Networking at Conferences

Networking at Conferences

Have you ever attended a conference and you feel shy meeting new people? You are not alone.

A lot of people think I’m an extrovert, hmmmm, if only you know the efforts I usually make to break away from my silo.

During my growing up days, I always found solace being alone. When others are gisting, sharing laughter and giggling from ear to ear, I will withdraw to a corner, to ruminate over past events, read novels or write stories, I sometimes go overboard and start solving Maths problem, yeah, you heard me right, I love calculations and I’ll rather start solving maths problems than join any discussion. I equally love reading and writing and I’ll do just about anything to be alone.

Being alone is not so bad in itself as my ‘alone moments’ made me develop passion for writing poems and stories. This passion for writing later won me an award in 2004- I won the best Poet for one of of my poems titled ‘The Greedy Politicians‘. I also have some of my poems published in an Anthropology titled ‘The Silence of Our Campus’.

Networking comes easily to some people while others, like me, need to put in extra work to meet new people and keep a conversation going.

Fast forward to CIPM conference in Abuja sometimes in November this year. CIPM stands for Chartered Institute of Personnel Management, Nigeria- the apex body regulating the practices of Human Resources Profession in Nigeria. The 2018 Annual Conference had over 2500 delegates in attendance.

I made up my mind before leaving Lagos to Abuja that I will meet new people and network. My strategies were to initiate conversations starting from how lovely and informative the conference was to the sight and sound of Abuja and then to exchanging contact cards and ensuring effective follow up afterwards.

As fate or luck will have it, I didn’t remember to go with my call cards and since I don’t want anything to rain on my parade, I had to improvise.

So.. what did I do?

Here are the list of what I did in no particular order;

Initiated conversation or joined an on-going discussion

Introduced myself

Exchanged pleasantries with appropriate smile

Talked more about the topic at hand

Asked if my conversation partner(s) is on LinkedIn

Asked for call cards to be sure of the name to search for on LinkedIn

Promised to send LinkedIn invite.

True to my words, I did send them LinkedIn invite and messages afterwards. That was how I managed to increase my network lists. I also, got and saved some phone numbers right there and there.

BTW, I met great personalities such as Gbenga Totoyi- Head, Learning & Consulting at CIPM and Dr Olayiwola Oladapo- Head, SASR- Director Strategy Advocacy and Stakeholder Relations at CIPM and host of other HR managers.

The essence of my story is that, when you go for any events or conference, don’t just stay glued to the people you know, spread your tentacles, make conscious efforts to network and grow your contact lists.

Don’t wait around for the perfect time to network, you can initiate conversation with people while waiting in line for food or drink, It can be over lunch, it can be during breakfast at the hotel where you are staying, or at the conference venue.

I have seen people book expensive hotels just to meet certain caliber of high profile individuals that they may not necessarily have access to.

I am not saying that you should ‘break a bank’ because you want to meet new contacts, I am only saying that you should maximize every opportunity to network within the resources available to you.

Please, don’t forget that the efforts put into networking will be futile if you don’t follow up or keep in touch afterwards.

The twist to this is that 85% of jobs are gotten through networking. Be job smart!

Here is a Gallery of my Abuja pictures during the CIPM Annual Conference.

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MY JOURNEY TO SELF DISCOVERY

MY JOURNEY TO SELF DISCOVERY

About 26years ago……after my third term exam in JSS 1 (7th grade) and it was time to collect our report…..

For those of us in JSS 1 (Junior Secondary School 1), this was the time to know our cumulative performance for the first year in Secondary School (high school).

As the usual practice, end of session report was always marked, graded, collated and given to students few days after the 3rd term examination.

Our results are always presented in form of a ‘dossier’- which was the only form of communicating student’s result back then (unlike now when you can comfortably download result from the comfort of your home). The implication of dossier was that you need to be physically present to collect it and if you were unavoidably absent, a known relative can receive the result on your behalf, but not before appending his/her signature on a white paper provided by the class teacher, and clearly stating ‘Original copy received by me’ in bold letters with appropriate date.

Report-collection time used to be the most dreaded period in every student’s life. Some even termed it ‘the judgement day’.

Why it’s called the judgement day.

End of session report is a make or mar period in every student journey.

Before the review of Academic grading System for Primary & Secondary schools in Nigeria, 3rd semester results used to have three possible outcomes.

There was always a corresponding recommendation accompanying every result based on student’s performance. Every student will have 1 of these unsolicited advice… Promote to the next class or Repeat the class or Advise to withdraw.

