Internationally recognised and sought-after speaker, coach and consultant on global development projects by African governments, Debola Deji-Kurunmi is a transformational catalyst, equipping a new breed of African visionaries to rise and enthrone the continent into global prominence. As a two-time Mentor at the Queen’s Young Leader Awards (a UK Government fellowship for exceptional young leaders in the Commonwealth), her work of coaching, consulting and capacity building cut across Faith-based Ministry; Personal Transformation Coaching as well as Public Policy and Impact Advisory. In this interview with MARY NNAH, she disclosed her achievements so far and how she has impacted on the younger generation through her various activities
As an internationally recognised speaker, coach and consultant on global development projects, Debola Deji-Kurunmi is no doubt a transformational catalyst. Across her various organisations, she leads a 70,000+ strong community of change makers, thought-leaders, innovators, and passionate people– empowering them to seize a compelling vision and contribute meaningfully to the world.
An author of 20 books till date, she has been severally recognised for her outstanding leadership impact and has received several awards including 2014 New Leader for Tomorrow at the Crans Montana Forum in Geneva; 2018 Mandela Washington Fellow, 100 Most Inspiring Nigerian Women 2019 and currently serves as a Youth Representative at the Nigerian Economic Summit Group.
What does being a two time mentor at the Queen’s Young Leaders’ Award in the UK mean to you?
It is completely humbling to mentor some of the most outstanding young leaders in the Commonwealth. First of all, I am so proud of the Queen’s commitment to highlight the extraordinary work and achievements of young outstanding visionaries across the Commonwealth and to invest in a program that equips them for even greater effectiveness.
Being a two-time mentor is an honor that afforded me the opportunity to directly impact those building solutions particularly for Africa, and creating change for vulnerable communities. This is at the heart of the work I’ve done in the last ten years, and I found it a source of great joy to provide guidance, support, and practical advice to these young leaders during their time at the Queen’s Young Leaders’ Programme.
How did you get into coaching?
I got into coaching by accident literally, because I had always been the go-to counselor for friends and colleagues as far as 2002 while on campus. In 2003, I started a mindset empowerment community on Obafemi Awolowo University, which grew into a movement of young ladies who were awakened to a sense of purpose and personal power.
Also because of my passion to transfer knowledge and show others whatever I find to be working for me, I naturally found myself in the coaching context from my early twenties.
By 2010, my desire to create transformation for people and help them fulfil their higher potential had become a full-blown passion; thus, leading me to create safe spaces for people, especially women, to meet up, learn and connect with the insights they needed to improve their lives. Back then, I led what we called Life Academy for Women and freely produced Introspective Journals to aid personal reflection and journaling.
In 2014, I officially founded IMMERSE Coaching Company as a personal transformation coaching firm for men and women seeking life clarity, intentional growth, elite productivity and visionary execution.
What inspires and motivates you as a coach?
I am inspired by transformation and motivated by transformation. When I see people, institutions and nations experience transition from one state to another state of growth; it gives me a rare degree of joy! The work that I do as a Coach is founded on the firm belief that anybody can transform their lives, if they transform their minds.
As at now, I have moved beyond transforming minds only, to raising other thought-leaders and visionaries who can transform many more lives. This is the discipleship model that allows us expand our impact in the next 10 years. This is the way we will shift our continent into its purpose and prosperity.
We’ve recently launched Visionary Compass, which is a 40-week Accelerator Program for founders, executives and leaders who want to clarify, launch and scale their ventures, and next-level assignment. The program is a truly revolutionary mentorship system that moves visionaries into impact, authority and legacy. This way, we are accelerating a pipeline of leaders who will influence our society.
What was the experience like at the beginning?
Actually, I am always fascinated by the memory of how we started. We have been well received by our audience from the beginning. I started out providing coaching to 20 women at a time over a 30-day period, helping them clarify their goals, craft a commitment to healing and create their Life Plan.
Every woman who went through the IMMERSE Academy as we called it at the time, would go and invite others. We quickly grew our clientele base simply by the power of crusadership. Our impact was significant and undeniable. We witnessed women starting businesses, stepping out domestic abuse, focusing on their goals and solving real problems in their communities.
