Timipre Wolo is that proud Elder Sister who has risen from depths and is paving the way for the ones coming after her.
She is a former Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) management staff, who has now moved on to pursue ‘her calling’ as she puts it – through Centre for Gender Equality, Education, and Empowerment (CGEEE).
Her empowerment initiative for vulnerable girls and women, and her energy company; TFN Energy. She attributes discovering her passion to working at PTDF, where she has created opportunities for about 400 young people.
To start out, and stay relevant in your career, identify your purpose - @timiprewolo Click To Tweet
The Humble Beginnings
Ms Timipre Wolo lost her mother at age 12. She recalls filling the mom gap for her family by taking a night shift job at age 16 while juggling her law diploma, and many other daring opportunities she created for herself.
In her determination to bring the light home to her people in Niger Delta, Nigeria, and make her mum proud, she maximized every open door. Working at PTDF was one of them. Timi recalls initially not being well-placed but she excelled when she changed her focus to delivering.
“When I joined the PTDF Legal Department, it was also the Management Secretariat. In addition to my schedule of duties at the department, I was the assigned the responsibility of attending Management meetings to take minutes.
I was always fascinated by these boardroom meetings and looked forward to it because it was a great opportunity to learn more about the organization. I could only be seen but not heard because I didn’t have a seat on the table. Everyone seemed pleased with my drafting skills and I was subsequently deployed as special assistant to the Executive Secretary with increased responsibilities.
Despite the stress that came with my new portfolio, I counted it a privilege to be developing so many skills at the same time.
In 2012, the Industry Collaboration Unit was established to formulate strategies for capacity development under the Fund’s Post Amnesty policy and to foster collaborations between the PTDF and relevant stakeholders. An Oil and Gas lawyer was needed to lead the team and by providence, I became the youngest member of management by at least 10years,” she explains.One tool for a woman to have a seat at the table is education - @timiprewolo Click To Tweet
Her role in Mentorship and Female Education
Timipre’s leadership at the Fund’s Industry Collaboration Unit, led to the actualization of scholarship awards to about 400 young people from across Nigeria, to study at various institutions overseas.
She also led the first-ever Helicopter pilot training for the petroleum industry in Nigeria which discovered Ruqayat Suleiman – the first female helicopter pilot from Katsina state, along with 3 other young women from Ondo, Rivers and Bayelsa States.
For Timipre Wolo, one tool for a woman to have a seat at the table is education.
“I have assisted several young women in facilitating educational scholarships at undergraduate, Masters and PhD levels. I assisted a young lady from eastern Nigeria who walked into my office frustrated from trying to get a scholarship to study in UK.
She was told in confidence by the security at the PTDF gate ‘if only you can meet Aunty Timi, she would do everything within her power to assist you.’ I have made a conscious effort to ensure that women were given priority placement, to bridge the gender gap.”
“I have the most amazing relationship with my mentees! I remember when the pilots were still in training school, I would personally take them out for dinner or we would visit a game reserve or amusement park with them. However, for obvious reasons, I created more time for the girls. On one visit, I got a hair stylist to come over to my hotel to get their hair done, then we went to see a movie together.”
“When it came flying with them, I was the only member of staff who dared to even before they obtained their Commercial Pilot Licenses. I knew it would mean a lot to them because if we didn’t show them that we believed in them, then how did we expect them to get hired by others?
That singular act boosted their confidence. I see the success of my mentees as my success too because they are a part of my journey just as much as I am part of theirs. That is the sort of unique relationship I have with the young women and girls I am privileged to mentor.
It makes it very easy for them to relate to some level of trust and mutual respect, knowing that even when I’m tough on them, it is because I want them to succeed. For me, mentorship is truly about laying the groundwork for others to succeed and then standing back and letting them soar and shine.”
My goal is to build a legacy that would transcend my lifetime - @timiprewolo Click To Tweet
What does a legacy mean to Timipre Wolo?
The CGEEE is committed to ensuring that internally displaced girls have access to education, whilst also empowering women through skills development and entrepreneurship.
Through Timipre Wolo’s organizations; CGEEE and TFN Energy, 5 girls from an Internally Displaced Camp (IDP) have been awarded scholarships to cover fees, school supplies, feeding and living stipend in 2017.
“At CGEEE we actually go beyond just sponsoring them to school to actually taking care of their welfare and mentoring them so we can get the best out of them. I know this is part of my calling because of the kind of joy and satisfaction I derive from seeing the eyes of these young girls light up with hope! This is not a one-time thing, it is a life-long commitment.
There is so much to be done, not only in northern Nigeria but also in every other part of the country, including the Niger Delta region where I come from.
I left PTDF to start my own company because most of the scholarship programs I initiated were discontinued in 2016 due to the economic recession. I figured that if I had the courage to pursue my dream of owning an energy company, I would someday be able to fund my passion.
Barely 1 year after, we have awarded 5 full scholarships already. A lot of the teenage girls in the IDP camps are either impregnated, married off as child brides and most recently, taken to work in farms for a fee of 400 Naira per day just so they can survive. That is why giving them scholarships is not enough.
They must be taken care of in terms of providing welfare packages; showing them love and mentoring them because of the traumatic experience they had been exposed to.
My goal is to build a legacy that would transcend my lifetime and that is only achievable through strategic partnerships. We are setting up a trust fund and as TFN Energy grows by God’s special grace, the broader the opportunities we would be able to make available for women and girls in Nigeria and across the sub-Saharan African region.
We are structuring the scholarships in such a way that it will be sustainable, recession or no recession. My dream is for every girl to have access to education and to see more women in leadership in Nigeria and across the sub-Saharan African region.
Three takeaways from Timipre:
- To start out, and stay relevant in your career, identify your purpose. Then this should be followed by a plan
- As a woman, define what success means to you and don’t live your life by the standards set by others, then and only then, can you be undefined by societal norms and expectations.
- From my climbing the ladder experience, I have learnt that no matter what task or responsibility you are assigned, go the extra mile to ensure that you surpass expectations, you never know who is watching you.”