6 career lessons from global superstar Lupita Nyong’o

Lupita nyong'o

Since her feature film debut in 2013, Mexican born Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o’s star has been lit and has remained that way ever since. With a beautiful smile, a boatload of talent and passionate voice she’s been winning hearts all over the globe.

Proven to have many more film projects and theater shows up her sleeve, Lupita is the exact kind of career woman we will happily take future-improving advice from.Lupita Nyong'o

1. Doubt is part of the path

Lupita has said in interviews that when director Steve McQueen had already asked her for a leading role in his screen picture Twelve Years A Slave, she still felt like he could call back any moment to tell her he had made an mistake.

We love how open and honest Lupita has been about the impact of her career so far; living the example that doubt can be a useful instrument rather than a barrier that holds us back from developing ourselves.

2. Speak up for things that matter

The fine art of supporting a cause and not becoming the center point of it – Lupita masters that.

Whether it’s her ambassadorship for WildAid or the race and gender diversity discussion in Hollywood, Lupita’s pages include inspiring posts that explain her personal relation to the cause and encourage fans, readers, followers to get involved.

Lupita Nyong'o

3. Be aware of what makes you happy

Though she has won more awards in two years than lots of peers do in a decade, Lupita says her greatest satisfaction comes from being an inspiration to girls all over the globe, her native Kenya included. Validation and success can not always measured by money or prizes – your social footprint can play a big part in your happiness.

4. Support your environment

Whether it’s her stylist Micaela or co-actress Danielle Brooks, Lupita is supportive of those around her by putting on for them publicly. Especially via social media, Lupita is very outspoken about her talented friends and coworkers.

Lupita Nyong'o with Danielle Brooks

5. Drastic change can make for growth and opportunity

After attending different schools in Nairobi, Kenya, Lupita left for Mexico and the United States, where she went to college. Although it took her a while to appreciate this new environment, Lupita explains: “I was very indecisive about what I wanted to do. I knew that if I was in a more structured environment, I would end up not taking the risks I was raised to take.”

Look at her now!

6. Value your surroundings

When she won an Academy Award, her brother Junior Nyong’o was right by her side, and in other press, Lupita speaks lovingly of her family as well. She says honesty, dignity and integrity are some of the most important character traits she has learned from them. All my conscious life, my father has fought for what he believed in, even when it was highly inconvenient.”

Coming from a hard-working, well known and successful family, Lupita acknowledges the privileges she has been able to enjoy, and always shows gratitude for education.Lupita Nyong'o

Any other career lessons you’ve learned from mega star, Lupita Nyong’o? Any other stars you would like for us to research and investigate?

How integrity and soft skills keeps Lucy Quist at the tippy top of the corporate ladder

First of all, a big shout out to the SLA team for this empowering conference in Accra. If they are in your country, don’t snooze or you’ll lose out on the keys to success.

Lucy Quist, MD of Airtel Ghana came through the SheHiveAccra and laid down nuggets for making it in corporate Ghana. While she highlighted teamwork, leadership skills and personal values, if I had to pick one word to remember from Lucy Quist’s session, it would be integrity


It was eye opening to hear Lucy Quist highlight the ways in which the lack of integrity in Ghana and Africa as a whole is culturally engrained. For her, it is this lack of integrity that holds Ghana back and I must say I agree with her 101 percent. Lack of integrity makes it hard to trust that any task delegated to subordinates or left to the system will be performed efficiently, which is a stark difference from the Western world.

When you do not have integrity or do not hold yourself to a higher standard in developing economies, where people are constantly looking for ways to shortchange the system, it is impossible to reach your fullest potential and be excellent at what you do. This issue of integrity among the masses results in the creation of unnecessary problems that waste time and money.

As African women in leadership, we must hold ourselves to a high standard. We can’t say one thing and behave another way. We must walk the talk and stay true to our values. It is the only way to preserve our integrity. It is when we show that we have integrity that we can inspire others to do the same. We must lead by example.

Role Models

Lucy also honed in on the fact that although women have a place at the table, the challenge facing Ghanaian women is the reluctance to push oneself up the ladder and the absence of female role models at the top to help pull others up.

Because Lucy has had role models since she was 17, she stressed the importance of having people around you who support you and drive you to be the best version of yourself.

Leadership Skills

Another important point Lucy made was that in Africa, compared to the Western world, people openly state that they disagree with women in charge. While this may seem demoralizing, Lucy has shown leadership by sticking to her guns. As a leader, she doesn’t feel the need to justify herself to anyone or prove why she has her position.

