My Pivot Journal is a Ventures Africa weekly series documenting people’s career transitions from one industry to another, especially to tech.

Temitayo Isiaka is a people’s person. She loves to organise things and make people very comfortable. Her strong flair for calculations and analysis led her to study economics for her first degree. But while at it, Isiaka discovered what her true love was- Human Resources. Here is her pivot journal.

How it started

My name is Temitayo Isiaka. I am from Edo State (Nigeria). Looking at my state of origin, some people wonder why I bear Yoruba name (laughs). But my people also bear such names.

I was born and bred in the bustling city of Lagos. Honestly, I am a very organised and logical person. Growing up, I took a liking to organising things and bringing people together. Some thought I would be great in the arts but I defied that belief when I went on to study Economics for my first degree at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State. I later graduated in 2015. 

Professionally, I started working quite early, while I was still an undergraduate. I had pre-B.Sc administrative experience from different sectors for over 4 years. 


Working in a corporate environment in those early days helped me hone my people skills. I guess that was where my passion for Human Resources first got cultivated. Each workday, I looked forward to the joy I felt managing people, processes, and policies and enabling them to achieve a general goal. But I didn’t take on a full HR role until years after graduation. About 3 years after my first degree, I started my journey into Human Resources, fully. That was about 5 years ago. My first experience was with an IT company, Large Michaels Ltd, in 2018.

At the time I came on board the team, the company had little structure in place so I took the initiative to put things in order with the help of a senior HR consultant. I worked with this company for one year. By the time I was leaving the company a year later, I had helped with its strategic restructuring which is still implemented to date.

But in 2019, a friend told me about an opening in a fintech company called Riby.  I was so happy. But in the midst of my excitement, I soon realised that the fintech space was a different ball game entirely. Thus, I had to learn how the space functioned, the culture, the people, the language, the expectations, the market, the products and the right policies to implement. 

Temitayo Isiaka, Lead, People Operations at Riby.
Temitayo Isiaka, Lead, People Operations at Riby.


On transitioning to become an HR professional in the fintech space, I did a lot of reading and research, consulted seniors in the field, and learn, unlearn and relearn. I began to take online courses on Allison, and Coursera on tech recruitment, performance evaluation, and policy management. 

Furthermore, I joined the HR tech community on Twitter and followed certain HR professionals on LinkedIn. I did my SWOT analysis, understood my new assignment and immediately began to learn the ropes to enable me to hire the right skill sets and also help communicate with the team. 

On my first visit to the fintech company, I thought to myself, “Is this even a workplace?” I mean, how could people wear shorts to the office? Can I function in this setting where there is soft music playing in the background? (laughs) I was coming from a very corporate space, so I felt this was unfamiliar territory. Guess what? It has been the best decision so far. I believe strongly that the grace of God brought that opportunity to me but then, my previous one-year of knowledge gathering, skill polishing and strategic research gave me a soft landing on the job. 

Being an HR professional in the tech space has brought me nothing short of growth to me. In the last 4 years, I have gathered the right skill sets to function in the tech space and retain my talents. From recruitment to onboarding, performance appraisal, training and development, policy drafting and implementation, employee compensation and employee retention. Of course, there were challenges and tough times but the ability to proffer a lasting solution and my love for the job keeps me going.

How it’s going

I currently work as Lead, People Operations at Riby, a fintech startup that assists people in economy clusters, SMEs, cooperatives, and trade groups to access financial services through its digital platforms. My job entails managing the team and business administrative functions. Ensuring workers have the needed tools to carry out their jobs, management goals are being achieved, government regulations are followed and everyone is happy. 

I am that HR that is approachable, so we create a safe environment for employees, especially in their times of vulnerability. We have created a very family-centric (clan) system with a mix of Market-Driven Cultures. 

In the first 2 months of my employment at Riby, I studied the culture, learnt the business focus and engaged my direct boss a lot. The job is not all rosy. I mean, managing my schedule was a challenge while learning but I never had a rethink because my passion for Human Resources keeps me going. When I get overwhelmed, I replay the good days and shake off the bad feeling. 

One of the challenges I have faced in recent days includes talent retention. Tech talents are like hotcakes and the competition is willing to pay more to hire them. But we found a way to keep most of them by introducing certain mechanisms and incentives at Riby. 

Furthermore, I am currently running my M.Sc in Industrial and Labour Relations (Human Resources) at the University of Lagos. I am also working on professional certifications. 

Career hack

Do research, run programs (online and offline), keep applying for positions and don’t get discouraged at failed interviews. Notice the areas that made you fail these interviews and work on them. Attend tech seminars and start building your network.

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