Omolara Awoyemi is a technology professional with years of experience in the ecommerce and fintech sectors. She currently serves as the Managing Director of SureGroup, a group of leading global platforms for non-cash value transfer. SureGroup has 3 business in its portfolio – SureGifts, SureRemit and SureCredit. SureGifts is the leading provider of retail and corporate gift cards in Nigeria and Kenya with clientele such as Airtel, Oando, Dangote, Diamond Bank and others. SureRemit is a blockchain enabled global remittance platform that allows people buy vouchers for their relatives in more than 23 countries – the company became the first Nigerian company to float an ICO raising $7m in the process. SureCredit is a corporate short-term loan solution being used by corporates in Nigeria.
She previously served as Country Manager of JumiaPay – Jumia’s payments, financial services and financial inclusion company, and the Head of Partnerships for the Jumia Group.
Lara serves on the advisory board of Nigerian Women Techsters and is an associate member of Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ) and Women-In-Tech Africa. She is an Obama Foundation African Leader (the inaugural class of 2018).
She is very passionate about building tech for women and supporting women in tech and as a result founded GIrls In Technology, an initiative where girls are funded to get trained in web design and software engineering. Fund sources include personal funds, friends, and corporate organizations who desire to support females in tech as part of their CSR. After training, they are mentored and placed in supporting organizations for hands-on experience.
Omolara has a BSc. degree in Computer Science from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, a Harvard Business School Online Certificate in Business Readiness and attended executive education for CIOs at UC Berkeley, California, USA.
Prior to SureGroup and Jumia, Omolara worked at leading African technology companies such as Iroko TV and MTech Communications.
Why did you get into STEM?
From a very young age, I’ve always loved technology and was very much fascinated by how the world was connecting through technology. I remember being the girl child in the family who would troubleshoot my Dad’s computer. My foundational passion for STEM was fueled by seeing the world evolve and how life problems were being solved using technology as a tool. As I developed more knowledge in the STEM field, I have come to develop more passion and understanding of trends that keeps me wanting to know and do more.
What do you consider your greatest achievements?
I would say I am most proud of the immense contribution my work has impacted in the e-commerce industry in Nigeria. It’s amazing to see how millions of Nigerians and Africans at large have embraced e-commerce. 10 years ago, there was almost no existence of such. I have led projects and business deals that have had direct impact on consumer satisfaction. E.g. browsing Jumia site/app data free on the largest Telecom in Nigeria. I am equally very proud of the ability to give back – creating a platform where I can empower young girls and women to be great leaders in Tech. With Girls In Technology, the results have been positively overwhelming and I sincerely look forward to getting more girls onboard. On a personal level, I consider my greatest achievement as being able to raise 2 beautiful children and combining these with managerial work of professional life.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in STEM and how did you overcome them?
A few times, I’ve been in situations where I had to try extra hard to convince the other person at the end of the table to listen and trust my leadership, skills, and knowledge on a subject matter. Some men still struggle to accept that we are in a knowledge-based revolution and women are equally included. I overcome this by painfully taking the time to let things work their natural course. One thing is certain, if you are good, you are good. No one can fault that.
What is your advice to budding women in STEM?
Stay focused and prove your worth. Devote yourself to being knowledgeable, especially on trends and new disruptions. Find your passion. You will be successful in your field as long as you have a real passion for it. Be open – open to new ideas and open to change. Plan and always be available. You want to have a career plan but sometimes an opportunity will arise that you didn’t expect and hadn’t considered. When that opportunity comes, grab it! Also, get mentors! It’s a blessing to have people you can look up to, and also shape your career after. You can learn from their own past struggles and mistakes, and equally, take great advice that will stir you in the right directions.