Work-life balance is a mirage – HR manager says – There has been so many rhetorics about striking a balance between work and social life, although most proponents of this phenomena may have meant to give meaning to the cliché “all work no play makes jack a dull boy” but a human resource manager may have an entirely different opinion.
Although she has a background in law, Shola Adekoya boasts of about 12 years in Human Resources, Sales, Marketing, and Marketing Communication and Strategy. She currently manages four regions, the East, West, South South and the North for Resource Intermediaries where she is also the Group Head, Business Development. She speaks with OVWE MEDEME.
Concerning human resources, there is this notion that there is a deficit in employable young Nigerians. From your experience, how true is that?
I’ll say this from the point of view of a human resources person. When we got into the industry, because Resource Intermediaries is about 12 years old, whenever we get recruitment mandates, we would sweat to get the right people. And clients were not being difficult. We were even at the shortlist space where we just needed to get the first three and then pick one. We might have to interview as much as 60 to 70 people just to get one or two candidates and I’m not talking about some highly skilled job. I’m talking basics. Sometimes, people tell you they go to school and you wonder if they are telling the truth. Seriously, they can’t even speak a straight sentence without making a blunder. There are so many things they don’t teach us in school. Apart from the grammar which is very important, what is worth doing is worth doing well. Yes, English is a borrowed language, but if you’re borrowing it how about you paying attention to it since it is the first point of communication. Then, you go to schools where they teach computer science and the students never owned a computer throughout their school. And then there is no library for such and they are being taught binary numbers. Or you go to a school where they teach civil engineering and there are no practical. Everything is theory.
What are you doing about this deficit?
Because we noticed that gap, we actually went all out to create something called the RIL Finishing School. We overshot our budget because we thought we were magicians. We asked young people to come to the RIL Finishing School, in 90 days we’ll get them a job because we had all the job requirements coming in. but we realised that a finishing school of one week or a month is not enough to teach you everything you didn’t learn in school. Also, a finishing school of that nature can only help you to a certain extent. So we can’t control them getting the job, but we can prepare them. We created a little problem at the time, so we had to rescind on that promise of getting them a job, but they can be rest assured that they will be well prepared for the labour market. But the finishing school was to serve three purposes. To prepare them for interviews and all the little life’s issues like presentation skills, marketing skills and all that. The second thing it was supposed to address was entrepreneurial skills. Everybody doesn’t have to work for somebody. And the final thing is for those currently working. We build their leadership skill, their team building, and their negotiation skills. So we had about 22 courses all embedded. But we are just a little company in the centre of Lagos trying to make that little difference. If a lot of people can actually come up with that, it could actually help.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
Shola Adekoya has been in resource intermediaries for almost 12 years now. She has a background in law, but after all that, she delved into human resources and then into sales, then marketing, and then marketing communication and strategy. So right now, she heads the business development team of Resource Intermediaries that has sales, marketing, and marketing communication and strategy. That’s what she does here, even though she was the company secretary for about five years because of her legal background. She sings, she dances, and she’s married with three children.
Do you sing professionally?
No! That’s my mum’s dream, not mine. That’s the only thing I do and I don’t think of other things. So yes, I have the passion, but I don’t know why I never really delved into it. Now I’m losing the quality of my voice. I’m not sure if I wouldn’t have sounded better 10 years ago. Right now, I’m having cold feet, but who knows, I may just go into the studio.
In all of these, how do you create time for your family?
At the finishing school, they made me take a course titled Work-Life Balance. And, the truth about it is, it can never be balanced, so let’s not deceive ourselves. You know, you just need to make sacrifices, but the key thing is knowing when to make the sacrifice. One time, you can see that your job is suffering a little, and then you need to up it and then crave for the understanding of your family for just that short period. So, it’s just knowing the right time to call the tenacity inside of you.
While they are enjoying the euphoria of your excellence in the office, take it home; get that win in the house too. And as your husband and children are enjoying it, go back out there. So you just have to keep juggling.
Before this interview started, you were telling me about ‘The Bunker’, what is this all about?
‘The Bunker’ is your personal space like we like to tag it. It’s a place where you could just bring yourself out from the hustle and bustle of your house or your office to have some time to reflect, read or make researches for information because it’s a very serene and professional environment. The bunker also serves as an opportunity for young and budding entrepreneurs to have places they could call their own office spaces where they could work because a lot of young entrepreneurs and business owners can’t afford the luxury of having an office and then servicing it with all the amenities like power, water, WiFi and all of that. So we have all these things in one package at ‘The Bunker. And then you could actually have access to it for as long or as short as you want. We also have training facilities here. Whatever your need is in terms of space or research, reading, training, it’s all here at ‘The Bunker’.
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