Oyin Ayobiojo is a young Nigerian-American currently based in New York, USA. She works at IBM Global Financing (IGF) and she’s a member of the IGF Leadership Development Program, a 3-year rotational program designed to prepare the next generation of business leaders within IGF. In this interview, she shared everything from losing her dad to her mom being a cancer survivor to her determination of being the best she could possibly be. Sit back, read and enjoy her inspiring story.
1. What is your full name?
My full name is Oyinkansola Ayobiojo. Most people call me “Oyin” or “Oyinkan”.
2. Work title and company.
I currently work at IBM Global Financing (“IGF”). I am a member of the IGF Leadership Development Program, which is a 3-year rotational program designed to prepare the next generation of business leaders within IGF. I have completed two six-month rotations in Pricing and Credit/Risk Management, and I am currently completing a rotation in Business Support Operations and Strategy.[Great Read: Branding and How to Use it to Differentiate Your Business in the Marketplace]
3. What was growing up like?
I had a fantastic childhood despite losing my dad at the age of 5. After my father tragically passed away, my mom brought my two brothers and I to Boston, MA to start a new life.
Growing up in a single-parent household forced me to mature quickly. For example, I started cleaning and doing chores around age 6 and learned important life skills as I watched my mom build a new life from scratch by working tirelessly to make sure we never lacked anything.
Extremely resourceful and determined, my mom went back for her Masters in Education and started investing in real estate within three years of moving to Boston. I vividly remember moving into our first apartment and the first night, the four of us slept on the mattress in the living room. We did not have much, but we were so happy to have our own place.
Of course, everything was not perfect during my childhood – I dealt with the normal challenges, but overall, I thank God because I never lacked anything or felt like I needed anything. I was always provided for, loved, and encouraged. I am so blessed that my mom was wise enough to encourage me through my awkward years. She constantly boosted my self-esteem and continues to be my number one fan. I encourage all parents to do this for their kids. Her encouragement is one of the reasons I am successful and confident about myself today.[Great Read: Three Reasons Why You Should Not Settle for Less]
4. Tell us about your family background
My father, Ajibola Ayobiojo, grew up in Lagos/Ikorodu, Nigeria and came from a very large family. He was a talented, charismatic and loving person. Professionally, he was an anesthesiologist, gynecologist, and entrepreneur, who owned two hospitals in Lagos, Nigeria. Although a devout Muslim, he respected that my mom was a Christian and that she would raise my brothers and I as Christians.
My mom, Adesola Ayobiojo, grew up in Ibadan, Nigeria in a modest home where she was number 2 of 6 children. It is hard to describe my mother but let me say she is the type of person who can make you feel like you’re the most important person in the room. While in Nigeria, she worked as a guidance counselor and as a businesswoman involved in importing and exporting goods. Today, she teaches autistic students at an elementary school and is the matriarch of our extended family.[Great Read: 10 Surprising Ways You Might Be Killing Your Small Business]
5. How did your parents influence you?
My parents taught me several values that will stay with me for the rest of my life including integrity, courage, perseverance, faith, generosity, and the importance of helping others. Throughout my life, I draw inspiration from my parents. It is interesting how the dead can continue to have an impact on those who are still alive. My father died over 23 years ago, but he continues to live on through me and he inspires a lot of decisions. I recently visited my dad’s properties in Nigeria, and it reminded me that I have no choice but to be great because I come from greatness.
My mom is the strongest woman that I know. Every day, I marvel at how she has been able to accomplish so much, of course with God’s strength and grace. As I go through life’s challenges, I think “how did my mom do this with three kids and no husband?” I am constantly learning from and relying on her for guidance. One of the reasons we are so close is because she does not seek to judge or control me. She has so much trust in me that she allows me to make my own decisions and that freedom is even what draws me back to her. She is my best friend, my twin, my confidant, and my hero.[Great Read: How to Remain Relevant in a Rapidly-Changing World]
6. Tell us about a turning point in your life
The biggest turning point in my life was when I found out that my mom had cancer. I have never prayed so hard about anything in my life. I can vividly remember laying on the bathroom floor and pouring my heart out to God for her healing. I wailed like an animal in pain with tears streaming down my face, and I asked God to save her life because she was all I had.
After the cancer was successfully removed and she went into remission, everything shifted for me. First, from that point on, I knew for myself that God was extremely faithful. Second, I was only in the 10th grade and already doing very well in school, but it was at that point that I became determined to be great. I told myself that whatever I do I was going to be the best at it and that is what I did. I graduated top 10% of my high school class and secured full-scholarships to Harvard and The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (UPENN).
I attended UPENN, where I graduated with honors and debt-free by the grace of God. Essentially, almost losing the most important person to me transformed my entire mindset and propelled me into greatness.
