Meet Ony Anukem: Social Media and Content Manager at Women of Influence & Show Host of Twenty5 Podcast

Growing up as the first of four daughters, gender equality and leadership came naturally to British-import Ony Anukem. By day, she is the Social Media and Content Manager at Women of Influence — but she also wears another hat as the Show Host of the Twenty5 Podcast, a bi-weekly interview podcast that she started to guide young women through their mid-twenties. Since launching in July 2019, her podcast has featured as the #1 Society & Culture Podcast on the Apple podcast charts in several countries and has accrued over 10,000 plays in 50+ countries.

 

My first job ever was… was working as an entertainer for a kids party company, I used to get paid £25 (C$43.65) for a two-hour party. We hosted all kinds of parties from Disney Princess parties to Murder Mystery parties — as first jobs go it wasn’t that bad!

My favourite thing about working for Women of Influence is… the amazing women I get to work with, from the WOI team to all the inspiring and accomplished women in our community that I get to profile and interact with at events.

I decided to start the Twenty5 Podcast because… like many other women, I had grown up with ridiculous expectations of where I should be in my life by 25. As my birthday neared, I thought ‘I can’t be the only woman feeling like this’ and so I started discussing it with my peers and establishing a trend. I eventually started my podcast on my 25th birthday last year, as a platform to get advice from older women on what they wished they knew at 25. I talk to my guests about everything from relationships and career development to mental health.

My proudest accomplishment was… at 18 co-founding ASIM (A sister in Me), a community organization made up of over 260 members from diverse backgrounds, professional industries and areas in the UK, with a common goal of positively using our influence to help girls and women in our community unleash their full potential.

My boldest move to date was… a literal move. In January 2019, I left my family and friends in London, England and moved to Toronto with my life packed into four suitcases and my handbag. People always dream of things that never end up happening because life gets in the way or they don’t end up pursuing it, I’m really glad that moving to Canada wasn’t just talk for me. In my year and a half of being here, I have learnt so much and grown so much, and I have decided to base myself here for the foreseeable future.

 

“It’s easy to miss out on opportunities in life trying to be perfect, I have to remind myself constantly that perfection doesn’t really exist — you just have to go for things sometimes.”

 

I surprise people when I tell them… that I have been to 31 countries and I’d like to see the rest before my time is up.

My best advice from a mentor was… “don’t aim to be perfect, aim to be present!” If you never put your product on the market, nobody will ever be able to buy it. If you don’t finish a job application, it’s impossible to be shortlisted for the job. It’s easy to miss out on opportunities in life trying to be perfect, I have to remind myself constantly that perfection doesn’t really exist — you just have to go for things sometimes.

A piece of advice that I often give but struggle to follow is… don’t expect somebody to act a certain way just because that’s how you would act. I really love the quote ‘expect the unexpected’ — that goes for life events but also people’s behaviour, I try not to project myself or my feelings onto people, but it can be hard sometimes!

My biggest setback was… completing my Masters in Law and then deciding I didn’t want to become a lawyer. I had been saying that I wanted to be a lawyer since I was a child and suddenly having this epiphany frightened me.

I overcame it by… leaning into the things that I was good at and passionate about and eventually, I found myself at the intersection of gender equality and media.

If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… that I can do a pretty convincing Southern accent. I always tell people that my alter ego is a Southern Belle.

I stay inspired by… learning about the achievements of other women, I just think ‘if this woman can achieve X, then there is nothing me from achieving Y.’

The future excites me because… all through the global pandemic has been really terrifying on so many fronts, we are on the brink of change and I’m hopeful that we will see many positive changes come from this time.

At 25, I wish I knew more about financial management.

In Episode 1 of the Twenty5 Podcast, I am joined by Caroline Anukem (my mother) and she shares that at 25 she wishes she knew more about financial management. We talk about everything from millennials spending habits to what it’s truly like to live your ‘best life.’ Here is an excerpt from Season 1, Episode 1.

 

 Ony: For those of you that don’t know, I’m based in Toronto and my mum is in London. We’re doing this call over the phone even though she’s gonna be joining me here next week. For the benefit of those that don’t know you can you give us a brief introduction?

Caroline: I’m Caroline Anukem, also known as, Mama, AK, sis and several other names. I am a mother of four wonderful ladies — and I can say ladies because they’re all adult ladies. I am married to Stanley Anukem and I have worked with the education sector for the last 26 years. I am from a legal background, studied law and went into education.

