Tolulope Omoleye-Osindero is a Senior Associate in Udo Udoma & Belo Osagie’s Banking and Finance team. She shares her journey and some pointers towards building a successful career.
I wish I could say that I had always wanted to be a lawyer, unfortunately this is not my story as I really wanted to study economics or a business-related course. When I look back at the many times I rehearsed debate points with my dad, I should have known that the universe was preparing me for this career. Ultimately, I am grateful that I stumbled into a profession where my skill, knowledge and input is required across different sectors.
By way of background, I am a qualified legal practitioner and I have been practising law in Nigeria for close to ten years. My major practice areas are Banking and Finance, which includes Fintech and Project Finance, Corporate Advisory and Investments.
How did I get here? I think my interest in economics and commerce in secondary school ignited a sense of commercial awareness that has increased over the years … I would say that having a sense of focus and direction has played a strong role in my career choices and path. For instance, I intentionally did not choose a master’s degree in Law and instead opted for a MSc in Law and Finance specifically because I wanted to increase my understanding of the financial system.
Was it easy? No, but I studied hard and took extra online classes that helped with my finance subjects. I finished my post graduate degree with just a few points shy of a distinction. Completing that course not only helped me professionally as a finance lawyer but also boosted my self-confidence and I am quick to advise anyone to identify a challenge that is pivotal to their career and go for it.
While focus is important, I believe that relationships are even more important. Some of the opportunities that have helped me professionally have come from former colleagues, my supervisors or even clients. I am indeed very grateful for the support from my superiors and colleagues at work. Younger women need to cultivate professional relationships from day one. You must remember that it’s a two-way street and you can only build relationships by giving. The singular act of sharing useful information or industry updates with your contacts can help you nurture lasting relationships.
Recently, I started developing capacity and knowledge in the startup space and I have found this to be very interesting. As a consultant used to advising large corporates, you need a paradigm shift to advise start-ups and smaller entities. The last three years have taught me how to invest in client relationships, become a trusted advisor to my clients and caused me to expand my service offerings even beyond typical legal advice.
Last year was the year I did the most work with startups and accelerators as a lawyer and I enjoyed the process of helping the founders navigate legal and operational issues. I worked on a project two years ago and seeing the company being recognized as a force in the consumer finance space in Nigeria gave me a renewed vigor to work with even more startups.
My wealth of experience advising big financiers and investors has also proved to be an asset in terms of helping startups prepare for funding. I would like to think that my recognition by the Chambers and Partners for my work in the Fintech Space is a result of some of the startup projects I worked on in the last two years.
In the course of my career, I have seen an increase in the number of women-led businesses in Nigeria and Africa, even outside of the conventional retail and fashion space. Many professional women are starting and running profitable businesses and this is a development I am proud of. I am even more excited about women in the technology and innovation space and I believe that we will see more of these. What can we do better? Not being an advocate of affirmative action or policies, I would simply push that we give women the same opportunities that men are given.
Lastly, I am looking forward to doing more in the start up space both in the financial services and the innovative space as a whole.
- To be successful in any endeavour you’ll need to be focused, identify challenges that are pivotal to your career and go for it. You should also cultivate professional relationships from the start.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in The Spark Magazine. Find the magazine here to read other articles.
Tolulope Omoleye-Osindero is the Head, Legal and Compliance at Branch International. She was formerly a Senior Associate at Udo Udoma and Belo-Osagie’s Banking and Finance team with a focus on fintech, corporate finance, syndicated lending, secured transactions, trade finance, structured finance and project finance.