Women in Leadership Q and A: Chidinma Nwaigwe’s Shares the Enriching Wisdom that Keeps her Going as a Leader

I am simply an optimistic person, a go-getter and resourceful person. – Dr. Chidinma Nwaigwe.

Dr. Chidinma Nwaigwe has her first degree in Medicine and Surgery from University of Lagos Nigeria.  A Post-graduate Diploma in Hospital Management, and Masters in Public Health.
A Sole Director at Everlife Preventive Services a preventive health company that promotes prevention. Working with Schools, Companies and Community. Their focus is on Health Awareness Sensitization, School Health Screening and Correctness and Promotion of Healthy Living from the Cradle.
She is also Co-Director of Peadville Consult Limited; an education-focused company that offers basic educational foundation to Children at a low price., and a Director at Fraval Medical Services; a comprehensive health facility that cares for families with specialists consultants in Ear/ Nose/ throat and dentistry. She is a wife, mother, teacher and an entrepreneur.

How She Overcomes the Hurdles of Leadership With a Smile

My journey as a leader has been bitter-sweet with a smile experience, where every smile crowns my reward.
Of course, there are hurdles, however overcoming those hurdles have been the greatest source of inspiration.
Quotes that drive me are these two. One by Robert Kiyosaki; ” face your fears and doubts and new walls will open to you” and “inside every problem, lies an opportunity “.
I believe God specially created me and equipped me with resilience, perseverance, determination, consistence and PASSION to pursue my goals with utmost satisfaction, after every challenging experience.
These experiences whether positive or vice versa guides and reforms my person positively. As I say ” if the desirable is not available, the available is upgraded to the desirable to achieve results.” Its just the mindset.

Dr. Chidinma Nwaigwe on How She grows as a Leader: “I Never Give up, I just Restrategize”

I grow by believing first the need ‘to know’. With knowledge I can evolve to an enriched personality portraying my values at every contact I make with a person of any age group especially with our younger generation.
I never give up, I just restrategise. I think up an idea, feed it, nurture it, and expose it. I evaluate as it goes from stage to stage to suit the particular need. I create a balance in my daily living by engaging in hobbies like dancing, cooking, resting and listening to music while focusing on my desires. I believe integrity is a core value I must replicate.

She Identifies and Builds Team Members

In building a team, I look at the overall mission and vision of the set objectives. I study the team members and identify the strength and weakness of individuals. With an individualized approach to each team member; it propels the strength and turns a weakness into potential. Also, I believe in the concept ‘PUSH’; which stands for ‘persist until something happens’.
A recent experience with a team member; a member of my staff, is that she is always beaten and assaulted by her husband -physical and emotionally. She was a housewife with three children and applied for a job at my school and was accepted. We placed her with the toddlers, and she did exceedingly well.
I noticed her fears and scar-filled face which she denied, and attributed it to a classlessness on her part. I had to devise a plan to help her by challenging, motivating and reforming her thoughts about being a woman. Her God given grace and so on.
She picked up herself, believed she was worthy, stood firm by this time her husband left her with the children and ran off with another woman. With no help from family or friends, I geared her up. After three years now, a past housewife has been transformed to a woman with skills, focus, and grace. She is living happily, taking care of her children and others by herself. She is chasing more dreams in higher studies, and now handles the graduating class of the school.

She Believes every Leader Must be a Good Listener

Be a good listener because for every action there are several meanings. So to be on top of your game; read between the lines with an open mind. A good foundation can be shaken but never destroyed.

What She has Learned From Her Daughter

The best leadership quote I learnt from my daughter Chimchetam Dozie is “A leader does not aspire to make a living, but aspires to make a difference” And I believe in making that difference.

Registration for African Women in Leadership Conference for Women in Leadership is ongoing now at awlo.org/anniversary.

In a Leader’s Shoes: Are Women not Leaders?

‘There is a kind of strength that is almost frightening in [all] women. It’s as if a steel rod runs right through the head down to the feet.’ -Maya Angelou

It is not a new thing that often times women are undermined when it comes to the sphere of leadership. But women have always been in leadership positions- whether as nurturers, decision makers and multi-taskers. It is only sad that society equates and constraints women with limiting words that do not go beyond the title of ‘wife’ and ‘mother’ and therefore do not capture the overall greatness of women. But, one thing that is certain is that women have always been in the shoes of leadership.

