With a degree in Accountancy, Folashade Ambrose-Medebem is a business leader with experience in finance, project management, sustainable development amongst others. In this piece, she opens up about her story and how she has evolved as a career woman.
Being a visionary woman, for me, means having the ability to see what others cannot see and ensuring others also enrol and see this vision too. A vision includes those dreams and ambitions which when attained, give you a huge sense of accomplishment and pride.
My vision has evolved over the years. I remember that as a young teenager, my vision was very simple – freedom. Freedom from always being the only one in my peer group with a 6pm party curfew at 18! When I obtained my ‘freedom’, I kept recalling my parents’ parting words as they saw me off at the airport back to England alone – “Folashade, remember the home you come from o Folashade.” (In Yoruba – ranti awọn ile ti o wa.) This has guided me till date and it has enabled me not to get swayed by trends and peer pressure and to clarify my values i.e. what I stand for and why.
This is an important aspect on which to anchor yourself as you grow in your career. My vision thereon has evolved from doing my best always in order to ascend both personally and professionally, all of which I achieved quite early. On reflection, I now see that I always unconsciously set myself new goals and vision once attained – why? Well, for me I believe without a vision and mission, one is like a drifting ship without an anchor and with no relevant skills, knowledge or tools to navigate successfully should there be a storm.
I must be candid and say that there were a number of (far too many in my opinion) disappointments, some more profound than others. Notice I did not say ‘failure’ because for me, failure is falling down and NOT getting back up. A particular challenge I managed to flip to an opportunity was when I when I had my first daughter. I felt this overwhelming urge to spend extended time with my little one but in the same vein, I was concerned about the impact on my career – would my role still be there? Would my job still be held for me?
I did take time out but spent part of that time completing my certification as a financial planning consultant providing financial advice to high net worth women. I earned a considerable income while on maternity leave, returned to work with an added skill set that was highly valued and I was promoted too! So you see, no matter the challenge, always look for the opportunities in any given situation and embrace disappointments as lessons learned.
Another challenge I faced was adjusting to living and working in Nigeria! It was a huge change for me and initially seemed insurmountable. I just could not settle down. Eventually, I simply had to believe within myself that this is my home, there is no blueprint and I just had to go with the flow. With that renewed intention, I was able to adapt and settle in eventually, coming up with tactics and strategies to ease my transition along the way – a type of an emergent strategy, you could say.
Having worked for more than two decades, a consistent spark to my success has been consciously always choosing to enjoy what I do. I have found it invokes my passion and my performance consistently, unlocking that discretionary energy in me every day,and resulting in my ability to always exceed expectations, both in myself and others.
Always reflect and candidly ask yourself – Am I really enjoying what I do? And then crucially, if the answer is not affirmative, be bold and courageous to take action accordingly towards a work-life balance. This is where you seamlessly marry both your work and life together deliberately (e.g. working for an organisation that has values and a culture that resonates with yours, for instance). How I wish I knew all this when I first started though. I didn’t and I suppose it is one of the unconscious reasons why I established the Women Inspiring Impact Network (WiiN), a platform focused on empowering women to be their best self, fulfilled as growing leaders to achieve indelible impact and success.
On my platform, I share my journey, thoughts and insights. I also coach, speak and mentor too. Another deliberate effort I make is to partner with other organizations. I was delighted to have been asked by the UN Women Country Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Comfort Lamptey, to speak during the launch of UNSDG 5 – Turning Promises into Action Report in Abuja (A very good and insightful read by the way. It’s available online) on behalf of Lafarge Africa Plc. This was a remarkable and memorable day for me. I urge every young lady to assiduously seek and seize all moments, opportunities and experiences to grow whenever and wherever you can.
If I were to write a note to my younger self that certainly would be one of my notes along with the critical need to be aware of the environment in which I find myself and being able to understand what the intrinsic cultural, political and economic nuances are and also ensure that I am able to seek all the help, knowledge and competency to navigate towards my ascent successfully.
Back then, I grafted with grit; no mentor, no coach, no resources to benchmark. I hope what I’ve shared enables you to soar like an eagle. An eagle has the sharpest sight and is the only bird that in order to avoid the rain, starts flying above the clouds. So spread your wings and soar like an eagle.
Remember that our lives are not determined by what happens to us but by how we respond to what happens. Having a positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events, and outcomes. It is a catalyst, a spark that creates extraordinary results: “Where there is vision, prosperity is close by”.
- Be intentional about seeking out opportunities, assistance and experiences for growth
- Having a positive attitude attracts positivity your way
- Every challenging situation has hidden opportunities within it
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in The Spark Magazine. Find the magazine here to read other articles.
Folashade Ambrose-Medebem is currently the Director of Communications, Public Affairs & Sustainable Development for Lafarge Africa PLC. She is an experienced Director with 25+ years experience in management consultancy, strategy, finance, project, performance management improvement, and change management, she delivers world-class strategic business transformation solutions in Nigeria, UK, and Europe. She is also a Senator at World Business Angels Forum (WBAF)- Nigeria