This CEO is using her EMBA to empower women and mothers in the UK
Balancing full-time work with motherhood, especially for new mums, is no walk in the park — something Oge Akinola from the UK is all too familiar with. She’s working tirelessly to put an end to the challenges and disruptions new mothers face after celebrating the joyous occasion of birth. How? Through health and wellness.
Akinola, who has a master’s degree holder in peace and conflict resolution was forced to quit her job as a change/project manager at UK Power Networks upon becoming a new mum. As a result of her own frustrations, she found her calling.
“I wanted to use health and the benefits of wellbeing to encourage women, especially mums and wives, to be intentional about life and the actions they take to experience fulfilment,” she told U2B via email. “It was from that moment that my husband encouraged me to register a company.”
That company was Bump N Chic – a wellbeing consultancy firm that focuses on supporting women before, during, and after pregnancy. It also crafts programmes for businesses longing to foster a more inclusive workplace.
While personal challenges led to the formation of her business, newfound responsibilities fueled this mother of four’s urge to upskill. “During the pandemic, I had the urge to seek ways of improving business operations and get it to function better as a profitable business,” she says.
“I wanted to figure out a way to secure my children’s future and build a legacy. I knew I could only do that by acquiring knowledge and learning the principles of running a business effectively.”
Learning to lead effectively with an EMBA
Akinola decided that her next step would be to enrol in an Executive MBA (EMBA) programme, but from a prestigious business school in the UK. That’s exactly what she’s doing today as a student at Imperial College Business School.
This education is helping her pursue her childhood dream of becoming an entrepreneur, following in the footsteps of her father who opened the first computer academy in the state after attending Imperial as well. Akinola had her first taste of work at his office, helping him with tasks around the shop and even managing operations during her school holidays.
At Imperial College Business School, she’s learning the most effective practices of both executing these tasks and overseeing operations as a CEO.
Just six months into the programme, Akinola already feels like her life is changing for the better. “I’ve interacted and networked with other leaders and am constantly learning from the wealth of knowledge and expertise in my cohort,” she says. “I have been pushed out of my comfort zone in so many ways.”
The art of collaboration is critical for many businesses as it can impact its success, and her group projects are helping her to enhance her workplace collaboration skills. Akinola is putting her time management skills to use by juggling the roles of mother, business owner, and student without disrupting her career trajectory.
She’s even developed a passion for marketing, identified her signature leadership style, and grasped the basics of putting together the perfect team for her business.
“The Executive Leadership Module has continued to help me identify my strengths and develop my leadership. Meanwhile, lessons in organisational behaviour opened my eyes to the importance of making the right decision in picking people and how different biases can affect the way that we make perceptions of people,” she explains.
“Along with accounting principles and economics, these modules have continued to create the consciousness in me to do right by myself and for my business.”
Collectively, the experience has changed Akinola’s work ethic. She feels more proactive in how she executes tasks and has become more efficient in juggling her children’s timetable with her own, and Bump N Chic’s.
“I even practice my leadership and negotiation skills on my children when I’m not around my clients,” she says. Her EMBA is also helping her to improve her communication, and learn to network with purpose.
“We have also had sessions with external personalities, executive leaders, and in some cases – Imperial alumni, who share their life experiences, business journeys, highs and lows, and practical lessons that help us in our business journeys,” Akinola says.
“These sessions have been very fulfilling. I have built connections with professionals from different backgrounds and across different industries.”
Encouraging health and wellness amongst women and businesses
As the founder of the wellbeing and consultancy firm, Akinola wanted to ensure that she would lead by example and got a certification that would help her empower others to lead a healthy lifestyle.
“The desire to train other women fast-tracked my desire to become a fitness professional and a trainer,” she says. “Exercise and nutrition go hand in hand, so I got certified as a sports and exercise nutrition advisor. I am also concluding a qualification in Obesity and Diabetes.”
Not one to shy away from hardwork, Akinola continues to lead Bump N Chic while studying. To date, the business has helped over 500 women re-enter the workforce and countless businesses in improving their workplaces.
Akinola’s efforts stem from the fact that mothers naturally struggle with prioritising their own health and wellness after having children.
“We create that safe space for mums to embrace the fact that they matter,” she explains. “We educate, we support, we empower, and we enrich.” This is done through tailored programmes that address clients’ specific needs.
For instance, “My Intentional Life” is a “holistic transformation programme that helps professional and career women thrive personally and professionally”.
Over the course of seven weeks, the programme helps participants overcome debilitating mindsets, crippling belief systems, and unhealthy body images. They become more intentional about living and expressing joy to the fullest.
Bump N Chic also hosts personal training sessions that cater to health and wellness, including live virtual workouts. She also conducts speaking engagements at events and churches. Each initiative targets various groups of women.
Empowering women not to hold back
Akinola’s advice for women looking to up their entrepreneurial game: get an EMBA.
“But most importantly, do it at Imperial College Business School. I believe that motherhood should not hinder anyone from moving ahead to achieve their goals and fulfil the purpose of their ambition,” she says.
Her EMBA is already helping her to develop innovative ideas for her business. She is also grateful to have learned the principles of branding theories, designed for business owners to gain an advantage over their competitors.
“Our offerings are expanding to cater more to professional and working mums within the corporate sector,” she says.
“We hope to gain consultancy opportunities with big corporations to offer health and wellbeing practical training to employees, especially those focused on women, to relieve stress and anxiety as well as increase performance and productivity.”
Akinola is expecting to complete her EMBA by 2022. She knows that there’s no stopping her from scaling Bump N Chic to greater heights of success with the degree under her belt.