Funmilayo Waheed-Adekojo:‘Whatever a man can do today, the enablement came from a woman’s womb’
Funmilayo Waheed-Adekojo is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of FunmiAyinkeNigeria Ltd., a multi-faceted engineering outfit certified by the Council for the Regulations of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN). A native of Arigidi Akoko in Akoko-North Local Council of Ondo State, Funmilayo graduated from the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Oyo State, with a Bachelor of Technology (B. Tech.) in Mechanical Engineering and Master in Business Administration (MBA) Executive.
As a corps member, she worked with the Ministry of Works and Housing, Gumel, Jigawa State, later the Works and Services Department, University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State. Funmilayo also worked as the Head, Mechanical Engineering Unit at the Works and Services Unit of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) before setting up her engineering firm. Through the FunmiAyinke Humanity Foundation, she has touched many lives by creating jobs, running empowerment programmes for widows, single parents and abandoned children. Also deeply committed to youth development her weekly online Talent Hunt programme attracts more than 30,000 participants. Youths are trained through this platform on career and how to discover themselves and the inherent talents in them. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, she shares her passion for engineering among other feats.
You have a long and illustrious career, could you share with us your journey so far?
My journey is a journey already well planned and prepared by God almighty. Where I am today, I’m not here by accident or by coincidence; I’m a product of hard work, discipline, and majorly God grace. In my early years as a young woman, I mastered the art of being disciplined; I was brought up by my mother who doubles as my teacher, after losing my father at a younger age. From there on, I called myself OmoIyaTisa as she moulded and tutored me on how to be disciplined and hardworking; she would lay emphasis on them.
I put in a lot of hard work into everything that involves my personality; I work twice as hard, even during the night to get my desired results. I put in more effort tasking my brain and body so much, and thank God today, the result is everywhere for us to see. God has crowned my effort with good success and that’s why I will always give glory to God.
In your years of running your engineering firm, how have you evolved?
I have evolved greatly; I remember I started small with less than four staff. But today, I have more than 25 staffs working under me, and we have never failed any of our clients. Even in the heat of COVID-19, we still paid salaries, as all staff members were working from home.
So far, this earned us the award of Africa Best Rated Engineer in Africa, 2021. Presently, I am working with my team to see how we can become an international firm, as we are already a multi-dynamic firm with a lot of services to render. But by God’s grace, we are going international soon.
You are passionate about human capacity development, how are you achieving this?
I do a lot of studying and research. Even as I speak to you, I still run some professional programmes in areas that interest me; learning is till infinity. For you to keep getting better, you need to learn everyday, at least one new thing on a daily basis. And thank God I have the best team who are loyal and are committed to what we do; I work together with them to get results.
Being in a male dominated field, how are you able to carve a niche for yourself?
Kudos to our men in the field; they are professionals and they all support our brand. It was easy for me, because men in Engineering are responsible and have respect for us women. I keep being professional and show great discipline and God has been faithful.
You must have encountered challenges too, kindly share some of them and how you managed?
Well, there’s no gain saying no challenges, but Baba FunmiAyinke has been awesome; I give glory to God. One of the challenges we face currently is the issue of inflation, but we are managing it perfectly well. We need the challenge, because it will keep helping us to get better as a professional. There’s no profession right now that is having it easy, so we are on top of it and we seek more guidance and help from God so this inflation time can pass and everyone can do his or her businesses comfortably.
What drives your humanitarian and philanthropic nature?
My drive for humanitarian is the hopelessness in the land, the land with many great but broken dreams. When are we going to stop expecting Government to fix it all? As a patriotic citizen and as a woman of God, you need to give back to the society to create a peaceful society for yourself and others, including your own children.
As a person, I have my own share of hopelessness that made me drop out of medical school to pursue Engineering and since then, I have promised God that if I breakthrough, I will use my resources to bless humanity in my best capacity as God’s assignment.
As a woman who has attained success in her field, what advise do you have for women who want to get to the upper echelon like you?
The advice is simple, keep being yourself; don’t get distracted by the current situation you find yourself. Run your race with focus on the goal with strong determination and your success is nearer than you think. Believe in God, pray and develop right attitude to work, business or whatever you do.
You have numerous awards in recognition of your contribution to societal development, which of these do you hold dear?
Well, as you said, the awards are numerous and all are special. But I think the award of Best Rated Engineering Firm in Africa 2021 is good for my team’s journey, and me because that serves as a motivation that we can grow bigger and get better.
Interestingly, you have a couple of singles to your credit, what informed your passion for music and how are you achieving your goal through music?
My passion for music grew when I learnt Nigerians don’t like to read, and I realised I could sing. I choose this path to pass on great messages to the entire human race, irrespective of colour, background, or religious belief.
If you listen to my music, you will tell me yourself if the messages are clear or not, but so far, so good; it has been fruitful. My musical videos are constantly aired either on radio or television. I thank the almighty for always going with me through the journey. My album also drops soon; get ready.
You are a wife, mum, boss, public speaker, recording artiste and humanitarian. How are you able to combine all these unique sides and still be at your best?
It is just God grace, because I have the same 24hrs like every other person. Let’s just say I give value to my time and I give less attention to frivolities. Like the usual saying that time is money, my own belief is time is life. So far, I won’t tolerate anyone to waste my life; it automatically means that I won’t give a chance for any one to waste my time. I only have a few friends that have value for time and with God on our side, His faithfulness is ever sure.
What advice do you have for women who are still struggling to get hold of their career while combining family life?
My advice for the women out there is to believe more in themselves; they have to come to a reality that they are stronger than men. Whatever a man can do today, the enablement came from the woman’s womb (their mother). Nothing fails in the hand of a woman and the realisation of who they are will ginger them to do more for themselves. They must be good planners. When they plan well, they will not fail in every aspect of their life. Be it family life, their kids, husband or career. Stop this mentality that they belong to the other room, but instead, they are the better half, the neck that must be ready to hold the head of their man. Lastly, prayer is the key, any woman that knows how to settle everything on their knees will always have result and solution to every challenges.
What is your life philosophy?
My philosophy is, do unto others how you want them do to you, also, love, live and merry.