Oyeyemi Aderibigbe is a Senior Associate in the Corporate and Commercial Practice at Templars and obtained her law degree from the University of Lagos. She provides general corporate advisory on the Nigerian law and policy affecting the incorporation and operation of businesses, corporate governance, and tax compliance issues, and is part of the firm’s Labour and Immigration practice. In this interview, she shares her life lessons, takes a deep dive into the challenges faced by women in Africa and how they can be overcome.
The Journey So Far
I started out with no particular plan in place. I just ensured I lived life to the fullest by giving total attention to every talent and gift that I had been blessed with. If I had a feeling that something was right, I pursued it. I started to identify my strengths and my weaknesses and began to tailor my experiences strategically in order to make me operate better.
As I got older, I realized that there is a strong relationship between intentionality, purposeful living, operating with clarity and deeper insights in business and career. Now that I understand myself better, I want to help others get such a level of clarity too. I want to be part of the process of equipping people. If a project gives a person, business or system a chance at being better, then count me in.
Success is Just A Journey
I believe that I can do and be much more. I have not arrived at all! Success is a journey, so there is no reach or end, there are just milestones. This milestone was in view when I started, and there are many more which I am already looking out for with anticipation. One does not start out working in an organisation, building something without believing in the possibility of it. You must be optimistic about your career, your business, your opportunities. You must believe in the chance that you will do well. More importantly, you must prepare for it. Get the necessary information so that you can make the right choices.
My Driving Force
The one thing that keeps me going everyday is my belief that I can be much more. I believe I can stretch, I believe I can do more. This drives me to ask, “what is next?”. I draw inspiration from the people around me. I get inspired by my colleagues at work and friends in general who are doing great and blazing trails.
They fuel my desire to get better. I look at them, and I’m blown away by the fact that some of them have been doing amazing stuff for years on end and they still have not stopped, instead, they are becoming more successful. This inspires me greatly.
One memory that stands out for me was when I got to debate in front of about 2000 people at the WIMBIZ annual conference. WIMBIZ is arguably the biggest network for women, so debating at such a place really made me feel elated. It somehow helped validate the fact that all the training, volunteering and capacity development programmes I participated in wasn’t a waste.
On Women Empowerment
I think that society has boxed a lot of women in and this has somehow limited their idea of what they can be in life. Most women cannot fathom becoming business leaders, CEOs and the likes. Society has made them think they can only act in a certain way. Hence, what we have is a lot of women coming from cages of imprisonment. Imprisonment in the sense that their mindsets are already limited.
So, even when opportunities arise, they struggle to recognize it. This is because in many cases, women are coming from a ‘you can’t have this’, or ‘you’re not supposed to do this’ kind of background, and this mentality has affected them a lot. In some cases, the only height society has fashioned out that a woman should aim to attain is to build a family. These are the kinds of prejudices that have held a lot of women back.
I would use myself as a prototype for every woman, by saying ‘your spark is everything about you’. I believe that women need to realize that their spark is their beautiful all-encompassing personality. Everything about them comes together to work in tandem when they want to achieve something; be it their experiences – negative or positive, their learned capacities, their natural abilities, and more. All these come together to spark up the lives of women.
You must take your destiny into your hands and start exercising your liberty. This is very important. You need to look beyond the dictates of the society we live in and learn how to fully live life. You need to find a way to break out of the construct that says you can’t be more or do more. Scientific experiments have shown that women can be excellent leaders. So, phrases like “women leaders” need to leave our lexicon. It is high-time we stopped using that term. We should rather just talk about good leaders. Good leadership has nothing to do with gender.
Oyeyemi Aderibigbe is an experienced commercial lawyer with a leading Nigerian law firm, Templars. She is also a writer and has published scores of articles for young professionals. An advocate for human capital development, she uses different platforms to enhance the skill and capacity of Nigeria's young talents.