Chinyere Uwuilekhue, the CEO of Enov8 Solutions — a cybersecurity company based in Lagos, Nigeria — was honored by our communications team as the special guest for this year’s International Women’s Day. This recognition was well-deserved, given her impressive years of experience in the technology industry, and the significant obstacles she has overcome to become one of the leading women in tech.
Her story is truly inspiring and will resonate with any woman who has ever faced challenges while striving to break the glass ceiling in her career. Our interview with her was enlightening, and there are many valuable lessons to be learned from it.
- What do you enjoy most about your job in the tech industry?
What I enjoy most is the opportunity it presents me to be a problem solver, leveraging diverse innovative technologies and seeing the value that it gives to my discerning clients.
2. How long have you been in the tech industry, and how has it been so far?
I started my career in the tech space working with Systemspecs in 1999 and I have grown up the ladder. So, I will describe it as 24 exciting, very challenging but fulfilling years.
3. What motivates you to continue in this industry every day?
I am sure you might be aware that the tech space is male-dominated and therefore women would face a variety of challenges. Infact, a statistic says women hold five percent of leadership positions in the technology sector. Just five percent. So there is 95% of the space occupied by our male counterparts.
However, a lot of efforts have been put in place in recent times to bridge this gap and ensure there is a reasonable level of gender inclusion.
Personally, I believe the woman is absolutely capable and inhibits the potential to excel in this male-dominated industry.
I often find myself the only woman in a room filled with men during board meetings. Initially, it appeared a bit intimidating, but over time it became very exciting and motivating because it is a pointer to the fact that we are gradually moving away from the stereotype and women are gradually occupying their rightful positions in that space and also impacting the world.
4. What is the best professional advice you have ever received?
I will give you a story.
At a time, I was working with a particular leading IT firm. I had joined as an experienced IT sales manager. When I got in, it was a bit overwhelming because there was so much to do, such as lead generation, products knowledge, and understanding my targeted audience’s entire IT landscape.
It was a lot…so many moving parts.
So I walked into the business owner’s office and asked him.
Sir, I don’t know where to start, there’s just a whole lot going on, I need a session to discuss…
He looked at me and said. Well Chichi, we are not going to tell you what to do or how to do it, you either float or you sink.
I went back to my seat, sat there for a few minutes, and asked, “ What is it going to be, Chichi?
I answered, “Well, I will float.”
His response stuck with me and I realized that the power to excel at whatever I was faced with was within me.
That’s what life presents to you, it’s either you are ready to fight your way through it or you actually sink.
….the rest is history, and I didn’t just float I soared (laughs)
So I will easily state that the best professional advice I ever received was, “You either float or you sink”.
5. International Women’s day Theme- Embrace Equity. Do you think the tech industry has embraced equity so far?
There is undeniably a gender divide and this cuts across all businesses but it is more pronounced in the tech industry.
Even if you date way back, you will find out that this divide has always existed.
I would also say that Nigeria has a sizable gender gap. It is extremely obvious. There are more males in the tech space than women. And even more interesting is the fact that business owners are often disposed to believe that their male employees should earn more.
So there is a pay gap because there is a perception that our male counterparts are more skilled.
The Tech industry also talks about inclusion and diversity. There is a lot of effort in that regard, however, there is still a great deal to be done. There has to be a shift from the stereotype.
At Enov8 Solutions, there is a conscious and deliberate effort towards ensuring that we bridge that gap as much as possible. Employees are engaged based on their skill sets and experience, irrespective of their gender.
6. What would you say to every woman out there?
What I’ll say to every female out there is, “ Never stop learning, keep a good worklife balance, and don’t burnout. And more importantly, get a mentor. Align with someone who is doing it and has excelled at it to guide you.
This is key.
7. What are the most important challenges you have overcome to fulfill your role?
In a nutshell, I’ll just say unconscious workplace gender bias. The best way I have overcome this is by not losing sight of the goal. Ignore the noise and focus.