HN Q&A

‘Effective leadership comes from understanding one’s vision and purpose in life.’ – Juliet Ehimuan

Juliet Ehimuan is country director at Google, leading Google’s business strategy in West Africa. She was named by Forbes as one of the top 20 power women in Africa, by the London Business School as one of 30 people changing the world; featured in the BBC Africa Power Women series, and on CNN Innovate Africa.

Ehimuan completed her B.Eng. degree in Computer Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, with first-class honours. She proceeded to obtain a postgraduate degree in Computer Science from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom before completing her MBA programme from London Business School.

She is a globally respected business executive, thought leader, and a leading voice on Innovation, Transformation, and Leadership. Juliet Ehimuan is an Executive Coach and a member of the Forbes Coaches Council.

Juliet Ehimuan

She is the founder of Beyond Limits Africa – a leadership and organisational capacity building initiative, through which she provides coaching and leadership masterclasses.

Read our Q&A with her and be inspired.

In your own words, Who is Juliet Ehimuan?
I would say Juliet Ehimuan is a lady committed to personal growth and development. I believe we’re all here for a purpose and humanity is best served when we align with it.

My career has mostly been centred around technology, new media, and oil and gas industries. I have seen first hand how technology can be leveraged to optimise human experiences and potential; and I have been privileged to play my part in contributing to this field.

What are three words that best describe you?
Leader. Coach. Friend.

How did your journey into the Nigerian Tech Space start?
My initial training and work experience were in the tech space. I did my first degree in Computer Engineering at OAU Ife and a postgraduate study at University of Cambridge. My first job was a purely technical role in the Telecoms department at Shell. This marked my foray into the tech space in NIgeria. Following that, I worked initially as a Systems Development Engineer at Microsoft UK and then as Program Manager and subsequently Business Process Manager for MSN International.

Through the years, I broadened my professional and educational experience and worked in diverse regional and global roles particularly in Technology and New Media; eventually moving into general management. About 10 years ago, I joined Google to lead the Nigeria office as Country Manager. Nigeria remains home but my responsibilities have now expanded to include West Africa.

You’re also big on Digital empowerment. Share three ways you have impacted your audience through your drive for digital empowerment.
Yes I am passionate about using digital technology as a tool for empowering individuals and businesses. At Google, we have invested a lot of resources in digital capacity building from providing free digital skills training to millions of people in Africa, to training tens of thousands of developers through an Africa Scholarships program. We’ve also successfully provided mentoring and support to tech entrepreneurs through our Google for Startups program. Also, I am proud to have been part of many discussions, conferences and forums that have sought to drive digital empowerment across the continent and beyond.

In my capacity as a leadership coach, I often teach on leveraging digital technology for personal effectiveness. We now have the power of information at our fingertips and can connect/collaborate effectively with like minded people around the world. The internet has democratised access to information, enabling learning on the go, and thereby creating a level playing field.

The last year has had its difficult moments, but it has also been a turning point for understanding what can be achieved through digital empowerment. Unable to hold physical masterclasses as I normally would, I was able to coach thousands of people remotely. Encouraging the audience to come online led to greater inclusion and more direct engagement. impact the series had. The outcome – participants from countless cities around the world, more than 16,000 followers on social media interacting with the content and giving us feedback, requesting advice, and sharing their testimonials – is proof that training and impact is possible through digital empowerment.

As a Self Leadership Advocate, please share why self leadership matters and how our readers can be effective self leaders.
We must all, as individuals, be captains of our own ship. Even if we control nothing else, we must navigate the course of our own lives, otherwise we are tossed about by the vagaries of life and will have almost no say in which turn our lives take. We must decide: to be intentional, present, and committed to living the very best life we can; a life Beyond Limits.

Effective leadership comes from understanding one’s vision and purpose in life, prioritising activities that foster growth, and staying committed to the path ahead.

You recently released a self leadership and transformation guide. What inspired you to create such a masterpiece?
I have always been drawn to concepts and tools that can help me grow and be the best version of myself. I have also been inspired to share these with others and certainly my engagements with people through coaching and other interactions, have confirmed the value of these principles. The book recently published – 30 Days of Excellence – is a compilation of these tried and tested concepts and strategies that enable personal growth and leadership.

