In this series we will explore the work of the African Diaspora, to learn more about their contribution both to their host and home countries.
First up is PR and Marketing Executive Ronke Lawal who lives and works in London.
Where did you grow up?
Hackney in East London of Nigerian Parentage
How did your upbringing influence who you are?
My parents were adamant that both myself and my sister grew up knowing our culture. We had a very strict upbringing, though not without fun and positive experiences. We were not given the opportunity to simply “do what the other kids were doing.” Education was crucial to my upbringing. I had to “face my books” and not get distracted if I was to do well and I suppose it worked.
Why and how did you get started with RSL Management Services?
I had a good managerial position and though I enjoyed the job there was always something inside telling me that there had to be more to life. It took 18 months before I realized what that was, I looked inside myself and looked at what I was becoming and where I was heading. I had become a “robot” to the routine of the job and my personality was also changing, stresses began to develop and though I did an excellent job and people liked me I was becoming “a dragon”, “a moody manager”, this was a sign to me that things were not right. So I had to re-evaluate and I realized that what I had always wanted to do before I lost sight of my dreams was to run my own business. I started to help a friend with her beauty business and I realized that marketing was my passion, in fact business marketing in any form is my passion so after setting out my plan I took the step and quit my job at the tender age of 23! I have learnt a lot over the course of 7-8 years that I have been running my own business but it has been an amazing opportunity. I became the Chief Executive of The Islington Chamber of Commerce as a direct result of my entrepreneurial spirit and running my firm.
How does your company serve the African diaspora?
A good proportion of my clients,both past and present, have been from the African Diaspora. Aside from working with the diaspora I actively engage with the diaspora community by encouraging us to do better and seek excellence in our activities. I regularly speak at events to inspire younger members of our diaspora and am currently setting up The RSL Speaker’s Bank to hire out speakers from diverse backgrounds in the diaspora to do more on the speaking circuit.
What are some of the changes you’ve seen in your line of work?
I’ve seen that there are far more opportunities now to spread the word using tools such as social media. It has also become more important than ever to be creative with marketing campaigns.
How do you juggle family and work?
It is crucial that I find time to actually ENJOY time. I am not an advocate of working for 20 hours a day; it works for some but I have learnt over the years that it does not work for me. I work smartly so that I can enjoy time with my friends and family. I pay attention to what matters and focus on what needs to be done so that I do not waste time on unnecessary activities. Its a skill that has taken some time to develop and though I am not perfect I am close.
If you could do it again, what would you do differently ?
I would have aimed even higher and done more to create my brand. This would have meant getting a mentor earlier on, finding funding earlier on and being braver sooner!
May I ask you about your winning of the Precious Award and what that meant for you?
Winning the Precious Award was a phenomenal achievement, it meant so much to have my hard work and leadership recognised by my peers. It raised my profile and cemented my own confidence in my abilities. It really was an amazing honour.
Are you involved in any community projects/charities?
I became a non-executive director of The Hoxton Apprentice in 2011, a social enterprise restaurant based in Hackney. I joined the board of Trustees of Voluntary Action Islington in 2012 and I am currently on The Employers Panel for the National Employment Savings Trust.
Final word to, especially, African women in the diaspora
I am inspired by the wealth of opportunity available to African women in the diaspora. There are so many choices; sometimes too many, that there really is no excuse not to find your passion and to do something amazing with your life. We can do and be absolutely anything we set our minds to.
A big Thank you to Ronke for speaking to us and if you would like to connect with her, she is at