- What do you do?
I work as a Product Manager for a wonderful company. This means that I have strategic ownership for one of our product lines. It is my responsibility to stay ahead of customer needs, create and communicate a strategic vision for my product portfolio, and to lead the organization to develop innovative solutions that will help us gain market share and grow profitably.
- What was your childhood like?
My childhood was very warm and loving. My fondest childhood memories are of the times I spent with my family. My parents were very protective so outside of school, I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with kids that weren’t in my extended family. However, I truly remember feeling loved, safe, cared for, provided for and lucky. When I got to middle school age, I begged my parents, like many other kids my age, to go to boarding school and they accepted. I have lots of stories about my time in boarding school. When I look back now, I cannot believe I had those fun and crazy experiences when I was only 12 years old!
- What are some things your parents/guardians did that you consider critical to your success today?
My parents prioritized my education. In Nigeria, where I grew up, education equates to opportunity and therefore, is a top value of that society. My parents made sacrifices to send me to the very best schools they could afford and set high expectations for achievement. The best part was that they never hid their pride in me. They were quick to show off my latest accomplishments to their friends and provided any tutoring or extra helped I needed with my studies.
Because of the high value placed on education in Nigeria, there was also a clear understanding on what success looks like. So my parents like other typical Nigerian parents had a clear idea of what path I should be on. In their mind, I was going to be a doctor. However, what was great about my parents is that as soon as they saw that I showed some responsibility for my own life and decision making, they let me have the wheel and fully supported my decision to ultimately study computer science for my undergraduate degree. Now as an adult, I realize how truly lucky I am.
- If you could change anything about your upbringing, what would it be?
I would change the fact that I had limited exposure to different careers and paths outside of those that were considered tried and true. As a child growing up in Nigeria, you were encouraged to either be a lawyer, medical doctor, engineer or banker. There was no concept of working in an area of passion because the purpose of work was not to make you happy but to adequately provide for yourself and family.
I wish I was taught early that you can succeed on any path if you work hard. I had an early inclination towards the arts that was not encouraged beyond my primary school years. I wish I was instead encouraged to find ways to incorporate BOTH the arts and sciences in my career explorations.
- What has been your biggest challenge as a woman in finding/defining your path so far?
My biggest challenge has been to resist the urge to compare myself to my male colleagues. Maybe one day, we will have gender equality but we are not there yet. The reality is that in many cases, I have to be many times better than my male peers to get noticed. If you let it, this struggle with equal opportunity in the work place can really mess with your mind. So I have decided that being better is an asset. I only have everything to gain by being the most effective and most brilliant I can be.
- If you had a daughter, how would you raise her to thrive in a world that still presents many challenges for women?
I am raising two beautiful girls. Though the world can be tough to navigate, I have found that the key to thriving is to find your own way. So I am intentional about teaching my girls to discover their strengths, love themselves, find their place in the world and make impactful contributions.
- What does the Raising Smart Girls platform mean to you?
This platform is special to me and I hope it becomes a very special place for moms of girls. There is great power in connecting with each other to educate, uplift, empower each other so that we can in turn educate, uplift and empower our daughters to live fulfilled lives.