My name is Detoun Ogwo, a Development &
Human Resources Practitioner passionate about making a difference in the youth
employment sector. With a career spanning over nearly two decades, I have
functioned in the human capital and customer relationship divisions of several
multinational organizations in Nigeria and the United Kingdom.

I hold a degree in Biochemistry from the
University of Lagos, certification on effective youth employment policies &
Impact evaluation of youth programs including a Masters in Development, all from
the ITC/ILO International Training Centre of the United Nations System.
I am currently a doctoral researcher at the
prestigious University College London (UCL), Institute of Education. I earned a
Certificate in Organization and Strategic Management (With Distinction) from
the London School of Economics and Political Science UK, a Senior Leader’s
Certificate in Social Enterprise from the Columbia Business School and a World
Bank Institute scholarship on Global Strategies for Education Reform and I am
an Ashoka Fellow. I co-founded the AGDC Employability & Enterprise Ltd/GTe,
a national career centre in year 2007 and served as the Executive Director for
7 years. ??Though currently
preoccupied with studies, I also sit on the board of several organizations
including The Skill Development Practice ?and Timothy Freeman & Associates.? My overarching career vision is to one day play or join a team
playing an active and hands on role in fine-tuning the systems that transition
our youth from the education sector into the world of work in a more efficient and
effective manner than it currently exists.
I am married to Amechi, an architect and we are
blessed with 4 children, our last being a set of twins.
My work as a youth advocate is framed around
the belief that the energy, skills and aspirations of young people are
invaluable assets that no country can afford to squander.  
These words relate
to me on many levels. I believe a lot of the systemic and institutional
challenges we face in Nigeria stem from seeking quick fixes. I can relate to Amartya
Sen’s Capability Approach. We need to make the right investments in our
education sector. Knowledge by itself is a force for good. Good and efficient
institutions are built because the right knowledge base and skill sets
conceptualize and drive processes there. We cannot expect our society to run
efficiently if we cut corners and not make the right investments. That in
itself is a skewed and almost corrupt construct, wanting to reap where we
didn’t sow. We must reform and make the right investments in our education
system and institutions. Knowledge is key.
Passion. I think it
takes a great deal of courage to effect any kind of change in our country. We
grapple with far more than our counterparts elsewhere do, so passion and a firm
conviction to consistently follow through and be a doer counts. I say passion
and firm conviction because they are essential for seeing any meaningful
reformative and change process through. I have observed the psychological
burden unemployment places on our young ones, many who are educated but find it
so difficult to get on the career ladder because our labour market information
systems require reform. I think we all draw our passion from one form of
challenge or the other, so passion is what keeps us going until there is a
shift or meaningful impact in whatever area enflames our quest for better
outcomes for others. Passion serves as our fuel against all odds and
Wisdom, by this I
will extend it to tact and diplomacy, one must understand human dynamics in our
part of the word, what drives us all at an innate level differ. All of us
humans are subject to our biases and world views.  I have learnt one needs to be equipped with
some form of ‘local intelligence and wisdom’ to navigate the world as is today
so I choose wisdom, but I won’t confuse that with being sly or conniving. I
have learnt whilst leading teams in Nigeria that we view vulnerability as
weakness, both followers and leaders must understand that they are first human
and let those coming behind appreciate that we all are work in progress, there
really are no super heroes anywhere, we all surmount our daily challenges to
effect change, as leaders we must never be inauthentic nor afraid to be human
and that takes both courage and wisdom.
very thought of Possibilities. Life especially in a unique environment like
ours is not a tea party but you will agree that nothing can hold down a man or
woman of purpose. I am undoubtedly blessed with great relationships in my
personal and professional life and when invariable tough times arise, I draw my
inspiration to keep going from the counsel & life experiences of my mentors
and leaders. I am thus very grateful for my husband Amechi, my parents, in
laws, friends, mentors and my Pastor, Pastor Taiwo Odukoya. I also surround
myself with relevant books and a very capable team.
