From Data To Decisions: A Journey Of Mentorship And Business Insights With Akinyemi Elizabeth

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Akinyemi Elizabeth is a seasoned data analyst renowned for her dedication to mentorship and leveraging data for strategic business decisions. In this interview, she shared numerous insights, while also discussing the vital role of mentorship and data in driving business success.



Who Are You? Walk Us Through Your Journey.



My name is Akinyemi Elizabeth Oluwaseyi Omotola, those are my full names. I studied philosophy and religious studies in school. I graduated from Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba, Ondo State, Nigeria. Initially, I wanted to study law but Nigeria happened and I was given Philosophy and religious studies. I had no intention of going into science. Even though when I was in secondary school, one of my teachers advised me to go into science because I was good at mathematics, I was like, “No, no, no, art, law is what I want to do.” Eventually, when I was about to graduate, my mentor, now we’ve been friends, just started his brand with data science. He was telling me about what they do, he told me to come for their Bootcamp cohort, but I said I was not interested.



After graduation, I worked at FCMB as a Marketer but it was not easy. Later, I worked with Keystone Bank as a call center agent. Along the line, I registered for the company’s mail, which is my mentor’s data school. I was always getting updates from them, “Our new cohort is starting.” I just said, “Oh, let me even do this,” “Let me check what is going on.” So I registered for the class, and it was awesome. That was how I moved from banking to data science. And I decided to specialize. You know, data science is broad. You need to just take a stand and say, “Oh, this is my niche, this is what I want to do.” So yeah, I do data analysis now.



You Mentioned Something About Your Plan To Become A Lawyer. Why Law?


Growing up, my parents and my family always said: “You love to talk, you are always talking, and you should do this because of this.” When you exhibit some character and attitude, they just advise you towards that, and you begin to think in that direction and say, “Yes, this is what I want to do.” From The Time You Started Till Now, What Exactly Can You Recall As The Most Significant Achievements You’ve Attained? Okay, my most significant achievement currently is the brand I run, dataklicks Hub. I didn’t have a plan. Sometimes Last year, if you had asked me, I might not have said yes, I didn’t look towards the direction. Well, in my last job, I worked with Vesti Technologies for some months. But I had to leave for some reason, due to my location and the distance to work, it wasn’t comfortable. So after my resignation, I was at home for a month. 



Before that, I lectured as a freelancer, groups and schools. That wasn’t a permanent job. It was just like a part-time thing, they call you, and you do the job. I was at home thinking, and asked myself, “So what do you want to do now?” I opened a telegram channel and posted on my Whatsapp story, told people to repost, and before the end of the next day, I had over 150 subscribers. I was like, “Really?” I still haven’t put a name to it. I saw my mentor over the weekend of that same week, and I told him that I opened the telegram channel, I was joking about this. Opened the telegram channel and looked at it. His responses were, “Are you joking? What are you doing? Have you told them anything yet?” And that was how I started. I started thinking about names. I wrote down names. A friend of mine and I were discussing it, mentioned it and it made sense to us. I mean, “data is a click away.” And that was how I came about the name. Then I started working on how to get registered, how to do class schedules, how to plan, and that felt good. That was like the highlight for me, leaving my job, and in a month, I found something else to do. It was good.

What Can You Recall To Be One Of Your Greatest Obstacles?


So far so good, because I know that people want to hear the good part of the story, but not the other part. For me, it is to stay consistent, I can tell you, it’s not easy. There are days when you just don’t want to wake up. You just want to sleep. You don’t want to do anything, but you can’t. You just have to get up and do what you have to do. It’s a big challenge. People don’t see it as a challenge, but it’s a challenge. Everybody likes enjoyment. I’m sure nobody wants stress, but at some point in life, you just have to set things straight. You say, “Oh, I really want to do this, and I must do it.” So, getting up every day to do what I really want to do, set goals for myself, and set a timeframe. If you don’t put a timeframe for each, you might not achieve the purpose of that thing. Goal setting is being able to achieve. It is a whole lot but we are doing it.


As A Female, How Do You Find A Balance Between Life And Work?

