Amina Oyagbola is an independent director, business leader, mentor, and former human resources and corporate services executive at MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd. With over three decades of experience, her career spans legal consulting, banking and finance, energy, and telecommunications. She is the managing consultant of AKMS Consulting Ltd and a partner at Oyagbola Chambers. A passionate advocate for diversity and inclusiveness, she is also the founder and chairperson of WISCAR, Women in Successful Careers, a not-for-profit strategic mentoring and leadership initiative for professional career women.
Ahead of the 2023 Annual Leadership and Mentoring Conference, Precious Ugwuzor brings excerpts of WISCAR and its mission to close the gender gap and empower the next generation of professional women for leadership
What inspired you to establish WISCAR and what is its mission?
Women in Successful Careers (WISCAR) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to propelling professional women to the forefront of Nigeria and Africa’s development and growth. Drawing inspiration from ALIWA (Africa Leadership Initiative West Africa), WISCAR strives to cultivate a powerful network of female professionals equipped to lead, drive social innovation, and make critical decisions that will usher in a new era of excellence in the workplace.
We firmly believe that empowering professional women to assume decision-making roles across all levels will generate a ripple effect that unlocks women’s potential, enhances female representation in the workforce, enriches the talent pool, drives innovation and productivity and contributes to improved organizational performance and prosperity, that propels national socio-economic growth and development.
How has WISCAR contributed to empowering and supporting women in pursuing successful careers?
WISCAR champions gender diversity, inclusivity, equity, and parity in the professional realm, aligning with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 5. Our signature WIN with WISCAR mentoring program is a meticulously crafted and structured initiative that provides strategic career guidance, inspiration, and support to bold women, empowering them to unlock their full potential, navigate career trajectories, nurture aspirations, and become catalysts for positive cultural and policy transformation within their organisations and spheres of influence.
Over the past 15 years, WISCAR has collaborated with diverse organizations to develop and replicate the WIN with WISCAR mentoring model. Therefore, WISCAR has equipped over 15,000 professional women and men with the necessary skills and competencies to effectively manage their careers, ascend to leadership positions, and contribute meaningfully to national development.
What specific initiatives and programs does WISCAR offer to promote women’s leadership and mentorship?
The WIN with WISCAR Mentoring Program is a carefully designed and crafted initiative designed to bridge specific competency gaps and equip selected beneficiaries with the essential skills required to progress their careers. Our WISCAR WIN I & II School of Excellence programs cater to young women in the early stages of their professional journeys in the workplace. Women with 1-3 years of post-NYSC work experience are enrolled in our WIN 1 – Talented Beginners program, while those with 4-10 years of work experience are carefully placed in our WIN 2 – Learning to Leap program.
At the pinnacle of WISCAR’s flagship mentorship programs stands the WIN 3 Mentorship Programme, specifically designed for high-achieving and high potential career women aspiring to transit to C-Suite and Board positions. These competency-based development programs are strategically aligned to cultivate strong leadership skills, foster personal mastery, and enhance overall workplace effectiveness, all tailored to the career aspirations and goals of each participant.
The transformative impact of this program is evident in the impressive applications we continue to receive. With over 800 women empowered through the WIN with WISCAR Mentorship program, and many more to follow in the years to come, we as pleased with the difference we have made in peoples lives. We look forward with the support of our sponsors and strategic partners to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment by enabling diversity and inclusion by developing women to build a better nation.
Can you expand on WISCAR’s annual conferences and this year’s edition?
The WISCAR Annual Conference serves as a transformative gathering where exceptional women, renowned speakers, policymakers, and thought leaders from around the globe converge to share their insights and engage in crucial conversations and meaningful interactions. This platform inspire through role modelling, empowers professional women to take the lead in driving positive societal change, and generates actionable recommendations that contribute to inclusive and sustainable national development.
The 2023 WISCAR Annual Leadership and Mentoring Conference will be held on Saturday, 9th December 2023 from 9:00 am to 3.00 pm at Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos. It will be preceded by a mentoring walk on Saturday, the 25th of November 2023 to flag off the conference. This will take place at Eko Atlantic City, Lagos.
What is the significance of the theme “In Her Own Voice: Forging Ahead” for this year’s conference?
The theme for this year’s conference, “In Her Own Voice: Forging Ahead,” is call to collective action. It signifies our unwavering commitment to achieving gender equality, empowering women, fostering inclusive governance, and promoting sustainable development. This theme underscores the powerful voices of women and male allies, voices that are both enduring and progressive. It represents the voice of a generation of people poised to break new ground towards a more inclusive, equitable and prosperous society that leaves no one behind.
What role do you think the annual conference plays in terms of proffering practicable solutions to challenges affecting women?
The WISCAR Annual Conferences has evolved and continues to attract key actors and stakeholders who share their ideas, discuss and proffer solutions to the relevant and pressing issues of our time. We firmly believe that the WISCAR convenings and forums provide a crucial platform to spotlight the gender inequalities and disparities towards addressing them and influencing necessary legal and policy changes for socio-economic development. Our unwavering commitment lies in accelerating women’s inclusion and participation in corporate leadership, governance, and politics for our collective advancement as a nation. The insights shared by thought leaders and esteemed speakers at this year’s conference will touch on the pertinent economic challenges, and the need for collective action which is the cornerstone of our advocacy efforts in the ensuing year. The gender agenda is a national agenda.
What are the key takeaways or messages you hope attendees will gain from this year’s conference?
In line with its established tradition, the conference will feature a distinguished panel of leading women who have made significant contributions to nation-building across various fields, including social innovation, arts and culture, entrepreneurship, media, and the corporate landscape. The panel will also include a male ally who will share his perspective on the discourse. The event will also provide ample opportunities for networking, capacity building, and the exchange of ideas. Additionally, this year’s conference will place a strong emphasis on identifying and generating actionable recommendations that will pave the way for gender equality, women’s empowerment, inclusive growth, and sustainable national development.
How will the conference provide opportunities for networking and engagement among women in various professional fields?
Our annual leadership conference is designed to create a vibrant, nurturing, and supportive environment for women from diverse professional backgrounds to connect, share experiences, and forge meaningful connections. We will provide opportunities to network and interact and actively encourage participants to engage with each other, expand their professional circles, and build lasting relationships. We believe that by fostering a sense of community and collaboration, we can empower women to leverage their collective strengths and advance in their respective fields.
What is your vision for the future of WISCAR and how do you see the organisation continuing to impact women’s professional lives?
I envision a future where WISCAR continues to empower and support women to achieve their professional goals. I see the organisation expanding its reach and impact across the African continent by fostering collaboration with like-minded organisations, both locally, regionally, and internationally on strategic issues.
Through our collaboration with UN women, WISCAR as private sector liaison has pioneered the establishment of a $25million private sector led Gender Based Violence Fund.
Through this collaboration we are also driving affirmative procurement and have advocated for the use of the UN Women Empowerment Principle (WEPs) to drive the gender agenda in organisations. We are delighted that 150 companies have signed on to the WEPs and we are still counting. We look forward to sharing the outcomes and results with you. WISCAR will continue to build capacity and provide a platform for women to connect, share experiences, and learn from each other.
Through mentorship, training, and advocacy programs, WISCAR will help women overcome barriers and pave the way for a more equitable and inclusive workplace. WISCAR’s vision is to create a world where women and men are equally recognized and valued for their contributions to society and have the opportunity to thrive in their chosen career.
Our unwavering commitment lies in accelerating women’s inclusion and participation in corporate leadership, governance, and politics for our collective advancement as a nation