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Molped has partnered with She Leads Africa to highlight the beauty and importance of valuable female connections.
About Omowale David-Ashiru
Omowale David-Ashiru is the Country Director for Nigeria and Ghana as well as the Head of Africa Operations at Andela, a company that helps build distributed software engineering teams quickly and cost-effectively.
Before joining Andela, Omowale’s professional career included a decade-long stint at Accenture, where she started as an Analyst and grew to become a seasoned Management Consultant, Business Process Re-engineering expert, Interim Human Resources Lead and a Certified Project Manager.
During her time at Accenture, Omowale led complex and challenging projects at numerous strategic clients including the largest bank in Nigeria and West Africa (at the time) as well as a key financial regulatory organisation in Nigeria. In her role, she collaborated and worked with diverse and multicultural teams in various countries, including India, Singapore, Oman, and South Africa.
After Accenture, she established and managed a maternity retail company for eight years. As part of the Youth enterprise drive of the Federal Government of Nigeria, her company was vetted and awarded a highly coveted entrepreneurial grant. The company also supported the community by partnering with a Not-for-Profit organisation, to employ secondary school graduates as part-time sales assistants with the aim of economically empowering them while assisting them to prepare for and gain entry into tertiary institutions.
Omowale obtained a First Class B.Sc. in Economics from the University of Ibadan. She has won awards for leadership, academic excellence and theatre. She has a deep passion for inspiring people and has a mentoring circle for ladies. She is an avid reader and loves adventure.
You can connect with Omowale on LinkedIn and Instagram.
What does friendship mean to you?
For me, there are two things that stand out when I think of friendship. The first is people who get me, which basically means that we think alike. For example, we could be looking at something and we just laugh because the same thought crossed our minds, at that same time.
Friendship is also vulnerability, a friend is someone I can really be myself with. This is particularly difficult for me because I am not a vulnerable person by nature, so I have had two, maybe three friends including my sister, that I have ever been vulnerable with.
Can you tell us of a time when any of your girlfriends connected you with a career or business opportunity?
Actually, this is how I got into Andela, a connection from a friend of mine. So a friend of mine who was in Andela also, mentioned Andela to me, got my CV and basically connected me with the opportunity to work here.
Can you tell us about a time when your friend (s) helped you through a difficult situation in your career?
At some point, I was at a crossroads in my career and business. I was running my own business, and it had gotten to a point where I was considering either going back into the corporate space or just continuing my business.
I had been considering this decision for about two years, when I had a conversation with my friend and she spoke about the issue from a different point of view. It was a lightbulb moment for me after that conversation, and I was able to make a decision. That decision eventually led me to being open to getting a corporate job, and I found myself in Andela.
How many women do you have in your power circle, and why did you choose them?
This is a very interesting question because interestingly enough, I actually have a power circle or more like a prayer circle actually, with three women. We talk together, we pray together and I am vulnerable with them.
We meet every week for about two hours unfailingly, and we talk and pray through issues and decisions. Just like the earlier example I shared, I spoke with one of them about a decision I needed to make. I didn’t even give her the facts of the issue because I didn’t want her to be biased. After some time, she prayed for me and got back to me with some advice that gave me clarity.
It’s an interesting story how I met them. Basically, my husband and I host a bible study course which we have been running for years now, with different sets of people. So these women and their husbands had been attending the bible study, and when it was time to start the life fellowship, we just picked ourselves because we had been together for years and had built an organic relationship.
How do you think young women can network with other women to achieve career success?
There’s a principle called the four degrees of separation which basically means that you’re four persons away from anybody else you want to meet in the world. What that means is that if I want to meet Obama today, there are four people between him and me.
This means that everyone you meet is important and every opportunity to meet someone is a networking opportunity. So you shouldn’t be looking out for who in particular to network or a special opportunity to do so. Instead, simply look for more opportunities to meet people.
Also, the more people you meet gives you a wider pool to choose from, and assign positions like a mentor, and an accountability partner to different ones. I have several instances of meeting people like this and how it has helped me.
In summary, just look out for opportunities to meet people, and treat them well also.
What is your fondest memory of you and your girlfriends, from when you first began your careers?
Back in the university when I was in my final year, a company decided to come to my university to test and interview students for jobs. It was quite interesting for me because we were all young and still in school, so we had lots of questions to ask each other about what to wear or what to say.
That same way, we also had to travel to Lagos for the first time for an interview and I remember how excited everyone was then. Now when I look back, I see how far most of us have come since then.
Finally, what advice/tips do you have for young career women, to help them build and maintain valuable relationships with other women?
I think the key tip is humility. You should be humble and stay humble so that no matter what, you’re able to treat people with respect. The thing is as you continue having access to more people, you should remember to be respectful.
Humility will always get you far and help you maintain your relationships.
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