In simple words, you are in your position because you are doing something right, so keep going, stick to your instincts and lead your team to success.

Lucy added that being a leader, however, does not mean that one should lose sight of their soft skills aka people skills. As you go further up the corporate ladder, your job slowly diverts into managing and influencing people.

To succeed, you have to be able to create an environment within which people can shine. You have to be able to put yourself in their shoes and be willing to learn consistently. Be a leader that people respect and look up to, and you will lead a successful team.

The A Team

Finally, Lucy advised that you need an excellent team around you. You need the crème de la crème who filter and think things through before they present it to you. This group reduces the burden of micro managing and taking on extra work, their work. 

Lucy used the analogy of the captain of a ship for how she views her role and the support staff around her. As the leader, you must have people around you that do all the work under deck, to allow you the mental space to see ahead and steer the company for success. Say no to mediocrity. But also, give people room to succeed, learn and grow. Allow lessons and growth in the company.

Hats off to Lucy Quist. After her session, I knew I had found myself another role model.

Career lessons from Ethiopian born business mogul, Mimi Alemayehou

Mimi Alemayehou

Ethiopian born, Kenya raised Mimi Alemayehou is a Managing Director at portfolio company Black Rhino Group, and Executive Advisor and Chair of Blackstone Africa Infrastructure LP.

After studying International Law and International Business, Alemayehou found development consultancy firm Trade Link Holdings LLC. She has held major positions as Director of International Regulatory Affairs at WorldSpace Corporation and was United States Executive Director at the African Development Bank. The mother of two has also served as Executive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).

If you are like us, you will hold your breath after reading about Alemayehou’s career journey. Below, we share some insights from this African power lady.

1. Strive for your educational goals

Mimi: The first successful entrepreneur I knew and looked up to was my grandmother. She could not read or write but she was one of the smartest women I have ever known. I often wonder how far she would have gone if she had been allowed to go to school by her parents, who chose only to send the boys to school.

Although, the silver linings of your career may not shine through that window frame just yet, your education is a step towards reaching your career goals. Mimi agrees (higher) education is a huge part of the African growth story. 

Mimi Alemayehou

2. There is much more in your future

After being asked whether she thought her position at OPIC was the climax of her career, Mimi replied: “I have always believed that life is a journey of learning; there is no end to it until you are no more.”

Although, success can be comforting, that comfort shouldn’t stop us from going beyond our comfort zones. There is always a next move. “I don’t believe there is such a thing as a perfect position or a dead-end job. At every step, you learn. Life’s a journey of learning.”

Mimi Alemayehou 3. Believe in your work ethic

During her career at the African Development Bank, Mimi was the only woman working in the midst of 17 men. I have never doubted myself in the things I pursued. Fortunately, I have had some amazing mentors in my life and in turn I try as much as I can to mentor as many people, particularly young women.”

Confidence is key when it comes to directing your future. Feeling strong about what you do and what you want will minimize doubt.

4. There are ways to do it all

In terms of the balancing act of career and family, I believe mothers are natural multi-taskers”, is Mimi’s response to ‘how she does it’. And no matter how many exciting career moves she has made, she says “being a mother is my biggest accomplishment so far.”

Mimi believes prioritizing and accepting the pros of cons of having to travel for work is key to combining career and motherhood.Mimi Alemayehou

5. Approach situations with an open mind

My most impressionable years were probably during my time in Kenya. I met so many people from many parts of the world for the first time in my life and that had a long term impact in my life as it made me more open-minded and gave me a greater appreciation for human diversity,” says Mimi.

6. Be picky with what advice you take

Mimi’s powerful statement: “I got to where I am today partly because I did not always listen to the advice I got. For example, earlier in my career I was always interested in working on Capitol Hill but a lot of people, including some of my own family members told me that there was no way a member of Congress would hire someone who was not an American citizenI pursued this dream anyway and was ultimately hired as legislative staffer on Capitol Hill. I have found it invaluable to question things and not necessarily take “no” for an answer.”

Be aware of your possibilities, be thorough in how you approach them and follow through.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

Use these 3 Ps to land your dream job in Africa

Florence Hutchful

It is not enough to show up for an interview having submitted a stellar resume. There are a few tips for blowing your interview out of the ballpark. At SheHive Accra 2016, Mrs. Florence Hutchful, Head of HR for West Africa at Standard Chartered Bank Ghana, summarized these tips into what she termed, the 3 Ps to acing your interview.


