December 4, 2022
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‘My polygamous background changed my attitude to life’ – The Nation Newspaper

  • November 20, 2021
  • 10 min read
‘My polygamous background changed my attitude to life’ – The Nation Newspaper

Nigeria news – Nigeria's breaking news website
Mrs. Bọlànlé Oduyale is Chief Executive Officer, CreditWise Financials Limited, one of Nigeria’s fastest growing financial lending companies operating within the micro and retail lending ecosystem. The consummate banker who has bestrode the banking sector for over 25 years including working with Standard Chartered Bank for over 12 years both in Nigeria and South Africa before relocating to Canada to focus on Regulatory and Compliance in the Canadian financial industry. She was also a onetime CEO of Safetrust Mortgage Bank in Nigeria, amongst other milestones. In this interview with FUNKE COLE, Oduyale who has degrees from the University of Ibadan, and University of Lagos and is also an alumnus of London Business School as well as that of the prestigious Lagos Business School, shares her experiences navigating careers and family. Excerpts:
Early riser
A typical early riser, Bọlànlé Oduyale starts off her day exactly at 5am, which requires a devotional prayer meeting and a walk within her estate before dropping her 16 year old son at school at about 7:30am, ‘my son and I use the morning ride to catch up on his plans and expectations for the day and I am at my desk at work by 7:45 am’, she had concluded. According to her, this is a routine she had observed to help her brain function properly especially in the mornings.
Management style
The ever-hard working and versatile woman who has been doing exceptionally well describes her interest in creating a conducive environment for the application of a combination of styles to manage both situations and team members. In her words, she explores “A collaborative style to create a harmonious office vibe and encourage employees to speak out about any issues they may have.”
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She reiterates on the need for exclusive high ranking management approach especially to tackling cumbersome tasks which requires the use of multi-dimensional skills to extract a unilateral decision needed both for human and work management. Speaking further, she narrated her experience on the use of questionnaire to draw responses and suggestions.
Management philosophy
Her management philosophy revolves round numerous approaches to creating an enabling environment for a number of diverse ideas.
“To be open to diverse ideas, perspectives and the way others think is an important leadership attribute. This led me to develop a philosophy that focuses on diversity. I adapt my communication, direction and feedback to each staff’s unique and individual needs and work styles. This way they know that I am available to provide guidance and support when they need it, but I will not hover over them. This also motivates them to use their creativity to the best of their ability, which can directly benefit company growth.”
Besides, she says, she also leads by example. “I work hard and bring the same learning and positive attitude to the job that I expect of my staff. I try to inspire my team members to be their best by watching me and following my behaviour, and work ethics.  However, this sometimes put a lot of pressure on them when they feel they are not measuring up to my standards. So I make sure I provide guidance and growth by giving important and timely feedback and to ensure am accessible to everyone.”
Delegation of responsibility
Interestingly, she feels that having the abilities to delegate effectively and give clear direction, while remaining available to provide guidance or assistance are important qualities for a leader. “Even where I delegate, I still ensure that my team members can obtain support and guidance from me every step of the way.”
Team-player
Quite frankly, she says being a team player is situational. “I sometimes need to work independently and at other times with others. While some projects only need one person to complete, having more than one person on the “team” will be counterproductive, other jobs need teamwork to get them done properly and efficiently.”
But by far, she says, “Ability to compromise, show respect to others and listen to the needs of teammates is an important attribute of being a team player.”
Other areas of interest
Not your regular CEO, Mrs. Oduyale plays the role of a doting mother so well. “I have always loved to read and to watch movies, especially thrillers. My children are all boys and having to watch movies and shows with them over the years has affected my genre of movies which tends towards thrillers and action. Anytime I feel under pressure, I put on a good thriller on Netflix.”
Enjoying leisure
Naturally, she says she enjoys hanging out with my friends. “I have kept the same group of girlfriends for the past 40 years. We see each at least once a week. We speak almost daily. We laugh together, cry together and we are staunchly loyal to each other. We are each other’s support structure, and it has been an amazing journey over the years. I also have an amazing family and that has gone a long way to relieve whatever pressure I feel.”
Last book read
A bookworm, she reads everything in sight. Shedding light on the latest book she read, Indra Nooyi’s new book My Life in Full, she says, the book was a gift to her by her coach for birthday last October. “Indra Nooyi was one of the world’s most admired CEOs, being the first woman of colour and immigrant to run a Fortune 50 company. The book provides an insight into Indra Nooyi’s world of corporate excellence, deep sense of purpose and her rise to the top as she transformed PepsiCo and reinvented the company’s image.
