How I landed my dream job
Tomide Awe landed her dream job with Twitter. We invited her to share her journey.
“My motto is always believing yourself. Always, regardless of the circumstance. I believe in myself, I believe that I can get to an answer. Believe in yourself, whatever comes your way, you can do it. “ Tomide seeks out projects to let her employers see her value quickly and then picks up more challenging things and learns more.
She thinks about quick wins and works really hard as she proves herself. People who are experienced and seasoned have a bit of a leeway because people know what they can bring to the table but they have to continue to be valuable to the company and always evaluate what it is that they are bringing to the table.
If seasoned people are not bringing the special sauce anymore it may be that this is not the right environment. For Tomide suggests this is probably a cue to start exploring where you might be more valuable.
In consulting, whether it’s internal (covert) consulting or external, you’re always posed with questions or challenges, for which you don’t always know the answer. Tomide takes an exemplary approach.
I don’t have all the information that I need, I do not know how I am going to answer it. But I always tell myself, I can. I create a survey and collect the data and get to where I want to go. I always tell myself that I might not take the traditional path, but I can get to an answer or find a creative way of solving this problem.
Tomide Awe is the founder of Olori, Creator of the Starting Up podcast, and Strategy & Ops Manager at Twitter.
00:00:00 Paula: Welcome to “TesseTalks” with your host Tesse Akpeki and co-host Paula Okonneh, where we share with you, top leadership and management strategies. This is definitely a gem of discovery. We are learning that leadership is personal and professional and we hope you will walk with us in this adventure. Our guest today is Tomide Awe. Tomide Awe is the founder of Olori. She’s the creator of the started up podcast and she is the strategy and ops manager at Twitter. She was raised in Nigeria and after moving to England to study, the seed for Olori was planted when her friends from diverse backgrounds started to admire her African attire. Over the years, the desire to showcase the beauty of Africa and its culture, not just grew, but she was also inspired to merge her love for fashion and her African heritage with her mission of empowerment and this became Olori. Olori offers gorgeous, African inspired handbags that celebrate culture and heritage while empowering women. Today, we are going to be talking to Tomide about “how I landed my dream jobs.” Welcome to “TesseTalks”.
00:01:35 Tomide: Thank you.
00:01:37 Tesse: Tomide, you’re welcome and we’re glad you said yes to coming on “TesseTalks”. And I heard your story on Paula’s podcasts, chatting with the experts. And I said to her,” I know we share so many things, we need to share this treasure.” so I’m glad that you came. And when I read that you were at Twitter, I thought, goodness me! This is the first time I’m meeting somebody who has actually got a job with Twitter. So my first question to you is how did you land that job?
00:02:11 Tomide: I would say some of it was luck, but not without design. My first job out of college was in consulting, so I spent about three years in consulting. And it was with the vision of changing my role or changing the job that I was doing, that I went for my MBA at Wharton. So I moved from Nigeria working with Accenture to the US at Wharton and I majored in strategic management and entrepreneurial management at the Wharton business school. From there, I got exposed to different options for my career and honestly, like I graduated from school without an offer in hand, particularly because I was an international student, I didn’t have a green card and it was just a bit more difficult for me to get a job because I had to convince employers to take the risk of filing for my legal papers. And I was out of a job for nine months and during that time, I actually looked at what my different options were. I was actually recruiting for a job at ExxonMobil in Nigeria. I actually had a verbal offer but it was just taking a bit of time for it to come through. And then I also applied for a permanent residency in Canada as a plan B, but I really wanted to stay in the US but it wasn’t working out and I remember that I had maybe like one month left or something and Twitter reached out to me. So I’m not sure, well, I think they might have maybe gotten the resume book from my school or something. I just know a recruiter reached out to me and said she had my resume in front of her and she thinks I’ll be great for this job. And I went through the interview process, you know, when something is right for you, maybe I would say, kind of comes maybe easier because it was exactly the role that I wanted to do. Like I wanted to do internal consulting and that’s really what the strategy and ops role is, a good mix of strategy and operations just as the title of the role is. Lovely. They reached out to me and said he had my resume in front of him and they thought I’d be great for it. I interviewed, the interviews were easy for me because they were just what I wanted and I had prepped throughout my career for a role like that. I have been in the role now for just over three years.