Going back in time to the Judeo-Christian creation story of man and woman. The woman was seen as taking charge and making decisions and even taking responsibility for the husband.

Even up to the life changing efforts of Mary Slessor in Africa, to the scientific input of women like Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughn, the noteworthy works of women can be felt in the world.

Even up till today books are being written, media outlets are weighing in by hosting forums and producing special reports, and affinity groups in the workplace are engaging and leaning in about the leadership deposit in the woman. What is this about?


Condoleezza Rice

It has become quite obvious that leadership is not gender specific and qualities of leaders are not genetically inherited.

Vince Lombardi said; ” Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”



Female influence cannot be denied throughout history. Women have been voices. From Sojourner Truth, to Queen Elizabeth I, Cleopatra VII, Rosa Parks, Mary Slessor, Wangari Maathai, Mary Seacole, Indira Gandhi, Oprah Winfrey, Condoleezza Rice and Hilary Clinton.

These women have lit up the world from their little corners. Who can deny the ripple effect of the simple act by Rosa Parks when she refused to give up her seat and how it begun a revolution. There are countless of instance that point to the outstanding leadership of women.

Perhaps the relatively small number of women executives in our organizations breeds the perception of women in leadership as twenty-first century concept of bossiness and misogyny whereas records show the indelible impact made by women. In reality leadership is not by virtue of position but impact.


Michelle Obama so aptly fit the role of First lady while playing Wife and Mum

Women possess the innate capacity to function on many fronts. At the boardroom, as wife, and mother, and they also advocate well for peace. Some women define having all this as the balance of a successful career and a successful family life. Women can obviously multi-task.

This multi-tasking ability has made them to effectively and efficiently lead in their careers and at the same time take charge of their personal and family life.

Women like Michelle Obama, and Hilary Clinton have proven that women can succeed at juggling career and nurturing family.

That balance is a personal choice because the dynamics of the workplace will have an impact on one’s personal life. How women manage it well to become successful at both makes them effective at multi-tasking.


Research has shown that leadership is about competencies, not necessarily about wearing a traditional Leadership hat at the office alone, but at all relevant situations.

Competencies such as demonstrating communication and social skills, utilizing creativity and innovation, problem solving, demonstrating judgment and team leadership, resourcefulness among others.

Even women within the home, as leadership is not just leading in the boardroom but the embodiment of who you are, and a reflection of self-leadership.

So, if this is the case, why do we not have more women leaders? The answer is not only in possessing these competencies but in bringing them to bear in the workplace and in relevant situations.


The take-away for women in leadership is to walk in their truth. If you are great at strategy or leading teams, networking or analysis, own it.

Represent your skills and competencies. The diversity of experiences, perspective and values that women bring to executive decision-making, yields competitive advantage and creative team dynamics. So, for women, leading can be easy if you do what you have honed.

Thanks to the awareness that makes girls to be given equal opportunities as the male child, so they can shine on time.

Here, is to the strength, perseverance, grit, tenacity, and wit- that the woman continues to bring to the table.


The Plight of Female Leaders and Political Aspirants in the Struggle for a Gender Equitable Africa: Which Way Africa?

Just when we were having a sigh of relief- that benevolent men were beginning to appreciate the indispensable role and participation of women in politics, leadership and issues of national discourse, we are shocked with the show of shame at a mere Ward Congress and the Primaries of the ruling political party in Africa’s most populous nation a few days ago. With the exception of a few locations, the exercise was marred by thuggery and ruffian-ism. It witnessed uncouthness, yelling, throat-grabbing, vituperations, snatching and hijacking of papers, throwing down of chairs, and rowdiness that contradicts any concept of human decency.

Amidst the whole fracas, only one woman could be spotted at the scene of the exercise. Women, even if they were participants, were alienated from the event.  This is a very worrisome development.  The continuation of unrestrained thuggery by male politicians is a threat to all inclusiveness and equitable balanced participation that should feature inclusion of women.

