A Spotlight on Queen Iwunwa-Aghomon
Queen Iwunwa-Aghomon, from the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) attended the Nigeria Power Sector Program (NPSP) and Rural Electrification Agency’s co-sponsored Amplifying Gender in the Energy Sector workshop in February 2019.
The workshop brought together over 70 female professionals working in the energy sector in Nigeria to discuss gender challenges they experience in the sector as well as identify opportunities toward a more diverse and inclusive work environment.
A baseline survey conducted during the workshop revealed 53 percent of the women present did not have professional mentors. This result emphasized the importance of creating mentorship opportunities in which experienced women in the energy sector would provide guidance to younger female professionals to develop relevant skills, capabilities and competencies, so they can effectively address career hurdles.
Of her experience at the workshop, Queen said, “The women at the event were empowering as they readily shared their experiences, challenges and opportunities facing women in the energy sector in Nigeria. During the ‘Capacity Building’ breakout session, facilitated by Ujunwa Ojemeni, who is a Senior Investment Associate at All-On, we were encouraged to lean in, acquire all the skills necessary to succeed and, most importantly, to always network.”
Motivated by the women she interacted with, Queen began to ask the other participants about who she could approach to mentor her. “I spoke to a number of women who suggested I meet with Ify Malo,” Queen stated. Ify Malo is the CEO and co-founder of Clean Tech Hub and the Nigerian Country Campaign Director for Power for All, a global coalition of 200 private and public organizations campaigning to deliver universal energy access before 2030 through decentralized, renewable electricity.
After the event, Queen approached Ify to schedule their first meeting. During this meeting, Ify “asked me about myself and what I would like to learn from her, and my response was to learn how to grow my personal brand and to get a seat at the table in a male-dominated field. She shared her personal experiences with me. She was very supportive and sincere, and I left with valuable and practicable career advice I apply at work every day. After our first meeting, I knew I had found a mentor worth keeping.”
“One of the things that I was most impressed with was her personal drive and unwavering determination for excellence and personal growth, as narrated in her personal stories and academic qualifications. She advised me to ‘take advantage of every opportunity you can get your hands on — make sure you keep learning and improving yourself.”
In a span of less than two months, Ify Malo has helped Queen improve her professional profile, leverage industry opportunities and increase her drive for personal growth. Queen has found herself becoming more confident in her abilities and is now taking more risks. Queen had been considering going back to university for a second Masters, but Ify helped her realize that she can pursue a Ph.D instead.
After this experience, Queen stated, “Travelling the road alone is lonely. It helps to have strong female role models, like Ify Malo and my current boss, Ms. Damilola Ogunbiyi, the first female Managing Director of REA.” Queen’s advice to other women who would like to be mentored is simple:
“Be intentional! Success is not by accident. Know what you want and find the right person to help you get there.”