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.