Hard Talk – Architect (Mrs.) Jumoke Adenowo – Principal Partner AD Consulting

Once every month on OnoBello.com, our Hard Talk feature focuses on successful companies and individuals who have risen to the top through strong visions, dedication and hard work. We feature well-deserving Nigerians making a difference in the lives of people around them and economy in general. Our aim with these features is to inspire the youth to understand the rigors involved in achieving success in whatever field youare in, as you may know, nothing good comes easy, hence the reason we speak to entrepreneurs to share their success stories. This is simply to encourage and inspire you to forge ahead and work hard in whatever field you are involved in. The ultimate goal is to make a difference in your lives, that of your families and your community.

This month we feature a woman who has come to make her mark in a male dominated profession as a successful architect. Architect (Mrs.) Olajumoke Olufunmilola Adenowo is the founder and principal partner at AD Consulting (AD)- an Architecture and Interior Design firm based in Nigeria. AD stands for Architecture and Design and is a 17year old firm that offers complete architectural services from design through to supervision and also complete interior architecture and design services.

Architect Adenowo started her firm out of people’s needsfor an all-in-one service provider; she saw a gap in the field and decided to move in. AD conceptualises every aspect of any building from inception, the foundation down to the last light fitting, according to her “we know where every piece of furniture and every drape is going right from inception and from the feedback we get, our attention to detail is unparalleled”.

AD’s portfolio boosts of executing the design and construction of over 70 outstanding projects for the Nigerian Federal and State Governments, banking and financial institutions, corporate organisations and private individuals.

Architect Adenowo now 43 years old started her business out of sheer determination and the need for a more challenging career, she resigned her old job with Femi Majekodunmi Associates (FMA) where she had worked from 1991-1994. During her time with FMA she had designed the Federal Ministry of Finance, Abuja, however despite a successful career as a youth she realised she needed more challenging opportunities and this leadto her starting up AD. She was barely 25 years old at the time and was already a Chartered Architect, according to her “I prayed about my decision and knew it was the right one to make even though I didn’t have any business capital and had very little money saved from a previous project. My salary at the time was N4, 000, it hardly covered my fuel, but I gave it to the church building fund and trusted God, he wouldn&#39t just sit by and watch me fail? Would He? No!” Armed with this mindset she worked from home for about two weeks on a project she had landed and when she finally got paid she was able to rent her first tiny office space in Lagos.

Architect Adenowo had always had the vision to create iconic landmarks and seminal buildings for any discerning clientele. AD provides holistic services to clients and delivers detailed and inspiring spaces.

Born in Ibadan, Oyo state, Nigeria on October 16, 1968, Architect Adenowo attended Federal Government Girls College, Oyo State from 1978 to 1983 receiving several awards for academic excellence. She then proceeded to Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife where she graduated with a BSc (Hons) in architecture (1988), and a record-breaking distinction in Masters of Science (MSc) in Architecture a first in several decades in the history of the university. During her time in Obafemi Awolowo University she won several faculty awards for her academic work and design skills. Upon completion of her postgraduate Masters degree, she was included in the “Who Will Be Who” in the 21st Century (young achievers section) by the international biography centre Cambridge, England (1991).

She is an Alumni member of a number of prestigious institutions including the Lagos Business School Chief Executives Programme (2002) and The Developing Leadership Competencies Programme- IESE Business School, University of Navarra, Barcelona, Spain (2005).

Aside architecture and design she’salso founded and headed Advantage Energy, company that provides manpower solutions in the oil and gas sector and has worked on several oil and gas projects with Exxon Mobil, Esso and their subsidiaries. The property subsidiary of this company known as Advantage Properties has developed estate properties in the Lekki Peninsula axis of Lagos State.

She has been a member of a number of prestigious professional bodies including Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), Interior Designers Association of Nigeria (IDAN), European Coaching Institute, and International Mentoring Association.

She is also widely known as an inspirational and motivational speaker and has spoken at hundreds of conferences and summits within and outside Nigeria including the London Business School and at the Harvard Business School (Africa Business Conference).

