This is Lightbox, a segment of the twentysomethingbytres newsletter. Every month, I will be interviewing a twenty-something-year old to get insight into what life is like for them, the careers they are building, challenges, ideologies and more.
It promises to be a great time.
This month we will be speaking with Anoma, a data analyst currently working at Bloomberg, London, and the founder of Women in Data Africa (WiDA), a community that empowers young African women with skills and opportunities in the data world. In this article she talks about her life, her experiences growing up and discovering agency, the challenges unique to being twenty-something, and so much more!
It’s a value packed session, so please like, comment, and share if something resonates with you.
Let’s dive in!
Hi Anoma, how are you?
I’m fine. I’m exhausted. I’ve been moving apartments since last week, and I’ve been working while doing that, which has been really stressful.
I can imagine. Sorry about that, and congratulations on your move, Anoma doings! Asides from work, how have things been with you generally?
Things are fine. I am trying to settle in London and also tour places, make friends at the same time, balance WiDA work, balance relationships, and do incredibly well at work — it’s a lot, to be very honest, but I think one thing I am teaching myself is to take one day at a time, and just see how it goes.
Sounds like great advice. Well, I know you, but many of our readers may not. Can you please introduce yourself and what you do?
Sure! My name is Moyinoluwa Anoma. That’s my full name. Moyinoluwa is my first name, and I am saying this because most people don’t know. Most people believe Anoma is my first name, but I simply like to go by Anoma. I am a graduate of the University of Lagos with a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management. I am also an associate of the chartered institute of Personal Management, but I transitioned into Tech and currently work as a data analyst at Bloomberg’s London office.
I tell people I work with Women in Data Africa (WiDA), but I am actually the founder. Some days, I am also the DJ for the community. The community essentially helps women break into tech, but the data field specifically. So we have women from all over the world—every African country—come in to learn data stuff. In my spare time, I like to read, and I like to eat chocolate ice cream—
—and gummy bears.
(laughs) and gummy bears.
Thank you for that wonderful introduction! Well, before you were Anoma of Bloomberg, what was growing up like for you?
Growing up was okay. It was a bit different because I grew up in a society where girls were not really “allowed” to do so many things. We are all girls in my family, and the extended family made us feel like we were “useless”, so to speak. To fight through all of that and pursue amazing careers and dreams makes me so proud. Growing up was a bit weird. I had to fight a lot of stereotypes and do a lot of hard work because I wanted to prove a point that a woman can also do things a man can do, and even better. Not gonna lie. It was a bit hard.
What was your favourite childhood memory?
I wouldn’t call it a favourite memory, but it’s like a core memory because anytime I look back, I remember it. When I was in secondary school, everyone thought I was going to go on and study law. My mom is a Magistrate, so everybody just assumed I would go down that path. So they applied for law on my behalf, and I remember thinking to myself that I didn’t want to study law.
That was the first time I made an independent decision without anybody’s input and without caring about how that decision would affect anybody. It’s a very important memory for me, and whenever I look back, I think, “Okay, you did that as a fifteen-year-old. You fought with your parents and school administrators. You did not care what anybody said, and you went ahead to study HR instead!” That was the first time I became self-aware that I have absolute control over my life and how I want it to go, and even if some people might not like it, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter because it is my life.
How has navigating your twenties been?
It has been interesting. See ehn, I think I have noticed that I am a self-aware person. There are some things I just randomly do every day, and I’m like, “Oh my God, I can do that!” Or, “Oh my God, did I just do that?” Navigating my twenties has been very interesting but also very uncomfortable in the sense that nobody tells you how much work you have to put yourself through to achieve your dreams. I don’t know if it is just me, but personally, I don’t remember my parents sitting me down and telling me that you need to build certain habits, do certain things, acquire a certain mindset, build discipline and determination as a person so that you can thrive and pursue the kind of life you want in order to achieve your dreams. So it took a lot of time for me to realise that there were certain things I had to do for myself to have the kind of life I wanted to live.
