Recently featured on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list, author, brand consultant and founder of Women Who, Otegha Uwagba, shares her success story alongside some pearls of wisdom.
Otegha’s list of accomplishments reads like the CV of dreams, and she hasn’t even reached her 30s yet. After graduating with a PPE from Oxford, she went on to work for Vice UK and creative agency AMV BBDO before founding Women Who – a community that connects and inspires working women.
In everything she does, whether it’s speaking at events, organising them for the likes of The Guardian, writing articles, or through her recently published book, Little Black Book: A Toolkit for Working Women – she is forever dedicated to women's empowerment.
This dedication has not only inspired thousands of women, it's led to a book deal, and caught the eye of Forbes who promptly put her on their recent 30 Under 30 list. We were so blown away by Otegha and her ability to juggle multiple roles at once that we sat down with her and asked her to share some insights on life.
Pens at the ready!
Best career advice you’ve received?
Not everyone is going to clap for you. Not everyone is going to be into your ideas and what you’re doing, but you have to get over that, move on and keep pushing. You can’t let that put you off – I used to get quite dejected and I always remember this when things aren’t going my way.
There will be other people that will be into what you’re doing and you just need to push on and find them!
How do you manage your time effectively?
I say no to a lot of stuff. I’m quite selective with the work I take on. I also don’t start my day by sending or checking emails. I start with an hour of writing, then I’ll go check my emails and break my day up into chunks. I’m a freelancer and I work from home which means I’m quite protective of my time, so if I have meetings, I organise them into one day or afternoon. It’s about being quite conscious of how long things are going to take and weighing up if they’ll be worth it.
One thing that helped to launch your career?
Getting a book deal. I actually self-published my book – Little Black Book – last year as a little creative project, found a printer, got a designer to lay it out, printed 250 copies and sold it through a website I set up and through Instagram mostly. Someone bought one of those copies, gave it to a publisher, messaged me and introduced us. That person ended up becoming my editor and offering me a book deal and that’s completely transformed my career, Women Who and level of visibility.
What books inspired you?
To be honest, I didn’t really read many career books. People are always surprised by it but I’m quite open about that. I read a lot more of writers like Roxanne Gay who wrote Bad Feminist. I have this copy of it that’s just so worn, and underlined. Women like Roxane and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who wrote We Should All Be Feminists have fed into the work and the writing I do in unexpected ways. These really strong feminists have informed my viewpoint – they helped me realise I was entitled to ask for more.
What did it take to get onto Forbes 30 Under 30?
Forbes 30 Under 30 was definitely on my career bucket list. In my first job I was temping and I used to procrastinate a lot. I didn't have much to do (I was working at reception) so I used to read the Forbes website and I thought to myself: 'One day I want to be on this'. So I was really pleased when it happened!
Essentially they get in touch with you -- you’re kind of nominated -- they ask for all of this information so you know you’re on the shortlist but no one tells you you’ve made it until it comes out on the day. And because the list was alphabetical, I was right at the bottom.
I got to 29 and I thought I hadn't made it. People responded really well to it. But there are definitely things that are not as glamorous that I feel more proud of achieving.
It’s not all about accolades. It’s a really nice thing to have, but I would have still done exactly the same work and hopefully it would have had the same impact without that happening.
The real work is the stuff you do before and after.
1 word to describe the female of our generation?
We take care of the little details so that you can focus on the bigger picture. What’s yours?
To improve working women’s lives. I’m really clear on what I’m trying to do so it makes it a lot easier.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
To trust my gut a bit more. When you’re young and you’re entering the workplace, people don’t give you enough credit for your work and your ideas. I definitely had a crisis of confidence. I wish I’d known that I was really capable, trusted myself and had a bit more confidence in my ability.