Armed with an enviable portfolio, Architect Adenowo has held positions and appointments in various capacities including Vice President of The Lagos Business School Chief Executive Programme (2002), Member of the Ekiti State Transitional Committee (2007) and Chairperson of the National Tank Youth Development Committee (2008). She is a trustee and board member to a number of bodies including the National Reformation Centre, Grace Orphanage, Indian Ayuba Foundation and Governors board at Emanuel Etuh’s Foundation.

She is passionate towards less privileged women and youth in the Nigerian society and runs an established faith based Non- Governmental Organisation (NGO) called Awesome Treasures Foundation (ATF). ATF was founded in 1999 and identifies, develops and deploys transformational leaders to positively affect Nigeria in line with the Millennium Developmental Goals (MDGs) declared by the United Nations.

ATF‘s initiatives over the years have attracted over 50, 000 women, young people and children. The NGO has changed lives for the better by empowering women and the youth through the provision of entrepreneurial and skills acquisition to over 5, 000 women, providing basic primary education to inner city children, providing primary health care facilities to over 1, 500 people, rescuing over 120 young girls in danger of being sexual abused amongst other initiatives.

Architect Adenowo also anchors a weekly radio program on Classic FM called ‘Voice of Change’ (VOC). She uses this media to raise Transformational Leaders in our society. Architect Adenowo has created a cycle whereby she inspires and mentors other women and youth who in turn mentor others in a process she hopes will pave the way for a national transformation of women, youth and children in our country Nigeria.

Architect Adenowo has created a cycle whereby she inspires and mentors other women and youth who in turn mentor others in a process she hopes will pave the way for a national transformation of women, youth and children in our country Nigeria.

She is also an author and has published four best-selling books in the last 15 years; they are Child of Destiny (1996), Covenant Forces (2000), Mothers’ Prophetic Prayer Manual (2009) and Mysterious Seed (2009). On October 16, 2011 she will be launching a new book titled Prophetic Prayer Manual Volume II, this book addresses the issues women face in marriage and struggles of motherhood.

Her passion for humanity, diligence, spirituality, philanthropy and immense contributions to the Nigerian society have all been praised by a number of National Newspapers and magazines including Thisday (Style), Vanguard (Allure), the Nation, Thisday Business people, The Guardian, Punch, Gem Woman, Business Day, Glitterati and Genevieve.

In 2007 she was recognised for her work with women empowerment and was honored with the Rare Gems Award by the women’s Optimum Development Foundation (WODEF) in collaborations with the United Nations Information Centre (UNIFEM).

We were able to get this incredibly busy woman of many facets to sit an share her experiences, we hope you get inspired just like we are.

AD Consulting Office

Awesome Treasures Foundation&#39s Resource Centre

Coca Cola Atrium

Coca Cola Cafeteria

Coral Properties

Guiding Light Assembly

Guaranty Trust Bank

Lanre Da Silva Ajayi&#39s Studio

Private Residence in Ikoyi Lagos

Stanbic IBTC Abuja-Interior Renovation

Unic Insurance Building – GTB Approach View

Volker Securities Apartments

OB: What inspired you to study/practice architecture?

JA:As a toddler I travelled around with my parents and seeing great architecture at an impressionable age was probably the main factor and my architecture is one of the outlets for my creativity.

OB: Is there a chasm between university architectural curriculum and the actual practice of architecture? If so, what recommendations would you give to a student to prepare them for the profession?

JA:Architecture was traditionally an apprenticeship, people studied architecture by being attached to practicing architects. These days after 6 to 7 years of formal University education, graduates must still work under the supervision of chartered architects for some years and pass their professional exams before they can be called Architects.  The school curriculum supplies the theoretical foundation, but practical experience has always been part of an Architect&#39s training.

OB: What Is your architectural style?

JA:I speak various Architectural languages. All design is governed by fundamental principles of proportion, Rhythm, scale… Architecture is frozen music, I sing as I am inspired!

OB: You are obviously excited about your clients?

JA:We celebrate our clients. Our buildings are an extension of our clients&#39 persona. Our buildings are brand enhancers . They are billboards you can experience . Our clients don&#39t have to blow their own trumpets our buildings play a whole symphony for them!