Women are fair creatures. They are more gentle, delicate and inhibited. They, by design cannot participate in misdemeanour and shameless behaviour that characterize the politics and electoral processes of today. Are the men trying to say that politics which opens the door to national leadership and governance is the exclusive reserve of people with brawn and brawl?

Do we not agree that the role of women in political leadership has become imperative as well as salutary and redemptive? How can female politicians fare in the ugly show of unrestrained ruffian-ism, thuggery, throwing of punches and throwing down of chairs?  These questions should agitate our minds. Male politicians should balance their wild unregulated emotions with reason, cool-headedness and exemplary decency- at the polling booths and all political rostrums.

If the narratives of leadership in Africa is to change, if gender equality and equity is to be achieved on time, then the female inclusion in politics and leadership should not only be in words but in deeds. And the environment for that change and growth that Africa desperately needs is one where peace thrives freely.

This post appeared first on elishaattai.com

Women in Leadership Q & A: Annie Essienette is Inevitably a Leader who identifies and Raises More Leaders

In our Women in Leadership Q & A Series, AWLO talks to a Woman of Worth Annie Essienette. Annie Essienette is a private sector leader who displays exceptional leadership not only as a professional.

She has found herself playing key parts in other arenas, and brings to bear her leadership prowess. She is a member of African Women in Leadership Organisation Lagos Chapter.

Her passion is to see a new Nigeria materialize where well informed outstanding youths will take the fore.


Annie Essienette is an outcome focused, career driven, innovative and strategic senior marketing and communication professional with over 15 years combined experience in Marketing Management.

Her marketing experience cuts across Market research and analysis, customer marketing, high-level customer engagement, data driven marketing, corporate communication, brand management, event management, and corporate social responsibility.

Mrs. Essienette holds a Masters Degree in International Law and Diplomacy from the University of Lagos and a B.sc in Information sciences from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. She is a member of the Nigerian institute of Marketing chartered, and Nigerian Institute of Management.

She is also well-versed in internal communication across Media, Telecommunications, Information Technology, Security and Infrastructure industries. She loves playing chess, reading, volunteering, spending quality time with family and motivating young women in the areas of career and marriage. She is married and a proud mother of 3 lovely boys.

About some of the hurdles in leadership she has encountered over the years, and how constant engagement is key in people and expectation management

[Tweet “with leadership comes accountability to the people who first entrusted you… – @hailanny”]

I have always found myself in leadership be it at school, work or vocational service. It comes with a consistent display of commitment and a high sense of responsibility as well as going over and above the call of duty.

However it has not been without its challenges. With leadership comes responsibilities and accountability to the people that first entrusted you with such responsibilities, as well as the team in whom you have been entrusted.

Some of the hurdles I have encountered over the years includes people and expectation management. There is the constant pull between doing the right thing and pleasing constituted authority, in which case one has to find a landing that is both workable and acceptable while still getting the job done.

Another challenge is followership. To lead you need followers hence you also needs to ensure that all the stakeholders in your delivery value chain are carried along in the process as there can be no leadership without followers.

In my journey, what I have seen to work effectively is the act of constant engagement. For communication to be effective in leadership, it needs to be consistent and sustained across the various stakeholders to ensure everyone buys into the sense of responsibility especially in key decision making processes, that way the responsibility of winning or not is borne by all.

The sad truth however is that the bulk still stops at your table as a team leader or key action owner. As a leader, one should always be ready to take responsibility, feedback and learn from failures, while sharing the glory of winning with the team.  So I will say engage and keep engaging end to end to be effective as a leader.

As a leader she is willing to identify and raise other potential leaders. However she looks for markers.

Every good leader must replicate his or herself.  Like I said at the beginning, my leadership responsibility has cut across, work, school and vocation.

Take vocation for instance, as you lead, you are bound to identify some champions amongst your team members; champions are identified not just by skills, but by commitment, availability and teachability.

Once you identify individuals that are willing to learn regardless of their qualification, the natural tendency is to groom them to be able to carry the touch even if it is not in the immediate and you do that best by delegating certain key responsibilities to them and as they excel in one, you entrust them with another.

