Blessing Efe Ehibor: ‘Lack of gender diversity in security industry is a global issue’

Blessing Efe Ehibor: ‘Lack of gender diversity in security industry is a global issue’

Blessing Efe Ehibor is a security specialist, investigator, relationship management professional, and seasoned sales and business development expert. She is a co-founder and Executive Director of De-Homy Consult Limited. Her rich experience cuts across the (Big 5), financial services, oil and gas (Upstream and Downstream), manufacturing, construction and agricultural sectors. With over 11 years wealth of experience in the security industry, she enjoys growing a career path in that space.

Ehibor holds a master’s degree in Security Management from Babcock University and a SHRM accredited Executive Leadership Development Certificate from IIPM. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accountancy and Education from the University of Ado-Ekiti. Her drive and passion for change and career advancement has made Ehibor bag certifications and trainings over the years. The TEDx-trained speaker, in this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, shares her passion for empowering and mentoring women and her career path.

Take us through your long and illustrious career path.

My journey started while growing up. I have always had this mindset of ‘I can do it’ and it has brought me thus far. I was brought up by a father who was a disciplinarian. He always wanted the best for his children. I happen to be the first child of a family of five. My dad gave me everything I needed to further my education in his own little way. When I lost both parents, then it dawned on me that really life itself wasn’t fair. My ‘I can do it’ spirit helped me to raise my siblings in morals and otherwise. I became the father and mother to my siblings. I gleaned from this learning and also saw the benefits of responsibilities, accountabilities and independence. I took up all job opportunities that came my way to conveniently pay my bills. My career experience span across varying industries and I constantly have the mindset that there’s always something to improve upon to make my journey a better one. I started my first job as a sales officer with a medical laboratory, and then moved on to work with a consulting firm also as a sales officer. From my sales officer role, I moved on to the largest and leading security company in Nigeria where I started as a credit control officer then grew to a relationship and sales specialist.

During this period, my flair for the security industry increased as I was able to gather more experience, which then built my poise in client management and engagement and I was able to proffer tailored solution(s) to client’s risk and security pain points.

I later moved to my present employment as a business development specialist with the world largest private security company with their head office in Canada. During this period, I decided to take up certification courses in security management while I keep developing skills in identified gaps to increase my capacity in building networks, intellectual growth and impact positivity in any task I find myself. My career journey so far is one of self-discovery and I am still evolving.

You have diverse competences. What spurred your interests in them?

I am a keen and responsible sales and account management professional with broad experience in client service satisfaction. An intuitive leader with exceptional interpersonal skills, a highly skilled and result oriented professional with excellent analytic and reporting skills, conceptual and creative thinking, acute business acumen and expertise in business development, revenue optimisation, and market penetration. My interest is spurred by the desire to explore better ways of doing things and a great passion for change.

How are you able to clearly define your many paths and productively live your dreams?

I have been able to achieve these paths based on my passion and focusing on the relevance that can add value and less focus on the irrelevance or mundane activities. This further translates into setting periodic target with clear measurable matrix to track milestone achievements.

What inspired your career path in security and investigation, as not many women tow that path?

It’s interesting you asked this question because it falls within my ideology of life that ‘I can do it’. It’s no secret that the lack of gender diversity in the security industry is a global issue. My mindset to achieve all that I aim at achieving has always been my driving force. After working for many years in the private security industry, my flair became stronger to grow my career in this path, as it was a natural progression for me to seek out the challenges that come from a career in security and investigation sector. This field is so exciting and challenging that I bagged my MBA in Security Management from Babcock University. While I still aim at taking other international certification in Security Management, I currently serve as a security consultant to solving customer’s pain points and providing tailored solutions. Also, with very few women currently working in the security industry, the gender gap further inspired me to work towards breaking down barriers. Hopefully, more women will be motivated to take up this challenge in this industry.

With your wealth of experience and expertise spanning over a decade, how would you say you have evolved?

