Mrs. Jennifer Oyelade is the Chief Executive Officer of Transquisite Consulting, a recruitment and business-consulting firm with offices in London, United Kingdom and Abuja, Nigeria. According to the Business and Marketing graduate of Brunel University, United Kingdom, her educational background and training helped make her what she has become today. In a chat with GERALDINE AKUTU, she speaks on her career and how women can contribute to national growth.
With the necessary skills and experience, combined with zeal and passion, Mrs. Jennifer Oyelade started running Transquisite Consulting part-time in 2008. It became a full-time organisation in 2010.
She narrates how it all began in London. “During my time at Hays Specialist Recruitment, I worked at various degrees in the organisation, which resulted into my role as a Cross-sector Consultant for Hays Human Resources, where I recruited permanent candidates from entry level to executives.”
At Hays Finance and Banking Technology, Jennifer says, she recruited Information Technology (IT) professionals such as Developers, Project Managers, Business Analysts, Network Engineers and Contractors into Invetment Banks and Asset Management and also their banking operation professionals from back to front Office.
While at Hays Health and Social Care, she recruited nurses, health care assistants, support workers and social workers and community support workers.
The mixing with people of diverse cultures influenced her drive, she says: “Living in such a multi-cultural city like London has always reflected in my passion and interest for people. Over time, I developed a large network of friends, acquaintances and colleagues originating from a variety of cultures, which gave me an insight into understanding the world from a cultural perspective and how to apply my interpersonal skills to my career.”
She attended Brunel University, where she graduated in 2001. Then she studied Leisure and Tourism as a General National Vocational Qualification (GNVQ) at Hammersmith and Westminster College from September 1995-1997. At Lambeth College, she read Sociology and Humanities between September 1997 and July 1998.
Before starting her firm, she had worked in various capacities. Between 2001 and 2005, she worked as a Trainee/Recruitment Consultant for James Harvard Financial, now known as Hays Technology. She also served as International Recruitment Consultant for Geneva Health, London, a leading recruitment consultancy specialising in the recruitment of nursing, medical, clinical support and allied health professionals with an international presence in New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada and The Middle East.
Giving insight into her journey into recruitment industry, the CEO says: “An opportunity came up online inviting people to come and listen to a presentation by a company who ended up being my first employer, and after attending, I fell in love with the industry purely for the fact that I felt it represented me; my love for interacting with various people and also the opportunity to provide service that makes a difference to a person’s life in terms of career progression and aiding the growth of businesses by providing the right manpower to drive its success.
“Consulting is about people, understanding, identifying and most importantly providing a solution to their needs and that is a large part of who I am – a people person. Why I started Transquisite Consulting is to bring the same knowledge and experience I acquired in Recruitment and Business Consultancy in the UK to Africa, primarily, Nigeria. I feel as a nation, we have a lot to offer and the opportunities here are immense,” she submits.
In the area of women contributing to national growth, Jennifer opines, “There are a lot of ways we can contribute to the growth of Nigeria, if SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) local authority boards were established within local areas of each state that help women develop trades, this would result in creating jobs within the local area and so the products can be mass-produced and exported out of Nigeria and generate income for the state. This will help each local government and state to financially support itself and from there, as a nation, we would be financially independent, using the funds to improve our country to a standard comparable to the western world.
“We have a lot of natural resources, and a booming agricultural market that can be nurtured into full-pledged businesses that would be sought after as suppliers across the world. If funds are provided to nurture such businesses, the return of investment would be substantial enough to lead us out of our debt to other nations.”
She describes setting up Transquisite as her biggest accomplishment. “Working for global organisations like Hays, Robert Half, Geneva Health, among others where you have all the support you need in terms of working as a team, a recognised global brand, that is, companies that already have a global presence has been a blessing. To step out of my comfort zone and venture out alone to build a name for myself and my business knowing that there isn’t that support from an already established company was overwhelming,” she submits.
A supporter of female entrepreneurship, she would like to see more women working together to support one another’s businesses.
“As individuals we are strong; as a collective, we would be a stronger force to reckon with. In previous years, there was that ideology that females should be seen, not heard, and remain house-bound. But as Nigeria and other African nations are becoming more westernised and adapting to the culture of Women Empowerment, we have now created a platform where we are highly valued in our society as individuals who bring tangible ideas on how Nigeria can be developed as a nation.”
Jennifer suggests ways by which female entrepreneurs can stand out in the business world. “Every business has a service, product or delivery style that makes one company differ from another. Just master your niche, and remain on top of it. Trends and technology are constantly changing, so, to remain current and a market leader and stand out, you must update yourself. If you do a good job, it will open doors for you as people get to hear about it. But if you do a bad job, it spreads faster and there will be no recommendations …”
A lot of people in the business inspire her for both personal and professional reasons. “Nike Oshinowo-Soleye is one of them. Her achievements, business acumen, style, persona and also her general outlook on life are inspirational.
“Sir Richard Branson is also a very big role model of mine. His empires keep on growing. Whether you are in the air or on the ground, you are in the presence of something he has created and he is not afraid to explore new business ventures even if it requires him to tap into unknown territory.”
Assessing the female child education in Nigeria, Oyelade declares, “I don’t agree on segregating female and male. So my views on education are related to children in general. The education system from primary to secondary school has good structure because they have mirrored the American system. The level you are in class reflects on your intelligence and your ability to learn.
“In the UK, it is decided by your age, which I feel doesn’t encourage the child to learn to their full potential. In Nigeria, kids have graduation ceremonies when they have passed in class whereas in the UK, the only graduation that is obtainable is when you graduate from the university. I do believe that more worldly subjects can be introduced into the educational curriculum at a younger age so that children can open their eyes to a world outside Nigeria understanding the many cultures that the world has to offer.”
She also gave recommendations on how to increase productivity among youths. These include mentoring and giving them something to look forward to in form of grants to start up businesses and setting up government-funded academies to educate those who do not have capital to venture into their own business.
Her future plans for her company, Transquisite, is to bring it to the level of a global organisation like Hays. However, in the short term, she wants to “primarily focus on the growth of Nigeria in my field, by expanding on our services through partnering with businesses that I have built relationships with around the world to invest in Nigeria, which is something I have already started looking into but is still at its very early stages.
“I also want to work with government to establish training schools in each state, focusing solely on the regeneration of productivity in each state in Nigeria, using the resources in each state to create profitability. In the long term, I ultimately want to open an office in every country in Africa, encouraging people of high net worth and government status to work with us to grow the productivity in their own country which will reduce the debt that we are in as a continent.”
How does she unwind after a hectic day, Jennifer smiles and says, “I’m a great fan of music, neo-soul and jazz mainly calm my nerves. I do enjoy a glass of wine, a good laugh which is good for the heart and leave the day as it was orchestrated to be; pray and then start the next day afresh.”
She was born and raised in London by Onitsha, Anambra State-born parents and is married to Femi Oyelade from Ogbomosho, Oyo State