1) Brief Introduction to yourself and what you currently do, and what your main interests are.

I am Toyin Ismail. An HR professional with 18+ years of experience across banking, mobile telecoms, and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sectors. I currently work as a consultant helping SMEs achieve their business goals by designing and implement HR Strategies focused on business growth. I enjoy connecting with people, travelling, and exploring exotic delicacies. “

2) If you went to university, what did you study and why? What’s the story behind it?

“I studied Geography as a first degree. It was not my first choice, but I wasn’t willing to take the entrance exams again, so I opted for the course offered at the time. In the early 90s, the universities in Nigeria experienced several strike actions due to late or non-payment of staff salaries. I did not want to lose years, so I figured, better to start early and minimize the chances of losing years to any industrial action. “

3) What were some of the challenges you faced with entering the role you are in today?

“The challenges I have faced are quite similar to what many people have also experienced – fitting in, failure, office politics, leadership etc. These challenges toughened me up and taught me not to take anything personally. There is a lot you learn as you climb the career ladder. It is important to take the lessons seriously and use them to create a better version of yourself. “

4) How do you ensure you bring your authentic self to work/in everything you do?

“Authenticity is one of my personal values. It is second nature to me. I try as much as possible to be genuine, to be true to me, to be my original self. It is so tempting to want to be what you think everyone expects of you, staying true to who I am has been very liberating. It promotes free interaction and allows you to form deep meaningful relationships with people of similar minds.”

5) What type of legacy do you want to leave behind?

“I want to be remembered as someone who helped as many people as she could across various sectors of life in a way that brought transformation and promoted better decision making that propelled them towards success. Everywhere I go, I find people who need help, support, or guidance. I want to be the one who stopped, listened, and gave a helping hand. “

6) What makes you proud to be black/ what are you proudest of regarding your heritage?

“I believe I was created to be black, and this alone makes me feel unique. I am a person of faith and believe nothing happens by accident. Being uniquely create the way I am, is a gift and privilege, I won’t trade for anything. I am proud of my heritage. I come from a family that can trace its ancestry to the slave trade era. We are direct descendants of slaves who were captured in Nigeria and taken to Sierra Leone where their ship was intercepted, and the slaves freed. My ancestors lived with the missionaries who rescued them for several years before returning to Nigeria. They came back, reintegrated into society, started businesses, and succeeded in their craft. This makes me immensely proud and thankful. Not all slave trade stories ended badly. “

7) Any tips for upcoming kings and queens, that don’t quite yet see the crown on their head?

There are no shortcuts in life, life comes in phases and seasons. It is a blend of the good and not so good. Always give your best and trust the process.”

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