Olayemi Olusoga is a banker, writer and advocate for gender parity. She holds a BA in Mass Communication from Babcock University and a Masters in Media and Communications from the Pan-Atlantic University. She is a member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations and has attended courses in Marketing and Sustainability at Pan-Atlantic University’s School of Media and Communication and Lagos Business School.
With over a decade of banking experience, Olayemi has worked in various divisions of Diamond Bank including Consumer Banking as part of the DiamondXclusive team and also as Segment Manager of the Diamond Woman initiative. She is currently the Team Lead, Corporate Sustainability at Diamond Bank.
Olayemi is the author of the recently published fictional novel, Women of the Ayo-Kessington Dynasty Volume 1: Anjola’s Diary, which was nominated as one of Channels Book Club’s top 10 fiction books of 2017. Her writing has been featured on various platforms such as The Guardian, Bella Naija and Today’s Woman Magazine. Afore
Did you ever nurse the idea of being in the Banking sector?
I come from a family of bankers, so working in the banking sector came naturally to me.
The journey so far has been very interesting. I have been fortunate enough to work in areas where my natural strengths and educational background have been extremely useful. A lot of the skills I have acquired in my banking journey have been very helpful to me not only professionally but in other areas.
What necessitated writing the book?
The Women of the Ayo-Kessington Dynasty is a trilogy that chronicles the journey of three women navigating their way through life, purpose and love. I wrote the book because I am very passionate about young girls discovering their purpose early in life and not giving into societal pressures or settling for less than they deserve or desire. Even though the book is a fictional work, I hope it inspires young women out there.
How did you find the time despite working in your sector to write the book?
Writing is therapeutic for me. I have to find time to write no matter how busy I am.
Overtime, I have established a routine that helps me balance work, my personal life and my writing. I gave myself writing targets when I was writing the book and I factored this target into my daily schedule. I also had lots of voice notes on my phone. As soon as I got inspiration for a plot twist in the story, I made a voice note so that even if I could not actually write for a few days I didn’t lose the inspiration. This really helped me during my writing journey.
How are you an advocate for gender parity? How have you proven so?
I am very passionate about women having equal access and opportunities. My writing is very woman-focused and whether I am writing fiction or an opinion piece, I ensure that my writing leaves the reader inspired to do more and be more. I believe my writing gives me a platform to inspire women and I do not take it for granted.
What are you hoping writing this book will achieve?
I am hoping every young woman who reads this book would believe in herself, have confidence in who she is and most importantly not allow society, her economic status or her past dictate her identity. I hope every young woman reads the book and thinks to herself: I don’t have to settle! I don’t have to compromise! I am enough!
Response so far?
The response has been amazing and very humbling! Within three months of releasing the book it was nominated as one of the top 10 fiction books of 2017 by the Channels TV book club. Considering it is my first book and it was self-published, it was a very pleasant surprise! The book has gotten only positive reviews so far, with readers eagerly waiting for the sequel which is due for release in November 2018.
Were there times during writing it that you almost gave up? If yes, what did you do to rise above the situation?
Yes, it took me about three years to make the decision to publish. I realize now that a lot of my reluctance revolved around waiting for what I considered the right time. Thankfully, I came to a point where I realized that there would never be a perfect time to publish the book. I literally just woke up one day and decided I am going to do this no matter what and from then on there was no looking back. It wasn’t perfect, I am still learning but it has made me grow in ways I didn’t even anticipate. My family and friends were also very supportive; they were a constant source of encouragement through the journey.
Do you feel there are more or fewer women at the top of their career in the organisations they work in?
Yes, there are fewer women at the top of their careers in organisations but that narrative is changing. I believe the reasons for this disparity are; the demands of balancing family life and work and also a lack of access to mentors. The solution to this is for organisations to consciously introduce policies that make it easier for women to balance both work life and family life. Policies such as flexible working hours and so on can go a long way in helping women balance their lives effectively. Also, there is a need to provide younger women with a support group or mentors that can guide them in their career choices and options. A lot of companies are recognizing this and beginning to create women networks within their organization. This is important because to get more women at the top, there has to be a pipeline of talent to groom and if you have a significant number of women quitting their jobs or not rising quickly in the organisation, the odds will remain the same with more men still occupying a majority of the senior positions.
What do you have to say to every young lady out there?
To every young lady out there, stop waiting! Stop waiting for people to give you a chance, create your own opportunities. Stop waiting for things to change, start with what you have where you are! There will never be a perfect time, if you have discovered what you want to do and who you want to be…stop waiting and start doing!
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