Adeshola Cole-Alegbe is the CEO of TRITEK Consulting Limited, a multi-award-winning IT company helping many candidates within the African community secure roles within the IT sector. Through her training platform, she has empowered Nigerians at home and in the diaspora. A victim of racial abuse, Cole-Alegbe rose above adversities to prominence. In this no-holds-barred interview with Funke Olaode, Cole-Alegbe attests to the power of vision in navigating life’s uncertainties.
Born in Hackney, United Kingdom in 1981, Deshola as she is fondly called was subject to a lot of racial abuse. She grew up in Birmingham and was the only black person in her school at the time. Adeshola had a challenging childhood; having been fostered from the age of two to 11 years, her upbringing was a rollercoaster of physical and mental abuse.
Growing up, her relationship with her parents was somewhat hindered by the relationship she had with her foster parents. She had a complicated relationship with her mother during her teenage years. And when things became complex with her foster parents, her parents decided to take her to Nigeria to have a more disciplined upbringing. She went to International Secondary School, Lagos and Lagos State University (LASU) and was only allowed to come back to the UK once she had graduated from university. Adeshola graduated with a Second Class Lower degree in Literature in English.
Like so many people at the time, she went back to the UK and did odd jobs here and there; cleaning, working in a bakery. She finally secured a bank job, which opened up a plethora of opportunities for her to work in a professional environment. She realised her passion for Information Technology and mentorship in her later years, which led to the birth of TRITEK Consulting Limited.
To date, Adeshola has helped over 700 candidates transition into IT roles such as project management, business analysis, cyber security, change management to enable them to secure IT roles. Tritek has a plethora of highly skilled mentors and trainers who are equipped with knowledge, skills and experience to train and coach candidates towards achieving their goals.
Adeshola’s role in the IT sector hasn’t gone unnoticed. She is a recipient of multiple awards, including Mentor of the Year 2016, Woman of the Year 2018, IT Company of the Year 2020, recipient of the award for youth empowerment, 2021 and the Woman of the Year 2018 and just recently, emerging CEO of the year, 2022.”
Looking gorgeous in her wrap around wine dress, the Tritek boss exudes that sense of confidence and fulfillment. Considering her life trajectory, Adeshola is one woman whose only goal is to help African youths grow in the world of IT.
“Growing up was not easy; I lived in a very rural area. My foster parents raised me in a very military-style way; not allowed to sit or stand until to do so; sometimes I would sleep in a bathtub, and I was not allowed to put on the lights when going upstairs to sleep. It was tough.”
Adeshola rose above adversities against all odds. But what gave her that strength to succeed?
“Career-wise, just like so many other people, I’ve done a lot of odd jobs when coming back to the UK. I worked as a chambermaid for many years, then worked in banking for a good ten years. I got tired of the work, politics and inability to progress within my career, so I transitioned into tech, which led to the genesis of Tritek consulting limited. I had a passion for mentorship and decided to create a company that would help the community transition into the beautiful world of tech.”
Fostered at age two, Adeshola believes in an adage that time heals wounds. “Being fostered was a very strange experience, but it brought out that tough exterior in me. I was the only black person in my school and probably in the area where I lived. I was constantly ridiculed for my skin colour and how I looked at the time. I had no friends and spent most of my childhood defending, fighting and standing up for myself. My foster parents subjected me to both physical and mental abuse, and it was only when I was much older that I realised the life I was living wasn’t a normal one.
“Migrating to Nigeria was a huge culture shock and a rude awakening. I struggled to adapt in the initial years and worked with the strict culture and education. The educational system was way more advanced than what I had been exposed to in the UK. My grandmother raised me, and it was a strict upbringing. Watching people get whipped with the cane and also being a partaker of it is a big culture shock in itself. People struggled to understand my accent, and I struggled to adapt to the culture. For me, my strength came from what I experienced in my younger years whilst in foster care and having to stick up for myself and defend myself.”
Although she said she had overcome the trauma, she struggled with the way she looked for many years- a deficit of self-esteem.
“I was constantly mocked because of the shape of my nose and lips. Now, I embrace who I am and am proud of how I look. I still struggle with sleeping alone in the dark because of what I was made to do when younger, but all in all, it’s created a tough exterior in me.”
A literary ‘heart’ in the field of technology, Adeshola said she only transitioned into IT (without prior training) because IT was and still is a most sought after career path. “I desperately needed a change from working in the banking sector for ten years,’ she recalled her journey into information technology.
“I did not receive any formal training, nor did I do my master’s. I just went to a training firm that specialises in IT training and also provides experience. It is from this training that I was able to secure a role as a project manager. Again, I always knew I had what it takes. My pastor told me many times that I was destined for greatness, even though I doubted him. I’ve always had a thirst for success, and I’m a super hungry person when it comes to success. Once I put my mind to something, it has to be great.”
For her, her literary background was not a waste in the IT sector. She forged ahead with writing and research combined with an innovative mind to create TRITEK.”
Adeshola believes that the government still has roles to play for the IT sector to be more inclusive of youths.
“I have employed several youths within my organisation, and I am constantly blown away by their level of intelligence and expertise. It would be a great shame if all these skills went to waste. The government needs to be the facilitator of change and open-minded. Innovation and technology are here to stay, and projects should be initiated to accommodate these changes and thereby provide employment opportunities. The government should also support Africans in the diaspora who are helping the community with employment opportunities. Skills training sessions, workshops in universities, partnerships with private sector companies to enhance productivity, reviewing the curriculum to accommodate technology and IT, and so much more. I feel it’s more of a skill issue than a will issue. The youth of today want to do better. They want jobs, but they lack the resources and skill set to do so. The government could invest in companies like ours so we can’t help reduce the level of unemployment by training, upskilling, digitalising the workforce and thereby creating more employment opportunities.
“That will be a challenge until we accept that a change is needed and change our mindset. We need to give back without receiving anything in return. Support our people more and use their services. As Nigerian entrepreneurs, I think we have a huge role to play in supporting the society, especially the youth of today and tomorrow. We should not neglect our people, because we are successful. They need us. They need our expertise, and I think it’s time we give back in the best way possible. Show people that you care and you’re passionate about what you’re doing. Not everything should be profit-driven.”
As an African woman in business particularly tech, which is male-dominated, she is not immune to gender prejudice. The TRIKET boss has been married for over a decade but has known her husband for 20 years. “I am married to Dele Alegbe and have three adorable children: a 13-year-old girl and two boys, aged 7 and 5.
“We met when I was in Nigeria, living with my grandmother in the Iju area of Lagos State. The attraction? Hmmm, “He was good looking and very softly spoken. He has been highly supportive. He knew what I could do and pushed me to do better. He has a lot of wisdom, and that’s important when you’re in business, dealing with so many people. He lets me do what I need to do, and that’s really important to me.”
Giving tips on life lessons, she said: “The way you start out is not necessarily the way you will end up in future. Never be defined by the mistakes you’ve made or who you were in your younger years. Take that leap of faith and do something you’re good at. Whether you succeed or fail, the beauty is that at least you tried! Only do what you are passionate about and not what everyone else is going on about! Be true to your ethnicity, embrace your culture and promote where you come from with positivity. I am proudly Nigerian and will continue to be so.”