Lara Garuba, Founder & CEO of the Global Mentoring Club- the foremost mentoring club for young lawyers across Sub-Saharan Africa talks about how mentorship will help groom young lawyers.
Tell us about you
I am a graduate of Law from the University of Benin, Edo State Nigeria, called to the Nigerian Bar in 2004. I have over 15 years of combined experience in law, banking, consulting, and the empowerment of young adults for capacity building in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Can you tell us about your background?
I was born and brought up in the city of Ibadan to the family of Late Chief and Mrs. S.L. Ayanniyi of blessed memory and grand-daughter of Chief S.A. Oloko. I went to Queens School Apata, Ibadan for my secondary education before I proceeded to study law at the University of Benin, Edo state. I am the last born child of the family.
How will you describe yourself?
I am a very creative and intuitive individual. A lover of art. I love to do things differently and love meeting people and learning about their backgrounds. I pride myself in making sure people have the right information because it drives better results and I deeply believe in mentorship…I guess I got this from my mum.
What is the Global Mentoring Club about?
The Global mentoring club is the foremost mentoring club for young lawyers across Sub-Saharan Africa.
We empower young lawyers in Africa by creating opportunities for them to learn, network, and grow through mentorship, job placement, personal and career development.
I fully appreciate that having the guidance, encouragement, and support of a trusted and experienced mentor can provide a mentee with a broad range of personal and professional benefits, which ultimately lead to improved performance in the workplace and in life generally and My Mantra is “ONLY THE LEARNED CAN MENTOR THE LEARNED”
When did you start and why?
My passion for young adults started many years ago and I started writing my thoughts down in my dairy until 2018 October 10 to be precise, it was like a calling from God to do this and help young lawyers excel and thrive in the legal profession.
Every year, Law school centers across Africa produce thousands of lawyers. In 2004, there were just 3 law school centers in Nigeria, right now there are 6 law school centers. This has made it increasingly easy for young lawyers to be lost in the crowd without anyone noticing but God noticed… and gave me the calling to pursue my passion to do this.
GMC became officially registered as NGO in 2019.
At the beginning of my legal career, immediately after law school, things were not so clear as to what the next step should be. I was in dilemma of what area of law practice I should focus on. I saw that this was not a ‘me problem’, as many young lawyers graduate from law school with no idea of what next to do.
What effect does it have on beneficiaries?
Beneficiaries get free mentorship services, they have access to learning and development programs, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.
Is mentorship free?
Yes mentorship is FREE.
How many beneficiaries have gone through the system?
So far we have over 100 registered mentees
What feedback have you gotten so far?
Lots of amazing feedbacks from mentees and mentors alike. Some mentees have gotten job placement beyond their wildest imagination.
Will you say your vision has been achieved?
We have just begun and still far away from the vision to empower 60,000 young lawyers (mentees) yearly.
Will you say you have been able to influence young lawyers?
When a mentee sends you an email and says, your platform has changed my story and my family, what more do I want? And when I see quantifiable growth and improvement in the life of my mentees, it gives me great joy.
Which aspect of what you do is most enjoyable for you?
The monthly mentoring session. Even I get mentored by our guest mentors from these sessions. You should join us one of these days.
How will you describe life as a mentor?
My life as a mentor to over 100 mentees is a life of fulfillment, and joy. I see it as an opportunity to build a lasting legacy for posterity and the path to nation-building.
What are your thoughts on women striving for financial independence?
I grew up in a home filled with beautiful women and there was never a conversation while growing up that there was a limitation because we were girls. We went to the best school in the city and we had freedom of speech and expression. You can only speak of striving if there was a restriction. However, for women who need to strive so hard, I say the world is your stage, TAKE IT.
Are there peculiar challenges faced by mentors?
I’m not so sure about this question though……..Yes, there are several but I will mention just one…Scheduling a convenient time for meetings can be very challenging.
Did you need to go for training before becoming a mentor?
Yes I went through several training sessions.
How do manage not to get overwhelmed?
I take out time to relax and unwind and I don’t play with my beauty sleep
How easy is it for women to create strings of income and market themselves?
Nothing is easy for anyone who wants to succeed. This is not gender-specific. Everyone needs clarity on what they need to do, keep their focus, and work hard towards it.
What would you say is the problem facing professional women in Nigeria? Lack of leadership involvement and financial empowerment.
Do you think it is possible for a woman to take on too much while creating strings of income?
No I do not.
What inspires you?
Seeing young lawyers thrive in the legal profession.
What are the challenges you face?
Lack of funding and sponsorship is a major challenge we are facing right now. I started this platform with my personal savings and family donations.
What is your guiding principle?
Absolute reliance on God.
Advice to other young women with similar vision?
-90% of the time they will not give you a seat at the table. Prepare ahead and take your own seat with you; if your seat then becomes the extra one, give it to another woman.
What is your background prepared you for this?
My story will not be complete without reference to my late mum- Mrs. Abiodun Modupe Ayanniyi (nee Oloko). She was a mentor per excellence. She mentored everyone that came her way and she practically pushed me to study this honourable profession and I have no regret whatsoever.
What future plans do you have for your mentorship brand?
We currently have mentees in Kenya and Cameroon. We plan to open up to other African countries. I believe only Africans can build Africa.