Today, we are talking to a woman of rare and unparalleled qualities. She broke the parochial borders to create her own niche. Bunmi Afuye Solabi is a certified biologist but challenged the status quo to become a certified mechanic and she is now the CEO of Ladymek Stores. She is also a public speaker and a woman/girl empowerment advocate. Bunmi takes us through the journey of discovering her passion.
1. What was your dream job as a young girl?
My dream job as a young girl was to be a medical doctor. Obviously most children were groomed up then to either be Doctors, Engineers and Lawyers 😁
2. You are a certified biologist, later went into banking, and finally a mechanic. What engineered these changes in career path?
At some point in my life I realized I wasn’t doing what I love, even though I was working I was never happy with my job or career path. I was just following the motions, then I made the decision to start doing what I have passion for. While growing up, I have always loved cars and decided to start making car “well”. I guess in a way, I’m still a doctor 😁😁 car doctor.
3. How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?
Most times, my motivation comes from my passion/love for cars. I always want to see cars run smoothly, then being able to train more young women in this vocation has also helped me to keep going. It’s a privilege to be able to inspire other women with what I am doing.
4. Auto mechanic usually involves heavy lifting and perhaps stressful especially for a female. How have you been able to cope with all that?
There are equipment designed for heavy lifting, and I also have a team that we work together to do the heavy lifting. The truth in this profession is whether you are a male or female, you will always need someone when it comes to heavy lifting provided you don’t have the required equipment for it. In auto mechanic no one is an island when it comes to heavy lifting.
5. What has been the most significant barrier in your career as a female mechanic?
The most significant barrier is lack of space and proper equipment/tools to make the job easier.
6. Do you experience resistance when you are leading men?
Initially, I do get a lot of resistance not only in leading men but also from my male counterparts which I feel is due to the stereotypical nature of my job. Over the years, I have earned a lot of respect from my male counterparts and male staff that I really don’t have that problem anymore.
7. Do you have mentors and how have they impacted your life?
I have a lot of people that I admire for different reasons both men and women. Some of them for their business ethics, resilience, integrity etc. My mother is my number one mentor, her optimism in face of any situation has helped me to keep going in life.
8. What is a typical day like for you?
I wake up in the morning, do the usual routine a mother does, take the children to school and off to work to come back in the evening. Although, this depends on my work schedule for the day which is usually what a wife and mother does and the circle goes on 😁
The good thing about that is I love what I am doing now. I wake up every day wanting to see what the day will bring. I love the challenge that comes with this job even though it might be exhausting at times.
9. Do you have the intention of taking your career a notch higher to become a car manufacturer some day?
Yes, but right now I will love a scholarship/grant that will afford me more training overseas with that I will be able to compete with my colleagues in the developed countries. Hopefully one day, I’ll have my own assembling plant here in Nigeria.
10. What advice will you give to a young woman entering a male-dominated profession?
The first advice I will give them is to love what they are doing. The male dominated terrain is full of so many challenges and if you don’t have passion for the job, you will easily be discouraged. I will also tell them to always remember that “success has no gender”.
11. You stand out in your profession, has this job opened more opportunities for you?
Yes, I have met a lot of dignitaries in this profession. I have been able to speak at conferences where governors, first ladies, and distinguished men and women were all in attendance.
12. What word of advice will you give the young girls, women and every other person out there?
My advice to women/girls is for them to know that, firstly, success has no gender; secondly, they can be more, so break the stereotype. Finally, to everyone out there, I will say no one is created empty.
Nikkyosblog specially appreciates Bunmi Afuye Solabi for her time and for sharing a lot with us in this session.
You can follow her on Instagram @ladymek_stores
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