Asides from my
parents and husband, my life journey has been greatly impacted by my Pastor,
Pastor Taiwo Odukoya and mentors Tami Rosen and Mrs Obiageli Ezekwesili. Whilst
I have been blessed by so many other leaders, they are my immediate role models
because despite their status in society, they care, are deeply empathetic about
lives and demonstrate it. That resonates strongest with my definition of
I have a mission statement I draw inspiration
from daily and my overall goal for now is to somewhat challenge how we
transition our youth from our institutions of higher learning to the world of work
and trade in Nigeria. I stand to be corrected but a great deal of our
challenges with youth employability and work readiness in Nigeria stems from
almost nonexistent career development centers and similar enablers within our
institutions of learning. Giving our children credentials and certificates as
proof of readiness for the wider society just doesn’t cut it. I have gleaned
from my H.R experience that whilst we say there are no jobs, one dimension of
the youth unemployment challenge is that where there are even good jobs
available, we haven’t prepared our youth to speak the language of employers. So
over the next 5 years I want to of course, complete my doctoral studies at the
UCL Institute of education (My thesis is focused on aspects of the school to
work transition process as currently practiced by higher education institutions
in Nigeria). My dear husband is my Chief accountability manager; he manages to
keep me on my toes whilst providing a lot of support on the home front. I also
have 2 very dear friends Olabisi and Modupe who keep me sane and laughing
through the process. My faith in God above all, keeps me anchored when life
gets tasking.
Africa is a society
more inclined towards patriarchy and African women regularly have to break out
of this ‘stay-home’ mold to rebrand as homebuilders, game changers, world
shapers and destiny influencers and leave their distinct marks. African women
are beginning to understand, embrace and explore the potential they carry and
we are redefining the idea of who the African woman is and who she should be.
Every time I speak or mentor young women, I constantly remind them that success
is not gender specific. I let them see the possibilities and I challenge them
to always rise beyond the environment they find themselves because as they say,
success favors the bold.
I confess it gets
overwhelming but I do my best not to compromise resting on Sundays. I also love
to hang out with my 4 kids; they are fun to be with. I enjoy the work and often
get careless with sleep so I am grateful nature put a mechanism in our bodies
that allows us know when it’s time to stop the overwork! Rest or be laid to
rest, a friend once advised me. I do the occasional spa visit and schedule
retreats at certain times of the year. I also walk most evenings to get some
headspace. Travel also excites and relaxes me greatly.
MY   –  
The African woman is a special breed who has
so much to give, but often limited to stereotypical platforms, sometimes because
of patriarchal restrictions and unique boundaries of our society. It is
important to make the African woman understand her unique skill set, gifting
and relevance in Africa and the global marketplace so that she is able to
contribute her quota to societal development. We are seen as a third world
society despite the contributions we have made. It is time to stand up and
rebuild for posterity and relevance.
I like that the word
empowerment always features. I am open to responsibilities that will allow us
collect data that is strong enough to challenge and reform how the girl child
advances in society through the current way our education systems are designed.
It doesn’t make sense to expend huge sums of money on provision of education
that returns very little to individuals and society on a whole. We must fix
these broken systems because the lives we pass through matter. I am
particularly glad that items 3,4 and 8 of the sustainable development goals are
immediate areas of execution in such a department.
First word, as one
advert says, it’s in you. Often times we shy away from what we have been
divinely endowed to do perhaps for fear of doing too much or losing control.
Because of the researched impact on human capital development, there is a lot
of training and development in women going on in the world now and I can’t
thank the Enterprise Development centre of LBS enough for the 10,000 women
program I attended. We have a great ability to multitask and give back of our
essence, so in all your striving, learn every day, surround yourself with
focused people, network, embrace change and challenges as necessary life
processes. At the end of the day, nothing is impossible to a purpose driven
woman. Mistakes will creep in but pick yourself up again. The question to
constantly ask yourself is what’s really stopping me? Learning and discovery
never stops. Learning is Lifelong. We are all students of and for life. Nothing
should limit or stop our human potential.