For me, even before I got into tech, I had this thing of once I’m overworked or stressed, I do create time to rest. It might just be a 3-day break, I come back refreshed and I just feel happy. If I keep trying to push myself to do that thing, I’m not gonna achieve much. I will just be bitter towards myself. “Why are you stressing this, why are you like this?” Always learn to take enough breaks. And once I’m on that break. I’m not attending to anything. Well, any email will have to wait. How do you then create the balance? Know that both work and life are your personal life. Once it’s time for work, it’s time for work, and once I want to rest or take a break, it is time for that break, because, you know, just to refuel. Our health matters a lot, if you are not really fine, you cannot function properly. So once you can create that thin line between work and time to enjoy, then you’ll be fine. You will be fine. 

Do You Think The Use Of Data Is A Challenge In Africa? What Exactly
Should People Really Focus On In That Space And What Should Companies Should See? What Are Your Thoughts Concerning It? 

Yes! Okay, so for data usage, I think we have a limited strategic decision. So what I mean by that is, if we don’t properly make use of our data, If we don’t properly utilize data, it will affect using making strategic decisions. So for me, I think I always say data is like water, and I’m sure everybody can’t do without water. For me, data is water, because data contains information and facts. Like bringing a whole lot of information together. Data usage has to be properly structured because once you have your data, you can make use of it properly. You will get informed insights from it. You know, data analysts, we analyze data because we want to help you make informed business decisions. We want to keep you abreast of your industry. 

For instance, we want to allocate resources to some states, if we don’t understand the details Of those particular localities from their history, from their demographics, we may get it wrong. We have to understand all this data, to be able to make informed decisions that we help them. Coming to the economic path also, if we don’t make informed business decisions that will help businesses to grow like understanding market trends, understanding the
preferences of your customers, of your consumers, what they like, and what they don’t like, you will not make profits, and when profit is not coming in, it affects the economy. All these fall back on the economy.

But if you make products that are good because you’ve done your research, you’ve done your analysis, you’ve gathered data, maybe during your descriptive analysis, you got data from the past to understand what has happened and how you can help better this situation, this will help the economy. For me, data cuts across every sector like agriculture, health, and whatever sector you want, data is important. Well, in this conversation right now, we are making use of data, I don’t mean the network kind of data. But we are passing data, passing information. This helps the economy to grow. And so I think data contributes to the challenge we are facing because it’s not well utilized but underutilized making it difficult to make strategic decisions.

Now That You Have Mentioned Businesses. We Understand Many
Companies Leave A Country After A While. Do You Think The Companies
That Are Leaving Those Countries Decisions Are Based On Data, Or It’s
Just From The Emotional Part?

I think it is a two-way thing, both data and finances have a role to play. So let’s take, for example, I produce soap and I discovered that in January I made over 100% profit. I made a lot of sales, same for February, same for March, and when we got to April my profits were a bit low, same for the next month and a couple of 3 months later, it picked up again, you know. That is me gathering insights. Then I can see that. Oh, I had more purchases generally for some months. Now I need to know the market trend that contributed to that like probably schools are resuming. People need to buy more soap, or they use more. They consume more soap. Now, because kids go to school, they come back to wash uniforms. Now, you’re trying to see the reason. You’re trying to know why you have so much sales.

And when it comes to the months away, when your sales were very low. You tried to check what could have happened? Oh, there was lower circulation of Naira, or people did not have access to money or people. Some people lost their jobs or the dollar had something to do with it. So data always helps. You know what has gone wrong, what has happened, or what is going to happen which is like predictive analysis. What will happen in the future, what could happen in the future, data will help you do that. For companies that live in a particular region because they are no longer making sales, it might be data. It might still be data, not even might, It is still data. They’ve gone through their historical data. That is, over time. They’ve tried to follow the trend, and they are already looking into the future. They found out that the program, company, or business might not be profitable in the next 4, or 5 years. Let’s leave it, or we don’t want to invest in it anymore.

Sometimes, businesses have stakeholders, people sponsoring them. So maybe some stakeholders already pulled out, and they couldn’t even finance. They might be making sales, but the people who are the key factor in that business are ready to be out of that business and the business will definitely fold up. Now, it doesn’t have to do with data. Data was not the reason they left.

Are You Saying That There Is No Way Any Entrepreneur Will Run Their Business Without Working With Data? 




How Can Startups Utilize Data To Help Their Businesses Grow?


