+How She Left ACCOUNTANCY To Motivate Others
Pretty Mrs Janet Adetu is a Chartered Accountant. She is even a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria. But she does not live off her accounting practice. Her main line of business is to help other people discover their purpose in life. She is also into grooming, maintaining etiquette and getting the elites to do the right things at the right time. A few months back, Janet Adetu, who is the wife of Otunba Seni Adetu, the former MD of Guinness, turned 50 and she spoke with City People Magazine Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE about her life and career. Below are excerpts of the interview.
Congratulations on your 50th birthday. How do you feel @ 50
Wow! Turning 50! To be honest with you, I actually don’t feel it. Maybe it has not kicked in yet. I give glory to God I still feel young at heart. I do believe in the saying that 50 is the new 30 because age is just a number and for me, I always advocate that you are as old as you want to be or you are as old as you feel. Turning 50 is a great landmark for me and I feel elated. I feel very excited. Interestingly, I actually feel like this is the beginning of a new thing. I am beginning to think of new ideas, how to reorganise, restructure. It is giving me a momentum of what I can do better for myself.
How did you celebrate it?
I had to give back to society. I know what my philosophy in life is. It is to give and add to another person’s life. So, I structured my birthday in such a way that I could give thanks to God, to give back to society and share fellowship with my friends. I started off by launching a charity I had in my mind for a long time and it’s called Gallant Graces Foundation. The whole idea of the foundation is to promote personal hygiene and grooming girls between the ages of 13 and 19. I have noticed that the young girls of today are losing their self-esteem. Confidence is also not there. Grooming is one major aspect that is heavily overlooked in society. It is not really taught in schools. Having attended some of these outreach programmes, I have noticed that some of these girls are itching to talk to someone about some of the issues and they are not finding a platform. So, Gallant Graces Foundation is really all about providing a platform for the girls to be educated about personal Hygiene, most especially personal development and leadership skills. We do a GOLD guide. It is more about providing Grooming and Personal Hygiene education, giving them opportunities to have the scholarship to be members of the Gallant Graces Angel network to also be able to be mentored by older women of experience. The L is to give them Leadership Development Skills and the D is for Decorum, Department and Etiquette, which I think my young lady or woman needs today. That’s the GOLD drive. It’s all about trying to build a sustainable nation. I strongly believe that if you train a girl, you build a nation. I have fantastic trustees made up of Mrs Patricia Ojora, Mrs Kofo Akinkugbe, Lara Cookey and Mrs Patricia Onuorah and, of course, myself. And together we have come to see what we can do together in our own little way to make an impact on our own generation and try as much as possible to create a platform where young girls can really look up to meet people older than them. I have mentors and volunteers also.
When I turned 40 I worked on a foundation that I called Golden Hearts Trust and it was all about providing financial support and advocacy for children born with a hole in the heart. This is because I personally was born with a hole in the heart and I wanted to give back to the same kind of children who don’t have the opportunity that I had, having been born in the UK. Today Golden Heart Trust is 10 years old and we have been able to sponsor Open Heart Surgeries and Advocacy. We have done that for just over a hundred children.
Their surgeries were as much as $12,000 per child. That was a huge assignment. That was done while I was outside Nigeria, living in Ghana. I now operate it on a different platform. When I started on the 22nd November 2017 I introduced 2 children I sent to the US. They were one little girl that was 2 years old Chinedu and a little boy Demilade. I have a platform in the US that help children less privileged from developing countries. So if somebody comes to me with a child with a hole in the heart, I first take them to Ghana to undergo a test because they do all the tests in Ghana. Unfortunately, they don’t rely on the test in Nigeria. The test in Nigeria does not provide them with recorded heartbeats, they only give paper documentation.
We then send them to the US. They test them to look at them if they are viable for surgery. Then we send them to the US for about 8 weeks. Beautiful American families look after them. The surgery is absolutely free. I am very happy that I am still doing that because I am an advocate of support for children with a hole in the heart.
On the 23rd of November, which was the day I turned 50, I invited people to come and do praise worship with me on that day. We had a full church service and a reception. I then decided to round it up with fellowshipping and sharing grand moments with a grand dinner dance. Many friends and family came.
How has Janet Adetu been able to build her big brand? How many years now?
It’s amazing. Many don’t know I am a Chartered Accountant. I am a fellow with the Institute body of Accountants in the UK. I used to work for KPMG. I used to work for Ernest & Young. I had a stint in the banking sector. I worked for a host of the companies as well. It’s amazing how I transformed. I noticed that in the corporate world, there was a little gap, a leadership gap. Being an Auditor, I felt people were always afraid of me. They were always afraid to give me the evaluation that I required, as an Auditor. I now asked the question: what’s going on?
Why are people afraid of Auditors? Is it the fear of giving information that may be wrong? But then, I noticed that maybe it is the way we auditors portray ourselves. We always look very disciplined, very stern, very strict.
And I said you know what? I need to change my image to become more friendly, become more social, be people-like, come across to them as I am a normal human being, mix with them, for the period I was doing the audit, be friendly with them for the period I was doing the audit. Even in my dressing too. I decided to tone down my dressing, less dark colours, friendlier colours in my dressing, more stylish, and it worked. I noticed that you should dress the way you want to be addressed as Perception Is Reality. If they see you as a friendly person, they will address you as a friend. When I decided to do that, I noticed that people are warmer. People were giving me the result I needed. That is how I got to know that it comes from the point of self-esteem and self-confidence.
My bosses used to push me forward to go and do the audit of the senior management staff and I used to wonder why, and I realised that even at that top level, there was an issue with confidence, self-esteem, the way they carry themselves, many things were lacking. And, therefore, when we were on expatriate assignment with my husband for 17 years, I asked myself what do I want to do now, because I kept on moving everytime, owing to my husbands postings.
And I couldn’t stop in my career. I actually didn’t know that it was a line that I am going to go into this line I am in now. Until people started saying to me. You do things differently. When you present things, you do it differently. When you dress, you do it differently. I had no idea. Somehow, I went to do some research online and I stumbled on the word Etiquette, amazingly I found out that it had to do with image, behaviour, department, mesmerisms, everything. And I realised this is not a small thing. Actually, you have to go and qualify and get a licence and do professional exams. People think it is as easy as you can go on the internet, download things and you can go and disseminate knowledge and facilitate. Facilitating is not easy. Facilitating comes from a wealth of experience. I wear my 6 to 7 inches shoe for 9 hours. You have to be in the industry to understand what is missing. So, I qualified from 5 different countries. It involved a lot, financially, time and all that. I have many highly professional qualifications. I started in Kenya where the Kenya people count is something extremely important in the corporate world.
They see it as important as, indeed if you want to have a competitive advantage you have to be able to do things differently from your competitors. And I did the training and I practised it for three and half years in Kenya before my husband was moved to Nigeria. Coming to Nigeria, it was a new world, a new dimension, different schools of thought.
Some said haaa! We need it badly, we do not have Etiquette. The young ones said I don’t have time for Etiquette. So, I asked them: So, why are you doing interviews 2 years after graduation and you still can’t get a job. It means something is missing in you – it’s either your presentation is not right or your social savvy knowledge is poor, or something is wrong about your skill set, something is missing. That is how I stepped into Nigeria. I came with a different direction.
I came with the experience of Nairobi, Kanya, working with corporate organisations and I mean big organisations because they appreciated it. I am happy to say Nigerians are accepting it. Now, this is going to be 7 years, in Nigeria, they are beginning to appreciate it, that it is the small details that make the difference. They are now beginning to see the importance of it.
I don’t use the world Etiquette when I am working with big organisations, I use the word Protocol.