We present Kikelomo Abijo, one of the few professional ladies, who created the first digital bank in Nigeria. She grew up knowing that anyone, who wants a future creates it. Abijo shares her experiences as someone, who knew where she was going to right from her cradle.
Hers was not an accidental success story but one carfefully made with the consciousness that she is the only one that could limit her potentialities. Powered by such principles, Abijo, who is the Quality Assurance Supervisor of Wema Bank is distinguishing herself in a male-dominated field, Fintech.
In the beginning
I grew up in a family of six, with three other siblings. We were three girls and one boy. My brother being the only male among females needed a sidekick and I got that role as the last child. This made me to grow up basically as a tomboy. At an early age, I was more interested in sports, playing video games and dismantling and recoupling things.
Also, my father raised us with the mindset that there was no job or role that was for a girl and one for boys. We were made to learn everything. For instance, if a light switch blew, any of the kids could be called to repair it. My father had an engineering background and whenever he was fixing something all the kids gathered together to watch him fix it.
On big issues and events
The most momentous event of my life growing up was when I lost my father at the age of 12. To a large extent that event shaped me in a whole lot of ways. There was one major thing that my father taught me and that was that whatever you want to achieve, you are the only one that can stop yourself from achieving it. He said my gender cannot stop me, society cannot stop me. He said I am the only limitation, adding that as long as I do not stop myself, I can achieve anything you put your mind to.
Coming to FINTECH
Finding myself in Fintech was not a conscious effort. When I started my career it was not with the mindset that I wanted to work in the financial sector. It was just that I needed a good paying professional job that had the potentialities for growth. My first job was in a Trustees Company which was a subsidiary of a bank, I worked there for a year before I moved to the main bank itself.
I started banking in an era when innovations into banking just fully started such as the introduction of Debit Cards and instant transfers via the internet and mobile banking apps.
Momentous experience in Fintech
The most momentous experience thus far has been with the creation of ALAT because it revolutionised the banking sector. It changed the way we saw banking and also appealed to the younger generation that banking can be seen as a youthful and innovative thing. It made them see that digital banking is something that can also be done here in Nigeria and not just a foreign concept. For us at WEMA Bank, we see ALAT as just starting its growth. There are more to come.
Mentorship as a way of
I believe so much in mentorship. It has helped build me as a person. A mentor acts as a guide. A good mentor will help in channeling a mentee’s capabilities and also help with the person’s career growth.
Greatest lessons learnt in life
The greatest lesson I have learnt has been, never to stop being curious. Curiosity is the advent of innovation. A lot of the technological advancements that have been created were products of minds that believed in not maintaining the status quo. The likes of Facebook, Whatsapp and ALAT came about because someone felt that the old way of doing things can be changed and done better. I believe so much in asking questions. I am always learning and the most constant thing in life is change. The moment we stop learning, we start dying.
Competing with men:
The generation that we have right now is technologically inclined. Therefore, both genders are being exposed to the same level of technology. But how can we attract women to Fintech? That can be done by removing the glass mirror because a lot of women do not see themselves achieving their greatest career objectives in a sector that is highly dominated by men. This is where mentorship would also come in for women that are already doing well in this field. They need to help other women get to the top as well. If we as women are not ready to help ourselves the men will keep pulling themselves up. And we will have fewer women in the field.
My job entails ensuring that service levels are maintained at all times, most especially at the Contact Centre. The Centre is the primary touch point for ALAT customers. We also use the opportunity to review and address all feedbacks received from our customers on the product, which helps us improve our services.
Most interesting job till date
All jobs are interesting in their various unique ways. But the most interesting would have to be the creation of ALAT. The general consensus was that creating a purely digital bank in an environment that is not highly predisposed to being digitalized was impossible. There were doubts on the prospects of gathering the required consumers.
One other thing was also about getting the right target market in a product originating from WEMA Bank. With these challenges, we also had to look at the after sale service, which is where my unit comes in. We considered how to service our customers and ensure that they have a wonderful experience. While servicing them we also used feedback received to help us improve on our services. Anyone that started with us on the journey of ALAT, the person can see that it keeps changing and getting better to ensure that we can provide for all imagined and unimagined needs.
On achieving balance between work and personal life
Balancing work and life can be quite demanding at times. But it is very important because if one does not balance it, things can be very hazardous to health. I believe in the saying that says all work and no play make Jack a dull boy. The ability to do a job effectively stands on the ability to decongest when required.
On next five years
ALAT is a product that has a lot of potentialities. It can provide all the traditional services that require d from a bank and also the innovative services that appeal to the tech generation and the youth demography. For us, at ALAT we see so much growth because ours is to think of the possible needs of our customer base because our needs and wants are insatiable. The growth potentialities are endless.
On inspiring others
As a female in an industry that I never thought I would find myself, I did not take the situations or challenges that came my way as opportunities to quit. I saw them as opportunities to see what I could achieve. As a lady don’t allow anybody to tell you what you can or cannot achieve. You are the one that can determine, what your threshold is and as ladies we have a very strong threshold. Whatever you find yourself doing even if it is perceived as a man’s world, please go there and rule it, learn all that you need to excel and put the required innovation to make yourself stand out. Doing so will make you stand out because your peers will see you as an innovator.
As a lady, you must be a boss lady. That is to be someone with beauty and brains. Also the ability to achieve cannot be stopped by anyone but yourself. Ladies now are making so much impact in all industries. We have the ones ruling the economic world and also the ones ruling their various countries.
The era that women were relegated to the home front only is no more applicable. Women now rule their home front with their families and also rule their careers. Every lady out there should be the best she you can ever be.