ONWARDS AND UPWARDS WITH OLAMIDE DUYILE

All you have to do is take a quick look at Olamide’s LinkedIn profile to see she’s a young woman going places. As well as being awarded Rare’s Rising Star award last year and EY UK’s Corporate Finance Woman of the Year in 2018, she also runs her own social enterprise project called #MadeinHackney; all whilst studying at university. We interviewed her to find out more about the person behind the achievements.

Olamide started #MadeinHackney (MIH) in the Summer of 2018. ‘It started off as an idea one month and then within the next month I already had my first school signed to the project.’ She explained; ‘I founded the program with the aim of levelling the playing field between private and state school students by providing state school students with the information they might not easily be able to access.’ Part of the motivation to start the program was personal; Olamide herself transferred from an inner-city state school to a private school by achieving a scholarship. The experience was admittedly a difficult one; ‘I thought being on a full scholarship was a good thing and something to be proud of but when I began it started to actually become something that was embarrassing. All the people there were extremely wealthy and the scholarship seemed to single me out as someone who couldn’t afford to be there with their own money.’’

As well as being a culture shock the experience opened her eyes to how unequal the educational playing field is. ‘The level and quality of teaching at the private school was astounding. Teachers pushed you to apply to the top universities using different strategies to ensure students got in; they saw no reason why you shouldn’t apply – regardless of grades. Meanwhile, my state school friends back in Hackney were definitely just as smart but ended up going to lower-ranking universities and I know that was simply due to the school they went to.

She credits her close friends and family for the support she’s received. In particular, she’s found positive feedback from teachers in the schools she works with really encouraging.‘The response from teachers has been quite interesting and they have all been grateful that the advice I am giving the students through the MIH doesn’t have to come from them. This doesn’t mean they don’t give such advice to the students themselves but they appreciate the difference #MIH has made because barriers such as age and other social factors are removed. Instead, it can come from someone like me who is closer to the age of the students, who looks more like them and has a similar background to them.’

Despite her achievements Olamide insists such formal recognition isn’t important to her, ’Recognition is interesting because it comes in different ways. I don’t think it’s always necessary to get awards – in terms of being recognised by an external party or organisation. Although it is great, the most important thing is knowing you are adding value and that that is being realised, impacting people and being seen. For me personally, knowing the work I am doing is having an impact is enough. Knowing that teachers see a change in their students, or that people are being inspired by my blog and recognising a change in their thinking.

So what does the future hold for this rising star? ’A lot of things I will be doing in the future I don’t even know what they are right now, to be honest! One of my goals for the immediate goals is to teach, particularly working-class students. I want to show them that they can move up in social class and achieve financial freedom. I want them to know that just because they came from a working-class background they don’t have to remain that way. I’m currently working on an e-book to be released in August which will reveal how I was able to make and save £30,000 during my time at university. In the immediate future, I will probably join an investment bank once I graduate and do that for a few years. Eventually, by the time I’m around 30 though I suspect I would have left the corporate world to live my overarching goal and focus solely on the things I enjoy and make me happy.’

Olamide’s three pieces of advice for fellow young people to take away:

  1. You’re never too young to make a difference; ‘One of the things I felt held me back for a while is the misperception that I felt like I had to be in a certain place in order to do what I wanted to do or give back the way I wanted to give back. But one thing I have learnt- which I applied for anything you want to do in life – is if you know something better than the average person then you have value to give.’
  2. Be open to all types of opportunities; ‘‘I would also say take up as many opportunities as possible and be open with what you want to do in future. So even though my main area of interest is corporate finance I still did various other schemes, i.e Teach First, EY and initiatives within the legal sector.
  3. Make time for what you enjoy; ‘Prioritise knowing yourself and what you like and enjoy – don’t let studies or work get in the way of these things. So if you love trampolining, make sure you make the time to go trampolining! The key to this is finding a balance between getting things you need to get done completed and making time for the things you enjoy doing. Overall, you’ll be a happier version of yourself if you are able to master both things.’

You can find out more from Olamide and follow her journey through:
Her Youtube channel and her blog where she posts information & advice about education, careers and job/internship applications. Or give her a follow on Instagram @Iams_duyile.

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