay in the game no matter what.
There is a lot that we leave on the table as women either because we do not recognise what is ours, or we are too scared to ask and the environment as is, tells us we are not qualified yet. As I grow, I keep pushing myself towards redefinition and reiterating the fact that there is NOTHING that disqualifies a woman from leading, thriving, having money, owning her narrative or simply basking in her greatness.
12. Shamraz Begum, Co-Lead of the Racial Equality Taskforce & Global Co-Chair Multicultural Network, Natwest Group
Shamraz has over 19 years of experience within NatWest Group working in several leadership roles and is a trusted advisor providing coaching and consultancy to senior leaders across the bank to improve their effectiveness and strategic impact. She is on a mission to challenge inequality and build a better future, one where the richness derived from diversity is valued, an inclusive society where everyone is given equal opportunity – a society where everyone thrives.
Do you recall those awkward moments, shocked at the innuendo and the condescending comments, feeling sick in shock and embarrassingly laughing it off? That was me a few too many years back, but not now, not anymore! I make it my responsibility to stand up and call things out no matter how uncomfortable it is. I cannot, we must not ignore things that are totally not OK! We must stand up to make a difference and challenge others to do the same.
On what I’m choosing to challenge, it’s making sure that all women are given equal opportunity to thrive. We must challenge gender inequality and understand the intersectionality of the added barriers that come with racial inequality for women of colour. Gender and Racial Equality must be intertwined in all that we do. Every woman of colour should be able to see herself when we stand up for Gender Equality. It’s every woman’s responsibility to come together to combine all our voices – now that’s powerful! Invest in each other and empower each other, relentlessly support another woman to see it and believe it! Sponsor a woman who does not look like you or cannot be seen amongst the women you champion! Empowered women empower women.
Sally Clark Joins Advisory Board at Career Masterclass
We’re pleased to announce that Sally Clark, non-executive director at Metro Bank and career development advocate has joined the Advisory Board at Career Masterclass.
A certified Executive Coach, Sally works with senior leaders as a coach and mentor to improve and develop leadership performance. She helps leaders leverage their strengths and those around them, in complex and challenging environments. Given her experience, she is well placed to support leaders in large complex organisations.
Prior to now, Sally had over 30 years in financial services across JPMorgan Chase, RBS and Barclays. Her last role was Chief Internal Auditor at Barclays, where she managed a large global team and reported directly to the Board of Barclays, allowing her a deep insight of the workings of global Boards and their attendant committees.
Sally worked closely with the Executive Committee at Barclays and was known for her passion for people which manifested in award-winning learning and development activities. She was awarded Inspirational Leader of the year across the internal audit profession in the UK. She also championed Diversity and Inclusion initiatives across the firm, was part of the Gender Taskforce, global sponsor of the Early Careers Network and global sponsor of the Wellbeing initiative.
Sally brings to the board her decades of experience across leadership and career development, and will provide advisory leadership for the next phase of Career Masterclass’ growth.
Speaking on the announcement, Bukola Adisa, Career Masterclass Founder said, “It’s such a delight for us to have Sally join us in an advisory capacity. With her wealth of experience as a senior finance professional and executive coach, there are areas of clear alignment and we look forward to being able to add more value to our users in the next stage of our growth as a result of her insights.”
Sally Clark also added, “I’m truly delighted to be taking on an Advisory Board Member role at Career Masterclass. Career Masterclass has the potential to become the platform of choice for individuals and companies alike; and I am delighted to be lending my enthusiasm and experience to help the company continue on its exciting journey.”