My Pivot Journal: Why Temitope Adegbenjo left banking for healthcare
My Pivot Journal is a Ventures Africa weekly seriesdocumenting people’s career transitions from one industry to another, especially to tech.
Temitope Adegbenjo has worn many hats over the last decade: fashion design, teaching, blogging, banking, and now, care and support. All paths are completely unrelated. Yet she manages to always get her foot through the door, seeking fulfilment in each path. Here is Adegbenjo’s pivot journal.
How it started
My early ambition was to be an engineer. My dad was a Mechanical Engineer, and I always fancied the job even when I knew little about it. I later thought Mech Eng. was too ‘masculine’, so I opted for Chemical Engineering. But did I pursue it after graduating? No!
My first career path was tailoring. I became interested in it because it appealed to my creative nature. As a child, I used to take clothing pieces, cut them into patterns and sew them into anything that came to mind with a needle and thread. I did very well in my Home Economics practicals whenever it concerned sewing and crafts.
I learnt the craft during my service year, and in less than six months, my ‘madam’ certified me, saying I was brilliant and creative. I had plans to set up this business when I returned home from service year, and go get more training. I wanted to focus on bridal wear. But, when you have an idea, and money no dey, you have to choose between passion and survival. I had to take up a teaching job (I love teaching) to augment the tailoring. Fashion designing is a field I really love and still love, but working there briefly showed me that it is not all gold and glitz. The business side of it was challenging. I struggled a lot with pricing. One time, someone offered me N20 to amend almost five clothes! I nearly passed out.
After working as a teacher for two years, I got a job as a Relationship Manager in one of the best banks in Nigeria, where I later worked for eight years. Banks pay decently well. But I knew I couldn’t do the job forever. The pressure for performance, the targets and constant meetings just never end. I did not want to spend another ten years of my life in that system.
The most important factor that influenced my decision was family. I was seeing my kids once a week because they had to stay with their grannies as I was leaving home very early and getting home late. It was not a life I wanted to sustain. So I decided to leave Nigeria for the UK and start a new career where I could spend time with my family and earn decently.
I started a care job when I got here. My employer was willing to let me start with zero experience. However, transitioning was not easy because I have never worked in any care-related sector. I had to take courses, both from my organisation and personally. I was bombarded with several courses with deadlines to meet and had to understudy several people. One was a certification in Care and Support from Florence Academy. But, as always, I got through because I am a go-getter. I only need a chance to prove myself. I put the same excellence I displayed as a teacher and banker into my current work. Am I allowed to brag a little? In less than six months, I became recognised as one of the company’s best hands.
If you have worked as a marketer with no prior experience in banking/marketing, I believe you are already a survivor. I didn’t notice the challenges because I already made up my mind to give the job whatever it took. They took a bet on me by bringing me on board without experience and a commitment to learning. Everything I would have considered a challenge, I looked for who could teach me what to do. This was also the mindset I worked with while in the bank. I knew I didn’t have the prerequisite knowledge or competitive experience to match my fellow marketers within and outside the bank. But when you have targets to meet and you can’t afford to lose your job or be put on the chopping board for non-performance, you have to do everything legitimate to get results.
How it’s going
I am currently learning and settling. I’m still new and do not want to rush the process. I have plans to change careers soon anyway, but I believe so much in processes and steady growth. I’m learning, learning the ropes, reading about career progression, taking courses … one step at a time. What I like most is the flexibility that comes with this job. The fact that I can spend quality time with my husband and kids while earning reasonably, makes me at peace with myself. Family is everything to me.
What has given me an edge? I am a very teachable person. I am very open to criticisms and corrections. I am the type of person who is willing to go the extra mile to get things done. I am also a super team player so this brings me into very good books with my senior colleagues and supervisors. This was what gave me an edge and keeps giving me an edge everywhere I have worked. Most importantly, I do not joke with God. He is my anchor and the one I always run to in good and crazy times.