It is important that you are able emulate the persona described and detailed in your resume. This means that you must come off knowledgeable and prepared for your interview. To be able to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the job, it is essential that you research the company.

Read about the company online, spend time on their website and get to know the company. If you cannot find any valuable information online, go the extra mile and walk into the institution and ask questions. Furthermore, be ready to answer questions regarding your salary expectation. It is important to have a fair idea about salary brackets in any given institution.

ALWAYS quote an expected salary; it shows that you know your worth and you are fully aware of the value of your time, skill and experience. Never compromise on preparation, it is what will make or break your presentation in an interview.  


Presentation in any interview begins with your physical appearance. Even before you speak, panelists will assess you based solely on what you are wearing and your demeanor – your posture and composure. It is imperative that you dress and appear smart and confident.

Make sure your skirt is a good length, check the cut off your blouse and say no to overly elaborate jewelry, you must look professional. Confidence is always seen in the way you carry yourself, look up, straighten your shoulders and strut your stuff like the motherland mogul you are. Your ability to exhibit confidence in yourself through your outward appearance scores you several points even before you begin to speak.

Adequate preparation will be key to ensuring that your spoken presentation is top notch. Remember to clearly articulate your views, present your ideas in concise and direct responses. Do not beat about the bush, exhibit clarity of thought and speak with authority. In the event you do not know the answer to a question, assess the panelists, are they attempting to evaluate your ability to think on your feet or is this a direct question?

If it is the former, exhibit creativity and find a suitable answer, regardless of how far fetched it may be. But if it is the later, be candid and ask to get back to them later. Nothing beats honesty.


To get the job you must want the job. Remember that jobs aren’t just lying around for people to pick up. You have to demonstrate you are interested in the position, and mention the skills you can bring to the table and what the organisation will gain in return.

Be keen for the job; don’t be passive. Engage panelists; look them in their eyes when you respond. Ask questions and show your excitement for the position. There is nothing better than an employee who is passionate about their job; this fuels engagement and the desire to succeed in any position. Your ability to show a keen interest in an interview may very well be what scores you the job.   

Hopefully, with these three Ps you are sure to ace any interview and land yourself that dream job. All it takes to win is preparation, which will fuel your presentation and your ability to participate.

Networking 101: 5 tips for your next networking event

Networking She Hive Accra

Attending networking events may seem like an intimidating experience. But, it does not have to be, if you prepare in advance and follow the tips below.

1. Arrive on time

This is especially important for networking events with no any speakers or program outline.

beyonce lemonade beyonce lemonade don't hurt yourself

You’ll more time to meet people as they arrive.

2. Name badge to the left

When given a name badge, wear it on your left side so that it does not get crumpled or turned upside down as you shake with your right hand. You’re welcome!

3. Business cards at all times

The most important tip! Having business cards on you is a must when attending networking events. Before you leave the house, repeat this mantra: keys, money, phone, business cards.

You can easily print your own with blank business cards from the office supply store. Be sure it has your current industry or areas of focus on it.

What’s more, you can even use your business cards to jot down the contact details of a person you wish to follow up on.

4. Conversations

To begin, ask them how they are affiliated with the event ?

beyonce interview glasses

Or, how they heard about the event? Make sure they’re open ended, so they’re are forced to make full sentences as opposed to yes or no answers.

5. Stand out

Choose events that will increase your professional network, so attend industry events in your industry or in a field you wish you break into.

beyonce slay formation i slay

If there are speakers are going to be in attendance, look them up online to prepare questions for the question and answer session.

In a more informal setting, you can inquire about the speakers’ professional or educational background. Also note that it is important to highlight things you may have in common: If you attended the same school, or from the same city/state, mention it.

Do your homework, and you’ll have a memorable networking experience.

6 career lessons you can learn from South African singer Lira

miss lira

Not many singers can say they have sung Nelson Mandela’s favorite song to him on his birthday, have performed with the whole world watching during the World Cup, or sold-out tours in the U.S.A.

But, South African singer-songwriter, Miss Lira, can! With various awards and critically acclaimed albums on her shelf, Lira has plenty career advice we can watch and learn from.

1. Be open to inspiration

Lira talks about personal influences and explains the effect Stevie Wonder has had on her growing up: “Music unifies people and expresses feelings they might not be able to articulate. That made me want to be a songwriter. I thought, if there’s any reason to write music, that’s a good enough reason right there.”

Inspiration for a career or a business can come from reading , observation and listening to others. Being open-minded can really open new doors for you.

