Quick Hits: Temitope Ajanaku, PMP

On the power of communication, nonstop learning and empowering women leaders.

Temitope Ajanaku, PMP
Location: Lagos
Title: Technical project manager
Organization: Inheaden
Industry: IT

What three adjectives best describe you?
Philomath, goal-oriented and passionate.

What’s the one must-have skill for project leaders right now?
Effective communication. As a project leader, every important process involved in building a successful project—planning, stakeholder management, scope management, risk management—has its roots in effective communication.

What’s the secret for effective communication?
A good culture. People need to feel safe to air their opinion and also know that they’re heard and their opinion matters. This will ensure transparency and timely communication.

Why does the world need project leaders?
Project leaders get things done. For every vision that needs execution, a project leader is needed.

What’s the best project management advice you’ve received?
No project or project team is the same, so be flexible. Tailor processes to fit your project and project team.

What do you now know that you wished you knew on your very first project?
The importance of empathy. Being passionate about building is beautiful, but your passion without empathy might lead to chaos. Project leaders need to do more listening in order to build a good environment for their team. Give constructive feedback while being empathetic. Remember, projects are built for people by people.

How has volunteering helped you become a better leader?
I learned about project management after I volunteered to lead my team in a coding internship—an experience that helped me to hone skills and prepare for greater challenges. Recently, I volunteered to mentor a group of young women and nonbinary individuals in STEM. It has been rewarding to help others navigate career paths smoothly. Any opportunity to pass down knowledge and guidance is golden.

How has the pandemic affected your work habits or leadership style?
The pandemic reawakened our sense of shared humanity on a global scale. Though the goal is to be as productive as I can be, I understand that I am human—and my colleagues are humans as well. This made me more gracious in dealing with people and more creative in sustaining the motivation to achieve business goals.

What book are you recommending these days?
Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers by Lois P. Frankel. As a woman, there are some anti-career growth habits that are innate due to our upbringing and societal expectations. This book shows us there is a need to be deliberate about learning, while doing quite a lot of unlearning.

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Image credit: Janet Orilua

 

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