Navigating life as a woman in the world today is interesting. From Nigeria to Timbuktu, it’ll amaze you how similar all our experiences are. Every Wednesday, women the world over will share their experiences on everything from sex to politics right here.
This week’s #ZikokoWhatSheSaid subject is a 26-year-old Nigerian woman. She talks about annual promotions at her banking job, finding fulfillment in black tax and how the Lagos nightlife helped her find herself.
What makes you happy right now?
The pace at which my life is going. I feel fulfilled that I can provide for my family and dependents and afford what’s important to me. My career and financial growth make me so happy.
And finding someone who actually makes me orgasm literally fulfills me.
It does? How?
Apart from the feel-good hormones that come with getting an orgasm, finding someone who focuses on finding your G Spot during sex is underrated. You know how they say it boosts your self confidence and makes you glow. It’s not a lie o.
Can you tell me about your career growth?
I joined a bank as a contract receptionist in 2018. I would say that’s the bottom tier of a banking career. We were six in a team at the head office, and we rotated between the front desk and the switchboard upstairs.
It was important for me to stand out and be noticed, so I talked my teammates into doing things like daily colour coordination. I made the most of the position, maintaining a pleasant attitude to visitors every day because I understood that as receptionists, we were the first ambassadors of the bank.
I’ve always wondered how receptionists of big companies stay pleasant
We dealt with irate, frustrated customers coming from the branches — rude people who can’t even talk to me outside, but because I’m a receptionist, they think they can intimidate me to get access to the bank’s executive director.
We couldn’t just let them into the back office, so we had to figure out ways to diffuse such situations every day. It took great skill to stay pleasant, but I was always smiling — ask anyone. But I was soon tired of the role since I didn’t get a degree in finance to be a receptionist.
Of course. What did you do about it?
After about a year, I said to myself, “I think it’s enough”. But most of the people I worked with kept telling me how hard it was to be converted to a full staff of the bank: there’s only one conversion exam per year; it’s highly competitive because every bank contract staff in the country takes it; they only select a small number of people to enter the graduate training school.
They just gave me a bunch of reasons why I shouldn’t bother. But I just knew I had to try, so I found out how to make sure my chances of selection were high. I started learning about products, studying hard and worked to get a product officer role two months before the conversion process started.
I took the first exam in my 18th month as a contract staff and passed on the first try.
USEFUL INFORMATION: 7 Ways To Make Bank Workers Fear You
Wow. You must’ve been thrilled
I was. But the same co-workers told me, “Everybody passes this first stage. The second stage is the problem”. I said okay. Then I passed the second exam, and they were like “Not bad”. And I aced the third stage.
I just knew I had to get picked, so I spoke to the few people who’d passed the different phases to get the exact knowledge I needed to make sure I was very prepared. The final stage came, and out of about 2000 contract staff who started the process, only 15 were selected. I was one of them. I became a full staff of the bank in 2020.
Congratulations. What was your new role?
Product officer for business banking. I did that till 2021 when my role switched to product manager, business banking. Earlier this year , they promoted me again within the same role. But I now supervise four junior staff and report directly to the head of business banking who reports to the MD.
Every year since I started my career in 2018, I’ve gotten a promotion. I know what I was earning then, and compared to now — I’ve been able to move from my parents’ house in Ikorodu to Lekki and buy a new car. I’m independent, and I even have dependents now.
But how do you feel about the black tax?
It doesn’t stress me. Remember I said it’s part of what makes me feel fulfilled? And I’m the last born so the burden of taking care of my family isn’t solely on me. But you know when your mom calls to ask for something, and you can afford it? It’s just a flex.
Apart from my parents and members of my extended family, you know, it’s Lagos now. If anyone sees you’re remotely doing well, they’ll keep asking for help like you don’t have problems. I kind of understand, so it’s no big deal.
But don’t get me wrong. I prioritise my mental health more than anything, so if there’s any need I can’t afford, I won’t kill myself. If they don’t understand, LOL.
What was your office naysayers’ reaction to your conversion?
At the head office that year, only me and one other lady (who has even japa-ed now) were selected. I remember the day I got the email. I’d gone out for lunch, and when I came back to the office, the other staff had already found out they didn’t get in. I went to my seat to check my email, and I screamed. They were all happy for me actually.
Most of them have been converted now. They thought if this party girl who was just a receptionist and doesn’t take things too seriously could pass the stages, maybe they were wrong about their chances. My success motivated them.
Someone who’d already passed the age limit got converted some time later because she moved to another role and department to justify her conversion. I’d done the same thing to increase my chances, so I just know she was following in my footsteps.
Actually, how are you a laid-back party girl and still passing competitive exams on the first try?
I do take things seriously; the laid-back thing is just a facade.
But they see my growth and performance at work now, and it has totally changed their perspective of me. I mean, my co-workers come to me for help with tasks. I’ve started to show off more of my work life and serious side outside work too. I guess you could say I’m now an adult.
Funny enough, whenever I have personal encounters with people from work, they’re always like, “Damn. You’re actually a genius” or “You’re so smart”. I know what I want, and I go for it. And I’ve always wanted to be successful and financially independent.