00:04:33 Tesse: Wow. You know, I’m passionate about consulting both internally and externally. So when the role of strategy and operations is combined and it’s a great fit and working well, what are of the benefits of having that fusion?
00:04:47 Tomide: What do you in consulting when you’re working for a consulting firm? You go in and they tell you, this is the problem, you help them solve the problem and your deliverable is usually like a PowerPoint presentation that they can use going forward. But you get out of the situation, you’re no longer there, you don’t even know whether they implement it or implement it properly. You’re just there for a particular period of time and you go. But when it comes to a strategy and ops role, you’re there from beginning to end. You find the problems, you solve the problems for the business. You’re able to actually understand the impact. You’re able to understand the why of why you’re there. And really, I like to say there’s no strategy without operations, you know, the projects that I want to run and I want to understand the answer to this question, but for me to do that, I need to get data. So I need to implement tools and processes to be able to gather this data so that I can analyze and then answer this strategic question. So the benefit of the role, it’s all encompassing, and it really allows me to leverage all of my consulting experience, investment banking experience, finance, academic experience, it brings all of that into this one role for me to leverage to the benefit of the org.
00:06:05 Tesse: I’m just overawed by this in a good way, because this kind of internal focus, I believe it embeds and integrates sustainability and I think that that’s often lost when people feel that things are being done to them by something that’s outside of them. So I really liked this. Paula?
00:06:26 Paula: I’m listening and I am thinking, I love the fact that you’ve explained to us, you know, how you integrate strategy and ops. And I wanted to say, well, what else have you learned from being in Twitter? I mean, we see you, we hear, we’ve heard your story, we know how you were about to leave for another job in Nigeria, at Exxonmobil, but you got this call. So what have you learned from that?
00:06:53 Tomide: So I would say, at the time I started working here, it was just maybe a few weeks after that, I got to call from the oil company saying, okay, now we’re ready for you to come, right. And I realized that this was what I wanted. And I would say that I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned is the power of people and the impact that it can have on your journey and your career. I really love the people that I work with. It’s a great place to work and they genuinely took a risk. I wasn’t even a part of the company yet when they decided to literally file for my visa and they took a risk on me but looking at the other company that had taken almost two years, to even just give me a letter, for me that was a clear indication of what company would have my bath versus not, maybe. So I just learned that it’s very important that you work with the right people or people that care about you or your company that cares about you .But over the course, and that’s something that I’ve seen over the course of my career in the US so far. But the other thing that I’ve learned since, you know, I’ve been working here in the US is, you have to be impactful. It’s really important to understand why you’re here and that’s something I ask myself every single time. Even when I sit my goals for work every year, I’m like, okay, why am I here at this year? And if I can’t answer that question, then I shouldn’t be here. I put on the hat of an employer and you know, there’s a time I’ve gone to my employer at some point and been like, if this is the work that you want me to do, you shouldn’t be paying me for this. You should get a contractor, right? Because I think I can do more. So I’m not as free to have this conversations because that’s how I know that I continue to be a value here and be of value to you right? So those are the things that I’ve learned in my journey so far, it’s the power of the people that you work with and having a great environment, but also ensuring that you remain of value to the people around.
