National honour motivated me to do more – Folusho Olaniyan
Published September 30, 2018
Programme Director, Agrainnovate West Africa, Folusho Olaniyan, OON, shares her domestic schedule and work life with KORE OGIDAN
1. What can you recall of your childhood?
I was born as Folusho Borisade on June 13, 1967, to the late Hon. Justice Michael Ayorinde Borisade, a former President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, and Chief Oyeyemi Borisade. Although I am from Iloro Ekiti, Ekiti State, I was born in Ibadan, Nigeria, where I spent my early years, alongside my siblings.
My childhood memories are pleasant. I remember my dad treated my mum with so much love and respect. He protected her from any form of intimidation, either perceived or real from any quarters. His family knew his stand concerning his nuclear family. He was someone you could count on. Even though my mum was the homemaker, who personally supervised our homework, diet and other related things, my dad was overwhelmingly supportive and loving, especially to me being the only girl among his four children. God bless his soul. He passed on to glory on the September 2, 2002, at the age of 67.
2. Which schools did you attend?
For my elementary education, I attended Bodija International Primary School, Ibadan, from 1971 to 1975.. I relocated with my parents to Akure upon the creation of Ondo State, which necessitated my completing my primary school in Akure from 1976 to 1977. I gained admission to the Federal Government Girls College, Akure, in 1977 and was awarded a scholarship by the Federal Government of Nigeria, alongside eight other students on merit for exceptional performance. This was listed in the Gazette of the Federal Government of Nigeria. I remember this made my dad so proud of me. He actually brought a copy of the Federal Government Gazette home to show me my name as listed. After my secondary school education in 1982, I attended the Federal School of Arts and Science, Victoria Island, Lagos for my A levels from 1982 to 1983 and in the same year of 1983, I gained admission to the University of Ilorin. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1987 and later attended the University of Lagos, where I bagged a Master in Public Administration. I attended the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Cookham, UK, where I bagged a professional postgraduate diploma in marketing. I am a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, United Kingdom.
I spent my national youth service year at A. G. Leventis Nig. Plc from 1987 to 1988, and was appointed a trainee manager in the Leventis Stores division in September 1988 after my NYSC. This marked the beginning of my journey in the food industry, as the Leventis Stores division then was a chain of departmental stores focused mainly on food retailing, though they were also strong in clothing and hardware. Leventis Stores metamorphosed into Leventis Foods Limited, and in 2000, I was appointed the head of sales and marketing for Leventis Foods Limited. I held this position till May 2005 when I joined UTC Nigeria Plc as head of sales and marketing. In 2007, I was appointed Managing Director/CEO UTC Nigeria Plc, a position I held till October 2013 when I resigned to set up Contact Consulting Nigeria Limited. As managing director of UTC, I collaborated with the Federal Government on the Agricultural Transformation Agenda in 2012, to facilitate the commercialisation of the cassava bread project in Nigeria.
3. Tell us about your company, Contact Consulting Nigeria, and its affiliation with Agrainnovate West Africa
My firm, Contact Consulting Nigeria, is a business advisory, research and investment promotion firm. We have served organisations like Dalberg Global Consulting as expert advisors on agriculture related projects, Cassava Adding Value for Africa Project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Market for the Development of the Niger Delta funded by UK DFID, and the World Economic Forum. Contact Consulting Nigeria is the local partner of Informa Group, UAE, on the Agrainnovate West Africa conferences and exhibition projects. Informa is the world’s largest publicly quoted exhibition company, operating in over 150 countries. I am the Programme Director, Agrainnovate West Africa.
4. What are your other achievements?
I am on the Project Advisory Council of a Bill and Melinda Gates-funded project known as Building Economically Sustainable Integrated Cassava Seed systems in Nigeria, in collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan. I also served on the judging panel of the Rockefeller Foundation Yieldwise Million Dollar Challenge in Cassava in 2016. This challenge was set up to encourage development of post-harvest solutions in the cassava value chain. I am a member of the Institute of Directors and also a council member and secretary of the HID Awolowo Foundation.
I was conferred with National Honours of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) in 2014 by the President and Commander in Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in recognition of my outstanding virtues and service to Nigeria. This is a great motivator for doing more for my country.
My philosophy in life is to give my best whenever I am given the opportunity to serve, trusting divine providence to take care of the future. In the words of John Wesley, “Do all the good you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” I have experienced monumental blessings in every area of my life, for which I am eternally grateful to God.
5. Outside of work, who is Folusho Olaniyan?
I got married in 1989, to Dr. Yinka Olaniyan, a gynaecologist, and our union is blessed with three successful, God-fearing children, son-in-law and an adorable granddaughter.
Being on the other side of 50, I have cultivated the habit of relaxing constructively. I have a personal trainer who keeps me on my toes- fitness wise, and I cherish those daily fitness moments – the squatting, weightlifting, planking and dancing. I have realised that exercise is the most transformative thing you can do for your brain. The transformation immediately reflects in your body, looks and spirit. Exercise kicks out negative feelings that could lead to depression, especially at menopause.
I love playing in our garden with my granddaughter. She makes me run, laugh, shout, crawl, and jump. I love the experience of being a grandparent. Grandparenting is awesome, and even more fulfilling when one is a productive, comfortable grandmother.
I hold so dear Kofi Annan’s words, “When women thrive, all of society benefits, and succeeding generations are given a better start in life.”
I live my life as an all-rounder and that even reflects in my dressing. I don’t have a defined way of dressing, I dress for the occasion. The theme of my outing guides my outfit, and honestly, I am prudent in spending on clothing and items of subtractive resale value. I believe you can cut your coat according to your clothe and still look stunning.
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