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How to Reach Your Potential: An Interview with Busola Akin-Olawore

· Interview

Busola Akin-Olawore (senior research executive at Ipsos in Lagos, Nigeria) is taking part in the "How to Reach Your Potential" initiative, a series of 100 interviews with leaders who inspire Alex Rascanu and whose insights can help you reach your potential.

Busola Akin-Olawore

About Busola
I am a zealous market research and consumer behaviour specialist with just over about 7 years of experience conducting research in the Finance, Real Estate, FMCG, Healthcare, Education and Telecommunication sectors. I currently work at Ipsos, which is ranked the 3rd biggest market research company in the world. I conduct and oversee their media, advertising and branding research in Nigeria.
I am also the founder of Busnailery, a snail farming company where our main goal is to make this cultural delicacy easily accessible and affordable, and Woof Arf Ruff, an ‘everything dog company’. We currently provide services which include advice columns, dog party and event planning, and dog walking. I have a couple other projects in the pipeline so stay tuned. :)
I am Nigerian; was born and had my early years there. I moved to Canada when I was in grade 8 and lived there for 10 years. Shortly thereafer, I moved to Spain for a year for a masters in Market Research and Consumer Behaviour at IE Business School. After my masters program, I moved back to Nigeria to begin this adventure I am still on.

When I am not working, I love exploring new cultures, reading, going out for a good meal, going to the beach and watching the sun rise and set.
You can connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and SlideShare.

Busola Akin-Olawore

Alex: What is your life’s purpose?

Busola: My purpose in life is to use my gifts to develop people around me and my community at large. To use the things I do well to positively impact my society. I have come to realize that when I speak, people listen. This is one of the gifts I have been blessed with and I want to use it to make a difference in my society.

Alex: What are the three things you’re most passionate about?

Busola: I am extremely passionate about market research; ever since I can remember I have always been a curious cat. I have always wanted to know why; why are things the way they are, why are people the way they are, why do we do/ say something and then do/say the complete opposite. I am fortunate enough to build my career around my passion for market research.

I am also passionate about travel, this could be tied to my curious nature but I have always loved travelling. Exploring different cultures, ways of living and actually immersing myself in the culture for some days.

And then there is food, one of my first loves. Now that I think about it, I believe things I am passionate about goes back to the core of the kind of person I am; a curious cat. I love food, admiring it with my senses, cooking it, and of course devouring it.

Alex: How do you stay healthy? What’s your main health-related goal?

Busola: I am a firm believer that if you eat right, exercise and have a positive outlook on life you are able to perform at your optimal potential. So staying healthy for me encapsulates ensuring I eat a balanced meal rich in fruits, vegetables, dessert and wine :), ensuring I take daily walks twice a day, ensuring I spin/run once a week and do yoga once a week. To also try to keep my mind healthy, I consume positive content only. I don’t watch nor listen to damaging content. When I wake up, I give thanks for another day. I get ready for work and during my commute I listen to podcasts from all around the world from people who have built and are still building their empires

Alex: How do you build wealth? What’s your main financial goal?

Busola: I define wealth as being financially free and I define this as being able to do what I really want to do in life, being able to be who I really want to be and not being dependent on one source for my daily bread. I strongly believe in having multiple sources of income. Yes, I have a 9-5, but I dabble in so many other things for two main reasons. Firstly, if I lose my job tomorrow I don’t want the burden of trying to figure out where my next meal or rent will come from. And secondly, I do not want to ever feel like I need to stay in an uncomfortable situation just because I need the money. The money I make from these other sources of income is not as much as my 9-5 but that is ok. So, as I mentioned, to build this freedom I own other businesses like Woof Arf Ruff and BuSnailery, and I also work on freelance research and consulting projects.
To help build my savings account, every month, once my 9-5 salary has been deposited in my account, I have a standing order with my bank to deposit 15% in my Mutual Funds account and 25% in my monthly savings account. With these steps, I feel more confident and safe with my financial freedom.