The book set can be used as a guide by anyone – professionals, emerging leaders, more experienced entrepreneurs and C-Suite professionals. No matter where you are in life, there are irrefutable principles that can help you be better, do more, grow, and help you live a life beyond perceived limits.

The book set comprises a table top flip book that can be put on your desk or anywhere visible to you, and a workbook with calls to action, and spaces for self guided reflection.

How do you juggle your career (leading Google’s business in West Africa) with entrepreneurship?
I wouldn’t exactly call myself an entrepreneur. I am a Leadership Coach and a Digital Champion. I am passionate about delivering value through empowerment and skills development. Coaching and supporting people through innovation, transformation and self-leadership is very much part of my vision, so I am committed to prioritising my time to contribute in this way. Time management is definitely key and I try to prioritise the things that are most important. I try to maximise my productivity hours in the day, leverage master lists, and also leverage technology to drive efficiency.

Can you tell us about the biggest obstacle you have faced so far in your life’s journey, and how you overcame it?
Long before I joined Google, I set up a consultancy outfit providing knowledge-based services for organisations, linking African businesses with their global counterparts. Let’s just say the initiative did not go as planned. I lost a lot of money, time and effort in the process and it was very disappointing at the time.

The outcome of that venture strengthened my resolve to deepen my understanding of the business world and, as a result, I applied to the London Business School and their Global Women’s Scholarship, a scholarship program that only admitted one woman a year and thus was very competitive. I submitted my story about my business failure which must have resonated with the Board because I was accepted.

In addition, all the effort I had put into the business which I had considered wasted came into its own the following year as I got the opportunity to run a program which was sponsored by the CBN and deemed very impactful. The perceived obstacle ended up broadening my horizons and heightening my working experience.

On days when you feel uninspired or afraid, what motivates you to keep going and If you could go back in time, what is one piece of advice would you offer a younger Juliet?
Yes, those days do show up now and then. We can’t control what happens to us externally, but there’s one thing we can control – our response. This is where it is important to be your own champion and coach. I would usually reach deep down and find an empowering context to apply to the situation, put things in context, and remind myself of my commitment and ”why”.

Days like these are a primary reason why writing your vision is so critical. We all need a visible reminder of our goals and our “whys”. Commitment to our own advancement will keep us going long after motivation and the New Year Resolutions have left the room.

Everything you put in place during the days of high motivation should prepare you for the darker days – putting training and/or education in place, leveraging accountability partners, revisiting vision boards, and so on should equip you.

My advice would be – make the best of and learn from every situation, and enjoy every experience.

What are the top 3 impactful things you have done/achieved in the past one year as concerns empowering women?
The last year has been particularly eventful for me. I am a keen believer in representation in teaching women to be their best, so I’ve ensured gender diversity in all Beyond Limits masterclasses, workshops and coaching programmes. 70% of the people who have benefitted from my coaching have been women.

Additionally, at Google, we have championed programs tailored specifically to support women, namely Women Techmakers events, WomenWill, and female developer groups. With our continent-wide digital skills training, we also work hard to ensure gender equality.

What is your take on “women supporting women”?
I believe it is invaluable. While certain aspirations are without gender, there is value to talking to someone who shares similar experiences; whose story resonates with you. There is a lot of benefit in being supported by women who are your peers, but I believe the phrase “women supporting women” really comes into its own when mentorship is involved – supporting the next generation of women leaders in building their own futures.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you so far?
We create our reality as we go along by virtue of what we believe, we think, and what we focus on.

What is one bad habit you are committed to changing?
I can give you two! They are – eating late and eating the wrong things. I am still working on both of them.

Time Travel or Teleportation?
Teleportation. No point going backwards – that’s history. No point going forward – life is to be lived in the moment, the journey is just as important as the destination. But teleportation would be useful as it would save hours in airport lounges once the world opens back up!

What would you like to be remembered for?
That I inspired people to be the best version of themselves.

Connect with Juliet Ehimuan Here.

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