OB: Where does your inspiration come from?Do you look to the Western world for inspiration?

JA:God the Creator, the true Architect inspires me. I depend on Him. I am also inspired by Travelling also, as I travel and we go to various destinations, I study the architecture of the cities from ancient to contemporary. Good design is good design regardless of what genre it is. I can draw inspiration from a flower, an appliance, a chair, whatever!

OB: Is there need and/or desire for licensed architects in Nigeria on the rise or decline?

JA:The real need in Nigeria is an understanding of what architecture is and the role of an Architect.

OB: What segments (residential, commercial, government, education, religious) of development/building are seeing an increase or decrease? Why?

JA:We are just recovering slowly from the recession so all aspects of building were affected. However commercial building is business and the demand for housing with our urban population being what it is far from met so commercial and residential developments will always be strong.

OB: Is our lack of planning in Nigeria a factor in the design of structures we see popping up everywhere and also responsible for the collapse of buildings?

JA:We have good intentions, good planning laws, they are just not enforced. We need to make sure these laws are enforced if we to see an end to this epidemic of failed structures. Qualified professionals should be engaged to work on the building process from conception to execution.

OB: Is there any structure that you&#39ve been in that it was difficult to leave?

JA:So many! Ever since I visited Chateau Versailles as a 3 year old, I&#39ve been tearing myself away from strikingly designed structures- till today!

OB: If a young talented person asked you which architectural school to go to what would you recommend?

JA:It’s not about the school. Real architects are not made in school. Engineers perhaps but not artists and architects. School just gives you the background knowledge and discipline. Nevertheless I would say my alma mater actually because of the rigor.

I had one of my interns who went to a university tell me once he got a distinction in his masters, I asked “Really? How many of you got a distinction this year? He said FOUR !! Four!!” In Ife its like one distinction every 20 years after I got one the next person was probably 20 years after. To get a distinction in the Ife Master&#39s programme I had to score an A in every single course for the entire Masters program. In some other universities all you need do is get an A in your design course.

The standards in Obafemi Awolowo University for any course is world class high.

OB: Can architecture cure any social ills?

JA:We call that Physical Determinism. The idea that the physical environment can cure a non-physical problem. It can if backed with proper policy frame works. Our environment does modify our behaviour.

OB: Is our lack of planning in Nigeria a factor in the design of structures we see popping up everywhere and also responsible for the collapse of buildings?

JA:We have good intentions, good planning laws, they are just not enforced. We need to make sure these laws are enforced if we to see an end to this epidemic of failed structures. Qualified professionals should be engaged to work on the building process from conception to execution.

OB: Talk me through your ideas for Nigeria/African architecture?

JA:We need to first define what African architecture or Nigerian Architecture is? Architecture as seen on the continent or in the country or as offered by architects in the country?

Secondly, Africa is not homogeneous. We have sub-Saharan Africa, we have south and southern Africa, East Africa, Central Africa with vastly different climates and cultures and therefore vastly different ancient architecture.

Egypt is part of Africa and has one of the seven wonders of the world – ancient architecture from its pyramids to its great temples. Mali has the oldest and largest mud mosque in the world. But take Nigeria or Ghana, we have no giant edifices , but  we have ancient palaces and vernacular architecture suited to the available building technology of the time.  Considering the present though, the awareness of architecture in Nigeria and the level of intellectual discourse has not attained the level where we can talk of “Nigerian” architecture.

OB: Do you see yourself as being different from other architects in Nigeria? If so what makes you stand out?

JA:We are uniquely positioned to offer not just complete architectural solutions but also detailed interior architecture and interior design solutions. As architects, our attention to detail is unparalleled.

OB:You are a woman of many parts, tell me about your non-governmental organization, Awesome Treasures Foundation, how did it start, when and why did you decide to go it?