7. What informed your decision to pursue a career in finance?
I knew I wanted to go into business after participating in a 3-week business camp called the LEAD Program in Business during the summer after my junior year in high school. The program took place at the University of Georgia and included introductory business classes such as finance, accounting, and marketing, as well as company visits and a case competition.
I wrote my first business plan at 16 years old and my team won second place at the case competition. The program solidified my interest in business and led me to apply to the top business universities. My college internships at Goldman Sachs helped to confirm my interests in finance. While at Goldman, I learned about the private equity industry through a summer project, which ultimately sparked my desire to work in private equity after graduating from college.[Great Read: How to Use a Holistic Marketing Strategy to Scale Your Business]
8. What were the specific challenges you encountered?
A major challenge I encountered and continue to encounter is complete and total trust in God’s plan for my life. Life has taught me that I will not get everything I think is best for me and my plans are not His own plans. Once I’ve given something over to God and try not to ‘make it happen’ myself, I find that things work out in my favor. This does not mean one can be lazy and not do the work necessary to achieve a goal. It means that time and chance happen to us all (Ecclesiastes 9:11) and that we should continue to work towards mastering our skills and achieving our goals in order to be prepared for the right season and opportunity (time and chance) that God will bring our way.
A specific example of this notion of time and chance occurred while I was attending NYU for my MBA in 2016. During the 2016 fall semester, I began to recruit for an investment banking internship for the 2017 summer. The recruitment process involved attending 10 to 20 corporate presentations a week and numerous informational meetings in order to get selected for interviews that would take place on January 2017—this was a like a full-time job in addition to attending classes.
Because I valued networking, in October 2016, I asked to volunteer at a Women’s Private Equity conference that I used to attend but could no longer afford as a student. I knew the conference’s planner and she agreed to fly me to Chicago to help her at the conference. At the conference, I met a managing director at an investment bank in NYC and kept in touch with her for several months.
Long story short, after 3 months of going through the structured on-campus recruiting process, I was selected to interview with 8 banks, completed over 20 interviews across multiple rounds, but ultimately did not secure an internship offer. It was now February 2017, I felt ashamed, disappointed, and like all my hard work had gone to waste.
After lots of prayers, I picked myself back up and started reaching out to my contacts including the managing director, I met at the conference. She invited me to her office to interview with her team and at my final interview, she offered me the internship. All my studying and preparing did not go to waste because I was ready when she asked me to come to her office and I had the skills to excel at the internship that summer.[Great Read: How to Stand Out in the Marketplace in 2019]
9. How did you get your current job?
An IBM executive and alumnus of NYU Stern reached out to me for a first-round interview on campus. From there, I went to the final round of interviews, met more IBMers, and decided to join the firm.
10. Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years, I want to be living a joyful and fulfilled life where I am emotionally, spiritually and physically healthy. I hope to be happily married with two healthy and intelligent children. I also hope that I have continued to do the things I love such as travel the world and spend intentional time with my family and friends. Professionally, I would love to have started my business, own several real estate properties, and to be involved in the private equity or investment space in some capacity.
11. What advice do you have for people seeking high-profile jobs?
- Believe in yourself
- Pray and speak into your life. Your own words are extremely powerful.
- Envision yourself in the desired job/business—you can become only what you see.
- Understand why you want that desired job/business. This is essentially your story/your “why”. This will be the compelling reason that you communicate during an interview that will make the interviewer want to hire you or make someone want to buy your products/service.
- Master your skills by doing a combination of the following
- Invest in furthering your education, read books pertinent to your field, raise your hand for challenging projects at your current role. Companies are looking for top talent and are willing to pay a lot of money for it, but only if you are the best at what you do.
- Network!!!!!! Go to events, send cold emails via LinkedIn, talk to people about your interests, and learn from people who are currently in that desired role. We live in a connected world and people cannot help or connect you to someone who can help unless they know what your interests are.
12. What current projects are you working on?
I am working on a personal investment opportunity. Outside of my role at IBM, I am a Board Member of a non-profit called YWCA of White Plains and Central Westchester, whose mission is to eliminate racism and empower women. I am helping that organization with a fundraising campaign as well as other initiatives.
13. How can readers connect with you?
14. What else do you have to say?
Thank you, Onpoint Success for the opportunity to share my story! To the readers, I hope you are inspired and took away something that can help you.
Thank you for reading. Which of these reasons struck you the most? What changes do you plan on making in your business? Leave a comment below, subscribe and share this post with a friend.
P.S. Need business mentoring? Join our business mentoring platform, #OSBSElite. The next open enrollment starts September 1 – 14, 2019. This platform is for young women entrepreneurs who need support, clarity, referrals, inspiration and prayers. To get on the waitlist, click HERE