Gusi Tobby Lordwilliams: Volunteering shaped and positioned me for greatness
A famous person once said that there is no force greater than a woman determined to rise. This saying captures Gusi Tobby Lordwilliams’ personality. Her determination, audacity, and ability to create room for other women to thrive are admirable. Popularly known as the LORD T of impact, she is a seasoned social impact strategist, communications expert, and specialist in PR and Media relations, who works across industries such as Finance, Fashion & Lifestyle, Social development, and Telecoms, with specialisation in helping thought leaders maximise their influence. Tobby has extensive social impact and volunteering experience in the international development sector of Nigeria. She started out her career in the sector as a volunteer and research development support specialist with the United Nations Volunteers corps through Girl Hub Africa, where she was responsible for facilitating volunteers training and recruitment for organisations, providing direct demand-driven technical assistance and corporate social responsibility services to private sector-led firms in Nigeria. This inspired her to start Girl Hub Africa, Nigeria’s largest all-female volunteering organisation that focuses on providing volunteering opportunities to young women where they gain meaningful experience for employment while also bridging the gender gap.
The Law graduate from the University of Benin is a multi-award recipient. In this interview with ESTHER IJEWERE, Tobby shares her inspiring journey and passion for community service.
My childhood was the foundation that set me up for all that I am today. You know how, as a child, you are encouraged to help people, you’re eager to help at places and at events – from church, to weddings, many kinds of events and all, while other people see it as ‘oversabi’ – being too forward; for me those little running errands and helping out was exposing me to a world of endless possibilities and horning the many skills I didn’t know I had as well as giving me capacity to handle what anyone my age wouldn’t have dared to.
My parents were strict and intentional about the kinds of things I got involved with because I had so much energy, enthusiasm and I was inquisitive. They did well to channel all that energy to make me the gritty and selfless being that I am today.
Inspiration Behind Girl Hub Africa
First, it is the need for young people to gain meaningful work experience. I was tired of young people complaining that after school, when they apply for jobs, the employers expected them to have some level of experience – at least between 12 months to 2 years’ experience – in that industry or field. It baffled me to see how many people found this reason by employers to be ridiculous. In their words, “I was in school, how was I supposed to get that level of work experience?”
So, with my wealth of knowledge as a professional volunteer and after getting certified as a volunteers management consultant, I decided to create a platform that encouraged young people to volunteer/intern in organisations and firms that matches their areas of interest during holidays. Through this, they can get practical experience that can be added to their CVs. So, for example, a student studying a four-year course will have at least a year or two years experience to tender as a fresh graduate.
Another reason was because I wanted young people to be connected to their communities. With the advent of social media, so many people have lost touch with their communities, doing good and making sustainable impact with their time, skills, resources, and network. So, Girl Hub Africa was created as an opportunity for young people to make a difference in any area they are interested in, with a focus on the 17 sustainable development goals by the United Nations.
Journey So Far
It has been overwhelmingly positive and rewarding. From starting out with just two volunteers and using personal funds to run the brand, to building a social enterprise with over 10,000 volunteers across Africa, Girl Hub Africa is currently the largest all female volunteering network in Africa as we have both on-site and online volunteers.
Three Women Who Inspire Me And Why
I’m glad you put a cap on three women because my entire life, I have drawn inspiration from so many audacious women from far and near.
•My Mother, Mrs. A.C Agusi, is one woman I have looked up to and emulated all my life. She is selfless, down to earth, intentional, Christ-like and daring. Definitely, she is the only person that could have birthed such an icon like me.
• Next is my mentor, Ms. Esther Ijewere, if there is one thing that inspires me most about this woman; it is her ability to reinvent herself. She cannot be fit into a box or stereotyped, and seeing her make several strategic and global moves inspires me while reassuring me that I can indeed be more than what I see. #HigherIsCalling.
• Finally, Dr. May Ikeora constantly inspires me to be resilient and emotionally intelligent any time I meet her; she inspires me to be audacious and break glass ceilings.
Role At GOTNI And How It Impacted Me
I started out with GOTNI as a volunteer and grew to become the executive assistant to the president – Linus Okorie MFR. Not only has my role shaped and positioned me for greatness, it has also set me up for global opportunities as I was recently made the project coordinator for the regulatory compliance management programme in Accra, Ghana.
GOTNI has impacted me positively, groomed me to speak with power and influence, helped me see my brand and myself as a global entity and given me the vast network of an international thought leader. No one comes in contact or passes through GOTNI whether as a staff, volunteer, faculty, participant, or partner and remains the same. GOTNI has shaped me to be a transformed leader creating value.
Other Projects And Activities
I host a series of events from the Business Brunch for business owners who want to learn how to create sustainable wealth, FFP – Fun, Food and Prayers, a gathering of young people to pray, seek the face of God in their lives, careers and businesses, having fun while enjoying a buffet, to the Lunch with LORD T, a networking event that brings together power houses in different industries to connect and have fun.
Recently I hosted the “LORD Ts Ball”, an end of the year networking ball, an award night and wine tasting event for thought leaders. I currently landed a job as the West Africa programmes director for a leading organisation, focused on research, education and advocacy that fights the exploitation of young athletes through social and economic transformation.
The Gusi Tobby Brand In Five Years
As a household name, the brand is not one that can be stereotyped. So, in five years, I’m going to be that global thought leader that has a great family and preaches the gospel to all nations in love and with great signs through her craft, words, businesses, and lifestyle.
Gusi means ‘God Uses Someone Intentional.’ This is an intentional brand; watch out for it.
One Problem I Wish To Fix In The World
“Limited Mindset” problem – a whole lot has failed because of the limiting mindsets of so many people that would have done great for the world today.
As much as I want to mention the climate crisis, unemployment, population, bad leaders, and the like, it all boils down to our minds. It is a powerful tool that has created a huge problem in the world today. Little wonder wisdom is so valued because we have so many uncouth people and the painful thing is they are not aware of their bad behaviour.
So, yes, limited mindset, limiting beliefs, whatever we want to call it, is the huge problem I would love to fix in the world. I already started in my space through my social media posts and the events I host.
Being A Woman Of Rubies
I literally just laughed out loud reading this question because I’m like, “Have you seen me? Have you experienced me? I am the definition of a woman of Rubies.”
For me, my energy, my audacious character, my ability to honour people, my wealth of knowledge, and my warm and welcoming nature, to mention but a few, make me a woman of Rubies.