The life of a working Mother is not easy; juggling career and family, no mean feat. Yet some women handle it with grace. Naija Housewives caught up with Gbemi Atimomo, a woman who has combined a top career in Human Resources and being a wife and mother, successfully. There’s so much to take away from this amazing woman.
Tell us about yourself; who you are and what you do
My name is Gbemi Atimomo (nee Adetiba), a full time wife of 5 years+ to Idiare Atimomo and also a full time mother of two adorable super boys – Mofe (3 years+) and Weyinmi (5 months+). I also have 3 brothers (one elder and two younger ones); so I’m quite used to being the only woman around.
I am currently the HR operations manager for a multinational in the FMCG industry supervising a team of 6 people and responsible for over 1400 employees.
You’re a boss woman at work; does that affect your relationship with your husband?
Being a boss at work doesn’t really change anything. When I’m at home, I’m totally home and hardly take work home with me so I also drop my ‘boss’ hat at my office gate when leaving the office. Another thing that works for me is I try not to relate with my team like an absolute boss and prefer them seeing me as their professional colleague and possibly, sometimes a friend. This has made my work much easier.
My husband is also a very simple man and not demanding at all so I’m never under pressure to adjust to my role as a wife and mother at home.
Did you get your fantastic job as soon as you were done with National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) or did you have a period when you struggled?
I always say I’m a product of grace and I’m ever grateful for that. I did my youth service with WEMA bank and just half way through I wasn’t sure if I was going to be staying with the bank or going back to school for a master’s degree. Then one day my hubby (then my boyfriend) called to say he saw an advert in the papers for graduate trainee in HR from my current company. I filled the excel template we were asked to fill and sent it to him, so literally he applied on my behalf sometime in June. Went for some of the interview stages while serving and the last two stages was sometime in September 2006.
We rounded up our service year in August 2006 and I resumed work October 2006. So I didn’t exactly have a break or time of struggle before work.
Being a career woman…has this ever come in handy for your family? Has there been a time when your income was what kept things going? How did you feel about that?
Well, the way my hubby and I manage our family finances is such that we agree that he does all the major spends such and utilities, rentals, family vacations, school fees etc. while I come in to support on other little spends to run the home. He also supports with a monthly allowance for household spends anyway so somehow we are most times in a very good place.
I can also be very self-driven sometimes such that even things I should normally ask hubby for in terms of finances I hardly do especially if it’s something I can afford. I see it as my own little way of helping out because I know he is already doing a lot. This is not necessarily a good thing every time so I’ve had to start learning to ask or even mention to him when I have to make such spends.
How do you find a good work-home balance?
A few years ago, up until I had my first son I used to take work home with me but after a while I told myself that I’ll rather be a failed career woman than be a failed mother and that has guided most of my decisions to date. So like I mentioned earlier, when I’m home I’m totally focused on my role as a wife and mother. However, when I’m at work I still have my family top of mind as for me they are my priority. I also think my personality has a lot to do with it. I’m quite easy going and try not to take life too hard so it’s very easy for me to have a good work-home balance.
Share with us some of the ways you make time for your boys
For a very long time I haven’t had any house help (I had a young 14 year old boy around to help just recently, and he barely lasted for about 8 months); so I get to spend most of my time with my boys whenever I’m home anyway. Growing up in the midst of boys also defined my interests so I enjoy watching football with the boys, playing soccer, dancing, watching cartoons, reading to them and talking. My first son in particular is a talker so we do a lot of mummy-son gisting. Not easy but I indulge him to encourage him to speak and grow his vocabulary.
There is a general belief that it’s impossible for a woman to reach the peak of her career without compromising her family. What are your thoughts on this?
Truth is even though I don’t totally agree with this I still think in this environment, it’s really tough to combine career and family together without one suffering for the other.
However it’s important for women to define what priority is for them very early and walk the path and also be ready to face the consequences and successes that are outcomes of that decision.
I also think our definition of success or ‘career peak’ sometimes causes the ‘feeling’ of failure sometimes in women. I tell people I don’t have to be a HR director to get to the peak of my career. My life purpose is “helping people become more”. So if I’m able to achieve this in whatever role I find myself doing, then I guess I’ve arrived at the peak.
How did you meet your husband and what did you go through as a couple to be where you are now?
We met in the university; I was in my 2nd year while he was in his final year on his way out of school. It was funny we decided to go into a relationship when it was obvious we were going to be apart for a while – he was graduating and would be going serve (NYSC) while I had a year and my NYSC still ahead of me. Also from the start we were both clear we both wanted to get married as my hubby then didn’t ask “will you go out with me”. It was “will you marry me” straight from the start. So the long distance did make things a bit difficult at the start. Eventually I completed my NYSC (2006) then we started working on the 2 year plan to get married.
