“The best way to predict your future is to create it”

Adekanla Adegoke New

Barriers to education, Girls' education, International Women's Day, Technology and education

Theirworld is marking International Women’s Day 2017 on March 8 by talking to inspiring women from across the globe. Read the full series here.

Adekanla Adegoke is the head of the Oando Foundation, the largest education-focused foundation in Nigeria dedicated to transforming the lives of over 400,000 children. 

Her career began with the Nigerian Conservation Foundation and she has also worked with WaterAid Nigeria, the British Council and has been a consultant for USAID, EU-Micro Pilot Projects, CIDA, GTZ and Catholic Relief Services.

Who inspired you when you were younger? And who inspires you now?

Growing up I was greatly inspired by my parents. My father instilled a sense of adventure through reading and travelling and my mother combined great entrepreneurial prowess with raising four daughters. 

In the 1980s I watched her build a reputable primary school whilst battling the “stigma” of a woman who’d borne no sons. 

Her current gratification is her four daughters leading in their careers as a doctor, lawyer, accountant and development worker and achieving what any male child could.

Right now I am inspired by Amina J. Mohammed. I have followed her career closely and I am inspired by her achievements as a Nigerian and African woman. 

She has shown that there are possibilities to excel and leave a legacy in the development.

What challenges did you have to
overcome to get where you are today?

Trying to be my father’s son, I
grew up a tomboy but was also an introvert who buried her head in books,
nature and the cattle on my father’s farm. 

Along the way I learned
that in order to make an impact in my field I would need to get my
voice heard and speak up.

I was very determined and passionate
about causes that catered to animals and vulnerable children. 

I was
also very environmentally conscious and worked on initiatives that
promoted conservation and the protection of endangered species. 

I was told by friends and family that a career in the development
sector was noble but would not pay the bills. The fad was for
everyone to join the financial services sector as it was the highest paying at
the time. 

I secured internships to learn about the sector and was often paid a stipend – but for me the reward was the smile on the
faces of beneficiaries.

What’s the best advice someone has
ever given you? And what advice do you have for young girls and

The best advice I have ever received is
summed up in this quote: “Winners are not people who never fail but
people who never quit.” 

This mindset has spurred me to challenge
myself and ensure that I never see quitting as an option and
continually task myself to be better. 

My advice for young girls is simple: “The best way to predict your
future is to create it.” Success comes to those who prepare for it.

Young women need to understand that
hard work, preparation and dedication are key to success in any chosen

What has been your biggest achievement
in life so far?

My biggest achievement is being
given the opportunity to leave my legacy and frame the next
generation through my child. 

I am also fortunate to lead Oando
Foundation, the largest education-focused foundation in Nigeria.

What skills or attributes do you think
women bring to the workplace?

Women bring confidence and innovation
to the workplace. We are naturally wired to think, act and innovate. 

We also have a strong sense of ethics
and are great at multi-tasking.

We have the innate ability to see what others don’t, do what others
won’t and push our ideas when prudence says quit.

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