As our audience grew, we also started to expand our courses and programs, as well as began to recruit other Coaches, whom we trained and certified, to join the organization, so we could reach even more women. The journey has been amazing! What started as a community of 20 women, has grown into a global community of over 45, 000 members in 99 countries including men and women.
Tell us more about your organisation.
IMMERSE Coaching Company has three distinct arms. We’ve got IMMERSE Inner Circle which is our women-only coaching membership with thousands of super-achieving and leading women who use our courses, programs, and resources as tools for their growth and personal transformation. Within this membership, we have served over 3, 000 women since we launched it in 2019 and we’ve built over 80 courses, accessible to our members.
What inspires me the most about IMMERSE Inner Circle is our Changemaking Projects. Every 90 days, our members adopt a community, orphanage, hospital, school etc. to provide charitable support and directly impact the vulnerable persons there.
The second arm at IMMERSE is Men’s Arcade, which is our men-only coaching practice helping men attain real success and elite performance through mentorship, game-changing courses and valuable support systems for the work they do. We are excited about the partnerships we have with father-figures, male mentors and inspirational leaders who provide guidance to men on their path to elite performance and true success.
The third arm is Visionary Compass, a 40-week high-tier coaching and mentorship system that helps visionaries and leaders elevate their income, impact and influence through their life’s work.
At IMMERSE, we help people actualize their higher potentials and achieve their goals through personal transformation. Our biggest proofs are the over 45, 000 people across 99 countries of the world who have taken our courses and joined our coaching programs. Today, we have many of our members creating change within their industries and countries.
You are also an author of 20 books, what was the inspiration?
Well, I believe that books are a powerful way to store transgenerational wisdom and preserve legacy. Books are a way to remind the next generation of the mysteries you uncovered in your time. Books are gateways into realms where men lived and wisdom they discovered. I write books because I want to connect with people in intentional ways, and allow them to experience mental awakenings at their own pace.
I love writing, and I have so many more books within me which would be released in the days ahead by the grace of God. Some of my most loved and widely read books are the 4 books in the FIRERBAND Series; My Life is Full of Encounters, and Kingdom of Words.
What was your experience as a Mandela Washington Fellow?
Oh! That was actually a significant experience for me. In 2018, I was selected by the US Government as one of the most outstanding young leaders in Africa alongside other brothers and sisters of mine on the continent. It was definitely validating to be recognised for my commitment to build Africa by building its people. This has always been my desire and dedication.
Being selected as a Mandela Washington Fellow took me to the United States, touring exceptional businesses, charities and government parastatals across the State of Minnesota, as well as undertaking an Executive Education Program at University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. At the end of the fellowship, I was selected to deliver an IGNITE Talk to my colleagues at the Summit in Washington DC. That IGNITE Talk “how to fry fish to solve a wicked problem” became a source of inspiration to many visionaries home and abroad.
Who or what do you consider as the greatest influence in your life?
I am that child raised by the entire village, honestly! My growth and leadership capacity has been radically influenced by so many kind, exceptional and balanced role models, mentors and spiritual guides who have supported me in no small measure.
First of all, God is the biggest influence in my life. He is the standard by which I choose to define success, the yardstick for my decision making and the only One whose script I’ve chosen to live by. I am a lover of God, and a servant of His will.
Also, my biological parents, Pastor Dayo and Ayo Adeoye, have played a great role in shaping my ideologies and grooming me into a life of godly values, excellent work ethic, humility and personal responsibility.
Aside all the authors whose books have changed me, I am specifically thankful to my mentors, coaches and spiritual leaders – Deji Kurunmi, Segun and Funke Obadje, Dele and Morin Osunmakinde, Vincent and Dotun Arifalo, Architech Jumoke Adenowo, and Dr. Cindy Trimm for their love, guidance and counsel. They remain very strong influences in my life, not only because they teach me wisdom but because they embody the truths they teach. God bless them.