00:09:01 Tesse: Wisdom I said, insight .You know, I’m going to be a bit greedy here cause we’ve talked about strategy and we’ve talked about ops and I’m really interested in agile. You know, the whole thing about agile working, agile thinking, agile communication. I’m fitting that in. What are your thoughts? It’s not a trick question, It’s just, I’m really curious. Today, I was reading about sprints and I was reading about scrums and I was reading about all these kinds of things and I was thinking, okay, even though I’m not a techie person, I really am interested in the way of work, like stand up meetings, 15 minutes and all that kind of stuff. So, I welcome your thoughts on that bit about agile, the post pandemic environments, what is the emerging disruption?
00:09:46 Tomide: I wouldn’t say, the way I work today, I don’t think I fit into certain frameworks, so at least I don’t consciously fit into certain frameworks but, you know, I would say, like for instance, the sprints, I see more on the engineering side, you know, engineers work in Springs most of the time, but we just are flexible in the waves we work. It’s ensuring that you can, you know, they’re always a number of teams to work with, right? In any tech company, it’s always like a very matrix organization, right? And it’s being flexible enough to work with so many people, but also flexible enough to work remotely and accommodate whatever changes people are going through. But of course, also leveraging all the channels, right? There’s email, there’s slack, there’s even sometimes text messages, depending on who it is, leveraging all these channels. But I’ve found that what is really important is just setting the goal and ensuring that everybody’s aligned on the goal. The way you get there, honestly, it’s very flexible. It’s dependent on the people you work with. But if you are aligned on the goal and the timelines and you’re over communicating, it tends to work out fine.
00:11:00 Tesse: Yeah. I mean, one of my favorite motivational people is a guy called Simon Sinek. Have you heard of him? He’s this guy, he did a Twitter talk and he’s done a lot of stuff but he’s thinking about find out your why. Understand your why, what is your why, clarify your why, stay with your why, you know, I’m kind of like why. And then you work out the whats and the how and the when and the where, but it starts with the why, why are we here? So I love the thing that you’re going to your boss and they’re saying, you know, what’s my added value. That actually shows a lot of self-awareness. You know, I gravitate towards that. And so people listening in and people will come from all kinds of works of life and interests listening into this podcast. What words ofencouragement would you have for them? Some who are just starting out. Some like Paul and I who are fairly seasoned and reasons, other people that are coming out of the pandemic and really have forgotten their why. What kind of encouragement would you give to your listening, admiring audience?
00:12:03 Tomide: So, I mean, I was talking to someone the other day that just started a role and it was similar to mine and was asking the same question and what I said to her was, what are you strong at today? You know, what is your strength? And leverage that to get quick wins in your new role. I think, when I first started this role, I did a lot of process and process improvement, change management at Accenture, so those are things I could do in my sleep, kind of. Right. And so when I started in this new role, I sought out projects like that because I wanted to let them see my value quickly and then I could pick up more challenging things and learn. So I would say for people that are just starting out, think about the quick win, because you want them to quickly see your value and be very hardworking because you’re still proving yourself. When you’re seasoned, you have a bit of a leeway because people know what you can bring to the table but when you’re just new, go all out to prove your value. But for the people that are seasoned, I would say, don’t forget, you have to continue to be valuable to the company and always evaluate what it is that you are bringing to the table. And if you find that you’re not bringing anything to the table anymore, that’s perfectly okay, it just means that this is not the right environment and to start exploring where you might be more valuable.
00:13:24 Tesse: Brilliant! paula?
00:13:26 Paula: That is brilliant! brilliant! I love the fact that for the younger generation of the ones who are new, you have told them go for the quick wins and you bring value. And for those who are seasoned, remember that you have value but when you start seeing that what you bring to the table is probably no longer relevant, you have a legacy that you can reflect on or you can leave, but then you have other value elsewhere. I love that! I love that. That’s really very wise from a young person like you, I loved that. I was going to say we are drawing to an end and if there were any further reflections, but what else can you say? You have given us so much!
00:14:05 Tomide: No further reflections, that’s all I can think of now.
00:14:09 Tesse: Yeah. But, you know, if you were to say, sometimes people have muscles that they share, what would your motto be in light of what you’ve been through and what’s happening now? What would it be?