“Any woman managing the challenges of building a successful career by juggling a demanding job with a growing family which includes children and a husband would absolutely relate to this book.”
Choice holiday destination
Obviously, Mrs Oduyale enjoys the good life. “The Caribbean – Beautiful resorts. No friends or family members to go and visit, no Nigerian food, no shopping available. All expenses already paid upfront. Eat and drink all you can. Sleep, Eat, Exercise, Read, Play, Repeat.”
Self-motivation
Two things motivate her. “Number one, passion for what I do and number two, the fear of failure. The passion I have to help and improve the lot of women and alleviate poverty moves me to persevere despite the fear.”
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Sense of style 
She describes her style as authentic. A style aficionado, she further informs that, “Style should be all about self-expression. I wear whatever works for me and my body.”
Expatiating, she says matter-of-factly, “Having great style to me means being comfortable in your skin and dressing for your body type with confidence and not necessarily in line with fashion trends. What looks great on me, may look bad on you. My mantra is Know Your Best Feature – And Show It Off, Always. Be it your curves, booty, legs or an hourglass figure. All your outfits should work towards enhancing your best features, without being in your face (more like other people’s faces).”
Maintaining looks
Her recipe for maintaining the good looks begins right from choosing what she eats. “I eat small portions. No matter how hungry I get, I don’t ever eat to be full. I drink only room temperature water even at parties. No sugary drinks or alcohol for me. I never leave my house without using sunscreen, I never sleep with makeup on. I only use natural products like black soap on my face. And I take long walks at least four times a week. When I need to sleep, I sleep.”
Staff motivation
Her approach to staff motivation is strictly following corporative style.
Stick and carrot approach
She also adopts stick and carrot approach sometimes.
Best decision
Starting Creditwise Financials is the best decision she has taken ever she says with a tinge of excitement. “I wish every day that I had started it much earlier.”
Worst decision in working career
Her worst decision was joining the board of a company without doing proper due diligence. “Joining the board of company (which I will not name) without undertaking proper due diligence on the state of the business, company ownership and the existing Board members. The environment was extremely toxic, I experienced various health challenges due to the diverse problems. I am very grateful that it is all over.”
Influence
While most people rue polygamy, Oduyale says it sure has a positive to it considering how that has changed her total mindset. “My father had four wives and we are 12 children in total. Each mother had to provide the basic needs for their children while my father was primarily responsible for our education up to BSc level only and that was it. Everything else was borne by ours mothers. I grew up believing that a woman must be empowered to make financial decisions for herself and her children. So right now, I have no sense of entitlement where my husband or my marriage is concerned. I do not advocate for a joint husband and wife account. A woman must be financially independent and must be actively supported and encouraged to achieve such independence. When a woman has money, the whole community is positively affected.”
Cooking
She cooks sparingly and not as a matter of course. “I hate cooking. It’s one of the reasons why I couldn’t stay too long outside of Nigeria where it is all DIY. I had to teach my children who are all boys to cook and fend for themselves domestically so that I wouldn’t have to be in the kitchen.”
Culinary delight
A proper naija groomed-lady, she loves Eba and any kind of soup.
Life lessons
Her life lesson is encapsulated in the mantra is living life to the fullest. “Live life to the fullest. Love God wholeheartedly. Pray without ceasing. Be thankful for what you have. This life is not yours, the owner can take it at any time because no one promises you tomorrow. Forgive easily. Always reach out to your loved ones at every opportunity. I have lost quite a few people close to me in the past one year and that has given me a new perspective to life.”
Hobbies
Her hobbies include watching movies, reading, travelling, and hanging out with friends and siblings. “I have the best siblings in the whole world. Even though we have different mothers, you wouldn’t know if I didn’t tell you.”
Definition of success, career-wise
Short of pontificating,
People tend to confuse a sense of accomplishment with career success, she says, adding that such is not always the case. “There is a big difference between the two. Many people are accomplished, with fantastic credentials, high profile jobs, sought after careers but they are desperately unhappy. Because these items represent accomplishments, they do not necessarily equate to career success. We have seen cases where supposedly “successful” people become clinically depressed and sometimes even commit suicide.”
Career success, she admits, “Is a combination of achieving a reasonable level of financial stability while doing what you enjoy and then finding that you are also happy and fulfilled with your life and career choices. If you love your job but the job doesn’t provide you with financial self-sufficiency then career success is reduced and if you have a high paying job but lack joy or interest, career success is also diminished. True career success requires that these two factors align.”
 
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