On this month’s Episode of our FEATURE POSTS, we had a chat with Pharmacist Olufunto Olude – Hospital Pharmacist and Convener of The Meeting Point Ng – a mentoring program for young professionals. She came highly recommended by a friend and it was an exciting interview. I am sure as a professional you would have some key points to take for the journey ahead. We planned to have a video interview but the internet network was not in our favour, hence I transcribed our audio chat into this explorative piece. Grab a pack of popcorn, sit back, relax, and enjoy!

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Opeyemi: Thank you ma for agreeing to this interview, you came highly recommended by Adeola Adewusi and I know she had always attended The Meeting Point Ng programs. So, can we meet you, please?

Mrs. Olude: My name is Olufunto Olude, I graduated from the University of Ibadan in 2001, so I have been practicing for nineteen (19) years. I had my internship at the Federal Ministry of Health which was a totally different experience compared to most of my colleagues who were at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, or in Community Practice at the time.. For the first three months, I was posted to the Federal Manufacturing Laboratory where I saw the machines but unfortunately, they never moved so really I didn’t learn much. I was newly married and wasn’t particularly bothered; I was just enjoying myself doing nothing. I moved to the Federal Medical Stores, Oshodi where the situation wasn’t too different but got appointed as the secretary to the planning committee for the NAHAP (Nigerian Association of Hospital and administrative Pharmacists) national convention. As an undergraduate, I had held leadership positions in PANS (Pharmaceutical Association of Nigerian Students) so this made me prepared for the role. My final posting was at the then 1004, Federal Staff Clinic, where I had some clinical experience and that was how the internship ended. I completed my NYSC too with very little clinical experience but built great relationships.

 

Opeyemi: But you gained some administrative experience.

Mrs. Olude: Well…sort of but it still wasn’t a holistic experience. I had a baby and was having so much to grapple with. One thing I didn’t have was someone to guide me so I took life as it came and wasn’t really prepared for the real work experience. Fortunately one of the relationships I developed as a corp member was with a technician who gave me the link to my first job in a private hospital  (St Nicholas Hospital, Lagos) where my career started. Interestingly during my interview, I couldn’t answer any of the questions asked (remember internship was hazy) they had to ask me what exactly I knew?

Opeyemi: Oh wow! That was a very tricky question!

Mrs. Olude: Oh yes! I came out clean and told them I was from a disadvantaged background, as a result of my inexperience but was willing to learn. I’m sure it was by sheer grace but I got the job and gave it my all. Funnily enough from knowing nothing during my interview, to putting in my very best, learning everything possible got me this statement for my confirmation “She is an asset to this organization”. That was how my career in the hospital setting started and I’ve been there ever since. In retrospect, I probably wouldn’t have gone this route but by the time I wanted something different, something more, like being a medical representative, I realised my mates were far gone and this left me in a state of confusion or would I say frustration. I had to sit and think of how to develop myself.

Opeyemi: Oh, ok.

Mrs. Olude:  I read a book “Think Big” by Ben Carson which helped me do some soul searching, and then I  felt  I  wanted something in customer service. Coupled with the positive feedback  I got from staff and  clients, who particularly liked the way I attended to them, I decided to take a course in customer service  and got Certified as a Customer Service Professional. This was totally different from what most people would have done  but an improvement in service delivery was top on my mind. The training made me a better person and I felt this was something that healthcare required, especially with clients knowing their rights and demanding it. I eventually left the private practice and started work at the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital in 2009 and I have been there ever since. I was transferred through various units and ended up in the pharmacy store where I presently Lead.

Opeyemi: So, with that, do you still work night shifts?

Mrs. Olude: Yes, though I am a Chief Pharmacist, I still do that once in a while to ensure the other members of staff are not over worked.

Opeyemi: Thank you so much  ma, so how did you manage all of the tasks with family life and raising children early? I can suspect that you may at some point feel, did I make the right decision.

Mrs. Olude: Well, I must say it was a bit tough, but when I look at my children, I am grateful for the experience. Like I said initially, it was tough because I was between balancing my home and wanting a career and I got to a point I knew I had to slow down. I told myself to calm down, face my children first and take things one at a time. I probably would have done things differently if I had a mentor to guide me but I had already lost my mum so that support wasn’t there. I  thank God for my husband, my family, friends  and even my church members who were with me because you know, there were  overwhelming moments. I know young career women struggle with this balance but having a strong social support and a network of professionals who can share life experiences on how to navigate, helps  with stability and growth.  Make sure you’re not alone! Have Mentors!

