“Be Intuitive, Have A Steadiness Of Purpose, If You Fail, You Know You Tried” – Aderonke Onadeko, #CareerConversations with LLA.

Today on #CareerConversations with LLA, we chat with Aderonke Onadeko, Serial entrepreneur and multi sectoral professional with about 30 years of experience in both public and private sectors. She shares specifically her thoughts on Mentorship and among other things key success principles for upcoming career women.

Can you briefly describe yourself and what you do?

I am a serial entrepreneur and a multi sectoral professional with about 30 years of experience in largely the private sector but a bit of not for profit and public sector too. My wealth of experience revolves around food and beverage manufacturing, agriculture and agribusiness, oil and gas trading, marketing and operations and consulting for large corporate organisations and government.,

I am the author of a mentoring book titled ‘To My Younger Self’. It is a collection of 24 inspiring stories of career and business journeys of some successful Nigerians aimed at impacting young people and others that desire to improve themselves on the way to greater success.

I am a public speaker, coach, blogger and mentor of youths, women and entrepreneurs. I sit on the board of several publicly quoted and not quoted companies. I’m currently a member of Ogun State Government Executive Council and WIMBIZ Executive council. A Chevening Scholar, Archbishop Tutu Fellow, cyclist and a runner, foodie, gardener, farmer, a mother and an adventure traveller.

Great! How did you start out in your career, and how long have you been in the ‘corporate world?’

My career started while in college, I interned during my sophomore and junior years and started in the food and beverage industry right out of college in the US.

I found myself in oil and gas very early in my Nigeria journey and I have been in that space in different capacity roles from 1989 till date.

What are some of the things you love the most about being a career woman?

I like the structure and professionalism around the corporate world and on the entrepreneurial side of things, I like the opportunities to be creative, to reinvent and put the personality spin on things. My mix of entrepreneurship and corporate experience have allowed a level of flexibility many haven’t experienced. It has allowed me explore and take risks and explore possibilities.

And the downsides – what are some of the challenges you’ve faced, and how did you overcome them?

Career wise in the earlier days, mentoring wasn’t known or practised as actively so you stumble in the dark and you were lucky you got some hand holding. Career progression was slow, and I was in those days considered an outlier because I moved from one sector to another and changed roles when I got bored.

 Of course, we’re going to talk about mentorship – what’s your view on it? Important or nah?

Mentorship is very important whether formal or informal, it helps when a person is guided to understand largely unwritten rules to aid navigation complex sections, organisation etc. It will save the mentee time, funds and it helps when someone who has a larger picture helps you discover your passion, talents and opens your eyes to opportunities you can’t imagine. Also, a mentor can champion you, sponsor you, prepare you for roles you won’t be able to access. In the business world, hand holding will open doors for collaboration and save you the time and money and give you leverage to network and markets.

Two things – what have been your best and worst career decision – and what did you learn from each respectively?

  • Best – Planting my roots in the oil and gas sector as early as 1989. Being a pioneer has and still was great advantages. I’ve lived through the history of private sector oil and gas in Nigeria and so I’ve become an authority. Standing on tall shoulders, access clients, positioning, finance, visibility, credibility that would otherwise take time and money to establish.
  • Worst– Making an uniformed emotional and immature decision to make a very large investment in agriculture at an early age without professional counsel. I had no concept to gender and age bias, tribalism of the complexity of land issues and reoccurring problem investment in the sector to name a few.

Do you have a “side-hustle” and what’s your view on having other interests outside of work?

I am, personally and career wise, multifaceted. I have worked in the oil and gas, power and consulting and corporate social responsibilities in youth, women and entrepreneurship. My social interest includes but are not limited to these.

Most recently I authored a mentoring book called ‘To My Younger Self’ featuring 24 well rounded Nigerians that shared their life journey in the hope to encourage others showcase success as a process with key feature as hard work, God fearing, consistent values and a sense of community deliberate choices, conscience, accountability to mention a few.

In what specific ways would you advise women to “lean in” more at work?

Build networks, join the community and add value but most especially ‘Lean in’ into your femaleness. Be intuitive, be multifaceted to have strength of will, steadiness of purpose, willingness to bear, wisdom to see what to do, courage to begin, fidelity and the strength and skill to complete what we start and if we fail, we know it was better to fail than never to have tried.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

  • Be an authority on one or more subject areas.
  • Be on the national, continent and global stage.
  • Have a community of people who have leveraged me and my network to be their best most successful selves.
  • To remain true to my core values, be unspoiled by success and society.
  • To be firmly planted still in Gods vineyard.

What in your opinion are key success principles for upcoming career women, or those just starting out their careers?

First I want to unequivocally say to them that there is not shortcut to success. Live deliberately and intentionally chose carefully and get guidance from pros free or paid for. You won’t regret it.

Build your personal brand differentiate yourself

Keep a journal set of goals; small and long term for yourself personal, financial and career wise and celebrate milestone as a way to congratulate yourself.

Be financially literate and savvy. It will save, serve and secure you, your home and future.

Surround yourself with smart, ethical people. People who will proudly recommend you to others when your specifications are needed.

Have a Nobel idea that moves you to desire better for society especially for those who can’t reciprocate to you.

CSR – Corporate Social Responsibility find ways to ‘Give Back’.

The Leading Ladies Africa #CareerConversations Series is a weekly interview series which focuses on Leading women of African descent in the corporate world. It showcases their experiences across all socio-economic sectors, highlights their personal and professional achievements and offers useful advice on how to make life more satisfying for women.

It is an off-shoot of Leading Ladies Africa, a non-profit that promotes women empowerment and gender inclusion for women of African descent. 

Do you know any woman of African descent doing phenomenal things? Send an email to lead@leadingladiesafrica.org and we just might feature her.










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