MY MENTOR – EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND PRACTICE LEAD OF THE SKILLS DEVELOPMENT PRACTICE, MRS DETOUN OGWO

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Mrs Detoun Ogwo is currently the Executive Director & Practice Lead of The Skills Development Practice.

The Beginning

Detoun was born seven years after her brother, and always felt there was a reason for her birth, a conviction that her parents would din into her all through her growing up years.

She remembers once telling her father that she couldn’t possibly be his daughter because she felt he was rather too mean to her, and how her mother once proclaimed that the housemaids were not employed for her convenience. Attitudes she believes, as she looks back in hindsight, were her parents’ way of preparing her adequately for life – tough love, you may call it.

Detoun Goes to School

She attended Federal Government College, Sagamu from 1982 to 1988, and was at the University of Lagos between 1989 and 1995, where she studied Biochemistry – a course she explained was more her parents’ choice than hers.

Upon completing her graduate studies in the United Kingdom, she soon found herself among the throngs of the unemployed, not having the necessary skills to land a job. But never one to bite the dust in defeat, she soon figured out a way to tailor her best skills to what employers wanted, a move that would get her in the door, and many interviews later, a job.

Her Professional Career

Upon her return to Nigeria, she got her first job with the British American Tobacco company as a Human Resource Executive in 2001, a position she would fill for another two years, all the while managing the administrative and human resource functions for employees – who numbered into the thousands – and were spread across four regions nationwide.

She moved to the Diageo Group – parent company of Guinness Nigeria – in 2005 where she worked as the HR Talent Manager until she left in 2006. While there, she organized a graduate management trainee programme that saw over 96,000 applications, which was whittled down to 15 candidates after series of tests and interviews, all of whom remained with the company as at last check in 2009.

Throwing Her Hat in the Entrepreneurial Ring

The defining moment for Detoun – an epiphany of sorts – would come during one of her recruitment exercises for Guinness Nigeria, where she discovered that only just a minute few of thousands of job applicants had skills that could be termed employable.

The pressing need to fill this yawning gap of equipping Nigerian youths with requisite skills for adequate employment inspired her to resign and co-found a company – AGDC (Afterschool Graduate Development Centre)  Employability & Enterprise Development Limited – in 2007. This social enterprise, of which she has remained its Executive Director, aims to prepare youths for the 21st century workplace.

She is also the Executive Director and Practice Lead at The Skills Development Practice, a private human capital development company that targets Nigerian youths between the ages of 15 and 35 for top-notch training into providing the workforce that the country needs in education, technology and all aspects of her economy.

Her Volunteering Work

Living a life that is driven by passion, she thinks herself an idealist who is always seeking to create the world that she desires, and doing her utmost to make a difference in the world this way. This no doubt has influenced all her decisions and how she uses her energies and resources.

Some of her interventions include partnerships with philanthropic organisations like:

  1. The International Youth Foundation;
  2. The Corona I-Teach program, which is aimed at engaging the brightest and the best in the classroom as teachers;
  3. The Lagos Ignite Employability and Enterprise Project, which seeks to bridge the resource manpower gap between where the state is, and where she desires to be by offering qualitative enterprise education and support to resourceful youths;
  4. The MTN Foundation Science & Technology Scholarship Scheme, which attracts high performing full time second year students in public tertiary institutions across Nigeria, as it provides financial assistance to these students who otherwise would be unable to pay for their tertiary education;
  5. The Samsung Real Dreams, a transformational programme that seeks to promote the employability of Nigeria graduates, as it raises global talent and a new generation of leaders for Nigeria’s economy and industries.

Also worthy of mention are partnerships with the TY Danjuma Foundation Work Place Intelligent Nigerian Graduate (WINGS) programme, Nigerian Bottling Company, The Lagos Business School, accrediting AGDC as both a National Career Centre and an Enterprise Development Centre, as well as The World Bank, Goldman Sachs and an array of internationally acclaimed individuals and leading organizations.

Awards, Certificates and Recognition

  1. Doctor of Education (EdD), Comparative International and Development Education at the University College London (UCL) – (2014)
  2. Certificate in Social Enterprise Leadership, Columbia University Business School, New York (2013)
  3. Masters in the Management of Development, International Development from the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) – (2012)
  4. Shortlisted for the semi-final round of the Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year competition for Africa (2012)
  5. Certificate in Global Strategies for education Sector Reform, World Bank Institute, Washington D.C (2010)
  6. Certificate in Entrepreneurial Management, 10,000 Women Program of the CEM7 EDS of The Lagos Business School (2008)
  7. Selected as an emerging leader on the Fortune Global Women Mentoring program
  8. Ashoka Future Forward and Globaliser Fellow
  9. Certificate in Organization and Strategic Management from the London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom
  10. Member, Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (U.K)
  11. Alumni, Fate Foundation, Nigeria

Drawing from experiences of her childhood, Detoun believes that parents should balance providing material comforts for their children with values of prudence, hard work and dignity because you can‘t own what you don‘t earn.

She is also positive that everyone has a unique assignment which may sometimes take a certain method to find, seeing that we are constantly being distracted by a world that wants to make us into everyone else.

As wisdom nugget for the youth, she wants them to drop the entitlement mindset that everyone – their parents, the government, life – owe them a living just because they have a certificate.

Detoun is happily married to Amechi, an architect, and they are blessed with children.

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