(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)
Here is my interview with Olatorera Oniru, an assiduous entrepreneur passionate about all things Africa. As CEO of Dressmeoutlet.com, she is currently leading initiatives to realize a pinnacle in Africa’s history whereby we would rely less on importation and innovate more with natural resources and citizenry capabilities. A member of The National Scholars Honor Society USA, Olatorera flourished her career working for two Fortune Top 5 companies namely Bank of America Merrill Lynch and General Electric. She also worked for one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies, Lars Magnus Ericsson, as a global consultant and later as Head of Sales Governance. During the course of her employed years, she traveled to over 50 cities in over 10 countries in 4 continents.
What makes you do what you do?
I absolutely enjoy what I do. If it doesn’t make people happy or make the world a better place, it may not be worth pushing. But more importantly, results fuel my desire for more results. I love seeing great results. We measure our success day to day, month to month, by the growth numbers. Every new customer counts! Every new partnership counts! Customers in London being excited that they received their packages from Lagos within 3 days makes us want to figure out a way to get it to them within 2 days! The possibilities are endless, the results are exciting.
How did you rise in the industry you are in?
I founded Dressmeoutlet.com, an online retailer of fashion and beauty products with over 60% of products on Dressmeoutlet.com designed or manufactured within Africa.
The rise in the industry can be attributed to the growth in satisfied customers and this can be attributed to the quality of the products we retail and how important customer relationships are at Dressmeoutlet.com.
Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?
I love fashion at great prices and I have a background in telecommunications and technology consulting. This, in addition to my passion for Africa’s development, led to the development of Dressmeoutlet.com, a company innovatively engineering the globalization of made in Africa fashion and beauty products.
Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work?
Yes, I have one or two mentors who have excelled professionally and entrepreneurially that I have occasional conversations with and other times, I also learn indirectly from very successful people who I may not personally know but really like their story. I meet new people on a daily basis too – I enjoy connecting with people and building relationships.
How did you make a match if you and how did you end up being mentored by him?
I’m naturally big on networking. I enjoy meeting new people and making connections that work. From being a mentee to being a mentor to being a customer to being a leader. The connections we build daily are all part of our growth ecosystem.
Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?
By winning over and mentoring other people with great talent. Leaders cannot succeed alone – they must have the right mix of partners and supporters. At Dressmeoutlet.com, we are constantly recruiting great talent as we grow.
Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?
I support diversity consciously or unconsciously. Diversity is what makes us human. We are all different and differences should be embraced and not used as a tool for segregation. Not all Africans are…, not all Europeans are…, not all Muslims are…, not all women are…, not all surgeons are … Let’s appreciate and develop people for their individuality, their talent, their capabilities, their desires and not for their classification by gender, race, religion, geographic citizenship or other diversity classifications. Many people were born into a particular classification and that’s all they know or love. We must appreciate what makes others different. This is not to say that businesses should consciously focus on ensuring diversity but more so that businesses should focus on hiring the best person for the job regardless of their diversity.
What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?
Leaders must lead, leaders must care, and leaders must make things work. I’m very big on ensuring that the best man for the job gets the title. A great leader will mentor others and will always be ready to pass on the baton to someone even greater or better.
Advice for others?
My biggest advice is this “Push your desires. Don’t let anything stop you from doing anything great for the world.” I’m currently in the process of publishing a share all book titled “Push Your Desires”. I want to see more greatness being pushed out to the world especially emerging from the continent of Africa. A continent with massive potentials, great natural resources and amazing human talents.
To learn more about Dress Me Outlet, please see https://www.dressmeoutlet.com.
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