The final episode of this season of King Women features Kemi’s mother, Engineer Mayen Modupeola Adetiba, who is the inspiration for the project.
Raised with four brothers and a little sister that was born much later, Engineer Mayen said she behaved more like a boy and her teachers always complained about her. “That’s my life, whatever they did I always thought I could do” she said.
She studied Civil Engineering after being advised by her course counselor and she became the first female engineer to set up a civil structural engineering company; the second female engineer to set up a private company.
She was also the second female to set up a consulting firm and the first to set up a contracting firm at the time.
On this season finale, Mrs. Mayen Adetiba takes us on a ride through the world, the deep stories filled with highs and lows of her life.
My dad got me a job, the company being owned by the former vice president of the nation, Arch. Chief Alex Ekwueme. I started working there. It was a huge company because we had expatriates, the major engineer, junior engineer and draftsmen.
And because it was in this UPE program which they had to create a lot of secondary schools and him being the vice president, they had a lot of jobs.
We had these senior engineers, they were all from India or Asia but then, there was this discrepancy in everything. They were paid a lot more than we were because they were expatriates and the way these engineers looked at us, it was like we were coffee girls to them and having lived through some of this in the US, I wasn’t prepared to go through that again.
I just looked at it and I checked out. I didn’t tell my dad.
So, I got myself a job with the late Henry Fajemirokun, who happened to have been my dad’s friend. I left and started working with Naija Consult. I was a young girl, I was in my late twenties but I would always attend meetings.
He had a lot of expatriates. We will sit down in a very long board room, finish a meeting but he found out that I was always too outspoken. What others won’t say, I will say, I will tell him the way I felt, so the man got to a point that anytime he finished the meetings, he will ask everybody else to leave including the expatriates and ask me to stay back and we will start another discussion, just the two of us.
He was trying to bring in another factory at a time and he was going to make me one of those that will make vital decisions in that company. We had a meeting not long, two to three days later, he went to another West African country and the next thing we heard was he was dead.
That really affected me because I was already getting to a position whereby you saw somebody who felt he could make something out of you. Who trusted you, who thought you were brave enough to face him. When he died, something in me left because that was somebody I knew could have had some influence on me. One of my first major projects was done under him.