Opeyemi: Thanks ma. So, you are the Convener of The Meeting Point Ng! Can we talk about it, what informed the decision, the challenges, the progress so far?

With The Meeting Point Ng strategy team

Mrs. Olude: It started from my own experience of not having a guide at the start of my career. So when I have interns work with me, I ensure to look out for those with potentials and try to guide them on the right path. I have had a lot of interns pass through me who I mentored and still mentor. In my bid to help young pharmacists, in 2016 I put together a career development program with Dr. Wale Ajiboye who now happens to be one of my mentors. This was for final year students, interns, and early career pharmacists and it was tagged “WHAT NEXT?”

I, later on, started The Meeting Point Ng that same year as a platform to help young Pharmacists in their career because I realised many have potentials but are confused and those who have some focus do not know how to go about a lot of things. Many want something different but are constrained just like I was. I know all they need is the knowledge, insight, and someone to hold them by the hand to get them where they need to be. The Meeting Point Ng organises a networking event called The MeetUp where we invite experienced professionals, not necessarily all pharmacists who come to share their experience and tips for a successful career. The young health professionals also have the chance to network with themselves and build relationships through our team building activities. Through this platform, we’ve connected people to jobs, business opportunities as well as effective training. We are now at MeetUp 5.0 and really don’t intend to stop. One thing  I  love to do, is  attend events just so I can network because  I know one of my mentees may just need the link.

Opeyemi: That is so nice.

With Art in Medicine Fellows

Mrs. Olude: I am also a faculty member for the Pharmacist Stimulant Leadership Program which is by Advantage Health. It is also a program for young Pharmacists.

Opeyemi: Oh, are you serious? Advantage Health? The founder is my next Feature (Yes I spilled it. *laughs)

Mrs. Olude: That is my big sis!

Opeyemi: Thank you so much. Aside from Pharmacy and The Meeting Point Ng, what other things do you engage in?

Pharm Olude compering an event

Mrs. Olude: As you can see, I like to talk. So, I compere events.

Opeyemi: Your fee must be very high

Mrs. Olude: (Laughs) well! At the Hospital, for most events, you can be almost sure that the person holding the microphone is me. I love to organize events (weddings, birthdays) though I have slowed down on that, I sing as well, love art, storytelling and I am a Fellow of the Art in Medicine Project in Nigeria. I facilitate trainings on service delivery and thoroughly love networking with people.

Opeyemi: You have a lot on your hands. Do you sleep or relax at all?

Mrs. Olude: (laughs) I sleep and try to take time to relax. I however still feel there is a lot for me to do so I just get to move on. 

Opeyemi: So, what can you say you represent as a brand?

Mrs. Olude: That is a question I have been brooding over. I want to be someone that when you come in contact with, your life is transformed; you have direction and connect with your inner self. 

Opeyemi: Alright ma. A quick one, have you encountered young people who feel they know what they want but as someone more experienced you can tell they are not on the right path?

The MeetUp 2.0

Mrs. Olude: I could be quite intuitive so sometimes I’m actually able to tell or advise young professionals on what to do. It is important young people to discover themselves, be willing to serve,  explore and ask questions. They also need to network because you can actually get to your destination  faster, when riding on someone’s shoulders.

Opeyemi: Also, do you think plans can change. Like people who probably wanted a particular career path but with time, their plans changed. Do you think they have gone off focus?

Mrs. Olude: Young people always have dreams but all these depend on where you find yourself and the kind of voices you are hearing. But like I tell people “try to identify a problem that you think you can solve and bring value to”. You may want to be a lecturer but end up in the hospital but if you follow that path, you may end up training people. So eventually, you will still be teaching. What matters is giving that intended value, no matter the route taken.

The MeetUp 4.0

Opeyemi: Hmm. Thank you so much ma. We are almost wrapping up now! Can you describe yourself in one word?

Mrs. Olude: I am passionate about people being the best they can be and just love to see people excel.

Opeyemi: (Smiles) Alright ma, that is already more than one word.

Mrs. Olude: (laughs) You are the writer, so coin it yourself.

Opeyemi: We will try, so what can you tell your younger self (15-year-old self)?

Mrs. Olude: Maybe I should talk to my freshly graduated self.

Opeyemi: Okay

Mrs. Olude: “Never be afraid to take risks” because whichever way, life is a risk

Opeyemi: Thank you so much for this explorative interview. I really appreciate it. I would always keep in touch and chat you up.

Mrs. Olude: Thank you too for reaching out, I really enjoyed myself.

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Thank you Pharm. Olufunto Olude for agreeing to do this interview with us. It means a lot to us.  You can go over to her website to catch up on previous posts.

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