Oluwaseyi Kehinde-Peters: Actively seek out and create opportunities for yourself

Oluwaseyi Kehinde-Peters, an A.I and Digital Transformation Consultant, is a woman of many parts that I look up to, especially in the tech space. I was privileged to learn from her in Women in Leadership The Covenant Nation Community where she served as one of the group leaders. Through that avenue, she has inspired me to be a better version of a leader and our relationship has waxed stronger.

Oluwaseyi is the Founder of PAWEN, a charity organisation empowering African Women with the Competence, Confidence and Connections they need to succeed in Business. PAWEN has made business easy for African businesswomen by successfully launching initiatives and providing innovative solutions to drive growth, financial inclusion, gender equity and poverty reduction.

As a learned entrepreneur, Oluwaseyi has a Bachelor's degree in Accounting, a Master's degree in FinTech and Financial Markets, an MBA degree in Management plus several certifications in HR, IT Sustainability and Project Management.

Just like the proverbial golden fish with no hidding place, Omote Ro Dhe caught up with this amazon and got chatting with her. Oluwaseyi opened up about her business and how she is using that platform to transform lives, her values, her interests, her life lessons and more. 

Read excerpts:

What inspired you to develop and start PAWEN?

PAWEN was inspired by a deep passion for equality and the belief that women have the potential to drive significant positive change across Africa when empowered with the right Competence, Confidence, and Connections.

The network was founded on the proven fact that when women are empowered, they create a ripple effect that lifts up their families, communities, and entire countries. I saw this personally growing up in the life of my mother and PAWEN was birthed to connect, inspire, and empower African women to harness their collective strength and bring about meaningful change.

What are some of the career challenges you faced and how have you been able to overcome them?

I have faced several career challenges, including Unequal Pay and the tendency for unconscious bias in male-dominated environments. However, I have been able to overcome these challenges by staying focused on my goals, being persistent and confident in my abilities, and seeking out mentorship and support from other successful women in the field. One specific challenge I faced was the lack of female representation in senior leadership positions, which can make it difficult to find role models and access the same opportunities as my male peers. To overcome this, I made a deliberate effort to build relationships with female leaders and seek out mentorship opportunities, and I also became involved in organizations that support the advancement of women in the industry. Another challenge was the lack of work-life balance, particularly when working on high-pressure projects or tight deadlines. To address this, I have learned to set clear boundaries, prioritize my time, and delegate tasks when necessary. This has allowed me to maintain a healthy balance between my personal and professional life, which has been crucial for my well-being and overall success. Ultimately, I have learned that the key to overcoming career challenges as a woman is to have a strong support system, maintain a positive attitude, and never give up on my goals.

Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently when you were first starting out?

Looking back on my journey, there are a few things I might have done differently if I had known then what I know now. One of the things I would have focused on earlier is self-care and taking care of my physical and mental well-being. I would have made a conscious effort to prioritize rest, exercise, and healthy habits, as these things are essential to maintaining the focus and energy needed to succeed in a demanding career. Another thing I would have done differently is to seek out mentorship and networking opportunities earlier in my career. I have found that these relationships have been invaluable in helping me grow as a professional, and I wish I had taken advantage of them earlier. Finally, I would have been more assertive and confident in my abilities from the start. I have learned that by being bold and speaking up, I have been able to showcase my skills and contribute to my field in meaningful ways. Overall, while I am proud of my accomplishments and grateful for the experiences that have shaped me, I believe that by focusing on self-care, seeking out mentorship, and being assertive, I would have been able to build an even more successful and fulfilling career from the start.

Can you list some women who have influenced you into the woman you have become and what endeared you to them?

1. Oprah Winfrey - Oprah's resilience, determination, and commitment to helping others have been a source of inspiration for me. I admire her for her ability to overcome adversity and use her platform to make a positive impact on the world.

2. Ibukun Awosika – I am inspired by Ibukun Awosika's journey from when she started Chair Centre Limited to being Chairman of First Bank Nigeria and now a member of the Binance Global advisory board. Her fearless and unapologetic role-modelling of doing business God’s way or not at all has been a source of motivation for me. I admire her for her commitment to making a positive impact in her community.

3. My mother - I am incredibly grateful for my mother, who has been a constant source of love and support throughout my life. Her strength, wisdom, and unwavering belief in me have helped shape the person I am today. She taught me the importance of perseverance, resilience, and the power of community. She raised me to believe that women can accomplish anything they set their minds to and that the support of others can make all the difference. Seeing her own struggles and those of women in her community sparked in me a desire to create a network that would empower and uplift women across Africa, and I am grateful to have had her as my guiding light.

What is the most unique thing about your business and how does your brand stand out from the norm?

PAWEN is a not-for-profit or a charity as it is called in other parts of the world. All our programs and initiatives are provided at no cost to our beneficiaries and we hope to continue getting support from institutions and individuals to ensure that we will never have to charge for our programs. What stands us out are three key things

- Execution Excellence, we deliver our programming with unusual excellence ensuring that we deliver the best experience for our beneficiaries within available resources - Impact: We are happy to have a tangible impact and several testimonies from women across Africa that speaks to the impact of our programs - Innovation: We are constantly learning, evolving and innovating to ensure that we continue to provide real impact for our beneficiaries. 

Would you like to share some projects you are working on or what to expect from you in the new year?

Last year we provided 385 scholarships under the TechUp Africa Initiative, and we hope to triple that this year. Currently, We have a partnership with Datacamp which will provide scholarships to 500 young Africans to learn and start a career in Data Analysis, Business Analysis Data Engineering, and Data Science.

We would be launching more projects under our Women in Business Programming to empower more young girls to start their own businesses and empower our current entrepreneurs to access funding and scale their businesses.

Success is relative, what does it mean to you?

Success is a personal journey, and it means different things to different people. To me, it is a holistic and fulfilling experience, not just about material wealth or recognition, but also about inner peace, happiness, and having a positive impact on others.

Success also means continuously growing and learning, setting and achieving personal and professional goals, and having a positive work-life balance. It is about living a life aligned with my values and purpose and feeling a sense of purpose and meaning in what I do.

What advice do you have for younger girls pursuing purpose? 

1. Seek God: God is the Good God and is the good father. As a good father, He has given you all you need to succeed. If you seek and align with His plans for you, He makes all things work in your favour.

2. Know yourself: Take time to understand your values, strengths, and interests. This will help you identify what truly matters to you and what you are passionate about.

3. Set goals: Set achievable, meaningful goals for yourself and work towards them. Celebrate your achievements along the way.

4. Act: Don't wait for opportunities to come to you, actively seek out and create opportunities for yourself. Be proactive and don't be afraid to take risks.

5. Believe in yourself: Have confidence in your abilities and trust in the journey you are on. Believe that you are capable of achieving your goals, no matter how big they may seem.

6. Surround yourself with positive people: Seek out individuals who will encourage and support you, and who will challenge you to grow. Avoid those who bring negativity or discourage you from pursuing your dreams.

7. Be persistent: Pursuing purpose can be a journey filled with challenges, but it's important to stay the course. Keep working hard and stay focused on your goals, even when things get difficult.

8. Never stop learning: Continuously seek new experiences and opportunities for growth, and don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone.

 9. Give back: Giving back to others can bring great satisfaction and meaning to your life. Find ways to use your skills, talents, and passions to make a positive impact in the world.

Remember, pursuing purpose takes time, effort, and dedication, but the journey is worth it. Stay focused on your goals and believe in yourself, and you will reach success in your own way.