SOCIETY GIST GOING TO UNIVERSITY DOES NOT MEAN YOU MUST DO WHITE-COLLAR JOBS – FEMALE ENGINEER, SHERIFAT OLABISI By Admin Posted on December 6, 2018 8 min read 0 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr Female civil engineer by training and profession, Sherifat Olabisi Adeleye holds master’s degree in Civil Engineering, and has worked in construction and facility management firms for 15 years, taking the path that many of her kind would not dare to thread. She owns a civil engineering, construction and facility management company called Shlaad Engineering Company & Handyman Services, a firm which maintains offices and homes from start to finish. It is also in the business of interior decoration, with a special focus on marketing of throw pillows, duvets and others related products. Sherifat started this business in 2010 on a part-time basis, but went into it fully in 2016. It is not completely wrong to say that Sherifat is; she is playing in a profession purely dominated by men. But she remains undaunted. “The number one thing is that once you are in this kind of business, you do not have to see yourself as a woman any longer”. “You have to see yourself as a man and you need not be emotional about it. You leave the ‘woman’ aspect of you at home and let people see the boldness.” The entrepreneur started ‘anyhow’. For her, what mattered was to set up the company first. This was, perhaps, why she started in her home. “With trainings and determination, I had to learn and re-learn. You burn your fingers in this kind of situation. At the end of the day, you may put your own money, but you will smile when success beckons,” she says. ”I started from my house. That’s how I ran the business for seven years before moving into an office. I had to put a face to my company; I had to put a physical structure. Getting your client is the biggest thing, not really an office,” she explains. She notes that the journey has been overwhelming and profitable, but riddled with challenges. Sherifat cannot really say that the number of her clients has shot up. But she believes she is getting there. “Once you are able to give your clients the best, there is always continuity. Regarding being overwhelming, you have to prove that you can do it, being a woman. You have to be on top of your game; you have to be detailed and you must do the extra work for people to come back. Integrity is something you have to build,” she states. The construction industry in Nigeria has been on low ebb since 2015 and, especially 2016, when recession hit the country. But the sector is beginning to see growth. Recent data by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show that the sector grew by 7.66 percent in the second quarter of 2018 from -1.54 percent in the first quarter and 4.14 percent in the last quarter of 2017. The entrepreneur says though it has been very challenging operating in the construction sector, she has been able to wade through hurdles because of good planning. “I saw that if you are able to plan your business, it will keep growing,” he says. Even though there is much emphasis on business plan, Sherifat believes that some of things she has heard in this area are more theoretical than practical or realistic. “Business plan is a big word. I did not start with a business plan because I wanted to do something side by side my job. But it is more theoretical. Physical implementation is more important. But it is always good to have it. It is always a guide or check on your long- and short-term achievements,” she explains. For her, trust is something no entrepreneur should joke with. Furthermore, the entrepreneur knows her clients and market. Her clients are high-end people and the middle-class. It is not all ‘uhuru’ for her as she faces challenges like other entrepreneurs. “Our biggest challenge is not even with our clients. Our biggest challenge is with our artisans. They do not want to work and they always look for shortcuts. The tilers in Nigeria do not want to work. “We have been tempted to get tilers from West African countries. Most of them are from Cotonou. Tilers in Nigeria are not ready to work. Some of our youths are not ready to work,” she laments. She believes it is high time parents began to educate their children on the importance of hard work. “We should talk to our wards, that whatever they do, they must do it well. You have to be an expert before you go on your own. Most of the artisans in Nigeria will like to leave as soon as they start. They need practical experience before being on their own,” she admonishes.