OLA ALAWIYE - ROLE MODEL & AMBASSADOR
Officially Inducted into the “National Wall of Role Models” on June 7, 2014 ( See full list www.BlackCanadianAwards.com )
Ola Alawiye is currently a consultant with the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. He is a seasoned academician who has a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from Cornell University. He has worked as an analyst for the major banks in Canada such as RBC, CIBC, TD and HSBC. We hope you’ll find his piece inspiring.
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
My friends would (hopefully) describe me as a fun-loving go-getting happy camper (sorry for the rather complicated description). I see life as an adventure - create memorable moments for yourself.
Tell us something not many people know about you?
I'm 6" tall (most people think I'm shorter). If I can add more - I can run faster when playing soccer than my appearance suggests. Every morning when I spring out of my bed, I make a decision to be happy no matter what happens. And I stick to it.
What's your inspiration or how do you get motivated?
If you know where you want to go, and you really want to get there, then you know you just have to give it what it takes and do what you have to do. As a short response, I'd say the motivation comes from really wanting to get to where I desire to be.
How did you get to where you are now and what more should we expect?
Boils down to basically chasing my dreams and not taking no for an answer too often. Throw a fair amount of determination and hardwork in the mix. In terms of what more to expect, I couldn't tell you. Even I don't know. Life's an adventure. I'm waiting and excited to see where it takes me next. Wherever it is, I'm ready. Or will adapt.
What would you like to be remembered for?
Love for my family and loved ones, fairness, equality and justice
How do you balance work, family, friends and leisure?
The 4-headed dragon, isn't it? For me, it's important to really focus on each of those when you are there. For example, when spending time with family, I try to resist the temptation to pick up my BlackBerry (yes, BlackBerry) although that's not something I'm usually capable of. In a similar vein, when I'm at work, I focus 100% at work. When I'm with my friends, we are 100% focused on having a great time.
If you are a really busy person, you will find there's very limited time for each of those 4 very important things in your life. But, as I already said, the key is to make the time count. And make it quality time too.
What's your favorite food, book, music and movie?
Food - Egusi and pounded yam (like all good food, consume with caution, if you are weight conscious!).
Book - Materese Circle by Robert Ludlum.
Music - I enjoy hip hop and RnB. But if I were to choose, I don't think I'd get tired of listening to certain songs from Lighthouse Family, Craig David, Nina Simone, Kem, John Legend. I like tracks from 50 Cent, Notorious B.I.G, 2 Chainz, Kanye West and Jigga. Movie - The Town is a really good movie - I saw Dark Knight twice after my cousin saw it back to back as well.
What's your experience as a Black person in Canada?
Personally, I don't think there's any part of my experience in Canada that can be attributed to being black. I think it's important to develop yourself to the level that's needed for the kind of position you want to have in the society or place you want to be. And that's the advice I have for anyone (regardless of skin colour).
Barack Obama is a very good example. And he's not the only one. There are tons of people from various backgrounds that have done very well. Some people may say there's just a handful of colored people up there. Well, there's also just a handful of qualified colored people. For example, it's easy to say there are very few black professors. Well, there are very few black PhDs.
What is the Black community doing right or wrong in Canada?
It's very difficult to think of any community in unitary terms. That being said, there are opportunities for:
1) Black parents to assume their real responsibilities - providing support and guidance to their children, and playing a lead role in raising fine young men and women
2) Black youths/people to recognize the fact that they have the same opportunities as other kids/everyone else
Are there as many opportunities for Blacks in Canada compared to the US?
My response to this is - companies are always looking to hire the best people. Valuable resources with sought-after skill sets, regardless of the color of their skin, are always in demand.
When will Canada have several role models and institutions like Obama, Beyonce, Oprah, Tyler Perry, BET, etc.
There's been a lot of good progress made in recent years. And I believe the trend will continue. It's just a matter of time.