00:14:21 Tomide: My motto is always believing yourself. Always, regardless of the circumstance. You know, there are some times in consulting, whether it’s internal consulting or external, you’re always posed with questions or challenges, and you don’t always know the answer. There’s sometimes I get questions of, you know, they tell me, solve this problem and I have a moment or two or freak out. I’m like, I don’t have all the information that I need, I do not know how I am going to answer it. But I always tell myself, you can. Right. And while I might know, for instance, I might not have the data, maybe I create the data, you know, I create a survey and collect the data and get to where I want to go. Right. I always tell myself that I believe in myself, I believe that I can get to an answer and you might not take the traditional path, but I can get to an answer or a creative way of at least solving this problem. So, I would say believe in yourself, you know, whatever comes your way, you can do it.
00:15:22 Tesse: And like that, whatever comes your way, you can and you’ve just simply got to believe it. Thank you Tomide, that’s brilliant. I’ll be taking that for myself.
00:15:37 Paula: Even though it’s, even though that’s something we’ve heard before, it still has the same content, the same impact. Believing in yourself, because as you rightfully say, sometimes you’re thrown with problems or that you have to come up with a solution and you have nothing to pull out until you remember, “yes! I can do this. And how can I do it?” Then you start thinking through, and as you said, go, you do a survey, talk to people and lo and behold something comes up. And as you rightfully said, that’s how innovation starts, what problem can I solve. You are such a gem.
00:16:18 Tesse: Yeah. Yeah.
00:16:19 Tomide: Thank you.
00:16:20 Tesse: You know Paula, one of the things that has struck me as I’ve listened to Tomide is something that is much deeper. I train consultants. You know, what you’ve done, which has made me reflect even more is to actually build in a reflective practice. Not just that they’re kind of an annual thing or biannual thing, but actually as part of a habit, as part of a practice, to say things like, what value am I bringing? What value I’m adding? To go and listen for feedback, because one of the things I’ve learned, it’s taken a long while and I’m still in it, is to make feedback my friend, to look for feed forward. I eat, this is what is in the future, how do I project out and develop myself now? To do that projection out, to feed forward, to do retrospectives and see what am I learning? And these are the things that have come to me as I’ve listened to you. And I really value your wisdom and your insight. And if you’re looking for someone to mentor, I’d love you to mentor me because I need to remind myself. Yes, seriously. Remind myself of this, is coming, it seems to be emerging quite naturally from you. And I’m thinking that, wow, what a well, what a diamond, you know, you are and what a well of insight you have. Just keep journeying on girl. Just keep on.
00:17:41 Tomide: Thank you so much.
00:17:43 Paula: I echo that. And all good things have to come an end, unfortunately this one has to. We know where to find you, you’ve told us where to find you. But can you share with our listening audience where they can find you online.
00:17:58 Tomide: Sure. You can find me on Instagram or Twitter @tomideawe. TOMIDE AWE. And you’ll see the links to everything else that concerns me there.
00:18:11 Paula: Thank you so much Tomide.
00:18:14 Tesse: Thank you.
00:18:16 Paula: As I mentioned, I’m not sure if I did here her last name is AWE, we are in awe of you.
00:18:23 Tomide: Thank you so much
00:18:26 Paula: Now to wrap up to our listeners, please, if you loved what you heard, head over to apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify or anywhere else where you listen to podcasts and please click subscribe. If you like what you have just heard from the amazing Tomide, please leave us a raving review and if you have questions or topics that you’d like us to cover relating to leadership or governance, send us a note. Remember this note can be personal as well as professional. And last but not least, if you want to be a guest on the show, please head over to tesseakpeki.com/tessetalks to apply. Thank you,Tomide.
00:19:10 Tesse: Thank you. You’re fabulous.
00:19:13 Tomide: Thank you.
00:19:14 Paula: Yes she is.