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About Yasmin Belo-Osagie
Yasmin Belo-Osagie is a co-founder of She Leads Africa and is one of the board of directors at FSDH Asset Management.
She graduated Cum Laude from Princeton University with a bachelors degree in History and with a minor in Finance. Thereafter, she completed a culinary course at the renowned Le Cordon Bleu Paris, before getting her Masters in Business Administration from Stanford and JD from Harvard Law.
Her career started as a business analyst at the prestigious Mckinsey & company, where she worked for two years on finance and consumer goods, in Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, Switzerland and Kenya. She then founded She Leads Africa in 2015 with Afua Osei and serves as the chief operating officer (coo). In 2018, she joined FSDH Asset Management as a director.
What does friendship mean to you?
To me, friendship is really about support and what I would call co-upliftment. It’s having a group of people who are there for each other and think about ways to make themselves better. I also love to laugh, so I especially like being around people who are funny and make me laugh.
When I talk about co-upliftment, I am not saying we have to text each other every single day. However, I find myself inspired and uplifted by my friends, just by observing the way they live their lives, and handle their careers, it drives me to want to succeed as well.
Can you tell us of a time when any of your girlfriends connected you with a career or business opportunity?
So this happens to me all the time. I find that my friends are constantly helping me out when I find myself in tight situations. I have an example from when I was doing some work for a client and I had made a mistake and was now running out of time. One of my friends came through and connected me with her husband who worked with us and helped me save the situation.
Last year, I was trying to contact the singer Kandi Burruss for an event I was planning and a friend of mine connected me with her manager.
Even beyond work, it’s the other million little things my friends do for me. With all that’s going on with me at work, I also needed to shop for my wedding dress. A friend of mine, knowing that I won’t be able to make the appointments, went and made them for me. Not only that, she took the time out of her workday and went with me to all my dress appointments.
Is there a time when your friend(s) helped you through a difficult situation in your career?
My time at graduate school was particularly difficult, because between lectures all day, working with my team at She Leads Africa and the time zone differences, I just had so much to do. There were definitely days when I was overwhelmed and just stayed in my room crying and questioning myself.
During this time, my friends were a big source of encouragement to me regardless of the time I called them. They were particularly helpful, always checking in with me, reassuring me and allowing me just to complain whenever I wanted to.
How many women do you have in your power circle, and why did you choose them?
I would say I have a small circle of like 3 or 4 women including my sister and my cousin, and a slightly larger one of like 5 or 7 other people I have connected with, due to my relationship with my core circle.
In choosing my friends, I really look for people with whom I share similar values. So one such instance is that I take my career very seriously, and so I look for people who take their careers very seriously as well. The women in my circle, have gone to some of the best schools, are at the top of their careers and work in the best companies. So when we are together, there are always conversations about our careers and what our next professional and financial moves are.
Another thing I look out for is people who make me laugh. I love to laugh and I don’t take myself too seriously, so that’s something I really look for in my friends as well. I like to spend time with people who also love to laugh and don’t take themselves too seriously.
I also like people who have some amazing character traits. So in choosing my friends, I like people who are kind, honest, have integrity and are thoughtful as well.
Lastly, look I love having fun so most of my friends are people who love having fun as well. I believe that life is to be enjoyed, and when we go out, it should be lit. So I definitely like people who also like to enjoy life and have a good time. Basically, we work hard and play hard too.
There’s a saying about how you’re the average of 5 people you interact with, and it’s so true in my case because if you look at my friends, you’ll better understand the kind of person I am.
How do you think young women can network with other women to achieve career success?
For networking, I believe in networking based on shared interests. So a book lover for example, might join a book club because when you have similar interests with a person, then it’s easier to build a relationship.
Another thing that works well is using recommendations or referrals to build a network. You can ask people who already know you, to introduce you to people whom they think you will be able to connect with.
As an example, when I am travelling or going somewhere, I will ask my friends to connect me with someone cool in the city I’m visiting. The great thing about this is that since your friends know you very well, they will know the kind of people to connect you with. You can also talk about what you’re interested in learning, or what questions you want to ask and request to be connected to people who could help you out.
Also, I keep an eye out for people whom those I respect talk about. One instance of this was with my then boyfriend, now fiance. He used to speak about this particular woman and how intelligent she is, so I asked him to connect us and introduce me to her. We were able to build a relationship and now she’s on the board at She Leads Africa.
Is it okay to just DM or email people and ask them to mentor you?
In the case of just randomly texting people and asking them to mentor you, I think it’s okay provided you do it in a thoughtful manner. So I recently addressed this in our Motherland Mogul Insider program, when I spoke about how to build relationships with mentors.
One tip I would give is, instead of overwhelming people by asking them to mentor you, you can just send a message to say that you love what they do and then ask them if they have time to chat with you about 2 or 3 questions, which you can list out.
Then over time, you can just keep in touch and build an organic relationship by updating them about what you’ve done and finding ways to even be helpful to them.
Finally, what advice/tips do you have for young career women, to help them build and maintain valuable relationships with other women?
My major tip is to understand that relationships are give and take, and so even if this is a senior person you’re connecting with, just find ways to help them. It could be sending them an article to help them with what they’re working on or recommending someone for a job with them. Definitely find ways to offer them something, as they give you advice.
Another tip is respecting people’s boundaries. For example, if someone says I don’t have time right now to mentor you, then you shouldn’t get offended. Instead, you can back off and check back with them in a couple of months and see if they have the time then.
It’s important to understand that people have a lot going on and may be unable to give what you’re asking, so recognising that boundary is very important.
Lastly, just be authentic. Don’t always try to be friends with the rich and famous people. Find people you respect and vibe with.
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