1. Promote to the next class– My interpretations. You have performed beyond average and you are therefore qualified for the next class. OR

2. Repeat the class– My interpretations… your performance is poor and it falls below the average requirement for the next class. You are therefore given a second-chance to repeat the class and try again for a whole year. OR

3. Advise to withdraw- My interpretations…your performance is ‘beyond’ poor that we cannot savage the situation. You are therefore urged to drop out of school or give up. (This was usually a recommendation given to students who have spent more than 2 years in the same grade/class).

Thankfully, points 2 & 3 are no more in practice in Nigeria! Before this, a lot of promising minds have been damaged by the same system that swore to provide the enabling environment to help each child discover his/her uniqueness and potentials in life.

Back to my story…

The ‘judgement day’ was not only feared by students, it was also a ‘reality check’ day for parents- who take pride in seeing the academic performance of their wards/children for the year. Let’s just say, every parent or guardian secretly want to evaluate their ROI- (Return-on-Investment), and as a child, you dare not come home with a ‘less than average’ result.

Moreover, the education system has been structured in such a way that students’ performances will not only be graded based on percentages, but each student will be assigned a position or rank in comparison with his peer group or class mates.

In those days, parents pay little or no attention to your percentage score, they are only interested in knowing your position or ‘rank’ among your peers.

So, on this crucial ‘judgement’ day, I wasn’t physically present for my report card. However, one of my sisters (who happened to be a Senior in the same school) was appointed by my parents to collect it on my behalf.

I remembered that I was quite nervous (as expected) and I stayed glued to the door awaiting her arrival. Fortunately, or unfortunately, it was not the time of mobile phones or social media- there was no way I could communicate with my sister until she gets back home.

After what seemed like an eternity, my sister came back with my report card (the dossier). Luckily, my parents were not at home and that was a great relief.

As soon as she entered, I looked into her eyes and tried so hard to read her countenance, looking for a clue. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t place her mood.

She sat down with me and started saying…

‘I know this wasn’t what you were expecting, you have worked so hard and you won’t be happy to receive this type of result’

She told me how she felt so bad that I had this result, how she was expecting a better performance, how she thought there must be an explanation for this disappointing output and she went on and on and on…

I was scared. I couldn’t summon up the courage to ask. I was just muttering under my breath,

Please, just tell me the result already.

She handed the result to me, I flipped through the pages and my heart sank when I saw 1 or 2 red inks (red ink on report sheet was an indication that you didn’t score up to the required mark in a particular subject).

I looked further down and saw my position clearly written…

.

.

Lo and behold I came ‘3rd’ out of over 50 students!

3rd Position?!!!!!

I checked the result again and I still couldn’t believe my eyes. I was surprised, I was shocked and got teary-eyed. It was just a lot of emotions at the same time.

I looked at my sister and couldn’t understand her initial consolation speech.

Was she joking? Was she trying to pull my legs?

She now went further to say that she was so sure that I was expecting a ‘1st’ position and this result would have been devastating.

I looked at her and chuckled.

Which 1st position? who? Me that I’m so happy that I got the 3rd position?. This result was the best thing that could ever happen to me. This was a huge surprise.

At this point, my other siblings joined in on the conversation and they all shared the same opinion about me. I wondered what they all saw that I didn’t see.

My Background

This was my first year in Secondary school, not just that, I was coming from a Government Primary School and being in the same class with people from private ‘rich kids’ school was not only intimidating but scary.

I felt unworthy to compete with their level of exposure, their good command of grammar, their composure, eloquence, finesse and more. There was just no way to keep up!

How could I contend with girls that could speak the Queen’s English better than I am. Students that in my opinion ‘came better prepared than I am for Secondary School’. I felt unworthy to compete. I had a low self-esteem. I struggled and almost gave up at some point.

This position was, therefore, such a big deal to me. A position I totally wasn’t expecting. How would I have been ranked 3rd among girls from the best primary schools in the country?

I kept on staring at the dossier as if it was an Olympic Gold Medal. I was that happy….

However, my sister didn’t really understand my excitement. Though she was happy that I was happy but she was shocked that I would be that happy.

She kept on saying that she knew I have the capacity to do more, even at that young age…

That fateful day marked the beginning of my journey to self-discovery. I realized, I have been functioning below my capacity and that I have a potential that can be fully maximized.

Though all have not been smooth sailing ever since, there have been times of little failure here and a major win there, yet I have built my self-confidence over the years. Every experience has shaped me into who I am today.

The Moral

My story is not about the 1st or 3rd position. It’s about the fact that someone could look through me and see potentials I greatly downplayed.

Here people rooting for me, someone that knew I could compete with everyone and anyone. My entire family clearly saw what I didn’t see in myself. They believed in me!

