Image credit: Toyin Arowolo
Toyin Arowolo has worked as a software developer and has over 16 years of work experience in software development, systems analysis, database design, application testing, conversion, installation and support.
She is an expert within the reinsurance domain of the financial sector and has spearheaded the development and delivery of various complex systems and applications.
She aims to understand the customer experience and enhance customer adoption of the various solutions provided. A bibliophile, she graduated from the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife with a Second Class Upper degree studying Computer Science with Mathematics.
She went on to obtain a Post Graduate Diploma in Operational Research from the University of Strathclyde. She also has an MBA from the prestigious African Leadership University in Kigali, Rwanda. She is currently employed at the African Reinsurance Corporation, Lagos as an ICT Manager.
In this interview with Leading Ladies Africa, Toyin talks about her sojourn into the ICT world, as well as share tips on how to incorporate diversity and inclusion in the workplace for women. Lean in!
1. Can you briefly describe yourself and what you do?
I am one of a set of twins and grew up in Lagos except for my secondary school years as a boarder in Oyo town. I am a wife and mother of two young girls, aged 12 and 4. I work as an ICT Manager at the African Reinsurance Corporation, Lagos in the applications division of the ICT department.
I am also an entrepreneur. I founded TYworkspace, as an entrepreneurial project during my MBA to provide excellent office space for businesses, freelancers and other entrepreneurs.
I love reading, public speaking (after the fluttering of the butterflies subsides), and gardening. I am passionate about my country and continent.
Image credit: Toyin Arowolo
2. How did you start your career and how long have you been in the corporate world?
My work experience started during my SIWES training as a Computer Science & Math student at OAU, Ile-Ife. Working with a software development firm got me interested in programming. I loved it so much that I decided I was going to earn a living from it.
After NYSC, teaching Mathematics in Sokoto state, I started out working at Sidmach Technologies. I built my skills working with applications such as the WAEC E-registration forms and was a member of the team that developed the JAMB online registration platform.
In 2005, I moved to work with Africa’s Reinsurance Corporation, a firm set up by the member countries of the then, Organisation of African Unity (OAU now AU) in 1976. Contributing my quota to ensuring that capital does not leave the shores of the continent, I have been responsible for the development and delivery of various systems and applications.
My current role has seen me overseeing the rollout of an Enterprise Resource Planning application for the Finance, HR and Supply chain modules for our 6 regional offices.
3. Your go-to hack when you are creatively stuck
I take a walk if I am in the office or take a nap at home. Never fails. Ideas flow especially when I am out walking.
Image credit: Toyin Arowolo
4. Tips for diversity and inclusion in the workplace (esp. for women)?
i. Be intentional about hiring. It is important to constantly review staff demographics across departments and locations and hierarchy. And keep asking the questions that need to be asked. And listen to the answers that you receive.
ii. Be intentional about career progression. Simply employing a certain percentage of females is not sufficient. How well are they doing? Are they moving up, why are they not moving up? What are the reasons why they are not doing as well as projected?
How many transitions to middle management from the entry-level positions? How many move into senior management? How many board appointments are female? Of course, some of these initiatives will take a while to achieve; but, constantly asking the necessary questions and being receptive of the answers will help bridge the gap.
iii. Be intentional about supporting women. Does your workplace support women enough? Women have cultural barriers set up that impede progress irrespective of how hard they work. Apart from the mandatory maternity leave, do you have breastfeeding stations or do female staff have to hide in toilet stalls to work their pumps?
Are your managers (male and female) trained to support their female staff? Are they empathic to staff who experience monthly menstrual cramps, for instance? Does the office have a culture of clean jokes or is it filled with demeaning rhetoric aimed at womenfolk? A supportive culture does not just happen, it has to be built with intention.
These tips appear to be directed to HR personnel but are not only for them. Everyone has to be supportive of progress for there to be a diverse and inclusive workspace.
5. Top 3 tips for the career women in our community.
– Find yourself a mentor.
– Find yourself a sponsor.
– Find or build yourself a community of like and unlike-minded women who are either on this path with you (senior) or who are looking up to you (junior) and do life together with them.
The Career Quick Five Series is a weekly interview series that highlights the achievements and entrepreneurial journeys of African female entrepreneurs. The idea is to showcase the Leading Ladies who are transforming Africa and the African narrative through enterprise and business.
It is an off-shoot of Leading Ladies Africa, a non-profit that promotes leadership, inclusion and diversity for women of African descent.
If you know any kick-ass women of African Descent doing phenomenal things in enterprise, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and she could possibly be featured.