Ony: This is really exciting having you on the podcast as my first of 25 women that I am speaking to for the series. The first woman I ever knew, and the first woman I ever loved! So it’s great to have you on here with me today.

Caroline: I love you right back darling!

Ony: Let’s just jump into it… so you said at 25 you wish you knew more about financial management — can you expand on that a bit? What, in particular, do you wish you knew about financial management?

Caroline: Growing up, I came from a family where pocket money wasn’t really the done thing. We got money for whatever we needed and we asked for it on an as and when basis, and I didn’t have a good idea of managing money that well. I think it came from that not having that experience from the very beginning. I didn’t strategize my financial planning and always thought there was a lot of time.

One thing that takes out to me particularly was when I was 25, somebody was talking about pensions and I nearly fell off my seat because I thought it was light-years away. I really wish at that moment, I got into that habit of being a bit like a honeybee and just having that little stash regularly for a rainy day. I was very good at putting money aside for a specific event, but not on that never-never and I think just greater financial awareness of saving plans, ISAs, TESSAs would have have been so useful. This is one of the things I advocate to be taught in schools now, that younger children from a very early age, get taught this in Maths rather than just trigonometry and algebra. Having a situation where they actually learn, and have practical exercises on saving and investing and things like that.

Ony: Would you say that the lack of financial knowledge was a generational thing? Would you say that 25-year-olds now are savvier? Or do you think the same sort of thing is repeating itself?

Caroline: There is a lot more information out there these days about finances, but a lot of the 25-year-olds I see at the moment are living their best life, and it’s great to live your best life — travelling, going out of posh brunches, orders coming in every day beautiful outfits from PLT etc. But I think a lot of them are still unaware and aren’t actually thinking about that thinking about the long-term. And also in particular in London, house costs are quite high, and one of the first investments that a lot of people saved for was a house in my generation, so when you started putting away your house — that was your motivation to save.

Ony: I guess for the average 25-year-old (in London and I would say even here in Toronto) buying a house at 25, just isn’t a realistic goal to set. Those who are savvier and better at saving look outside of the central (downtown) area to buy a house, because the reality is living in the area that you grew up in (for most people) isn’t really possible.

Caroline: So just to go back to your initial question on whether 25-year-olds today are savvier than my generation — yes and no. They have greater awareness, but they’re living a slightly different lifestyle in my generation. Back those who saved and put money aside, it wasn’t so much because of financial awareness but more a natural inclination.

Ony: At 25 you mentioned feeling like you had a lot of time to get your finances together. How, at that time, did you see the next 25 years playing out?

Caroline: I didn’t think I was in a bad financial position, but just looking back I could have made decisions then that perhaps would have left me in a better position: there was living, there was saving but I think back I could possibly have bought more than one property with better financial management, I could have invested in stocks and shares. Those kinds of investments would have made a very big difference.

Now at 25, if you’d asked me to look to 40 to 50, I didn’t have a clear vision of what I would have wanted at that time. And I think in having the vision that then leads you to create the path or the progression routes to get to that point.

Ony: Do you have any other advice that you would give to 25-year-olds now or any advice that you would tell your 25-year-old self?

Caroline: This piece of advice that I’m going to give now — I suppose it’s something that I’ve actually learned from you, rather than advice that I’ll give you but I just hope to keep on using it and all others do. It’s the SatNav approach to life. Planning. It’s important to take a little bit of time to plan, you don’t have to be orchestrating every move but really map out a plan. That’s what I would ask every 25-year-old to do: create a vision board. And just plot it. you’re not being held to it, you’re not accountable. But that’s not to say that you can’t take different routes, because life throws various things others that we don’t legislate for. However, having this vision board in place, you really stop and it helps you visualize where you want to be.

Listen to more Twenty5 Podcast episodes here and follow the podcast on Instagram @Twenty5Pocast for the latest updates.

The Scotiabank Women Initiative has something for every women-owned, women-led business.

By Shelley White

 

The Scotiabank Women Initiative™ has had a strong start since launching in December 2018, but according to Geneviève Brouillard, there’s much more to come.

Geneviève, who is Senior Vice President for Québec and Eastern Ontario at Scotiabank and an Advisory Board member for The Scotiabank Women Initiative, is endlessly enthusiastic about the bank’s expanding efforts to support women-owned and women-led businesses across the country — especially now in these unprecedented times.

“There is still so much potential,” says Geneviève. “We committed to allocate $3-billion in funding over the first three years, and after one year, we’ve already deployed $1-billion. We want to become the banking partner of choice for women-owned and women-led businesses in Canada, so I see this program becoming a Scotiabank signature as we go forward.”