In a simple term, I’ll start with, if you’re running a business as an entrepreneur. You should take the information down. That’s like for a simple term. What I mean by that is today. I made a sale of 40,000 Naira. I should have a record of that. The first thing to have is a record of what you bought, how much you spent, your loss, and transportation costs. Everything recorded. Now when you start making sales, you test the data. Today you made a profit or sorry you made a sale of 20,000. You’re going to remove your cost price, selling price and your profit. That is, you keep data for someone who can’t afford to get a data analyst. That is data. You have your customers’ names, their phone numbers. If you do deliveries, you have the addresses and their birthdays, and you know you want to send them a birthday message. All these are data that you keep. And before you know it, you have this large bulk of data. It doesn’t just start booming, it’s just a bit-by-bit thing.



For the bigger companies, how do you get that data? You can have an app that works for you. “There’s a back end where I can get my information.” “I can see how many customers have signed up for the products today.” “How many customers, how many customers made complaints, or some products they bought before?”



My advice to entrepreneurs, or businesses that can’t afford it, no matter what try to learn. At least, try to learn Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets. That is like a good tool. It’s a very brilliant tool where you can store information, I can say is easy to use. Yes, if you’re ready to learn it is easy to use. So you can put your information, you can make your calculations and carry out your statistics on it. Excel is actually a wonderful tool for analysis. For people who can’t afford to get a data analyst or a data company that can help them with their data, start writing down till you know you can afford it. You can go on YouTube to learn all these simple things on Microsoft Excel.



How Can Young People Increase Their Chances Of Becoming A Data Analyst In The Tech Industry, Especially Those With The Thoughts Of Scarcity Of Jobs?



The first thing is to get the relevant skills. “If I’m not skilled in this profession, I can’t start teaching people. I can’t start training people.” So getting the right technical skills. For someone who wants to be a data analyst is crucial, You have to learn programming languages like Python, and SQL, that’s a structured query, languages, you have to know how to do data visualization, how to clean your data, the process of scrambling data, all these are necessary skills that you have to learn. I know they might have the feeling that there are not so many jobs. If they are good at what you do, jobs will come looking for you, you will search and get. So, the technical part of it is being skilled. That is the beginning point.



Secondly, you have to do practical work. Some people just learn, and they relax. In training school, what we do is make sure that you do projects. So the project is for us to understand that. Oh, the XYZ. That you’ve learned, you can now practicalize it. You can put it into real-life data because real-life data is different from tutorials and exercises that you see. When you come across real-life data, it is no true joke, it is different from what you see when you are watching YouTube videos to learn and all that. You must also learn to practicalize and hands-on experience is very important. The level of practical knowledge that you have is very important in data analysis. 



Certifications are good but I always prefer you being hands-on when I mean hands-on. You can do the practical aspect of it. Then your certification shows how proficient you are in this industry, don’t feel there are lower job opportunities. If you are doing the right thing, you have the right technical skills, you have your hands-on knowledge, and you can practically work on data.



You also need to have mentors. I always say, “Mentors are like Jesus Christ.” They’ve gone through the trials and tribulations of the industry, so to speak. So they know what to do, what not to do, and what will work. Not like 100%, but at least they have more experience than you do. When you have people like this, you can always say, “Oh, let’s work on this.” “Oh, I saw this, I discovered this.” “How can I be better,” because you have to take constructive feedback that will help you.



Lastly, you have to have good networking skills. Some people are not as outspoken as I am. They don’t know how to mix up with people. When you get to this industry, you have to learn that, because you have to connect with people. No man is an island of knowledge. You can’t do it by just keeping to yourself. You have to do projects with people, you have to connect with the people, network with the right community. Be in a community where you will get opportunities. There are lots of data analytic communities right now that you can join. That gives you a higher edge in the industry.



What Are The Major Difficulties One Will Face As A First-Timer?



It is a technical gap. Yes, if you don’t have that right cue, there’s going to be that gap. Like I said earlier, you have to be skilled first. So for people just coming in, they might find it difficult to learn. Especially people like me, their background was not science. They didn’t do computer science in school or information technology. You can understand, the difficulty of having to transition to tech is hard, the technical gap is an issue. It might be overwhelming, but working with real-life data can be really overwhelming. To have to clean, following the process of having everything sorted out is a whole lot.



