Getting a seat at the decision making table of wherever you find yourself takes a lot, but Abiola Alabi, media entrepreneur and public speaker says you can do it.
Biola was named one of the 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa by Forbes Magazine in 2012, a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader in the same year and CNBC Africa’s AABLA West African Business Woman of the Year in 2013.
She was the director for M-Net Africa for over five years before starting her own company – Biola Alabi Media, a consultancy and production company.
Speaking about her many achievements in an interview with Guardian, Biola shared how she carved a niche for herself in the entertainment industry, sitting at different tables and how women can, too.
I’ve had amazing success throughout my career; being able to give back has been one of the biggest projects that I’m so proud of.
Having a family of my own, being there for my parents and siblings are to me, real things to be proud of. Also, being part of a global narrative that people see, the fact that I’m invited to different places and I have a seat at the table and I’m not mis-using my seat at the table is something to be proud of.
I sit on the board of Unilever, people don’t get invited to sit on such boards if you don’t have a certain integrity and contribution you can make.
I think luck is a combination of hard work and opportunity; I have worked hard and had some amazing opportunity. I don’t think luck happens overnight and I don’t think you can pray your way into luck. You have to go out there and work hard, put yourself in uncomfortable positions, challenge yourself, go out of your way to make people understand what you bring to the table.
Most people don’t know this, but I worked for free for many years. I volunteered to show people what I could do and that I could grow. I didn’t always wait for paid employment. There is a lot of hard work and sacrifices that go into having a seat at the table. Nobody invites you to a table except they see you have put the work in, that you have served not yourself, but others.
I have taken a couple of steps back in my career to get to where I want and these are some of the conversations we have with our fellows at “Grooming for Greatness”. Sometimes, it might feel like a step back but it could be a step in the right direction for your career.
Don’t be afraid to take chances, to take a pay cut as these may lead to better things. Starting your business, you need to make lots of sacrifices. You might not make money for a year or even two, so you need to have saved.
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