Monday, 5 December 2016

360 Woman: JobMag Founder, Maureen Iyasele On Managing The Homefront, Running Her Youth Centre And Making Her Marriage Work

Every once in a while, you come across people who make some decisions that make you wonder what they were thinking. But when you stop to think about it, it all makes perfect sense. After working with Exxon Mobil as a Lead Design Engineer for 5 years, Maureen resigned to set up a youth center in Lagos. When asked why she did it, she responds very simply, " I wasn't fulfilled or satisfied with what I had accomplished." 

Armed with some work experience and a very big heart, she found The JobMag Youth Centre and 4 years down the line, her company is still standing strong. Every woman should read Maureen's story. 

N: Mrs Iyasele
M: Ma
N: Hahaha. I actually anticipated that.
M: Lol.
N: How are you doing today? How is the JobMag Center?
M: Very well thank you. The JobMag Centre is doing great, we are forging ahead.
N: Good good.
M: How are you doing?
N: It's raining and I just want to lie down and sleep, Lol.
M: Come on get up!
N: I'm up already, lol. Anyway tell me about the Center…

M: We are a capacity building firm, strongly dedicated to the development of youths and the SMEs they work for.
N: Okay. Is this something you studied or...
M: Far from it actually! I studied Chemical Engineering
N: Oh wow! So... *scratches head* Please connect the dots for me.
M: Ok so I graduated, served the oil and gas industry for 6 years, enjoyed myself but wasn't fulfilled or satisfied with what I had accomplished. So I resigned from that industry in 2010.
N: Okay. Why youth development?
M: Prior to resigning I knew my disposition was to help people to reach their full potential or be the best they can possibly be. So I started to research whether I could do this for a living. I believe that anybody can be successful if they could just pay attention to themselves.
N: Okay... How long has the center been in operation?
M: We have been in operation since May 2010.
N: Imagine I'm a young, jobless person. What can JobMag do for me once I walk into your center?
M: We listen, assess and proffer a solution to you. Ranging from career counselling, training or even a job placement. Our main goal is help you build capacity be it through employment or starting your own venture.
N: How much demand has running your own business placed on your time?
M: A lot! I have never worked so hard in my life!
N: Aw... Hugs.
M: Thanks.
N: Has this hardwork translated to profit?
M: Initially it didn't, as with every start-up. We worked our model and built our in-house capabilities and now we've stabilized and we have been forging ahead ever since.
N: So how do you generate revenue from all this 'help' you are giving?
M: Various ways, through our recruitment and selection services, workshops and SME support services to name a few.
N: Good for you. Seeing how hard you work, how do you manage the home front?
M: Through effective communication with my spouse, who by the way is the best ever! Did I mention he is the best ever? Ok just checking.
N: Oh yeah? So how do we verify that now? Lol.
M: It's written all over me! Living testament.
N: lol. Ok. I give up. Seriously though, I need some practical info. Beyond communication what do you do on a day to day to day, you know, to keep from burning out? I ask for the sake of young mothers, who are the core readers of this series...
M: I keep him in the loop first and foremost; then I keep a tight schedule with regards to home activities and chores I need to be on top of. I must add that my husband does his fair share as well, for example he babysits when I need him to. So I would say, to delegate whatever they can. They should also develop a support system around them. 
N: So you have kids…
M: Yes I do, 2 little ones.
N: How do you manage that aspect?
M: The first thing I did, was to sacrifice the little salary JobMag could offer to hire a really good nanny.
N: Oh wow. So you were not paying yourself?
M: Yes initially I wasn't. I didn't spare the money, because I knew that if I can get that angle of quality childcare sorted, that’s one less headache to worry about.
N: Yeah...
M: Then I created a routine for her and lucky for me she adheres to it. I treat her with respect and I do not segregate her. She is part of our family; she has been with me for 3 years now.
N: Wow! Congrats. That's one of the longest I've heard so far. The horror stories I hear about nannies. It's something else.
M: Thanks. I know…
N: Okay, I’m listening.