Moving from the technical gap, another issue is not having the right resources. Yes, some people want to learn, they are in the industry but they don’t have access to direct resources to aid them. This is like a major problem. Also navigating tools. You know, we work with a lot of tools Microsoft Powerbi, Microsoft Excel like Python, R, Pandas. You hear the big grammar and ask where you will start. You just have to start from somewhere. If you go through and I always say something that it is in Nigeria, that you get jobs and you see high KPI. They want somebody skilled in Microsoft Excel, R, Microsoft bi, Python, 6 or 7 tools together. But when you check job descriptions in countries abroad, this may just require you to be skilled in power BI. In Nigeria, we adapt. I always tell my students that you can streamline your learning. It will help you as a beginner, as a Newbie you can decide to say. “Oh, I want to be very proficient with Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft Power BI.” Lovely, you are good to go. You just want to be good at using those 2 tools. You are good to go. You would create an amazing dashboard to make beautiful business. Always learn to streamline, or you can say, “Oh, I want to just learn code or Python or SQL,” you are going to be fine.L

In The Next 10 Years, Where Do You See Tech Baddie?


I will be really advanced. This industry keeps involving, learning doesn’t stop. Next morning, you get introduced to a new tool and we are not even done with the one at hand. In the next 10 years, I want to be advanced, expertise wise. Another thing is that I want to be a mentor to a lot of people because I always say I’m a big fan of mentorship. I mean the good, the good part of it. I don’t know about others’ experiences, but I’ve had a good experience. Especially the person I told you helped me in the beginning. Whenever there’s something I see and I don’t understand, I just say, “Oh, please, can I call you or okay.” And when we get on that call, I just say, “Oh, I don’t understand”. And you know because they have the experience. They’ve seen a whole lot that you’ve not seen so they are there to explain as, oh, do it this way and don’t worry.



I want to become a mentor to people. I’m a mentor to some people right now. Yeah, I have a lot of people, I mentor but I still want to become like that big mentor so that we could work on projects together. Bring your projects. Let’s work on it. Let’s build this industry together. And another thing is giving back. In January, when we wanted to start our Microsoft Excel training, we gave scholarships to 10 persons to join for free. We want to do more. Mind you, data is not cheap and not everybody can afford it.



I’m of the philosophy that everybody has their rights to be data literate, not minding their background, they should have access to it. I call it edutech, that is, education and technology. They should have access to these things. I want to do more in the next 10 years and tell them to register for my programs for free. Because we are doing so much, data is involving. Data is going global, you know. But when people have the right skill, right resources, they will be able to compete with the appeal in the global scene. A lot of people want to learn, a lot of people want to be seen also, but because they don’t have somebody to take their hands and say, “Oh, this is how we should be or do it.” I don’t mean spoon feeding people, but giving them access to learn. And also I found out that some schools, primary, secondary schools, have already added it to their curriculum. Which is great. Imagine if someone like me started early, I would have done more, although I am grateful for where I am.



I know parents that say, “my children want to learn cybersecurity, how do they go about it.”  A good start is training kids, you know, from a small age. You can do this. You can learn this. Imagine we have kids of 10, 12 years learning how to code. And we have them already, they can’t compete in the global scene, and when they go and we see them do fine, we say that person is from Nigeria, or that person is from Africa. It’s a plus to our nations and continents at large.



What Will You Say To Entrepreneurs Who Are Yet To Prioritize Data In Their Businesses, To Those Looking Forward To Building A Career And Those Who Have Given Up On The Journey?



They have to stay resilient. I believe in the philosophy that the violent take it by force. The economy or the industry is not going to become soft because they want you to quit. You will be the one to say, “Oh, no, I’m here, and I’m going to stay.” You have to be resilient about it. We all have goals, we have plans. We have to put your time frame to it, and you see, we have to go back to that part of networking. A lot of people will not go out of business if they have the right relationship and right network. There are times that people that we’ve trained in the past come back after some months. “Oh, my cousin wants to learn. Oh, my niece wants to learn.” That is referrers, we keep getting hem because we’ve built a kind of relationship with that person. Maybe the person loved the way we taught, maybe it was after learning, we were like,” oh, have you gotten the job now, what are you doing currently”, or maybe the person loved how they were handled. A business of such will not die.



For entrepreneurs, they have to build meaningful relationships. And as much as we are looking for profits, relationships are key. People are important. If you have people, you have value, and when you have value, money will come looking for you. Which is why you have to build that connection. Another thing is to stay stubborn. “No gree for anybody.” Stay there, let them know you are there, put yourself in people’s faces, when they are sleeping, let them say, “Omotola is a data analyst, if I have anyone that needs to be trained, I’m going to message her”. Resilience is a must. You must keep showing up every day. We know what is going on in the economy is not friendly, do the little you can do, your own day will come. So, stay stubborn, the right way.

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