Amina Oyagbola is a Nigerian businesswoman with a reputation of integrity and empowerment. Born in Lagos in 1961, Amina spent her formative years traveling with her diplomatic family. She completed her primary education in the U.K. After that, she attended Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria, where she earned her LL.B. Since personal development has always been such a priority, Amina continued her education and went on to earn her LL.M at Cambridge and MBA from Lancaster University Management School.
When Amina first returned to Nigeria, she joined one of the most prestigious law firms as chief counsel. There, she helped companies with financial law. The nineties brought new bank licenses and Amina was at the forefront of making sure clients’ needs were handled appropriately. From the law firm, she effortlessly moved into the corporate world while setting up the legal department for United Bank for Africa. Through her hard work and nonstop personal development, she made herself more marketable in the business world.
Amina’s employment with MTN began as legal counsel. As the pioneer director of their foundation, she found a true passion in encouraging education, health, and economic empowerment. This position allowed her to travel throughout the country, making her the face of the foundation. When the senior human resource manager stepped down, MTN knew who they wanted, and Amina took on a new role.
While in this position, Amina worked tirelessly for more than eight months on recommendations and strategies to overcome legal issues that the company was facing. As the highest level and most recognized executive in Nigeria, Amina began to feel that her mental well-being was affected and she finally took a much-needed break.
After some international travel, Amina returned with a different perspective and began a new path. She joined her husband’s law firm as a senior partner and created AKMS Consulting. As an HR consulting firm, AKMS provides companies an avenue to establish themselves locally. With her multitude of experience in several specialized areas, Amina offers her clients more than they would find anywhere else.
Throughout this time, Amina has also founded a mentorship program that is designed to bridge the gap for women in business. WISCAR (Women in Successful Career) has mentored more than 98 young female professionals and helped them achieve their own version of success. This level of success has continued to drive and inspire more young women across the continent.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
I have an abundance of experience in the legal and corporate world in Nigeria. I was inspired to start this business because I felt that I could be a great asset to companies as they are starting out. I truly enjoy when companies that I have helped become successful.
How do you make money?
I tell my clients to view me as a doctor for their company. I diagnose their needs through conversations and from there I make recommendations on how they can put their ideas into action. I am a problem solver.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
In Nigeria, expenses are done a bit differently. Of course, there are start-up costs for any business but here, you have to create your own power source and water source. These costs are necessary to establish an office, along with equipment and building a staff – which adds up. If these costs are left out, we are already profitable. The company is still young, but we are doing well.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
I didn’t doubt that it would work but it was an adjustment getting used to the shoe being on the other foot. I have been the go-to person for so long, it has been a transition for me to be the person seeking out businesses.
How did you get your first customer?
I have always believed that it is important to use networking as a foundation for success. My first clients were family and business associates. My work history has afforded me a great network and I have a leg in various organizations. I can open doors that others may not be able to.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
Honestly, referrals and word of mouth are the best marketing tools for AKMS. My knowledge in so many aspects of the corporate world, from legal to human resources, has helped me establish my firm. Getting to know your clients is essential to maintaining strong partnerships. We are more social here; many business relationships are made by eating lunch together. Having these existing clients helps to bring in new clients.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I believe my work portfolio along with dedication to my clients drives my success. As a corporate executive, you’re always on call and available to help at any time. Though I’ve tried to reduce my overall work schedule, that part of me is always available. I believe in working with integrity and delivering value to the companies I work with.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
For me, completing projects to the clients’ satisfaction has always been the most rewarding. When I am immediately given follow up work because they were pleased with my resolution, I know that I’ve done well.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
I want to continue to expand AKMS consulting. I look forward to creating new partnerships and to continue adding value to my clients.
What business books have inspired you?
I have read several law and business books over the years. I tend to prefer to watch movies over reading when I am lucky to have some free time. However, one book that has been helpful to me is “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People” by Stephen Covey.