Case in point, as soon as you are inducted into my local chapter Rotary club, every new member is assigned a mentor. In the course of mentoring one of such, I have come to realize that often times, the mentee within the shortest possible time is fast becoming a mentor due to the level of commitment and assimilation. Once such talents are identified, nothing stops them from being elected into a leadership role regardless of the time they have spent in the organization.

Annie Essienette served as President of Rotary Club of Amuwo, and various coordinated activities in services to humanity

Every Leader Must Evolve and Grow, and how does Annie Essienette do this?

[Tweet “I have evolved my skills and knowledge firstly, through reading – @hailanny”]

Leaders they say are readers. I have evolved my skills and knowledge firstly, through  reading, and secondly by identifying good mentors.

On reading, I ensure I read up books both in my professional field and in leadership. I have also come to find out that there is nothing really new under the sun, most problems encountered in the call of duty have had existing research or guide written on them, as a leader all you need to do is look for and find such write-ups and adapt the solutions to whatever situation you may be facing at that moment.

On mentorship, for every leadership position or structure I find myself, I identify a mentor that has either been there, or understands the system more than I do.

Such mentors can be internal or external or a combination of both. What this does is that you learn at the feet of a master and are navigated from the onset so you avoid the usual leadership pitfalls.

An internal mentor is equally quite strategic as it also helps you understand the culture and character of the organization and more importantly navigates you through your path to career advancement.

Mrs. Annie at the IBM Cloud Innovation Forum 2017

She thinks there is more than one essential characteristic in Leadership. Her top three are: Integrity, consistency and reliability

You asked for one, but I think these three are key for me: Integrity, consistency and reliability. Everyone will trust someone with a high degree of transparency and integrity.

As a leader, you must also be consistent with your values, as a matter of fact it should be a strong character trait that you are not a flash in the pan, hence your delivery on excellence must be consistent as every leader is as good as their last laurel.

And lastly of course if you are consistent it just means you can be relied upon.

[Tweet “Leadership is not about a title or a designation…”]

A Few Mantras that She lives by

Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire team-mates and customers. Robin S. Sharma, a Canadian writer and motivational speaker known for his The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari book series. Sharma worked as a litigation lawyer until age 25, when he self-published MegaLiving (1994), a book on stress management and spirituality.

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. John F. Kennedy

You must be the change you want to see in the world. Mahatma Gandhi.Jun 28, 2013- This applies even to leadership as a leader must lead by example.

Attend African Women in Leadership Conference for Building Capacity in Leadership & Creating International Networks from 19th -21st July 2018 at Shehu Musa Yar’ Adua Center Abuja. Visit awlo.org/anniversary for details.

In a Leader’s Shoes: Is Nurturing a Word for Women or Leadership?

When the word ‘nurture’ comes to mind, words like cultivate, growth, development and not ‘women’ come to mind. Many times, women are termed nurturers; a term meant to relegate them to just raising a home-front. But in fact, nurturing is a key leadership skill.

According to John Maxwell nurturing is a Leadership Attribute. This important ingredient is a factor in determining how you can ‘influence’ as a leader. Since it turns out women are great at these (as you have all concluded), then we should make a case for them in Leadership.

Let’s Change the Narrative

Being Nurturers has been a known disadvantage for a longtime now; that women are occupied with raising a home-front and consequently are not able to match the effectiveness of men at the workplace.

Many times, women who have aced at the work are seen as over-ambitious or had to not show the family-side of them. Women have had to prove the point to Superiors…to be promoted.

Questions like ‘Can a woman have it all?’ have arisen. And the phrase ‘We women have to work twice as hard’ is embraced. I don’t think driving women to the wall makes a case for them in leadership.

Yes women can have it all. In fact being a natural at nurturing is an added advantage, as there are many takeaways from it, and we must make the most of this transferable skill.


Left: Ursula Burns who made history in 2009 by becoming the first black woman to head a Fortune 500 company as CEO of Xerox. She originally joined Xerox as an intern in 1980 and will now serve as chairman of the Xerox board. – Reported by Yahoo

What Does Nurturing Entail

Taking Responsibility for Something

Nurturing is a show of responsibility. Beyond the act of ‘raising’, it is filling a real need.

