My Mother Is My Inspiration – Chioma

| March 3, 2019 | 0 Comments

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Chioma Afe, the corporate angel who features today as our woman of substance, is the head of Corporate Communications Diamond Bank Plc. She had also worked as marketing manager at Multi-choice and Cadbury as well as a senior Manager at Airtel, Coca-cola and British American Tobacco

Early childhood

I am Ibo. Interestingly my mother is Rivers while my grandmother is Bayelsa, so I always struggle with it when I say I’m Ibo, while I have a lot of riverine influence. I grew up in Port Harcourt, I think that has helped me cultivate a very down to earth nature because Port Harcourt people are one of the ‘realest’ people in Nigeria. They are simple, they say it as it is. They have no airs and graces and that has taken me along this journey of life. 

I grew up with four brothers, I’m an only girl. I went to school really early, I don’t know if that was a good thing because I struggled to match up socially and age wise with my classmates in secondary school. I went to a federal government college. I went to the University of Port Harcourt, an amazing place to have been at that time in the nineties. I studied English language. My mother wanted me to study law, when I think about it, I’m not sure I would have made a great lawyer. Well in those days most mothers wanted their children to be either a doctor, lawyer or an engineer. My father was more open he believed in one getting a good degree then a masters and or a second degree/ diploma.

Early career

I came to Lagos in 1996/97 to do my youth service. I worked in a public relations department during my service year. That was what set me in the course I find myself now.

My early career days were those hard knock days. It was crazy, but I think it helped. Yes, my early career has helped me even till today. It was hard, though, but even till today the experiences are still useful.

My days with Tequila Nigeria was hectic but a lot of fun. One relationship I have kept through the years is with Eddie Lawani who I still work with even till today. The first time l met Eddie I had just finished my youth service. He was also just starting his whole technical support business and he held my hand and helped me walk through and up till tomorrow we still work together. Relationships if you handle them well and the people you meet along the way talk about you positively, it helps, every positive remark helps.

Challenges

It’s a funny thing you say that as women we tell our selves we can do everything just like the men. However reality isn’t like that, you are married, even if you aren’t married, because of your role in the home, be you a sister, aunt or daughter, you have those responsibilities and that means you have to be that center to help other people. So it is not that as a woman we can’t achieve, it is just that our reality does not allow us to do that extra work because something else is calling.

By your innate nature you want to be able to support them, that’s the way I see it. I never really answer that, because if I were a man I could have really done better, maybe as a man I would be able to sit till 2.00am and work but as I woman sometimes I still stay and work till 12am. 

I have been able to build a support system from my spouse to my domestic staff that has helped me say I can sit here and put in this work and my husband knows it’s not an everyday thing. It’s a project that’s critical, my support staff are there to help with my children and I still try to make sure that I have time with my family which a man may sometimes say I will push it, a woman can’t afford to do that.

Mentoring

I have been able to work with some international organizations and they take it seriously, they are very keen on the standard rule. Mentorship is about behavior as well as career development, it is about progress, the person doesn’t need to be in your immediate environment, can be male or female, it’s about you sharing experiences, helping them chart their course. Because of that, I try to keep myself open, to have conversations with junior colleagues. To open my door and say you have a problem, feel free to come and talk to me. It is not a formal mentorship, sometimes it might be two or three meetings, other times it might be for just a few hours but I always try to make sure that person leaves much better than before we met, improved. It’s also being good at what you do to the level that others will say she is doing well and want to be mentored by you.

I’m open to be mentored by other people because we should never stop learning. I want to keep on rising, I want to be a director, then a chairman and after that we will see what’s next.

Philanthropy

Philanthropy can’t be charity for charity’s sake, it should be about building sustainability. Like helping people to learn a vocation that they in turn can teach others. Rich people like Dangote, Bill and Melinda Gates kind of philanthropy where people are helped so that they can in turn help others. Times are changing and people no longer believe in the philanthropy of going to the village with food stuffs and money to share. It should be more of learning a vocation or helping others achieve what can be used to improve not only their lives but the lives of others.

It’s a good thing to do, support in whatever way to empower or help others

Inspiration

My mother is my inspiration. My father died a long time ago when I was only 20 years old. After my father’s passing on, she struggled a bit with the business and catering for five of us of which three were in England and in school, it was tough. I was the only one out of school, but was faraway in Lagos and she couldn’t see me as much as she would have loved to but she coped. She has strength of mind and with determination she kept going. She held strong for us all back then and is still doing same even up till now.

Gratitude

I have four children, a boy and three girls. My husband is amazing God bless him. He is my cheerleader, he is the person I vent at, he may not know about my banking world because he is an entrepreneur but he is practical and a great sounding board for me. My children, thank God for them, for their maturity and in all I am grateful to God because I am blessed.

Culled from :Here

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