The worst thing you can do to yourself is to stop believing in your potential or ability to be all you can be!

Don’t feel threatened or scared to express your skills and potentials. Don’t ever lose your self-esteem.

Don’t allow the feeling of unworthiness to hold you back from being who you are. You are made for more.

Discover your uniqueness and live up to it.

Even if you have failed or felt disappointed at one time or the other, you can still get back up and be all you can be!

Believe in your ability!

Don’t be a coward!

Build your courage and confidence!

You have what it takes.

Look critically and you will be amazed at the potentials that lie within.

Don’t Feel Stuck in an Unfulfilling Career

Don’t Feel Stuck in an Unfulfilling Career

When your job becomes less fulfilling or you have simply lost interest in your career for reasons best known to you … It could be an indication that you should try something different.

As much as it is not advisable to be changing careers or jobs on a whim, it is also imperative that you look out for the red flags and know when to plan your exit.

Rather than continuing in a job or career that is in conflict with your personal values, career goal or future aspirations. It is okay to make a career transition or career switch.

We all know that it isn’t always easy to make this change but you will also agree with me that is not impossible, either.

Therefore,
Don’t feel trapped in a job/career that is destroying your drive, motivations and future aspirations.

Don’t allow guilt, fear or sentiments to prevent you from making that much needed career-defining decision.

Making a career switch or transition requires determination, planning and focus.

Here are few points to consider before taking that giant leap…

#1- Conduct a Self/Career Assessment: Be sure you are not making a rash decision. Identify the actual cause/source of dissatisfaction. Critically assess your current state and determine if what you really need is a change of boss, job or industry and not a complete change of career.

#2- Explore your options: Do a thorough research to identify available options that you can tap into. Do you have transferable skills that help you navigate a new career path?

#3- Have a Plan: Once you identified possible options, you need to plan, prioritize and focus on a specific career. Make sure your plan is SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound.

#4- Identify areas of improvement: Do you have the competence, skills and expertise needed for the identified job/ career? If not, how do you intend to bridge the gap and get the required skills?

#5- Position yourself: Pursue your career fulfillment without fear or favour. Increase your knowledge, acquire new skills, work on your personal brand/profile, network..

It is not always an easy decision to make a career transition, but it is a worthy cause!

Never Give Up

Never Give Up

We are humans so it’s not uncommon to want to give up once in awhile.
It doesn’t mean you are weak, it doesn’t mean you are lazy, it doesn’t mean you don’t desire progress.

It simply means you are done trying.

Before you throw in the towel, please, Hang on! Because life gives you the option to give up on your goals, doesn’t mean you should!

Try harder, encourage yourself. .

I understand that we are at the second half of the year and none of your new year goals have been achieved.

I know you have a long list of  dreams you want to achieve but you have no strength to fight for such dreams anymore.

I know you have tried searching for new/better jobs with no headway, you have tried entrepreneurship but got stuck because of unhealthy business environment, you have been on a grade since God  knows when, you want a raise/promotion at work but this seems far-fetched, you have been laid off work with no just cause, you have been writing  the same certification exams without success and list goes on and on and on..

I understand the frustrations, the disappointments, the uncertainties, the failures, the challenges, the struggles, the dashed hopes, the broken promises, the lost opportunities, the closed doors, the ‘No vacancy’, the ‘try-again-next-year’, the ‘we-got-a-better-candidate’, the ‘sorry-you-failed-the-exam’, and the list is endless..

Whatever your case is, try to evaluate your way of doing things and see if it can be done better. Try changing your approach and see if it will yield desired results.

Having done all these..

Ask God for strength, reach out for help, don’t give up, keep trying, it will be worth it.

MY SPEECH AT THE 20TH YEAR REUNION

MY SPEECH AT THE 20TH YEAR REUNION

I was honored to be nominated to give the Welcome speech at the just concluded 20th year reunion of my set – Class of ’98, Government College Agege (GCA), Lagos State Nigeria.

 

 


Here is my speech………….

20th YEAR REUNION & COMMISSIONING OF SICKBAY

It is with great humility that I accept the singular honor and privilege so graciously bestowed on me to give the welcome speech at our 20th reunion and Commissioning of the sickbay.

Our sincere gratitude goes to The TGPS, Tutor General & Permanent Secretary of Education District 1 in person of Dr (Mrs) Yinka Ayandele who coincidentally was the first Head Girl of Government College Agege (GCA). She is unavoidably absent today and is represented by our very own Mr Adeshina. In absential, we want to say thank you for granting us the permission to renovate the sick bay.