M: I also carve out time for my husband and I; we've copied the whites with date night once every month.
N: Ah *Rubs hands with glee* That’s cool.
M: Lol. We don't always keep it, but we try. Lastly I indulge with what makes my husband happy and that's sports - lawn tennis, night walks around the estate
N: Aw... I like that. Let’s talk about this husband who has made you a living testament.
M: He is a very understanding and supportive young man at least 95 percent of the time.
N: Lol. 95% is fair enough.
M: More than fair! I respect my boundaries and make him feel he can take charge. We have mutual respect for each other. We practice open communication even when we are angry with one another. This helps us get through disagreements or fights very easily.
N: Hmm. Marriage counselling 101. Is this the part where I should start writing?
M: Yes o! I’ve learnt a lot in my 4 years of marriage.
N: What is open communication for those of us that went to night school?
M: Lol. We do not keep quiet when we are unhappy about something; we have to let it out... We give each other a chance to be heard. Or sometimes we just let bygones be bygones.
N: That's good. You two are a committed bunch and that's what it takes to make any relationship work - two adults meeting each other halfway.
M: We are! We did a lot of extensive talking knowing we were going into marriage and there was no going back.
N: That’s good to know. Thanks for sharing. And for someone so young, you actually have come a long way. I'm truly happy for you.
M: My pleasure.  Thanks Sis *hugs*
N: To close this, I’ll like to ask you a couple of questions. May I?
M: Okay, fire away.
N: What should a woman (In business or career) who doesn't have a supportive husband do about it?
M: That's a difficult one, but in that situation, I think it’s about finding your husband’s soft side. What I mean is agreeing to what he wants in order to get what you want. And every guy has one. For example, my husband loves women that exercise and keep fit because he keeps fit himself. So I join him (even though I can be lazy sometimes) just to make him happy and we bond that way too; so if he’s happy then I can get what I want. I will admit though that this advice can be easier said than done. Prayer to soften his heart will not go amiss.
N: You're being supportive and it's good for you too. Not a bad trade off.
M: Yeah. If he loves home cooked meals, find time to prepare home cooked meals. If he loves football, watch it with him sometimes (though that one is hard for people like me. I find watching football a bore, it’s like watching paint dry!)
N: Hahaha. What advice (From experience) would you give to a young, female entrepreneur about to set up her own company?
M: If she is dating someone and in a serious relationship, ensure he shares your passion for the business you are about to start. Get a mentor, someone who will dedicate a little bit of their time to show you the ropes (Though this can be hard, but not impossible.) Know your onions, develop a thick skin, because business is not for the fainthearted - male or female. Lastly, believe that the sky is just the stepping-stone and you are only limited by your imagination.
N: Great. Finally, as a business owner, what principles should she never compromise?
M: Integrity first, she should uphold her values and attain excellence at all times.
N: Superb! Thanks Maureen.
M: One last thing, she should never be afraid to ask for help!
N: Ah. Thanks for that.
M: Thanks Naomi. Pleasure was all mine.

©Naomi Lucas

After a 5 year sterling stint in the oil and gas industry as Lead Design (Process) Engineer leading a team of seasoned engineers and oil prospecting experts to execute numerous multi-billion dollar projects, and out of the need to contribute her quota to the alleviation of the unemployment epidemic ravaging the country, she resigned from Exxon Mobil to establish The JobMag; a 21st century compliant Youth Development Centre strongly focused on ‘BUILDING CAPACITY’ and instilling the ‘CAN-DO’ spirit in the Nigerian Youth. At The JobMag they do this by understanding and proffering solutions to the issues that inhibit the Nigerian Youth from realizing his or her personal and professional goals.
Initially trained as a Chemical Engineer, with further professional training in Entrepreneurial Management, Maureen’s sincere and light hearted delivery style leaves her listeners inspired to be their best.
Maureen is married and has two children.

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