Some of the challenges we’ve had have merely been as a result of two people from different backgrounds coming together to build a family. One thing that has kept us is God’s word that says that a triple braided cord cannot easily be broken God is the only third party that can ever be involved in our matter.
You know when people say marriage brings a lot of good and blessings I’d our marriage has been a testimony to that. From the very first day we got married, favor, blessings and grace has poured in like fine wine. Even when things do seem hazy and uncertain there is just this assurance that eventually there’ll be a breakthrough.
Did having children significantly change your life? How do you cope with those changes?
Yes, in a few ways. Most of the changes were automatic and I didn’t have to force them. For example, I used to be an ardent reader of books before I had kids but now it’s a bit tough picking up even a magazine to read. I’m not a fan of eBooks either however I’m still hoping I can go back to reading like I used to.
I’ve always been an indoor person and prefer to just be in the comfort of my home, however, having kids has even made it ‘worse’ for me so weddings, birthdays, events etc. are quite minimal for me, except they are absolutely compulsory outings that are family friendly.
One thing I’ve also learnt is as a woman you need to learn how to tap into the support system we have around us. So there are times I just need a break and I hand over the kids to hubby and take a quick drive out of the house or my mum comes to the rescue (God bless our mothers!)
Take us through a typical day for you from when you wake up to when you go to sleep?
I wake up between 4 – 4.30am, pray, check the boys’ bags are ready for school, prepare breakfast, express milk for my baby then heat up water to bathe.
Everyone gets dressed and we are out of the house between 7.15 – 7.30am. I drop the kids off at school and head to work. I leave the office around 5 pm, pick the kids and we are back home. I go through my son’s bag for assignments and we do them together. We have dinner, I watch Tinsel drama series during the week at 7.30pm and then take the boys to have their bathe for the night and then put them to sleep either by reading to them, singing or dancing (yes they enjoy watching me dance!)
Once they are asleep I then pack their bags for school next day and then it’s some mummy or daddy time as the ‘spirit’ may lead.
My Saturday is pretty much the same except that I don’t get to rush out to work but may have some shopping to do so when I wake up, I do a bit of cleaning and then I head out to the market and hubby babysits and takes care of the boys. I also get to indulge a bit in my favorite pastime – watching a good game of soccer/football.
Sundays after church its either we go back home to chill or try to visit family or friends.
How did you find yourself in your current career path, and what life lessons have you learnt?
Even though I’d wanted to study medicine while I was in school, it just didn’t work out for me so I stuck with physiology. However deep within me I knew I wasn’t going to stick with medical science.
Sometime in my 3rd year I got involved in Eden – an entertainment and lifestyle ministry and it was there I felt a nudge to explore a career path in human resources.
[one_fourth last=”no”]Key lessons would be God is always willing to direct your path if only you are willing to listen and let him guide you. I’ve also learnt that it’s not always everything you enjoy that you should pursue.[/one_fourth]When I joined my current organization I had the option of pursuing a career in either marketing or corporate relations but human resources was where I felt I had a ‘calling’ and so I stuck with it and have never had cause to regret it till date.
Key lessons would be God is always willing to direct your path if only you are willing to listen and let him guide you. I’ve also learnt that it’s not always everything you enjoy that you should pursue. I’ve always enjoyed brand marketing as I mentioned and had the option of building a career in that line but I knew enjoying it was just fun for me and nothing more. Human resources gave a deeper sense of purpose and passion.
You mentioned your life’s purpose… Lots of people are struggling with finding theirs; how did you discover yours and what advice do you have for those who are still seeking theirs?
It’s funny all the while we were in university we spent almost all our time talking purpose and never really got around to knowing what it was.
It was during a company conference sometime in 2010; we had a break out session and were asked to define our life purpose. That was the very first time I was able to put my purpose into real words and it was so clear to me.
Each day, everything I do points to this purpose and I get excited just knowing that’s what I’m here to do. So even in little tasks such as taking care of my hubby, sons and even my associates at work I always have that purpose at the back of my mind.
My advice would be don’t stress if it has taken you forever to discover your purpose. It’ll come to you as long as you keep seeking. God always has a way of using things and people we don’t expect to reveal things like our purpose to us as long as we have a willing heart to listen.
What advice do you have for working moms?
My few words would be – be proud of who you are as a mother and a wife. Believe in yourself and that you can achieve whatever dreams it is you have whether for yourself or your family. Never hesitate to tap into the resources you have around you, be it your husband, immediate family, helps, other women etc. You can never get too much help.