It takes ‘taking responsibility’, to nurture. Be it an individual, the future, a brilliant idea. Not only for personal benefits. Many people fail to take responsibility, because they are consumed by personal benefits.

Many Years ago Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat for a white person in the bus. The impact of her actions didn’t just trigger a 381-day Montgomery bus boycott, but a ripple effect forever. It raised concerns on racial segregation and many years later things are a lot better.

She didn’t stand up only for herself, but for many generations coming after her. She has changed a narrative, by taking responsibility for the change she wanted to see.

Showing Dedication by Being Sold Out

Leadership means being ‘sold out’. And as in nurturing roles, it requires being deliberate, and out-rightly invested.

As a leader you are being entrusted with teams, projects, ideas, and you must be deliberate in nurturing it to attend its fullest potential.

This is usually required during motherhood. To nurture a fetus to adulthood; to be a significant part of someone’s growth journey, nurse their talents and ambitions, and to raise them. To get the best of what is being nurtured, there has to be maximum dedication.

In leadership, nurturing is required to harness the potential, and grow the people we are leading. Also, leaders can influence people they are dedicated to.

Tara Fela-Durotoye once narrated how. “A team member lost their child early hours of the morning and I was the first he called”. As a leader, a show of dedication is that you are invested in your team members’ well-being, and in return earn their trust.

Not just with people, everything we do. They become a reflection of how much we are dedicated to making it work. They are either up to full potential or not.


Tara Fela-Durotoye; CEO House of Tara. House of Tara recently made the list of top 100 best places to work in Nigeria by Jobberman.

[Tweet “Not just that Rome wasn’t built in a day…a brick was laid ‘every day’.”]

Being Patient to get the best out of a Something

Patience is a skill needed even in nurturing our personal growth. To be masters and leaders of our journey, we have to be given to patience. It’s not just that Rome wasn’t built in a day, it is that a brick was laid ‘every day’.

Jim Kwik narrates how he had a brain injury that didn’t leave him the same. He grew up with learning difficulties, and literally had to throw away his dreams.

At some point, he found succor in stories like Einstein’s who was this genius that was dyslexic. He was also really fascinated by the super heroes; X-Men and the fact that the school of superheroes (in X-Men) was in his neighborhood.

Jim turned his life around by learning how to master his own brain to make it work for him and is now sharing his learning techniques to help people who are slow at learning to learn fast.

One of the most important lessons from his story was that he had to be patient, to nurture himself, to get the best of himself. Interestingly, he eventually had his encounter with the school of superheroes when the Chairman of 20th Century Fox later invited him to the set of X-Men.

He says “A super-hero for me is somebody who is on the path of discovering and developing their superpowers; their strengths, their unique ability, their unique talent…”

We are Masters in our own uniqueness. Leaders are people who are patient with themselves, and with others, to unravel their full potential. Like Einstein; it takes one thousand times to discover a light bulb.

[Tweet “Nurturing is about transforming nothing into something.”]


It is like planting a seed and believing that it will become a Tree. This becomes the fuel of dedication and patience, because our faith will become our reality eventually.

Linda Ikeji broke grounds for blogging in Nigeria. It hadn’t been popularized at the time. Even when a client reached out to advertise, she had no idea how much to charge.

Linda Ikeji Blog is now the go-to place for gossip in Nigeria, and has become a thriving business, even currently expanding – the fruit of her initial toiling. She says she had to work from home at a time, when she couldn’t afford an office space anymore.

Nurturing is about keeping the faith, rising above the tides, and transforming nothing into something. Faith is about going beyond ideas, and mustering up grit to transform our brainchildren into reality.

The reason for Women’s Leadership

Want to make a case for women in leadership? Then utilize their nurturing potential who are not only able capable of grooming the home front but nurturing careers, ideas, businesses, but because they have invaluable experience from the former.

They have been nurturing the future; a role we have come to stereotype them for. What the society fails to do is deploy the dedication, responsibility, patience, affection and other leadership attributes that they bear as a result of being nurturers.