I really love people, I believe in people till they prove me wrong. I discovered decades ago that the only thing that gives me lasting joy is when I make someone else happy.  I hate wasted potential and want everyone to be the very best they can be. I have been told I have an unusual passion for Nigeria. I can&#39t stand the gap between our potential and our reality. I believe Nigeria&#39s destiny is to be the exemplar for the black race and we are failing not just our country but also our race. I hate all the oppression and suffering when something can be done. This is why I decided it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. I should do my own little bit. 

OB: Your NGO has a strong spiritual foundation, why is this?

JA:It is a FAITH based NGO. The United Nations has formally recognised it for years the efficacy of Faith based NGOs in development. Our faith is fundamental to our existence Awesome Treasures members believe and are therefore sacrificial and passionate in what they do.

OB: Most people see you are a Christian preacher, mentor, leader or simply put as a woman of God, however you are not “unrealistic’ in your way of life as most spiritual leaders/women in Nigeria tend to be. I see you as being real, do you do this in order to draw people closer to God?

JA:Thank you, that&#39s so kind. I am “real” as you put it because I believe I must practice what I preach. I work full time so I can&#39t just pontificate about how people should conduct their businesses I am out there with the rest of us all doing business in the same frankly hostile environment. If I am not for real my cover would soon be blown! (laughs). Secondly,academicians brought me up, my parents are professors and teachers don&#39t “form”. Thirdly, it just takes too much emotional energy pretending to be someone else.

OB: Do you believe your NGO is touching the lives of people? If so give instances?

JA:Its actually beyond what I “believe” its the letters we receive and what people walk up to me to tell me. Mostly I hear our outreaches are “life changing”.

I&#39ve seen timid women come to Awesome Treasures and  become transformed before my very eyes to passionate , confident, leaders with a mission. We are passionate about entrepreneurship. We raise and support entrepreneurs amongst women and youth. I&#39ve seen so many women and youth come in without even having a savings account and now they have turnover in millions. I&#39ve watched them blossom and handle the various groups we have. For example, The Health Resource group which has been involved in primary health care intervention to almost 4000 women and youth in schools, Awesome Princesses rescuing inner city girls at risk for sexual abuse (over 120 girls so far). Skills acquisition classes close to 5000 women now trained. The Education group is right now conducting this year’s summer camp. Really the statistics speak for themselves. Sometimes I cry when I hear the beneficiaries speak!

The Awesome Youth outreach in its case makes a very different impact, it has been the launching pad for quite a few well known youth – Infinity, Midnight crew , Jodie, Mairo, all passed through Awesome and arguably performed before their first large audience (we have crowds of at least 5000) at Awesome.

OB: What activities have you organised to raise funds and awareness about your NGO’s causes?

JA:Woman of Power was the first fund-raiser we have had in our 12 years of existence.  We have grown by word of mouth to date.

OB: What is the one thing you believe your NGO can impact on this year?

JA:Apart from increasing the number of people we reach, we are working on strategic alliances with another NGO to see if we can effectively extend our activities to Northern Nigeria and some rural slums.  We also hope to get more women actively involved in giving back.

OB: Tell me about your family?

JA:I am married to my best friend Olukorede and we have two delightful sons. Simply delightful! Toluwalase (Tolu) is 14 and Toluwaloju (Toju) who is 11. Being with my family is incomparable fun! There&#39s never a dull moment!

OB: Do you have any hobbies?

JA:I like reading non-fiction and watching documentaries.

OB: What is your favorite book? What book are you reading now, if any?

JA:The bible is my favourite book I aim to read it daily and right now I am reading “Jerusalem” by Simon Sebag Montefiore.  I should soon start “At home” by Bill Bryson. I love humorous, witty non-fiction.

OB: Right now  what is in your Ipod?

JA:Gosh there are a thousands! It’s full. Let&#39s see-  messages, spa music,  instrumentals , old school music, then the odd ones – Hebrew music.

OB: Do you think fashion, style and architecture are intertwined in any way?

JA:Good design is the basis of architecture and good style. Your dress style is putting together what aspects of fashion uniquely complement you. Architectural style is expressing in built form what best reflects your clients style.

OB: What legacy will you like to leave behind?

JA:I would like every one I related with to say, “she helped me achieve purpose, and she helped me fulfillthe reason for my existence”.

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