#CareerConversationsWithLLA: “The most important asset you have is your reputation. Always maintain a good one,” Kemi Onadiran, Group Head, Human Resources and Administration – Mediaseal Advertising

Image credit: Kemi Onadiran

 Kemi Onadiran is an astute HR leader with over 12 years of hands-on experience spanning the oil and gas, construction, ICT, financial services, consulting and advertising. She is currently as Associate member with the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria (CIPMN) and Nigerian Institute of Training and Development (NITD).

 Her background in Sociology as first degree and Psychology at Masters level ignited her passion to help solve problems hence her venturing into human resources as a profession. Throughout her career, she transformed organisations by introducing and implementing initiatives that are both people and organisational friendly which has created better work cultures, boosted employee morale and increased profitability and bottom-line.

 Kemi Onadiran currently works at Mediaseal Advertising as Group Head, Human Resources and Administration. She also runs @careers_with_kemi on Instagram – a platform for job seekers; where she provides virtual mentorship, interview tips and preparation, daily job vacancies, and lot more. This platform has helped a lot of job seekers who need a “hand-holding” in the job market and well over 78 job seekers got jobs through this platform in 2019. She aims to help bridge the gap of unemployment in Nigeria.

 In this interview with Leading Ladies Africa, Kemi shares tips on diversity and inclusion in the workplace for women and strategies every career woman should implement to achieve success in their careers. Lean in!

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

 My HR career started 13 years ago while I was posted to NNPC-PPMC, Benin Depot where I served in the HR/Admin department. Ever since then, my career progressed till date.

 2. Tips for diversity and inclusion in the workplace (esp. for women)? 

 Diversity, inclusion, equality and equity…it’s all a journey. These subjects have been at the forefront of national and international discourse. My 4 tips for diversity and women inclusion in the workplace are:

 i. Build relationships in the workplace, and strive to have a sponsor.

ii. Expend energy wisely then build confidence

iii. Lift while you climb

iv. Don’t be a “Yes” woman. Stand for objectivity.

 3. If you could have a lunch date with one woman you admire – who would that be and what would you ask her? 

I would love to have a lunch date with Owen Omogiafor. I would ask her how she has managed to balance career and family as MD of Transcorp.

 4. What’s your take on cliques or “you can’t sit with us groups” at work? How does one navigate such? 

 Firstly, in every organisation, there are formal and informal groups. The informal groups are what is referred to as “cliques” or “friendship groups”. Cliques can be a means of support, self-preservation and safety groups where members feel vulnerable. Cliques could also be detrimental to the organisation and one’s career as it sometimes comes with gossip, backstabbing and rumour-mongering.

 It could also mean “excessive togetherness” which is bad for organisations. It becomes an “Us/We” Versus “Them/They” (in-group Vs out-group). I’d advise that before joining a clique, one should evaluate if joining could be beneficial or detrimental to their career. Here are quick tips to navigate cliques in the workplace.

i. Develop relationships with co-workers not just with a single group.

ii. Do not allow yourself to be intimidated or unsettled my an office clique.

ii. Be friendly to everyone.

iv. Be picky about social occasions.

v. Don’t gossip about clique members.

 Image credit: Kemi Onadiran


5. Three tips for navigating office politics? 

i. Don’t gossip.

ii. Pick your battles carefully.

ii. Be brave; but not naive.

6. When you’re creatively stuck, you…? 

I take a break.

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

Mentorship is important as mentors play 3 significant roles:

i. Consultant Role: The most obvious role for a mentor

ii. Counsellor Role: A mentor listens

iii. Cheerleader Role: Providing support and enthusiasm to mentees.

We all need a “hand-holding” in our careers, relationships and personal life; and mentors are there to guide us through our journeys. The purpose of mentorship is to transfer existing skills, knowledge and experience to a mentee. Therefore, I’d vote a big YES to mentorship.

 Image credit: Kemi Onadiran


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

My best career decision is taking up and practising a profession that is aligned with my passion – Human Resources. While I’ve never had any worst career decision; however, I’d say that I’ve made mistakes in the past but learnt from them as I am deliberate about learning, un-learning and re-learning.

 9. Three strategies you’ve used that other career women should implement

i. Confidence: Authentic outer power comes from authentic inner power. Be confident of who you are. It is not about having the right answer but knowing you can figure out the answer

ii. Build Support Systems: It’s important not to lose touch with family and societal networks to create a balance needed for a successful career.

iii.Reputation: The most important asset you have is your reputation. Always maintain a good one.


 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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