2. Choose what makes you feel good

“I used to be an accountant, and chose to become a musician. And that whole transition, going from earning a great income to starting a career as a musician… I was like, am I out of my mind? What was I thinking? But I just wanted to feel good. On a daily basis, I wanted to feel excited about life and my plans.”

If what you do for a living is not fulfilling, if it’s not what makes your heart beat faster, it’s not too late to chase after your career dreams.lira

3. Work with what you have

A great quote from Lira: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are right now.”

You may not have it all at once, but you’ve already got something. Lira lets us know it’s most important to keep going, and not let temporary circumstance weigh us down.

4. Explore your options

Lira’s American fans had been reaching out online, requesting her to come sing in The States. But prior to her huge U.S. tour, Lira took some time to check out the scene, and did a mini-tour of 5 shows in different states.

“We had sold-out concerts. There was quite an interest in what I had to offer.” Trying out venues and styles of delivery for your service or product can help you specify your professional approach and guide your career direction.

Photo credit: AfroStyle Magazine

5. Allow yourself to break away from pressure

In a 2013 interview, Lira explained that after 9 years of non-stop work, she wanted to take some time out: “I want to be able to just be, and not feel pressure for a while.”

Encourage yourself to work as hard as your time allows you. And when necessary, after long, busy days, a little time to decompress will have you back on your grind extra strong.

6. Find power in humility

Lira tells us she can find beauty in Africa, America, in Europe, in the East, but: “There’s something that Africa can offer to the world, that the world needs today. There’s an element of humility that we have, that I feel the world has forgotten. We still have a sense of community.”

Taking values from your home front into your business can help you keep track of both your personal and professional growth. If what you’ve learned growing up is accurate to how you want to do business now, that’s something you want to keep close.

What other lessons have you learned from this power house’s journey? Share them with us.

This is where all the free resume templates have been hiding

Yesss! You get a…

Resume! And you get a resume. And you get a resume. We all get resumes.

Thanks to this site.

I’ve wanted to upgrade my resume in a professional but easy way for some time. I went online and found a couple of templates, but they were either extremely simple or too complicated and required payment. I wasn’t about to go with either of these choices, so I had to find a new way to get an awesome template for a resume.

And did I find one! I stumbled upon Hloom, a website with over 1200 free resume templates (the site provides different types of documents, like flyers and certificates, as well).

Yes, you can download the templates on Hloom and yes, they open in Microsoft Office programs.

Resume templates on Hloom are divided by style (basic, tabular, contemporary) and profession. Since I’m a writer (of mainly undisclosed rap albums and Nobel and Grammy acceptance speeches), I wanted to go with a creative resume. Additionally, because most of my freelance jobs contain tasks around media management, I chose this one:



When I clicked the resume file name, I came here



This is the resume template after downloading

resume screenshot-1

And my updated resume below

Just after a few simple adjustments; change of fonts, images and order of content,

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 8.06.28 AM

Updating your resume was never this easy!

This is how you get your resume to the top of the pile

We’ve all seen our fair share of resumes. And to be honest, most of them had room for improvement.

And because SLA loves seeing you slay professionally, we are spilling the beans on how to create a memorable resume with these 5 tips.

Resume or curriculum vitae?

Whereas a resume is a brief overview of a person’s educational achievement and work experience, a curriculum vitae (CV) is not.


A CV is a detailed version of a resume. Decide which one suits your needs best, or better still, create two templates for different job applications.

The order of things

Do you know those people who get lost in the layout of their documents? Or those who start without a layout? I was one of those people,and can tell you it’s not having one is counterproductive.


To create an outline, draw up all the information your resume need, splitting them into clear categories. Then arrange the work experiences either chronologically or based on functionality.

Last, work on overall look. Try to stay away from fancy fonts, and please no funky colours unless you’re applying for creative position.

Stay serious

I’ve performed stand-up comedy that left people (OK, just my mom) in tears. Nowadays, I think twice before cracking a joke. Humor is subjective, because it’s personal.


To a potential employer, your resume is just a piece of paper, or a pdf. Getting clever or artsy on your resume can destroy your chances of getting a job.

Applying for a job is serious affair, so make sure your resume reflects that.

Be honest

Remember when Joey from Friends acted like he danced with the National Ballet? He looked like a fool at his audition with his poor excuse for jazz hands. Tribbiani taught me to never, ever lie on my resume!


Holidaying three weeks in Paris does not make you fluent in French, and does not count as an ‘intense course of European languages’ either. 