Nobody also talks about how difficult it is to maintain relationships and friendships. Nobody talks about the amount of insane work it takes. Friendships and relationships are meant to be organic, but nobody talks about the amount of work required to sustain them in the first place. That’s something I also had to learn in my twenties.
You’ve given a very beautiful summary of how navigating your twenties can be, but what would you say have been the highlights? And lows?
I think my major high—because I am very passionate about serving others and, most especially, African women—is starting Women in Data Africa. I had a lot of back and forth with it because I am a very organized person, so I don’t like to start things if I don’t put in all of the structure, but I realised that I was spending so much time planning and building when I could just start. Another major highlight has been moving to London. I remember tweeting and manifesting that I would move to London, and I think a month or two afterwards, I got my Bloomberg offer, and it came with me relocating to London. I had read about London in books, so living in London was really dear to my heart. It’s one of the cities I’d always wanted to live and work in.
I think a major low would be not starting my tech career early. Is that a low? I’m not sure. Maybe this is me being hard on myself cause God’s time is perfect, and maybe the time I started is when God wanted me to start, so I don’t know about that, but I always wished I had started my tech career way earlier.
Another low would be that it took me a bit of time to understand the importance of putting in the work in relationships, and because I grew up as a very independent person, I lived like I could do anything on my own without needing anybody’s help, and some relationships had to suffer as a result. So one of my major lows which I am working on right now, is not realizing early on how important it is and how okay it is to rely on people and build great relationships.
Hmm, on the first low, I think having a Human Resource Management background is a blessing in disguise, because it has taught you how to handle communities. It has helped you become a natural community builder. You mentioned loving service, especially serving African women, so I feel like if you had studied something related to data or tech, you probably wouldn’t have been as empathetic or as good a manager as you are now. You said that everything works together for our good, and I feel like, in your case, it really has, because you’re not just a Data-baddie, you’re also community builder.
You have a point.
So next question: If you could go back in time and have a conversation with your twelve year old self what would you tell her?
When I was twelve, I think I was in SS1. I think I would have told her that it is okay to be afraid, and that fear can be a motivator. Also, I got called dumb, ugly and black like charcoal at that age. You know how kids can be. And I think it was when I was in my final year of university I kind of realised that that was where my low self-esteem came from. I always thought it never bothered me, but subconsciously I stored them in my brain, which I am currently working on. So yeah, I will tell her that fear can be a motivator, and shouldn’t deter her from her school aspirations. I would also tell her that just because people project certain things on you doesn’t mean it defines you as a person, and that it is eventually going to be okay.
How does one become a data analyst?
Mine was a very weird journey, but I will tell anyone trying, to do their research first. Think about the skills you currently have in whatever path you’re on and how they can easily transition into whatever data career you want to build. Also, think about your interests. When you decide on that, research the different data fields that exist, pick one and go on LinkedIn and check out people who are industry experts in the field. Check out their portfolios, how they started, what they learned, the skills they have, and the courses they’ve done and just pen everything down.
As a data analyst, I would advise you to start with excel. Don’t start with python, for the love of God! (laughs!) And make sure to add statistics to whatever learning plan you build for yourself. I would advise anyone trying to start with tech generally to not compare yourself with others. Social media is a big fat lie, and people tend to portray themselves in certain ways that they might not be. And even if they are, that does not mean you should compare yourself with them. Just because someone is working in a foreign company and earning hard currency doesn’t mean you should feel terrible and as if you’re not putting in a lot of work. I did that a lot, and I can say for a fact that it doesn’t take you anywhere. It will make you feel terrible and will make your self-confidence reduce, so don’t do it, don’t even think about it. Do you think social media is a big fat lie?
I think so. I think people tend to lie and posture because they want to get something, be it accolades, jobs, or other opportunities. And for people starting their careers, I think spending more time building your skills is so important. If you’re not as good as you claim you are, people will eventually find out. So it is always better to get grounded in your skills first before posturing as an expert.
