Oluwafemi Alayande is our BY-Peers Chief Activator in Lagos, as well as a Freelance Junior Community Manager. Here he shares his experience and typical activities as a Chief Activator.
Why I signed up as a Chief Activator
I love networking and building lasting relationships. I signed up because I have been looking for the opportunity to make BYP Network have a solid and pronounced presence in Nigeria. When I saw the advertisement for the role, I saw it as the time to push the frontiers.
My highlights include organising and supervising a BYP Network sign-up exercise in 2020 where over 60 people signed up on the website in one day. Also, during the #EndSARs protest, I was instrumental in helping to reach young Nigerians in desperate need — we had about 678 members join the “Connect To Nigerian Youths” initiative via Hopin and received support in different ways including mental health awareness and counselling.
BYP Network’s requirements of a Chief Activator aligns with my long-term goal of seeing Black professionals have the opportunity to network and grow professionally and socially, especially having the chance to meet with real players in different professional bodies. I do look forward to meeting other BY-Peers Chief Activators in person in the coming year.
Doing the work as a Chief Activator
Taking up the role as a BY-Peers Chief Activator for my city has been an exciting experience and an adventurous one. The major task is about creating valuable opportunities for group members to network, upskill and share knowledge. It also includes bringing the community together under a strong sense of shared purpose.
This of course calls for having a physical or online event with community members. With the waning of COVID restrictions, having physical events is the norm. The first steps are to build members in my group. This is achieved by speaking to friends, creating awareness and sharing the idea with like-minded individuals.
Setting up and carrying out an event successfully
A huge part of setting up the event is deciding on a theme. The theme would cut across either professional development, personal development or social. The theme must be of interest to the community or should enlighten the community members. It is the theme that plays the first role in pulling in the audience.
When this is sorted, having a good speaker or speakers for the event is the next focus. The need to have a speaker depends on the nature of the event. We’ve had speakers from the FinTech industry speak to us around professional development in the past months.
The next is sorting out the venue — which is very much tied to the theme. A theme centred around professional development requires an event space that can host professional meetings. In my city for instance, we have used Eridan Space for professional development events and La Mango Restaurant for social events. When deciding these locations, we prioritise event cost, availability, navigation flexibility and most importantly security. This requires physical assessment and evaluation of the space and as the Chief Activator, I see to this personally.
Most event centres operate on a first come, first served basis. So, the date is decided upon and upfront payment for the event centre is settled. With publicity and registration flying, speakers settled, event space secured, “refreshments” in some cases confirmed, the next interesting part is preparing my slides and rehearsing for the event.
Event day and post-event
The day of the event is usually full of excitement and anticipation from all participants. From the start to the end, the Chief Activator is fully active in coordinating and connecting with the members. To be “fully active” includes supervising and delegating whilst remaining professional with the whole process. After the event, maintaining interactions with the speakers and attendees is another crucial aspect the Chief Activator must attend to.
A day in the life of a Chief Activator is a culmination of many days of planning that manifests on the event day. It’s an exciting experience as one is satisfied seeing people networking together, finding career paths and improving their standard of living.
What I’ve learned in skills and experience
As Lagos’ Chief Activator, I’ve learned a whole lot more about people and project management, effective communication, understanding people from diverse backgrounds with diverse opinions, and most importantly leadership skills and development. My confidence in speaking to a large audience has shot up.
I am now comfortable — very comfortable — in speaking to professionals from different walks of life. I find it easy building interpersonal skills, lighting up the atmosphere and keeping conversations intriguing.
Now, I have better experience in the place of research, planning, forecasting, budgeting, writing and delivering on a project that meets the current trends in the world. I’ve also been able to hone my presentation skills fashionably and coherently. Without exaggerating, I became more efficient in planning and executing tasks such that I had no need to hire an event planner for our wedding..!
What I do outside of being a Chief Activator
Speaking about other work-related activities, I am also a freelance junior community manager at BYP Network, assisting the BYP Community Growth Advisor and BYP Community Manager with the global BY-Peers project.
I have a Yoruba language teaching platform (Yoruba Aladun) where I teach Yoruba language to learners in the diaspora. Over 70 students have been taught since 2020 and I’m still open to taking more students in 2023.
Other things I do include UI design, writing, and podcasting. I am the founder of a media company (Loowaf Global Company) that offers services in photography, videography, printing. Currently, I seek to take my Masters Course in an Arts related subject in any cost-friendly university in the UK or Canada. I am currently enrolled in different tech courses to improve my knowledge of PHP, CSS and HTML5.
When I’m not working, now that I’m newly married I may have to remove or add more to these… but I do love to see movies, watch football, hit the gym for a week and run away one other week to spend time at the beach relaxing.