We would like to use this medium to commend the incumbent Principal, Mrs Nwafor. Let me tell you what you don’t know about her. Mrs Nwafor is an alumna of Government College Agege, she was one of the first set of students admitted in 1979. Thank you so much ma’am for opening the doors of your heart and office to us. We appreciate your remarkable and inspiring leadership skills in ensuring that Government Senior College Agege remain an enviable school amidst its peers.

To the representatives of GCA Global Alumnae, we say, thank you for honouring our invitation, thank you for the support, thank you for providing a platform that will showcase the Alumni of GCA to the entire world.

To our Teachers here present- Thank you for honouring our invitation.

Mrs Ekanem (Music Teacher) who made Music interesting and appealing. We cannot forget the usual song, ‘Tone Tone semitone, tone tone semi tone’. It was fun.

Mrs Aimoso, thank you for making Economics seem so effortless, the training of those years are still relevant till today. Thank you.

Mr Adeshina, our Physical Education Teacher, thank you for the days of learning and discipline. Thank you for not allowing us stay back during sports hour, even though we always came up with different reasons not to go on the field.  Some of us even went as far as hiding under the tables but you always have a way of fishing us out from our hiding places and making us do the needful.

Mr Adewusi, our Mathematics Teacher, thank you for spurring our interests in Mathematics while you chip in words of encouragement rooted in the divinity.

Mr Ojo, the pioneering Chairman of Press Club and Hausa Teacher who opened our eyes to the importance of learning other Nigerian language.

Mr Ojo, ‘Ina fata kana lafiya? Na go de sossai.

To all our invited guests, teachers, students, members of the press and my fellow classmates. Thanks for coming.

26 years ago we walked into the compound of our great school, ecstatic with the realization that we are no more daddy’s little girls, we are now big girls who just gained admission into one of the best and most competitive secondary schools within Agege and its environs.

We came in not knowing what was in stock for us but believing we will have a good time. And we sure did.

Here we built confidence, eloquence, discipline, tenacity and friendships.

Let me crave your indulgence to take us down the memory lane while we recall the days of our little beginnings.

We remember the days of queuing up to buy hot and spicy food at ‘Aunty Iyabo’ food joint. We didn’t mind the early morning sweat due to heat.

Our days at GCA did not go uneventful, I’m sorry time will not permit us to talk more on the days, the militia invaded the school and disrupted the learning for the day. It was a tough day but we pulled through.

We remember when our SSS3 uniform was changed and we had 3 square pockets which we referred to as ‘Aro meta’. A Yoruba word that means -3 main stones.

I can say boldly that our GCA ’98 set was very fortunate because we learned under the tutelage of two great principals with different approach to training. I can say, categorically that we had a balanced view of education.

Our first principal was Mrs Vincent, an endearing woman who saw us as her grandchildren and so pampered us to a fault. She protected us and wouldn’t allow any teacher to punish us for any reason.

She will sometimes tell the teachers to leave us alone because we are little children who don’t know anything. Trust students they will always feign innocence and ignorance just to get away with anything.

We grew so accustomed to her and we unknowingly began to take her for granted.

Oh! How we missed her motherly care when she was transferred. Little did we know that we were in for a complete change.

Unforgettable was the day we were introduced to a new Principal- Mrs Ojifinni.

Alhaja as we fondly call her had been a Principal in an all-boys school, so she came with the mindset of instilling discipline in us.

Over 90% of the school flunked the first exams that we did after her resumption. There was mass failure across every class because we were introduced to an era we weren’t prepared for. So many girls were asked to repeat while some were advised to withdraw. Even those that felt like geniuses all had to buckle up because we now have a new sheriff in town’.

We dare not come to school looking scruffy, we dare not walk sluggishly around the school compound, we dare not act timid when being spoken to. We were all kept on our toes!

Her popular slogan then was ‘She MamasMothers in Uniform’.

Don’t get it wrong, the words were not derogatory they were futuristic.

She saw greatness and maturity in us when we only see ourselves as girls that should be pampered. She saw future mothers that will birth new generations and so should be prepared to step into this high calling of co-creation that nature has gracefully bestowed upon us.

The Principal together with the teachers all took deliberate steps to ensure that we were tutored, trained and prepared to take on our world. We were moulded into young ladies with great finesse and class. We won several interschool debates and competitions with so much prestige and confidence. We became the envy of schools around us. We were unstoppable!

We were drilled, stretched, pruned, disciplined, we were challenged but we kept our dreams alive and 20 years after, we are here. Stronger! Wiser!

We are bold to say that the discipline of those years still stayed with us. No wonder we are excelling at our different career path, shattering glass ceilings, making business decisions, leading great minds and making impact in our generation.

