Meet our LagosMums Mum of the Month, she is a pretty amazing person, woman, friend, mum, wife and more. LagosMums interviewed Aishetu Fatima Dozie in a very interesting conversation as she shared her unique perspectives on motherhood and the her journey through life. Read and be inspired.
My name is Aishetu Fatima Dozie, but most people call me Aisha. What most people don’t know is that my family and close friends call me Shetu and Aisha was a name “forced” on me in secondary school by someone who didn’t think that Aishetu was a real name. I was born in Boston, Massachusetts in the US and lived there for almost 10
What in your childhood prepared you for what you do today?
Growing up as an only child makes you really appreciate your own space, time and energy. I like to believe that I am very self-aware and this is because I learned to be alone and think a lot about the actions around me. Growing up I was also quite independent because my mom was a busy professional and so I had to do a lot of things by myself and for myself. She was always there for me but she really encouraged me to take the necessary steps on my own.
As a child, I was always a day dreamer and really do believe that my day dreaming made me who I am today. I would sit for hours with my dolls and enact various play scenarios with each one more elaborate and dream-like. As a child I enjoyed thinking up possibilities and trying to make them happen and I am the exact same way today. I believe that anything is possible as I did when I was younger.
On Family and Motherhood
I am married to a pretty cool guy named Ngozi Dozie and together we have three awesome sons; Kanyitochi (3), Ikenna (5), and Chukwuemeka (8).
How has being a mum changed you?
In many ways, I am exactly the same and in others I am totally different. At the core, I am still me. My values, goals, desires, ambitions, likes, and dislikes haven’t shifted because of my children and more due to maturity, wisdom and experience. What has experienced a seismic shift is my opinion about life itself. I never prayed as hard and as fervently as I do now that I am a mother. I want to live long solely because I want to be there for my kids in all the ways that they will need me. This is the single biggest change that motherhood has brought to my life.
What is the funniest thing you’ve heard your sons say?
They say funny things all the time. Every day in my house presents a laugh-out-loud situation. My middle son saw me deep in thought one day just before bed time and asked me what was on my mind. I told him that I was
practicing “visualization techniques” where I imagine what I want to happen in life. He seemed intrigued and I suggested that he try it too. The next day he told me that he dreamt he was a superhero and he could fly and he
knew that one day he would be able to fly. I laughed but perhaps he will one day?
On Early Education
I went to secondary school at Queen’s College Yaba where I learned the fierceness of being a girl! QC was certainly a special environment and I look back with so much fondness. After I graduated from Cornell University in NYC and began working as an investment banker during my internship years in college. I took an entry-level analyst position with Goldman Sachs in NY once I finished my undergraduate studies in Economics.
Following my graduation in 1997, I have predominantly had a career in finance and banking. I’ve also played around with my career journey as well and for this I am grateful. I have worked at a number of investment and commercial banks but have also served as a public relations intern at a fashion design company in NYC, I have founded and run a children’s play and activity center in Lagos, I have written a children’s picture book, and worked in the public sector in Abuja.
Somewhere in the middle of all of that, I went back to school to get an MBA at Harvard Business School. It’s been an exciting, fun, and exhilarating journey and I regret nothing about it. I’ve always loved a high velocity life. I get bored too easily.
You have been flexible in your career – school owner, banker, author and media can you share how you managed theses changes?
Having a diverse career has been brilliant because I have really developed my general management toolkit. I can do anything that I set my mind to. Every few years I get the bug to do something different but interesting and each time it’s worked out to my benefit.
I don’t think of failure the way other people do. I think you fail when you don’t try, when you don’t take risks. Because I am generally comfortable with high velocities and quick pivots, I am always up for a challenge.
I have always been a creative person and even within my banking career, I have refused to accept the status quo. I’ve always believe there is scope for continuous improvement and I have embodied that in every single role that I have been blessed to have. Where I have issues is that reluctance to change and amend your reality to what the market is doing. I am comfortable with change. It’s the only thing about life that is constant.
I know you are about to take up quite journey and move? Can you share how this happened.
I’ve been restless in the last few years both professionally and personally. It’s hard to describe but I knew that what I was doing wasn’t what I was meant to be doing. I literally felt that I was wasting time and not walking in the path and purpose that had been ordained for me. I was bothered by this feeling and it became clearer and clearer to me over time.