I would say my wealth of experience and expertise have made me evolved greatly as I have learnt, unlearned and relearned new things which have built me to who I am today. I used to say to myself that I am still a work in progress. I have had several engagements where people, not just women, walk up to me to say ‘you inspire me a lot.’ This alone is a great deal and motivation for me. But I knew I needed to know and gather more knowledge to enable further engagement, hence, my curiosity and quest for knowledge with understanding pushed me to study more and keep growing.

What do you consider challenges you have faced and how did you surmount them? 

I have had lots of down moments when I felt I could not keep pushing, but then I realised that life is full of ups and downs. These challenges include not getting result on time from set goals and having to balance my busy career, life and my relationship with God. At times I may feel like I already have it all figured out, then, boom. But the next moment, I found myself all confused and going frustrated especially when I am unable to achieve a set goal within a set timeline. Oprah Winfrey says ‘believe in yourself’ and ‘Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity’. Learning how to overcome challenges has helped me to stay centered and to remain calm under pressure. All I do to surmount these challenges are telling myself that I’m not alone in this, then re-strategising and asking for help. My curious self too has helped me a lot.

You are a trained TedX speaker with strong leadership skills. How has it defined and shaped you?

I decided to take up the TedX training when I felt I needed to engage more publicly and felt the TedX platform could give me that right path and guide to develop my skills in public speaking. This prompted my being trained.

You mentor young women too who wish to grow their career in the security industry. What are some of the key take home for them, what do you tell them to prepare for or look out for?

I mentor women not just to grow their career in security but growing their career generally. One key take home for them is that they can achieve or become anything they want to become in life. It’s all about ‘believing in yourself’ – Oprah Winfrey. I always prepare their minds that, of course, there will be challenges but with determination, consistency, and handwork they will achieve all set goals.

What do you think women can do differently in the security sector? 

Women are the bedrock of every society. They are involved in food security, economic security and political security. During time of crisis, women and children are the most affected. Women are the mothers of the boys used to cause disorder in the society as well as the wives of the men who instigate the boys to cause disorder. The creation of a ministry headed and coordinated by a woman will go a long way in solving the insecurity problem faced by the nation. In Nigeria, history revealed that a lot of women made remarkable security impact in their desire to provide stability in their respective societies.

Notable among them are; Inkpi, the Princess of Igala royal family who buried herself alive to save the Igala from the stronghold of the Junkuns; Moremi of Ile Ife, who allowed herself to be captured by Igbo during a clash with Yoruba and Queen Amina who became the Queen of Zazzau in 1576 not because there were no strong contenders but she emerged as the most suitable successor to the office. She proved herself a capable leader both in the home front and at the battlefield. The reality, however, is that women are largely excluded from many formal peace processes. In the terrorism affected states, women and children constitute the largest number of internally displaced persons and refugees across the border.

How can more women rise and live their dreams beyond stereotypes?

One of the factors that affect women’s relevance in governance and security is the fact that most women still live in the belief that they are a second fiddle or second best. We have had several instances where a woman is able to outweigh the achievement of a man when compared together. In a time like this, which is as transforming as the space, women should be able to prove their mettle every now and then. From handling leadership roles to being able voices of the society, women should be seen pushing society-created boundaries and setting strong examples for an equitable future.

What drives you?

I’m really driven by self-mastery and growth. This clearly motivates me to develop and grow life. Though to achieve this, I have taken certain risk and I’ve gone out of my comfort zone to ensure I become a better version of myself.

What do you hope to see Nigerian women do differently?

I hope to see Nigerian women fight and go for what they want. We can only achieve this by knowing what our passion is and then go for it. At times when I talk or mentor women, you get feedback like ‘I don’t even know what I want.’ If you don’t know what you want, how will you do it differently. Breaking gender bias barriers starts from you and I. Let women be put in strategic positions in the country. Why can’t a woman be the president of the country? We can do it. Let’s go all out to achieve this, starting from us as women. Whatever you instil into your girl child while growing up shapes her to be whoever she will become in the future.

What is your life mantra?

I have always held on to and live by the fruits of the Holy Spirit in the Holy Bible, which are love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. I believe that God will not give me more than I can handle or bear, so anything that comes my way I strongly belief it is something that I can handle. I also believe that I can do everything through Jesus Christ that strengthens me. This has always helped me in achieving me goals.

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