Last year, I set up a business, letting out short-let apartments for property agents based on my experience working at a real estate company during NYSC. As a sub-agent — with the kind of network I’ve built at the bank and as a party girl — at least once a month, someone needs a three-bedroom flat for up to two weeks, and I make some cool cash. I mean, life is good.
God, when? Let’s talk about the party girl life
I enjoy clubbing — meeting new people, socialising — it eases my stress, and the connections I make help me do a lot of business.
Funny enough, growing up, I was an introvert. I would just stay home, reading novels and watching High School Musicals or princess movies. I loved fairy tales, so I was always living in my head, daydreaming at home about when my Prince Charming would come and carry me.
Interesting. When did things change?
I got into university in 2011. I was like 15, pretty young, and I was a nerd initially. Then 200 level came. My roommates liked going out, so I would just watch them. They liked to turn up and a lot of guys liked them. You know how all my daydreams were about Prince Charming? At the time, my goal was to get a sweet boyfriend and live happily ever after. My whole thought process was that to achieve this, I had to be a party girl.
Sounds like tight logic. How did that work out?
I don’t know about getting a boyfriend. But in 300 level, my roommate was a girl who did PR for Club 57, inviting girls to the club to attract guys who would buy drinks. The first night I followed her out, she made me up and helped put together my outfit because I was such a dead babe at the time.
When we got to the club, I had so much fun and was just a different person, getting so much attention. I was insecure about my body because I have big boobs. But when I dressed up at night, I always looked and felt so good. I enjoyed the attention I got from the guys at the club. I enjoyed returning to the hostel to gist about everything with my friends and roommates.
What was the club scene like?
The whole experience was so new and exciting for me. This was in 2014. We used to go every Thursday night for “We own Thursday nights” [W.O.T.N.]. I started meeting people and making lots of friends and connections with fellow regulars. I’m a Leo, so I just loved the attention I got. When they see this tall, busty, melanin-popping beauty, heads must turn.
But I was such a novice that I didn’t know anything happened in clubs beyond talking, dancing and drinking. By my final year, we were doing club tours. We sha toured every popular club in Lagos that year. And after graduation, while I was waiting for NYSC’s call-up letter, I got my own PR job at Escape Nightclub.
How did that happen?
One night at Escape, a guy who was doing PR for them asked me to join his team since he knew me and I knew so many people. I was already helping my former roommate, the Club 57 PR person, so it made sense to do it officially.
Did it work out?
I joined Escape in 2015 when they were introducing their Wednesday nights. Luckily for me, my first night, I invited a girl whose friend was celebrating her birthday, so all her friends came to celebrate with her. They ended up filling two tables.
On top of that, I’d been building a network, touring clubs, and I hadn’t yet taken advantage of it. So when I called people for that first night, they turned up. I drew so many people they had to introduce me to the owner, who gave me a full job. I started earning a salary and a 10% commission on the drinks purchased.
Yes o. But it was only then I discovered that other things happen in clubs; things like hookups and runs.
One night, I invited girls out, and the PR for guys said I should bring them to the middle table where his guys were, which was basically the VIP table. I was there forming morals like, “No. Why can’t the guys come over and talk to the girls?” The PR guy just said, “What’s wrong with this one?” hissed and went to another PR.
Later, the girls came to meet me, asking to go to the same middle table. In under an hour, some of them had found their own way to that table, and they didn’t follow the cabs we’d arranged to take them back to their hostels.
Weren’t you worried about them?
No. Everyone was having fun. Girls were killing themselves to get into Escape. The work was a blast for me because it was the biggest club that year.
There was this guy who was a proper baller when I was in school. He had a car and used to carry fine girls around. One day, he came to Escape, and they bounced him. I was about to enter when he saw and greeted me. I told the bouncer, “He’s with me. Let him in”. As the guy entered, he said, “So it’s you that’s bringing me inside club now”.
It killed me because Escape used to bounce people a lot. It was mad that I could get someone like him in.
Mad. But you still didn’t find Prince Charming and your happily ever after?
Dating in Lagos, as we all know, is tough. Lemme walk you through my journey: you meet someone, y’all vibe, get to know each other, have a couple of amazing dates and match energies. I mean, the attraction is there, and everything seems intact.
Then boom, the honeymoon phase is over, and the true colors are revealed. It’s either you’re ghosted or you’re the ghost. But basically, it’s over, and the cycle continues. It’s exhausting, abeg.
I’m still looking for “The One”, and I’m certain I’ll find him soon. I just need to be ready for him, so I’ve learnt to work on being the best version of myself.
How did you become both a career and a party girl?
Well, I went for NYSC in 2016, and I’ve been working on my finance career non-stop since. It’s been hard mixing it with the PR lifestyle, and I mean, I’m older now. But lowkey, COVID was a blessing because I have a work-life balance working hybrid. Being able to work and party and not be so overwhelmed is a blessing.
Many people cut out clubbing once they start the career struggle. Why have you decided to hang on to it?
Clubbing helped me realise I enjoy meeting and engaging new people, having conversations, going out and having fun. I mean, this life is short o, so let’s just enjoy ourselves while we’re in it.
THANK YOU, NEXT: What She Said: I Need to Write to Be Alive