Do yourself a favour and list only those skills and achievements you can prove.

Show initiative

A lot of companies use an applicant tracking system (ATS). Avoid these whenever you can. Headhunters and recruitment professionals tell us the more pro-active and personal we are in reaching out, the more likely we are to be invited to an interview.


In your email, compliment the company on their recent achievement or a speech given by the CEO, and share your interest in ongoing projects. These will demonstrate you’re interested in the company, and who knows you might just be getting that call saying you’ve been hired.

So there you have it, our top 5 tips to creating a memorable CV. What other tips do you have for keeping your resume above the rest? Share them with us.

The best comebacks for the 7 worst workplace mistakes

Mistakes happen. But what do you do after a mishap?

Since different mix-ups require different solutions, we have put together a come back list for these 7 common work place mistakes.

They might help cut you some slack.

1. You miss a very important meeting

Homer Simpson sleeping gif

When you come in, don’t act as if you did not forget. You might be smooth, but people will notice. Slide in quietly and take your boss to the side. Tell her you honestly forgot and that you’ll adjust right away. Don’t speak if you’re not up on the subject.

Rather, listen and take notes so that you can work back from there after the meeting. Take note of upcoming meetings and write them down immediately so that next time, you’ll be the first one in the room. Prepare yourself cautiously and never repeat this in the future. Before you know, no one remembers that one time you forgot.

2. You made quite the typo


Your boss asked you to send a crucial e-mail regarding an important deal, and you used the verb? Let it be. Messed up a time-schedule? Correct it.

But then, there are the real pain-in-the-behind typos. Let’s say you got a little enthusiastic and spelled your biggest clients last name ‘Yerk’ as  J-E-R-K. Normally, this does not happen to you, so don’t beat yourself up – what’s done is done. Send out an email with an apology. Keep it light – perhaps you could humorously point out how close these letters are to each other on ALL of our keyboards.

3. You ate someone’s sandwich

This is super disrespectful. Someone was counting on that.

We can’t help you here.

4. You had the best time at the office party


…And may have told your handsome co-worker that “you love a man in a uniform”. And now you can’t remember whether you kept talking after that… Oh dear. You’ll still have to walk into that office, so you better come correct and look a hundred when you do.

Be fresh and in a good mood when you enter, and when someone comments on your frills from the night before, you say: “I’m sure you had a great time. Wasn’t I charming?” or “Man, that was some champagne”.

5. You deleted a document that you can’t get back anymore

prayer gif

You better pray. The century of technology has provided us with so many comforts – but my, oh my, with it comes the stress of saving, saving-as and… well, losing.

If this problem is beyond your technical skills, get someone who can fix it for you. 

6. You’ve gotten into it with your co-worker


He’d been on your nerves for weeks and now it’s come to an altercation. He said some things and so did you, and now it’s hard to concentrate around each other. If you guys can’t solve this issue together, tell your boss.

Either go together and address the issue in a respectful and mature manner, or book some solo time with your boss to discuss what you think might be a solution to the problem.

7. You lack sleep and therefore empathy


You’ve been putting in extra hours and it’s made you cranky as can be. Although you try to leave that at home, people notice you’re not in a happy mood. If you can, take a day off, or work from home for a day. Being in a different, lower-pressure environment might help you snap out of the funky mood.

Get some sleep. Eat a decent meal. Do a fifteen-minute work out, and right before bed, read a few pages from your favorite book. Then watch yourself turn up at the job refreshed. After all, rent’s up and you need this money.

These tips should help save the day. And if they do, send us some jollof too. Also, if you have other tips for making an office come back, please share the SLA community.

What Zainab Balogun taught us about branding and working for free

On January 14 we got the chance to connect with Motherland Mogul Zainab Balogun to learn more about building a career in the media and entertainment industry. Click here to see the full recap if you missed the chat.

Zainab is a media professional, TV presenter, producer, budding actress and media entrepreneur. She is currently a presenter for the daily entertainment news show EL Now and original talk show called The Spot on EbonyLife TV. She also appears as a presenter and associate producer on Jumia TV, a teleshopping show. In addition to her presenting responsibilities she is a brand ambassador for Dark and Lovely international hair company.

Zainab dark and lovely

We learned 5 critical things from our chat with Zainab that budding media starlets, early career professionals and brand new entrepreneurs alike can learn from:

Special bonus! Zainab shared the best piece of advice she received when first starting out in her career.

Special thanks to Zainab for joining us and for everyone who participated.

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