Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Women Are Nigeria's Natural Resources - Taizir Ajala

interview

As the Chief Executive Officer of Gordon Barrett, Mrs Taizir Ajala prides herself as an integrity-driven leader with diverse business knowledge and unyielding commitment to excellence, managing and motivating teams for exceptional performance and productivity. She maintains a high standard of professionalism and has been recognized for prudent management of Human Resources in the last 8 Years.

Taizir's working experience cuts across multifaceted sectors such as Hospitality, Oil & Gas, Healthcare, Construction, Transportation, Human Resources. She has participated in significant number of training programmes as a Learner and indeed a Facilitator and has close working relationship with the youths. Her principal purpose is to facilitate change in overall businesses and promote coaching, mentoring and counseling for organizations and entrepreneurial centers in universities across the country.

She is member of the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel Development - UK) and ASTD (American Society for Training and Development - USA), an Alumnus of Pan African University, Lagos and also sits on the Selection Panel of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 women Enterprise & Leadership Program as well as a Director at Katharsis Limited. In this interview, she shares her belief that women can make the necessary impact on national development. Excerpts

What exactly do you do?

Gordon Barrett is a Human Capital Management Company, which maximizes growth by providing innovative human capital strategies with a mission to facilitate change in overall businesses, institutions and governments. Our services include: Training, Recruitment, HR Diagnosis, HR Consultancy and Advisory.

What did it take to get you to this level?

I would summarize some of the attributes of my success as these - Faith in God, Determination, Forthrightness, Integrity, Values, Support network, Education and Constant Learning.

Do you think women are progressive in Africa and Nigeria the way they should?

Yes, I believe women are progressive in Nigeria and Africa. Are we utilizing a sizeable percentage of our potential? Maybe not! However, we are getting there, we are on the right path, more women are assuming leadership positions globally and this is a sign of progression in the right direction.

If we take a look at the rural areas, women are making colossal contributions in fishing, farming, animal husbandry etc. A lot of challenges women have in Nigeria and Africa are very similar to issues even in the developed world. So it is no longer an excuse. If we really have a true desire to excel, it could be all ours!

It appears the challenges are dragging many young girls into commercial sex job...

Prostitution is morally inexcusable, physically damaging and mentally disparaging.

Many young women don't seem to value going to school anymore since jobs are not available, how do you see this?

Education is not necessarily for a career path. It is absolutely necessary for the woman as the heart of the family to be able to impact knowledge to the children who are the larger essence of the family. It is imperative that any discussion about Nigeria's future must necessarily entail consideration of girls and women, the role they play and the barriers they face in making the future.

Women have through out time been leaders in homes, families and communities but our notions of leadership are still based on the heroic business-political-military model, hence we do not recognize leaders all around us or inside us. Women are the largest propagators of education in Nigeria, either by teaching or proprietorship from crèches all the way to tertiary institutions.

These are the people who shape and grow the minds of leaders in Nigeria. This is the singular most significant contribution to any country's national growth. No doubt, women are Nigeria's hidden resource. Investing in women and girls will increase productivity in this generation and will promote sustainable growth, peace and better health for the next generation.

The government has recently initiated commendable schemes to support female entrepreneurs such as the YOUWIN Women's Programme, Goldman Sach's 10,000 women scholarship in partnership with the EDC (Pan African University).

Does your company do anything to help them stay focused?

Personally, I have given a lot of pro bono session at various institutions. By virtue of our relationship with the Cultural Office of the United States Embassy and Lagos State Government, we have collaborated in diverse strategic concerns to enhance tertiary educational sector (Case study - YABATECH and the NYSC's core purpose).

We took advantage of International speakers such as Saul Garlick to inspire Nigerian youths to a workshop on fostering creativity and innovation. The programs were a leading source of empowerment opportunities for Nigerian youths by imbibing the spirit of self-reliance, employment skills, thus contributing to the accelerated growth of the national economy.

Our seasoned consultants have gone further to follow up with the participants after the programs. We have resolved to support by empowering the youths with pertinent resources to jump-start their journey into entrepreneurship and indeed mapping out desired career paths with free Business Advice and Support.

Can there be a lasting solution to unemployment in Nigeria?

Yes and it is three fold in my opinion: the pubic sector (government policies and regulations) must allow all the various aspects of growth to align optimally. The private sector should streamline and expand all processes to ensure the value chain from all the various disciplines in our schools are tapped or unraveled.

It is pertinent that we coach and mentor our kids early enough to instill integrity and values as these would positively be impactful to themselves, the community, organizations and the society at large.

You earlier talked about women being the hidden resource of the nation, how do you think they can contribute to sustainable development?

The solutions to our challenges all lie within our reach. We need to go back and embrace our deeply rich Nigerian culture. Nigeria has a rich history of women breaking out of the mold to participate in politics. Our pre-colonial history is replete with the exploits of Queen Amina of Zaria, who led armies to drive out invaders from Zaria, and Moremi of Ile-Ife, whose sacrifice for her people speaks of selfless leadership that we are so bereft of these days.

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