Playing On A Male-Dominated Turf
PEOPLE generally assume that the quantity surveying profession is strictly for men. How wrong they are, for the first ever elected female chairperson of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, Lagos State chapter, Mrs. Adenike Ayanda proves that notion untrue.
Initially, she never considered quantity surveying as a career choice, as her interests leaned towards Architecture and Chemical Engineering due to her love for Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry while in school. She said she had even filled a Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) form for Architecture as her first choice at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria and Chemical Engineering as a second choice for University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU).
But a piece of advise from her secondary school Physics teacher as well as her brother-in-law, urging her to pursue a career in Quantity Surveying (QS) put paid to her previous ambitions. That was in 1988; about 27 years ago, and she says she has not regretted that decision as it has opened doors for her and exposed her in ways she never imagined.
Ayanda obtained her O’ Levels from Queen Elizabeth School, Ilorin and her A’ Levels from Kwara State College of Technology before proceeding to ABU, Zaria for a Bachelor of Science (Hons.) in Quantity Surveying. She went ahead to get a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Lagos, Akoka and is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (FNIQS), as well as a member of the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM), and the Society for Construction Industry Arbitrators (SCIARB).
Ayanda has been practicing since she obtained her degree and has worked in several capacities. She started out as a young quantity surveyor up to a senior quantity surveyor in the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing (now Federal Ministry of Lands and Urban Development).
Then, she moved to G. Cappa Plc, a building and civil engineering construction company, as a Principal/Senior Quantity Surveyor. After leaving G. Cappa, she joined Airtel Nigeria (then Vmobile Nig. Ltd.), a telecommunications operating company where she established a Quantity Surveying and Valuations Department and was the pioneer manager of the department till her departure.
After her sojourn in Airtel, she moved on to another company called Management Team of Perfect Structures Ltd/Chancellors Properties, a construction subsidiary of IGI Plc where she managed the affairs of the companies in East and West African countries.
Right now, she fully manages her own quantity surveying firm, Taylaqs Consult, a professional quantity surveying and project management firm, based in Lagos.
Having worked with different bosses and colleagues over the years and faced different challenges on different job functions and projects over time, she describes her experience in the field as a “mixed bag”.
Her words: “The most important thing is to be able to face challenges headlong as they come, never to shy away from the responsibilities required to tackle the challenges, which enables one to experience the sweet savour of joy that comes after surmounting challenges.
“The creative nature of construction works which brings out something from nothing, brings about feelings of joy for me when I am a part of a team/workforce tackling various challenges leading to successful project developments which satisfy clients’ needs in terms of functions, quality and cost.”
She however admits that the field although challenging and interesting at the same time, is still male-dominated. “Even though it is one of the major professions in the construction industry, men still rule the roost and the females operating in this sphere must have a ‘can do’ approach to their jobs.”
She noted that a right mindset, the determination to succeed, the crave for more knowledge and hard work combined with self-discipline are some of the necessary ingredients that would help and guide any woman that wants to succeed in the practice of quantity surveying.
Ayanda laments that the Nigerian society as a whole has repeatedly failed to see the importance of quantity surveyors but their relevance cannot be over-emphasised. It is a quasi-profession which traverses different roles such as cost control functions in which a quantity surveyor can be referred to as a cost consultant, technical accountant or construction economist; for contract documentation/ interpretation, dispute resolutions and arbitration functions in which a quantity surveyor can be referred to as a legal adviser/expert of the construction industry or can also act as a cost engineer.
Ayanda says she was elected the first female chairperson of the body last year but she admits that it was not so easy as she had served for 14 years in various capacities both in the Lagos chapter as assistant secretary, treasurer and deputy chairperson, and the national body as a member of the finance and interview committees before assuming top leadership position.
She adds that other female quantity surveyors could be successful as well, as the profession is moving away from its hitherto stereotypical patriarchal image and is now providing a level playing ground for everyone involved.
She says for any female entrepreneur to be successful in their different chosen careers, the principles of hard work and positive mindset with absolute trust in God remains the bedrock. “The adage which says that ‘what a man can do, a woman can do better’ could also serve as motivator in this respect. And through the help of God, the sky is no longer the limit for anyone”.
Ayanda, a devout Christian and mother, strongly believes that women play a very important role in national development because they ‘mother’ the nation, right from the families to the community level, then the national level. When the family is taken care of and well trained, it reflects on each community which in turn affects the whole nation.
According to her, women are also known to be key players in Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), which are renowned the world over for fighting social injustices of all kinds including child abuse, gender discrimination, sexual abuse and human trafficking amongst others.
Every day, women are making uncountable contributions to Nigeria, so it is very important to educate the girl-child to ensure she grows into a responsible adult woman, she concludes.