Alex: How do you balance work and family life?

Busola: Work-life balance is extremely crucial to me. I feel very strongly about this because I believe your success is a combination of your performance at home and at work. For me, I make sure I make time for things/people and I do everything at the right time. So be it a weekday or weekend, I wake up and plan my day. Obviously things don’t always go as planned, many things do not get completed in the allocated time but I ensure once the time allocated to the task is completed, I move to the next task and I will have to finish the uncompleted task at another time. Also, as much as I love what I do, I actively disconnect from work once I leave the office. I don’t think about it, I just focus on living in the moment and enjoying what I am doing in my life outside the office.

Alex: How do you enjoy spending time with family and friends?

Busola: I love exploring my passions with family and friends. Mostly my passions for food and travelling. I am the person to call when you are looking for a travel partner! I am also the person to call when you are looking for good restaurants in town.

Alex: What has been the most fulfilling role you’ve ever had, or the most fulfilling project you’ve been involved with?

Busola: At an early stage in my career, I decided to move to Nigeria for 6 months to conduct a study on maternal mortality. I conducted an observational study in a teaching hospital in Lagos, and conducted focus groups and surveys around an area of Lagos. Up until now this has been the most fulfilling project I have ever worked on.

I started to understand that life is simplistic; black and white but when you entwine it with culture, the human element, that is when it starts to get complicated. So maternal health, might seem straightforward, take your prenatal meds, eat right, go to the doctor for regular checkups, do not do strenuous activities… However, there are so many cultural elements that prevent people from following these simple steps the doctors have recommended. And the disconnect is that doctors do not take culture into consideration and patients do not take science into consideration. Truly this role was what reaffirmed my career path to me.

I also got to meet people from all walks of life, talk to them and appreciate their stories. I learnt a lot about myself, my past, my culture and I strongly believe that, this understanding is what has helped me develop a strategic plan for my future.

Busola Akin-Olawore with colleagues

Alex: What’s one career planning lesson that has made a significant difference in your life?

Alex: Being flexible, having an open mind and always being ready to try new things. About 8 years ago I decided I wanted to be a researcher. The kind of researcher I wanted to be was always the part I wasn’t sure of. But I knew I was a curious cat and wanted to spend the rest of my life exploring the reasons why things are the way they are. When I finally figured out what type of researcher I wanted to be, I invested a lot of resources to become the best researcher in that field. And then I got the dream job - working for a top market research company in the world. But yet I am still not fulfilled, I am longing for more - I realized that what I wanted was not what I needed. So now I am back to the drawing board. My point is, as we progress through life, we change our beliefs and opinions, and this trickles into our careers. We change our minds on where we see ourselves in 5 years, what field we want to work in, how we want to work... but that’s ok. It is ok to change, change is good. Being flexible and open minded is good.

Alex: What would you like your legacy to be?

Busola: I was born and currently live in a country where the majority of girls are raised to believe that something has to give. You can’t have it all - the career and the family. And society has pushed us to believe that the family is important. I am not disputing the importance of the family but you can have both, it shouldn’t have to be a choice for women. I want my Legacy to be the ‘woman who had it all’ and who inspires generations of Nigerian women that they can have it all. I understand that to have it all means you will need help, means you will have those rare moments where something will give but those moments are the once in a while abnormalities and not the everyday norm. And I want to make this very clear through my actions and my advocacy.

Alex: Thank you, Busola, for taking part in this interview! Thank you for being so open and for sharing your insights!

Did you find one or more of Busola's thoughts helpful? Are there any ideas or resources that came to mind as you read the interview?
Please share your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below, and consider sharing the interview with a friend via social media or email.

Also, consider checking out the How to Reach Your Potential interviews with Trina Boos, Hamza Khan, James Tjan, Vlad Rascanu, Drew Dudley, Alexandru Holicov, Andrew Mizzoni, Christa Dickenson, Louise Adongo, Sarah Chaudhery, Jake Nicolle and Andy McIlwain. Thank you.

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