#CareerConversationsWithLLA: “Don’t be too quick to make life-changing decisions,” Christabel Ikpen, Head of Admin & Support Analyst, KuttyA10 Ltd.

Image credit: Christabel Ikpen

Christabel Ikpen is the Head of Admin and also a support analyst at KuttyA10 Ltd. She is also the CEO of Christabel Ikpen consulting – a consultancy firm that provides management consulting services to individuals and organizations to improve their performance and efficiency.  She is also a certified Life-coach, Transformational Speaker and Author of “The Self-Help Book on Mental Health Awareness.” Christabel is an advocate for reading, education and women’s rights.

In this interview with her, Christabel shares tips on how to leverage LinkedIn to grow your career, how to navigate office politics and how she was able to land a TEDx speaking engagement.

1. Can you briefly describe yourself and what you do?

I am the Head of Admin and Support Analyst at KuttyA10 Ltd. Apart from my 9 to 5 job, I am also a consultant, transformational speaker, author, and certified life coach.

2. How did you start out your career and how long have you been in the corporate world?

I started my career as a consultant 9 years ago, way back in the university, when I was the Vice-president of my department’s association. Since I was in charge of certain projects, I would get feedback to analyze reports and then proffer solutions.

Looking back, I’d say that was the beginning of my career as a consultant. My career as a “people manager” started in 2014, straight out of NYSC. I’ve always been a people’s person and so I was and still am very much attracted to roles that have to do with “people management.”

Image credit: Christabel Ikpen

3. You mentioned landing your first TEDx Talk on your LinkedIn page. Can you share tips on how career women can land speaking opportunities and why it’s important for their careers?

Being a Transformational Speaker, it has always been my dream to reach a wider audience with my message of “overcoming depression and bringing about mental health awareness.”
I did a lot of pro-bono work, especially when I just started out as a speaker and I still do even today. That’s my way of giving back to society.  As a career woman who wants to land more speaking opportunities, the first and most important thing you need to have sorted is your “message”. What do you want to share with the world? What is that thing or what are those things you’re passionate about?

I’ll also suggest you get your ideas written in a book. People see writing a book as herculean. On the contrary, it’s not. Your book doesn’t need to have five thousand pages. All it needs is a message. Writing a book makes you an authority in that field. Now, once you have your message and a book (soft copy or a hard copy), go out and do a lot of FREE speaking engagements. Use this time to hone and perfect your skills, take pictures and get recommendations. Also, ensure that your business’ website running.

Get the following sorted before reaching out to TEDx organizers or any organizer:
i. Your Message
ii. Put your message in a book
iii. Set up your business website ( mine is www.christabelikpen.com. Feel free to check it out and reach out to me.)
iv. Make good use of your social media pages. (LinkedIn is super cool for this).

Finally, your speaking skills must be excellent. It will help you command other’s attention. It allows us to form connections, influence decisions, and motive change. So, you can’t rule it out. It’s important.

4. Many women have trouble navigating through “the deep waters of LinkedIn.” But, we see you harnessing its powers exceptionally. Can you share tips on how career women can use LinkedIn and harness its power to their advantage?

When I started taking my LinkedIn seriously, I had just about 192 connections and that was around February 2019. Today, I have over 22,000 followers plus. The truth is: “the opportunities on LinkedIn are limitless.” For example, I got contacted by Leading Ladies Africa via LinkedIn and a lot of other projects I’m currently working on. It’s important career women recognize LinkedIn for what it truly is -a blessing!

As a career woman who wants to harness the power of LinkedIn to her advantage, you must do the following:

i. Set up your profile. Your profile is the first point of contact between you and your prospective clients or business partners. It has to be top-notch.

ii. You must be active. You can get a social media strategist to help with this or you could start by posting relatable issues. You can start by introducing yourself and what you do. Push out inspiring videos and testimonials from clients. Remember that you’re dealing with humans.

iii. Engage with others especially if you see content or post that relates to you. For example, there was this post by Gary Vee on LinkedIn that I think I commented on and I got business opportunities from just engaging on that post.

iv. Don’t be a user. People can sense that very fast and when they do, they’ll move on. Give value whenever you can. Always remember that it’s “People before money.”

 

Image credit: Christabel Ikpen

5. Your number one hack for dealing with difficult bosses/colleagues?

Phew! nobody likes a difficult boss or colleague.  I practice empathy. I think that people who are mean to you are either going through terrible things or they don’t love themselves. Like, I’ve come to understand that it’s not always about me. It has more to do with them. I’d like to say that putting yourself in their shoes can help you understand their perspectives and allow you to be more sympathetic about their circumstances and behaviours.

6. 3 tips for navigating office politics:

i. Pick your battles carefully. I wrote a post on this on my LinkedIn page. In all honesty, it’s not every dog that barks at you that you’ll pay attention to. Ask yourself, will this matter in like 5 or 10 years? If it won’t, kindly hold your peace and channel your energy on more productive things.

ii. Be kind. My magic line is to treat others as you would like to be treated. Be kind and respectful to others whether you agree with them or not.

iii. Propose office guidelines. Having office guidelines will set transparent ground rules that would help foster productivity. I strongly recommend this.

7. When you’re creatively stuck, you?
I take a nap. There’s nothing that a good nap can’t cure or fix.

8. What’s your take on mentorship? Important or Nah?

Of course, mentorship is important. Mentors can guide you through situations such as problems with coworkers, potential career-growth opportunities that are presented to you. They can help you improve upon your soft-skills (communication, networking, decision making), offer up ideas around strategy and oftentimes provide advice around career.

9. What are your worst and best career decisions? What have you learned from them? How have they shaped you to become the WOMAN you are today?

i. My best career decision was leaving a toxic work environment. At that time, I was very scared. In fact, my parents and some other colleagues tried persuading me, but deep down, I knew it was the best thing to do. A lot of people are stuck doing jobs that they dread. Go get that skill or take that course. Do not let the fear of the unknown stop you from doing what’s right by you.

ii. My worst career decision was leaving that job without having a proper plan. Don’t be too quick to make life-changing decisions. Make sure you have a backup plan.

 

The Leading Ladies Africa weekly Career Conversation series focuses on women of African descent, 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.

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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