I loved my team and everyone that I worked with. However, I knew I was just on a treadmill and I didn’t want that at this point in my career. I began to look into options to take myself into a professional space where I knew that my capabilities matched the opportunity and the organisation. However it was a hard one.
In the midst of my search, I learned about a fellowship program at Stanford University called the Distinguished Careers Institute and I applied and got accepted! As a result, my family and I are relocating to Palo Alto, California for 18 months so that I can participate in this amazing opportunity. I am praying that I discover my purpose (20 years into working) and live a life of intention and grace.
For me, working on projects and transactions that are meaningful is really important. It’s not about money, it’s about impact and I was struggling to find impact and meaning in my work over the last few years. So, I am hoping that the DCI Fellowship will allow me to design a life of purpose that is significant and not just successful.
I am hoping that my children grow leaps and bounds in their knowledge of the world and other cultures and I hope that my husband is able to really establish strong relationships in the tech ecosystem of which he is a member.
Tell us about Her story?
I started African HERstory (“AHS”) in January 2017 because I wanted to tell the stories of women in/from Africa who were living their best and full lives with a spotlight on their career journey. I didn’t feel that I saw enough of those stories being told in the media and so I decided to tell them myself.
African HERstory creates visual content for men and women who are interested in learning about African women on the continent and in the diaspora who are building businesses and pursuing ambitious career objectives. The goal of the project is to tell stories that we can all learn from. We seek to amplify the narrative of the successful and fully-lived professional African woman, one that we find to be scarce in today’s salacious media world.
On Work-life Balance
What roles (or hats) do you need to balance? How do you balance it all?
Every day presents a new opportunity to juggle yet another ball and it doesn’t always get easier. It’s certainly hard and no one asks men – my husband for instance – how he balances it all. Why not? We are both busy parents and professionals but society has an expectation that I am the only one balancing.
I balance it through my support system and my husband and I are each other’s support system. We pitch in and support each other as best we can. We’ve figured out how to be essentialists – we say NO a lot. We understand that there are glass balls and rubber balls. We keep the glass ones in the air at all times and drop the rubber ones from time to time.
What support system do you have?
It really does take a VILLAGE. I have a lot of support. It takes team work to make the dream work – as they say. I have support from nannies, friends, and family. They are all incredibly important in providing love and continuity in my children’s lives.
[Read: The Work Life Balance Debate]
How do you relax?
I read books and watch TV. I’m insatiable when it comes to both. I particularly love fiction and I think it speaks to my day dreaming roots as a child. I’ve always wanted to explore how far the mind could reach through the art and spirit of imagination. I love going on beach holidays well. I find being by the water to be very soothing and allows me to be deeply introspective.
Most of all, I like to spend time with my family. When we are all together, I’m most relaxed and fulfilled.
What is that one thing that makes you uniquely you?
There is nothing about me that is quite like anyone else. I definitely think I am unique in the attributes that make me Aishetu.
I am unapologetic about living according to my personality this means that I accept a lot of my flaws rather than obsess about them. I am really comfortable with who I am.
Tell us in one word something you believe should not be missing from every home?
You are very stylish – A real Yummy Mummy, how do you get your style inspiration?
I’ve always loved clothes and accessories. My mother was incredibly stylish when I was growing up. She briefly worked for Neiman Marcus when I was very young I remember her coming home in the most beautiful clothes, shoes and wearing amazing makeup. I’ve gone through so many different phases of my style journey and I am sure that I am still evolving. I now like to play with color and wear really quirky glasses. I just don’t care if I look ‘off’.
As far as I like what I’m wearing and I’m comfortable in it, I’m completely fine. Comfort and personal acceptance are key to my decision making about my wardrobe.
What do you think makes LagosMums special?
Over the years, you’ve curated such a special following of mothers who are keen to foster a community. That sense of community is amazing because oftentimes you are bringing women together who don’t know each but have so much in common. It’s such a powerful network that you’ve created and I applaud you for being so diligent and consistent. Women need to come together more and finds ways to work together to improve our lives and the lives of our daughters. We want to leave a world that is better for our daughters and sons than the one we met. LagosMums is elevating that discussion.
Any other general advise for Mums?
You’re a brilliant mother! The job has no description so just keep doing what you’re doing. There is no perfect mother and it’s not a competition. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else because you have no idea what’s going on in their corner. Don’t beat yourself up so much and try to let go of guilt.
That’s one of my biggest issues, I’m perpetually plagued by guilt. Stay in your lane and do your best. Your best is certainly good enough.