#AWLOat10: ‘Women in Leadership’ is the goal and African Women in Leadership Conference is the Driver

It is true that African Women in Leadership Organisation is solidifying the niche ‘women in leadership’ for women of African Descent. Yes, we want to sporadically increase the representation of women in leadership.

[Tweet “it’s a fundamental human right for women to have equal rights and opportunities”]

Before we go into how…

We believe it’s a fundamental human right for women to have equal rights and opportunities, to harness their leadership prospects.

Do you remember the incident of Facebook COO; Sheryl Sandberg, while at Google, marching up to her superior’s to announce that there was need for (urgent) pregnancy parking lot at Google? Inclusion means providing an enabling environment, thereby maximizing the potential of women to lead.

We also believe that women need to take their ‘rightful place’ as home and nation builders. Not a one-sided narrative anymore.

Naomi King – Activist; Supporter and Sister-in-law of Martin Luther King Junior at African Women in Leadership Conference 2015

[Tweet “leading is an attitude, and we want this for more women”]

We have Identified a real Problem

The Niche – ‘Women in Leadership’ is still untapped because it is reserved for a few women who are in leadership positions. For us leading is an attitude, and we want more women to imbibe it.

AWLO is identifying opportunities for women in leadership. Removing barriers, challenging women, and channeling their leadership potential.

In a patriarchal society where women leaders are emerging; becoming self-aware and attuned to their innate capabilities. We continue to fan the flames of budding leaders.

[Tweet “super heroes and real-life ‘wonder women’ can exist.”]

How does African Women in Leadership Conference accomplish this?

By Magnifying opportunities for women in Leadership

Every year we gather to buttress the need for women’s leadership, and are validated by such victorious stories as Ayodeji Megbope’s; who has risen to her full potential. Also giving credit to a supportive husband showing how men can get involved…

She says hers’ is the biblical metaphor of ‘The rejected stone has become the chief corner stone’.

If not having her special moimoi recipe served at the white house and specially received by Michelle Obama, perhaps she might have become defined by the circumstances of an abusive childhood or her potential shortchanged due to academic difficulties; on whole a defeated self-esteem.

She has re-written her story and become a model; that women can lead outstandingly.

Every year AWLO raises a new standard by creating a platform for women to challenge each other and leverage on each other’s experiences to do exploits.

Bridging the gap of women in leadership

We want the biblical metaphor of ‘The rejected stone has become the chief corner stone’ to be the coveted narrative not reserved for only the Ayodejis.

We are afraid that women may go into obscurity because of a narrative that doesn’t support women’s empowerment.

African Women in Leadership Organisation is set out to promote the discourse of women’s leadership and create development opportunities for women through our Conferences.

The first female vice president of Liberia; Chief Dr. Jewel Howard-Taylor is a member of AWLO and exemplifies that super heroes and a real-life ‘wonder woman’ can exist.

Engaging Stakeholders in Women’s Leadership

Yes, women’s leadership is possible, and we are not just creating a discourse around this. Our efforts will be more potent when we liaise with stakeholders who play a key part in creating opportunities and proffering solutions to implement women’s leadership.

In addition to our array of passionate speakers and panelists, and engaging symposiums and leadership roundtable topics; we are more interested in engaging stakeholders for long-term impact.

We engage leaders from all sectors, professionals, opinion leaders, leaders in governance, diplomats, emerging leaders and others. AWLO is also signed unto the United Nations Global Compact and was represented at the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles Forum to include women in workplace leadership on International Women’s Day 2018.

Identifying and Penetrating Niches

African Women in Leadership Organisation envisions that women break into sectors where they hitherto lacked presence, and we want to weigh in on issues that prevent women from penetrating such sectors.

In sports, politics, technology, media, oil and gas, and many other male-dominated fields.

For the first time this year we are creating an opportunity for such discourse and strategizing to have more representation of women in such sectors.

African Women in Leadership Conference holds at the AWLO 10th Anniversary in Abuja from 19th – 21st July 2018 at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Center. You can find out more about it via awlo.org/anniversary