I’m Bukola Adisa, founder and CEO of Career Masterclass, a platform dedicated to enabling the progression of professionals in the workplace with a particular focus on underrepresented and overlooked professionals.
I’m also a Senior Governance, Risk and Controls expert who has held leadership roles in global financial services organisations such as Barclays, HSBC, RBS, JP Morgan and Deloitte, in a variety of roles spanning Audit, Compliance, Financial crime and Risk & Controls.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
Yes, I have always placed a premium on Career Planning but my journey has been one long series of faith-based decisions. I always knew I wanted to be successful and work in the corporate space, but the dots didn’t always connect early on. They connected as I moved forward in the journey, experiencing the highs and lows and everything in between.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
I have had my fair shares of challenges. I have openly shared in the past about a time early in my career when I was preparing for a promotion panel. I did all the preparation, and spoke to mentors and colleagues, only for me to find out that I wasn’t even being considered.
As much as that experience hurt, I learnt a valuable lesson in making your ask known, often and repeatedly. I had erroneously assumed I was being considered on the basis of one conversation 6 months earlier with no follow ups. Now I know to make my ask known clearly, in writing and I follow up periodically.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
My biggest achievement has to be the work we do at Career Masterclass, helping underrepresented and underestimated professionals build their careers. Oftentimes, we come across incredibly talented people who for one reason or another have been consistently overlooked and through the work we do, we give them hope, confidence and motivation to continue pushing themselves. The results we get are phenomenal and make me so proud.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
Resilience and the ability to keep moving forward has played a huge part in my success. As a black woman, I often come up against difficult challenges and knockbacks and it is usually tempting to want to give up but I have learnt that if I keep going and don’t accept defeat, I will succeed.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
Mentors and champions (sponsors) are invaluable. We need them to advise, encourage and advocate for us in instances where we are not privy to the discussions about us. Anybody serious about their career has to seek out mentors and sponsors.
I have great mentors that I constantly keep in touch with and their input has been instrumental in getting both me and Career Masterclass to this point. My sponsors have opened doors for me, mentioned my name in rooms full of opportunities and opened my eyes to opportunities that were right for me. As a result, I am a fierce advocate and mentor especially for people who are routinely overlooked.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?
The pace of change is frustratingly slow for women in the workplace and if I could wave a magic wand, I would implement a policy tying compensation and bonuses to the tangible results in respect of the hiring, promotion and retention of women in senior roles in organisations.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
Slow down… these things take time.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
To grow Career Masterclass into a hugely successful global brand, with members from different countries who are taking audacious and ambitious steps to build the careers of their dreams.
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