As far back as 1991, the International Biographical Centre in Cambridge, United Kingdom listed Olajumoke Adenowo in their “‘Who will be who’ in the 21st century” list. Two to three decades later, Adenowo’s achievements have more than justified whatever criteria they used to draw up the list. It is not for jokes that she is called Africa’s “Starchitect”.
The woman who is now one of the most recognized architects in the world and top 10 in Africa was born in Ibadan, Oyo State, on the 16th of October 1968. Her parents were professors and so she naturally grew up within the university community, attending the University of Ibadan Staff Primary School and Federal Government Girls College, Oyo State.
Smart kid that she was, Olajumoke was done with secondary school at age 14 and secured admission to the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife where she bagged her first and second degree in Architecture. She would recall later that the choice to study architecture had been informed by her visit to Paris at a tender age. She was awestruck at some of the structures she came across on her visit and decided that she wanted to pursue a career in architecture.
Schooling for Olajumoke did not end with a Master’s degree or securing a job. She would later take part in other programmes including the Lagos Business School Chief Executive Programme. She also attended the Yale School of Management, the IESE Business School at the University of Navarra in Barcelona, Spain and the Harvard Kennedy School.
Olajumoke’s career in architecture started with a role as Assistant Architect at Towry Coker And Associates. Next stop was Femi Majekodunmi Associates where she achieved her first career milestone – designing the Federal Ministry of Finance to be sited in Abuja. This was the gateway project for Olajumoke, as it opened her up to bigger opportunities even though she was still 23 years old at the time.
It was also the trigger to the International Biographical Centre listing her among the “‘Who will be who’ in the 21st-century” list in 1991. Three years later, Jumoke ventured out to start her first business.
The ‘Advantage’ entrepreneurial journey
In 1994, Adenowo started AD Consulting – an interior design and architectural firm that would become known for its bespoke and detailed designs and structures, from inception to the fittings. Some of AD Consulting’s projects include Abuja Film City, Nigerian Stock Exchange, Heritage Bank Headquarters, Ekiti State Liaison Office in Lagos.
She sits as the Chief executive officer and Principal Partner and has overseen several major projects for clients like Coca-Cola, L’oreal, the Nigerian government, quite a number of banks and even the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
She also established an oil and gas firm, Advantage Energy, as well as a property management company – Advantage Property.
In 1999, Adenowo established a faith-based Non-Governmental Organisation, Awesome Treasures Foundation (ATF) to raise 1000 leaders by 2030 through its various programmes.
Boards served and other interests
Olajumoke has served as Vice President of the Lagos Business School Chief Executive Programme, Chairperson of the National Tank Youth Development Committee. She serves on the board of the British School of Lome, Fountain Holdings Ltd, Centre for Social Reformation and Leadway Tours & Travels Limited.
She is also a member of a number of professional bodies; Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Nigerian Institute of Architects, Interior Design Association of Nigeria, European Coaching Institute and International Mentoring Association. Olajumoke is a fellow of African Leadership Network, Global Philanthropy Forum, the African Philanthropy Forum.
In 2019, Olajumoke Adenowo was appointed a Visiting Professor at the Technische Universitat Munchen (TUM) in Germany. She was honoured as a Laureate and a Guest Scientist at the Chair of Theory, History of Architecture and Art & Design arm of the university’s Department of Architecture.
Olajumoke is author of five books so far; The Mother’s Prayer Manual; The Mysterious Seed; Secrets of Financial Increase; Designed for Marriage; and Covenant Forces. She also anchors ‘Voice of Change’, a weekly radio broadcast on Classic FM, where she challenges youths to demand accountability of their leaders.
Recognition and awards
It is near impossible to hide a golden fish, and so Adenowo’s works have exposed her to much recognition and awards. In 2012, Olajumoke clinched the Best Commercial Designer at IDEA Awards; and in 2013, she received four awards; Best Public Service Architecture at International Property Awards, Best Mixed-Use Architecture at African Property Awards, Best Interior Architect at IDEA Awards, and Best Public Service Architecture at African Property Award.
Adenowo also received the Ekiti State Merit Award and Best Institution Architect at IDEA Award in 2014. Her name has been listed in several prominent lists. Adenowo was listed among 100 Most Inspiring Women by YNaija 2014; 10 Most Powerful Women in Business by AFK Insider 2015 and 21 Outstanding Women by Genevieve Magazine also in 2015.
Olajumoke Adenowo received the New African Woman Award for Business Woman of the Year in 2016. She was also recognised as Africa’s Most Inspiring Business Woman by Africa Economic Builders in 2018, and her business was listed among the 100 Most Innovative Female Owned Businesses in Nigeria.
Olajumoke Adenowo was featured in the Hall of Fame, Black History Month by the University of West England, Bristol in 2013. In 2014, she was described as ‘Africa’s Starchitect’ and celebrated on CNN African Voices. Her Alma mater honoured her as an ‘Ambassador of Excellence’ and La Batisseurs des Economie De L’Afrique listed her as one of Africa’s Most Inspiring Business Woman.
The Guardian (Nigeria) described her as “the face of Architecture in Nigeria” and in 2018 she was recognised by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) as one of the most inspirational women in architecture today.
Adenowo could well be one of Nigeria’s richest architects, but there are no figures to back this hypothesis. She is, however, one of the most successful architects in Nigeria. Indeed, one can safely say that if Olajumoke Adenowo received a handshake for every major milestone she has hit, her arms would be sore for days.