Next question: What is one thing you think everyone should do before they turn thirty?
I think you should travel! Especially if you’re from Nigeria, yeah? Living in Nigeria can make you so myopic. Also, you know when people say things like, “I’m like this and I cannot change?” There are so many things you have to change as a person, and you need to work on them in your twenties. Start healing. Start seeing a therapist. I heard someone once say that some of us don’t need therapy; we actually need to go to church so that they can cast and bind some behaviours from us! (laughs) But yes, start the process, start being self-aware, and start talking to yourself. Personally, I feel like your twenties are for the hard work, and your thirties are meant to be enjoyed. That’s what I believe, but what do I know? I’m just a bloody twenty-three-year-old.
I’m really enjoying this! Okay, so what’s your advice for people who are trying to figure out life in general?
Give yourself grace. Extend grace to yourself. You can’t figure everything out. For some people, it takes time. Some people achieve their career goals in their 40s. I was talking to one of my friends working at an Investment Bank here in London. He told me that there is a twenty-six-year-old on his team that is already a partner.
Wow, and he is fifty?
Exactly my point! So, for some people, it is faster than it is for others, and that’s fine. I don’t know who defined the timeline for success or any of these things, but if you are trying to figure these things out, give yourself grace. Extend grace to yourself, and embrace the process. I know it might sound cliché but trust me, it is the process that matters. When you get to the end goal, it is only the process you remember: the work you put in, the battles you overcame, the joys, the happiness. But if you’re rushing to the end goal? Hmm, I don’t know what to say.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
If you were to ask me this question last year, I would have given you a detailed plan, and I would have even given you my plans for years 6-10 even if that’s not what you asked me. But right now, I don’t know if I am being honest. Last month, I was shocked when I realised that these days I actually do not know where I want to be in five years. I know that I would be more successful than I am right now, and I would have grown. Because again, it’s not like I am not doing anything about my growth—I still am. I just don’t know where I will be. But just generally speaking, one of my career goals is to help Nigerian universities build data departments in their schools. I also want to work for the United Nations. How that would happen, I don’t know.
Okay, so three things you can’t live without, and don’t say friends!
Water (laughs), Community, and God. See here at Bloomberg, I entered, and there was no community for black women, so I had to start one! So yeah, I cannot live without these things.
Any last words?
There is this quote by Maya Angelou that says, “I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” I feel like that has kind of defined my mission as a person. I just want to go out and just say, “fuck everybody. Fuck you fuck you FUCKyouFuCKyouufuckyoufuckyou".’ Like I don’t care, I would do what I have to do, and I am going to do it excellently well, regardless!
Thank you so much, Anoma!
You’re welcome, Tres.
Are you interested in learning about Women in Data Africa and what they do? Check them out on social media:
Thank you for your continuous support. Till next week!
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Media I consumed this Week:
Read: I read Similoluwa Kunle-Oni’s Five dates to Valentine, an ode to the holiday, while drinking wine and thinking about romance. I also read my school books, because affliction shall not rise again, amen? Amen!
Watched: I binge-watched Love to Hate You, a chill K-drama about a badass lawyer and an A-list actor, and their whirlwind enemies to lovers romance that was full of comedy and didn’t give me unnecessary heart palpitations.
Love love love this segment so much. One thing I've learnt from Simi and Anoma's interview is that when you're 20something you might not have it all figured out but it's okay. It's a time for you to really grow and discover thing for and about yourself. And as a 17years old girl who sometimes gets scared of growing up I am really learning a lot. You guys are really great models honestly.
‘Extend grace to yourself, and embrace the process. I know it might sound cliché but trust me, it is the process that matters. When you get to the end goal, it is only the process you remember: the work you put in, the battles you overcame, the joys, the happiness.’
I agree 100%. This was very insightful ✨