What’s your current position and how long have you been in it? Can you give us a brief overview of what it is you do in your work?
I currently fill a lot of positions. I am an Experience Designer at GSD&M & the University of Texas School of Information, a LinkedIn Campus Editor, the Dev Circles Lead for the Facebook Developer Circles Program in Austin, the Community Lead for a non-profit in Austin called, Peace through P.I.E., and act as a freelance product design and social media consultant.
In my primary role as an experience designer, I am tasked with working alongside a team of designers and developers to determine how we can design products/services that align with the intended goals of people and meets the business goals of our clients. In my work, my responsibilities can be stretched because I have the opportunity to wear multiple hats. One day I can be interviewing people about how they use a product and asking them to express their pain-points and the next day you can find me designing potential solutions to those expressed pain-points in tools such as Photoshop or Sketch.
What would you say most motivates you to do what you do? What are you most excited or passionate about? What are the goals you most want to accomplish in your work?
I am motivated by strengthening the bonds that people share through compassionate and empathic action. Everyone has a unique story and perspective and we’re all more connected than we think which is what I enjoy about life. It’s a shared experience.
My passion overlaps in four areas: mentorship, technology, design, and community. I am passionate about learning more about people, the communities we are a part of, and how we can continue to use technology to bridge the gaps we see in the world. In my work, my constant goal is that my perspective/contributions strengthen the bonds that people may have with a product and that I am empowering people by being able to empathize with them deeply and genuinely. One BIG personal goal I have is to empower people to take control of their career and be proactive about aligning their passions with their livelihood.
We want to understand how and why you ended up here working at GSD&M. What led you to this job? What were you doing before you came here? What attracted you to work for them?
When I first moved to Austin for school in July 2016, I intended on living alone and needed to secure job opportunities that would allow me to feed myself and keep the lights on. I’ve been working at GSD&M as an intern for a full year now and the biggest reason I accepted their offer is due to their inspiring culture and the team I would have the opportunity to work with. During the interview process, I was inspired by the kind nature of the company and the leadership of my managers. It was then that I realized that working at GSD&M would be a great opportunity for me to sharpen my creative/design wit and be part of a work culture that promotes diverse ideas, community, and compassion. Before GSD&M, I was attending Texas Tech University where I completed my bachelor’s degree in Psychology.
Now if we can, we’d like to go way back a little. Where did you grow up? Did you go to college? Give us the backstory.
I grew up in a small town in Nigeria called Ogun State. Growing up in Nigeria was a blessing because I was always surrounded by my family and neighborhood friends. In the neighborhoods in Nigeria, everyone knows each other and you can always feel the love of the community. I recall being out in the neighborhood soccer field hanging with other children ’til midnight sometimes! That level of joy and freedom is unparalleled!
As I mentioned earlier, I attended college at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. Attending Texas Tech was a huge achievement for me. I believe the time I spent there acted as a stepping stone for determining what my career interests are and I was also able to develop friendships that will last a lifetime! While there I realized that I enjoy flexing my creativity in order to solve problems. My infatuation with design, process, and creativity was also nurtured by what I was learning in psychology and technical communications. I am a first-generation college student and the oldest amongst my siblings, so I really remained focused during college because I wanted to accomplish my end result, graduating top of my class. I am thankful I was able to do that.
Who are the key mentors or people that deeply influenced who you are, what you believe in and what you’re committed to in your work and life? Tell me about them.
This is a tough question because I have an executive suite of mentors, ranging from family members to people who I haven’t even met yet, but I follow their work/content from afar.
If talking specifics, my mother, father, and church community back home in Houston, TX are key mentors and motivators in my life because through them I learned the principle of selfless giving (providing value without expecting nothing in return) and humility (remaining contained and modest as you succeed or in the face of adversity). It’s one thing to be taught these principles, but it’s another thing to LIVE by them and apply them in your life mission. My parents and church community were instrumental in orienting me to not see life from a desolate perspective. They encouraged me to put myself in positions where I can act as a change catalyst to invoke my perspective and contribute to better not only myself but others as well.
What do you want your Mentors & Mentees community to accomplish?
The community platform has already accomplished its intended goal of acting as a space that fosters community between “Mentors & Mentees.” I want the Mentors & Mentees community group to continue being a space where professionals can find the resources and guidance they need to take control of their career! Career mentorship is not a new concept as the platform I created was driven by a need I observed expressed from various young and mid-career professionals who were reaching out to me for career support and advice through LinkedIn and other channels. I could not help everyone, but I was in a unique position to create a community space where I can connect experienced professionals with young professionals who could act as a resource to each other. I have some big plans for the group around how we can take the bonds that are developing online within the community, offline. I also intend to provide members within our community opportunities to share their passions and act as a resource to other professionals.
What interview in the Mentors & Mentees community inspired you the most?
The first interview I had was with Daron K. Roberts, former Kansas City Chiefs coach and author of Call An Audible, was really inspiring for me because he touched on the importance of having career intent. This means that you need to really focus on shaping what you want your career to resemble and be strategic as you transition into different roles or identify new opportunities.
How can people get involved in Mentors & Mentees?
By simply joining the community group on Facebook! Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MentorsMentees/
Did you have any life-changing experiences that put you on the path that led you to be doing what you’re doing today? Tell me about them.
Transitioning from undergrad to grad school has been a life-changing experience for me because within that transition I was faced with a lot of adversity. The adversity of moving into a new city, developing my career, developing new relationships, finding time to remain creative, experiencing rejection after rejection while job hunting, etc; I was in a position where I had to fend for myself and carve out what success looks like for me.
I made quick decisions by choosing to live lean and humble. I rarely shop for new clothing and I live in a modest one-bedroom in North Austin. I also became keen on developing relationships within my community and proactively reached out to community builders like Michael Henderson (of A Tribe Called Brunch), Brian L. Fontenot (of the BLF Foundation), and Naji H. Kelley (of BLNDED Media), three highly successful entrepreneurs in the Austin-area. I have learned a great deal from people like them and by facing my adversities head-on.
BLNDED Media’s Founders Series highlights diverse founders and their businesses. To be featured as a founder, or to nominate a founder you know, email firstname.lastname@example.org.