This month, the spotlight is on Bolanle Williams-Olley. Round the clock, she is a wife, mother to TheTWOs, and the Chief Financial Officer of Mancini Duffy, an Architectural and Interior Design firm in New York. She is also the Chief Cause Curator at REACH Nigeria, a go-to hub for all volunteer and community service opportunities across Nigeria and Founder, BKCares, a nonprofit organization that focuses on fundraising to provide sustainable improvements in education for low-income schools and children in Nigeria. Learn more about her life, along with nuggets to learn, in this insightful interview:
You’re a career woman, a wife, a mum, with three initiatives under your belt – REACHNigeria, BeauBelle Africa and BolaKrafts. What’s the secret? How have you succeeded in achieving all these at a young age?
Grace plus sheer determination to reach my full potential and fulfil my God-given purpose. I firmly believe in trying out ideas that keep you up at night, they help hone what you are good at or not. I prefer not to live in a “what if” world. Even though this doesn’t come easy to all, there is a liberation that comes the moment we remove the fear of failure (internal and public) from our minds and just do it whatever your “it” is.
Is there a “hat” you’d say you wear preferring the most? And why?
I have to say my Mummy hat is pretty amazing. There is nothing sweeter to me than at the end of the day going to pick up my TWO littles and they run with all excited to give me a big hug. A lot of growth has come in the last 4 years, they keep me grounded and are my constant reminders to always be grateful. To them, I’m Mummy. Well to my daughter, I’m a BOSS boss mummy.
Tell us about REACHNigeria. What was the inspiration behind it and impact caused thus far? Any plans for the future?
REACH Nigeria, my light bulb baby. The inspiration behind REACH came about when I noticed that there was a lack of awareness about causes, initiatives and events for non-profit organizations in Nigeria. In addition, people looking to help didn’t have a one-stop resource they could go to find organizations. REACH aims to be that hub – building connections between people and organizations. In the last year and a half, we’ve grown our network, we’ve created awareness about volunteer opportunities, visibility for small and large non-profit organizations, people are leaning in more to what’s happening in and around their communities. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of.
There are always plans and a lot to work on, we will continue to improve our model in Nigeria and then, of course, expand to other African Countries, Watch out for us!
You are also building a successful career in the States. In the spirit of #PressForProgress, what career lessons would you pass on to a younger you just starting out?
Show up every day, whether your path is clear or you are unsure the next step.
Work to develop integrity in yourself, your work and your relationships. This is key because it will only prepare you for what the next level of opportunity demands of you.
Believe in yourself, be confident and trust that you are more than capable and belong in the room wherever your career takes you.
What do you wish you had done differently along your journey of womanhood?
This is a good one. I would say I wish I started earlier on being my biggest cheerleader. I am getting better at not talking down what I’ve accomplished but intentionally choosing to recognize, embrace and celebrate my successes at all stages from a very grateful heart. I am doing my damn thing and very proud of it!
Tell us some fun facts about yourself. Something nobody knows.
Hahaha, I think most people know this but it’s my fave fun fact – I can never say no to planning a good themed party.
I challenge myself once every year to do something brand new. I had never done a fitness-related event before so I’m currently training for my first triathlon.
You just completed your second Masters. Any tips for studying while slaying Mummy duties.
Prioritize and be disciplined with your time. School work isn’t going to get done by anyone else and for Mums, common knowledge that at any moment, the unpredictable can happen. So if you have an assignment or test coming up, whatever time you think you need to factor in extra time so you can get what you need to do done. You also need to do this so that you maximize and really enjoy your free time to spend with the family, work etc
Build and rely on a support system, both at home and in school. I couldn’t have done my program without the help of my family, friends (who literally helped proof my papers) and classmates. Gone are the days, at least, that was how it was for me of being shy because I didn’t want someone to think my work was not up to par, you can only learn and grow by opening up! Half the time your work isn’t as bad as you might think it is anyway. Really look at your network, people have strengths that can help you in ways you might not have thought about in school.
Remember to take care of yourself. Take time out for yourself, beautiful Mamas. How will you be able to think things thoroughly if you just don’t feel good or your energy level is low? Your wellbeing is important not just for studying, but also for slay Mummying so whether it’s eating right, working out, taking yourself out on a solo date, whatever it is you need to do to reset each day, do it.
Any final words
Always do a heart check, be intentional and most of all remember to thrive on your journey!
Image credit: Mancini Duffy