Sunday, 31 January 2016

An accomplished architect, Olajumoke Adenowo,
has in the last two decades made great strides in
an industry dominated by men.
An exceptional combination of beauty and intellect,
she has participated in the design and construction
of over 70 buildings. This is aside from bringing
institutional facilities, auditoriums, residences,
estates and cutting edge corporate offices to life.
Saying her life is characterised by numbers is
stating the obvious.
A child prodigy in her youth, she gained
admission to the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-
Ife, when she was only 14. Five years after, she
bagged a first degree in Architecture. Not only was
she gainfully employed by the time she celebrated
her 23rd birthday, she had also designed her first
building. Three years after, she established her
own firm and is now one of Nigeria’s most
consummate architects.
Exceedingly creative, her journey to becoming an
architect is convincing and inspiring.
She recalls, “I was good in the sciences and the
arts, so the idea of dropping subjects you weren’t
good at did not give me a clue as to what I would
become. I love architecture because it is a creative
science, which encompasses many disciplines.
“So, it was a broad-based profession that was
interesting enough for me.”
A chip off the old block, Adenowo, who was an only
child for nine years, owes her success to her
upbringing and parents.
“My mother was my first role model. She is a
brilliant academic and I watched her blossom in
her career at a very early age. At 37, she became
the vice president of an international professional
body and I remember how proud my dad felt when
he made it known to me. She travelled all over the
world for conferences –my parents were both
professors, so it just never occurred to me that
being a woman was supposed to be a
disadvantage. God, my faith in Him and all my
family did are responsible for my existence,’’ she
notes.
Speaking glowingly about her dad, she adds, “I
can remember the conversations I had with my
dad when I was a three-year-old. Fathers are very
vital to their daughters’ development; when fathers
pay attention to their daughters they become more
assertive and self-confident. God blessed me with
extraordinary parents, which is a rare privilege and
I am humbled and ever grateful.”
A chartered architect and an associate of the
Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in the United
Kingdom, she once interned with Towry Coker and
Associates. Shortly after, she pitched her tent with
Femi Majekodunmi Associates and left in 1994 to
found her own firm, AD Consulting.
Adenowo, whose leadership style involves a lot of
coaching and mentoring says, “My passion is to
see each member of my team become the best
they can be. There are incentives like trips abroad,
bonuses, recreation parties and all but what I can
deduce from the feedback I get is that mentoring
and genuine interest inspire more than any other
thing.”
On the benefits of marrying the right partner, the
dark-skinned business executive who recently
celebrated her 20th wedding anniversary says,
“My choice of spouse is a definite factor and I
always say if you must marry, marry well. My
husband of 20 years, Olukorede, is a treasure from
God. While a lot of ladies at the time we met were
more interested in the size of a guy’s bank
account, I was interested in the size of my
husband’s faith and vision. Saying anything else
would be superfluous- many people work harder
than I do, so it is just the grace of God.”
While acknowledging the challenges present in
her position, Adenowo says her ability to break
societal and gender barriers have been worth her
while.
“Success is a journey and I am still on that
journey. I certainly don’t consider myself a
success yet, but I believe I will be a success by
God’s grace. I have always been determined that
nobody or client would have any reason to criticise
me for being female.
“I have had a potential client laugh out loud and
say in Hausa “Yarinya?” (this girl?) when I was
introduced to him. I went on to design several
projects including his flagships for him. Women
shouldn’t waste time bemoaning the gender
barrier, we should perform so well that a private
client will be doing themselves a disservice not to
work with us,” she notes.
Despite being recently described as a star
architect by the American cable news channel,
CNN, she remains humbled by every new accolade
and recognition.
“In all sincerity, I have learnt a lot since starting
out almost 22 years ago and I am still learning. Our
core values at AD are excellence, passion, integrity
and creativity and we live out these values daily.
The team is a highly dedicated one that comprises
of talented people; some even have more than one
master’s degree, while some others also have a
doctorate degree. The breadth of competence we
have is world-class. We have many testimonials
from our international collaborations, but modesty
prevents me from repeating what they say.”
Visibly excited about her current projects,
Adenowo, who is also known for her philanthropy
shares a few of them.
“We are working on various projects but I am most
excited about a bank headquarters for the
country’s most sophisticated, forward-looking and
avant-garde bank. It gives me great joy to have
such truly discerning corporate clients with great
taste who understand the role of architecture as a
brand enhancer.”
On her winning formula, the stylish entrepreneur
has this to say, “The Yorubas have a saying which
when loosely translated means, ‘There is nothing
as beautiful in outcome as what God has a hand
in.’ So, if I don’t believe something is God’s will, I
don’t touch it. If it His will, then I expect Him to see
me through because He is ever faithful.”
“I always say it is better to light a candle than
curse the darkness and this is what led me to start
Awesome Treasures Foundation because I want to
raise transformational leaders. I believe we should
stop complaining. Instead, we should rise up and
do something.”
So, which achievement does she describe as the
highpoint of her career?
She says, “My first International award for ‘Africa’s
Best Public Service Building’ in the midst of other
Africans including South Africans (whom Nigerians
leave these shores to take their briefs to) was
really validating. Several more awards have
followed but the first cut is the deepest! I have
executed over 80 buildings and each one has its
own place in my journey but I believe the best is in
the future.”
The radio host who says she has yet to consider
herself a success is also quick to share some of
her success principles with budding entrepreneurs.
“Find your assignment in life and pursue it with
passion, in fulfilling your assignment lies your
impact and significance. I am never really excited
by the past because the future is what motivates
me. I see myself as an individual on a journey.
“The vision for AD and Awesome Treasures
Foundation keeps evolving. What lies ahead is
more important to me than what is behind. I am
privileged to have discovered my purpose early
and devoted myself to it, so no matter what
challenge I face, I am fulfilled and I guess the day I
die is when I will retire.”
Over the years, the mother of two boys has been
able to achieve a work-life balance such that the
home front does not suffer.
“If I am at an event, it has to be because my
presence will make a difference. I have decided
that my family comes first and I am accountable to
them first; after impacting thousands of others,
how can I neglect the ones God gave me
specifically and exclusively to care for?” she asks.
Passionate about the family unit and her
foundation, she says spending time with her family
is bliss. “Just seeing them and having them around
helps me to relax and the feeling is inexplicable,”
she quips.
On her style preferences, she says, “ I don’t
believe in following fashion trends becauseI have
my own style. I wear what I believe suits me best
and I am comfortable in. I can’t wear an outfit and
be miserable in it. Thankfully, Lanre Da Silva has
sorted me out for years. She listens to me and I
trust her to do the right thing. As an architect, I like
good design for design’s sake.”

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