“Hitting that $1-billion financing milestone was only one part of the program’s successful first year,” Geneviève notes. Scotiabank also invested in Disruption Ventures, Canada’s first private, female-founded venture capital fund investing in businesses founded by women.

Throughout 2019, 1500 women entrepreneurs and women business leaders across Canada were able to take part in the program’s educational Un-Mentorship Boot Camps™ and group mentoring sessions, building skills and expanding their networks. The Scotiabank Women Initiative also collaborated with the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs to launch a new bilingual podcast series called “The Go-To: For Entrepreneurs in the Know,” offering business and entrepreneurship essentials.

The program expanded its reach in early 2020, teaming up with networking organization Réseau des Femmes d’Affaires du Québec (RFAQ) to launch a series of events across the province throughout the year. 

“RFAQ is a non-profit organization with two thousand members that empowers women entrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses and break into foreign markets, as well as businesswomen who want to excel in their careers,” Geneviève says. “It is a great match for us because we have a common goal, to support women entrepreneurs in Québec.”

“These made to measure events will enable women to learn from each other, build relationships and enhance their skills to take their business to the next level,” says Geneviève. “With this partnership with RFAQ, we’re making a statement about Scotiabank’s intention to grow in Québec, to be a part of the community we live and work in.” 

The Scotiabank Women Initiative has taken further steps to expand in Québec and created a new role to lead these efforts. This dedicated team member brings a strong understanding of the market and extensive experience working with women entrepreneurs, building programs and value-added content. 

The Scotiabank Women Initiative is continuously working to identify improved approaches to provide meaningful, forward-thinking support to women-owned and women-led businesses. Recently, the program sponsored Femmessor, a non-profit organization supporting women entrepreneurs across 17 regions of Québec. The Scotiabank Women Initiative and Femmessor are aligned in supporting women entrepreneurs in Québec through experts who are providing free advisory services to those currently affected by COVID-19.

The program also continues to build out online resources on its Knowledge Centre and is continuing to evolve its approach to communicating with clients through virtual events, webinars and podcasts.

 

“I want to make sure that as a legacy, I can help get more women into leadership roles like mine and others at Scotiabank. What are the actions we can put in place to make sure we unite that passion and that world of possibility for women?”

 

“Another important milestone for the program this past year was the launch of a research report that outlines unique insights into how women entrepreneurs approach the financing and growth of a business,” says Geneviève. The Scotiabank Women Initiative report, which was released in March 2020, was based on a study of small business owners in Canada. Entitled “Financial Knowledge & Financial Confidence – Closing Gender Gaps in Financing Canadian Small Businesses,” the study found that while women business owners’ loan applications are more likely to be approved, women business owners are less likely to apply for business loans. It also found that on average, the financial knowledge of women business owners is lower than their counterparts, men business owners. 

The report concluded that if woman business owners in Canada are to achieve their growth potential, education and other interventions must focus on both financial knowledge and financial confidence. 

Geneviève says that The Scotiabank Women Initiative is aimed at closing the gender gap, tackling unconscious bias and ensuring women have the resources they need to succeed.

“We want women to increase their part of the economic fabric of society,” she says. “That’s why The Scotiabank Women Initiative needs to be there to provide that capital to women, offer that full suite of financing solutions as well as mentorship and education.”

“Mentorship is a core part of the program mandate,” says Geneviève, “and it’s something that they are hoping to expand on.” An executive with 30 years’ experience in banking, Geneviève says mentoring has been an important part of her own career trajectory. 

“Mentoring is providing a non-judgmental space that can help people make better decisions personally and professionally. This can have a great impact on people,” she says. “I personally have taken risks and grown because of mentors. Sometimes when I was scared of an offer or a challenge, just getting a text from a mentor saying, ‘Yes, you can do it,’ helped me become who I am today.”

Geneviève says she is also committed to helping talented women attain leadership roles, both through her Advisory Board role with The Scotiabank Women Initiative and through her current role as Senior Vice President.

“The one challenge I still have is bringing more women along with me,” Geneviève says. “I want to make sure that as a legacy, I can help get more women into leadership roles like mine and others at Scotiabank. What are the actions we can put in place to make sure we unite that passion and that world of possibility for women?”

She has some words of advice for women entrepreneurs hoping to grow their businesses and become the leaders they want to be.

“Be bold. Network. And get advice from your banker.”