We have professionals, entrepreneurs, CEOs, Business Owners across different industries in private and public establishments within and across different countries, UK, Spain, USA, Ghana, Germany, Australia, to mention a few.

GCA ’98 set is blessed with great women who are not lazy and who are not shy to take their world by storm, women who refused to be constrained by gender inequality, women who know their worth and so are walking in that realization.

We are proud to be part of this great school and profoundly grateful to be part of the ‘98 set as we make history today. We have gained so much more than just an education from our school; hence we are here today to give back to the school that has done so much for us.

Our 20th year reunion is not just going to be for merry making or getting acquainted with old faces, we are marking this day by commissioning the sick bay which we GCA ’98 set in-country and in diaspora have put funds and efforts together to renovate and upgrade.

Needless to say, that our main focus is more than just giving back to our alma mater, we want to help foster the girl-child education initiative as well as help the next generation gain access and opportunity to quality education in a conducive environment.

At this juncture, I want to appreciate everyone who made this 20th reunion and commissioning of the sickbay a reality. Nahimat Adekoga we celebrate you today for your tenacity in making contacts with every member of the ’98 set together and ensuring we work together to achieve this common goal. We say ‘Thank you’ to every member of the reunion planning committee and everyone who shared their time, money, effort and talents in making this gathering a possibility. We say, thank you.

I leave you with this quote from – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

“Remember that the most valuable antiques are dear old friends.”

 

Long Live GCA ’98 set

Long Live GCA Global Alumnae

Long Live Government College Agege

Long Live Education District 1

Long Live Lagos State

Long Live Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Reunion Speech Photo

 


 

A big thank you to all the members of the Planning Committee;

Planning Committee

L-R: (Front row) Naimat Davies Adekoga, Ojuolape Kareem,  Mojisola Taiwo,

L-R: Back row: Gbemisola Akinola Ejiwunmi, Phebean Amusan, Kuburat Owoeye.

The reunion held on the 28th of April 2018

Click here for the link to the press coverage

Press Coverage on the Donation/Commissioning of sick bay

 

 

The Goal Setting Race

The Goal Setting Race

Career goals vary, it can be getting a new certification, new degree, gain new skills, achieve work-life balance, increase productivity at work, improve time-management, build personal brand, switch career, get a new job and so on..

However, before you get lost in the race towards writing and setting your 2018 (SMART) goals.

There are important things to note…

🎯SPECIFIC:

Think about ‘The How? The What? The Why? The When? The Who? of your goals.

🎯 MEASURABLE:

The How?- How do you want to achieve it? How would you measure success of your goal? How will you get the resources needed to achieve your goals.

🎯 ACHIEVABLE:

The What? What is it that you really want? Do you have what it takes to achieve the goal? Is it within your control? What is the specific outcome you are looking for? What will the goals help you to achieve?

🎯 RELEVANT/REALISTIC:

The Why?- Why are you setting the goals? Why do you want it? Why this goal? Why is it so important? Is this goal in line with your overall life plan? Is it in sync with your values?

🎯TIME-BOUND:

The When? At what specific time or date do you want to achieve your goal? Is this a short term or long-term goal? Have you set a definite time of completion? When is the deadline?
______________

The Who? Who needs to be included. Who are your support systems? Have you identified the people that will help you achieve your goals?

Great goals are deliberate and outcome-focused and should be aligned with your values.

Having done all;

“Delight yourself also in the Lord , And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.”
Psalms 37:4-5 NKJV

Write Your Ideas

Write Your Ideas

‘Research has shown that you increase your likelihood of obtaining a goal if you write it down’.

We all at one time or the other have different ideas flying in our heads.

Some scary😨
Some overwhelming😞
Some keep us awake at nights😴
Some unbelievably great and beyond us! 😌🙃
Some exciting💃💃like you want to achieve it the next day.

But what do we do with ‘HALF’ of the ideas, the dreams, the goals, the visions… Nothing!

We probably share some ideas with close acquittance looking for validation🤔

Some ideas are abandoned at a mere glimpse of challenges🏃

While some ideas are completely forgotten not by choice but life events took over🤗

So, when next you have those ideas, don’t allow your mind play tricks on you,
Write them down✍✍

✍ Write! Even if it doesn’t make sense.

✍ Write! Even if it seems irrelevant.

✍ Write! Even if it seems too small or too big.

✍ Write! Even if nobody believes in it.

✍ Write! Even if it doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles.

✍✍✍ Just write and keep where it reminds you on a daily basis✍✍✍

Every great invention starts with an idea.

Don’t just write, draw a SMART plan on how to achieve your goals.

“Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it.
Habakkuk 2:2 NKJV