Damilola Odufuwa is clearly a force to be reckoned with. She is the co-founder of Feminist Coalition and the present Head of Global Product Communications at the world’s number one cryptocurrency trading platform, Binance.
In this interview, Damilola shares on her journey switching from the media industry to the crypto space. She talks about how Feminist Coalition came to be, what it is like being the co-founder of travel discovery app, Backdrop, and more.
Hi Dami! How Would You Describe Yourself And What You Do?
My name is Dami Odufuwa. I am at the intersection of Crypto/Block Chain, Communications and Women’s Rights. These are three big passions of mine and some of my other passions include my dogs, tv shows and traveling.
Presently, I am the Global Head of Product Communications at Binance. I am also one of the Co-founders of the Feminist Coalition, a group of Feminist Nigerian women who are passionate about advancing the position of Nigerian women in our society through education, financial independence, and representation in public office. I am also a Co-founder and CEO of Backdrop, a travel app and social network that helps people find and share beautiful spaces around the world.
You Worked In The Media Space Before Switching Industries. What Would You Say Made You Transition From Media To The Tech And Crypto Space?
To me, financial equality is one of the key parts of gender equality and it encompasses closing the gender pay gap and closing the gender wealth gap. Besides; I have always been passionate about it. At some point I started getting a bit disillusioned and a little bored of working in the media. I love using storytelling to change stereotypes about women, but I wanted to do more and because financial equality is such a big thing for me, I decided to explore this interest of mine.
Around this time in 2019, there was a lot of conversation around Cryptocurrency on Twitter, and while I did not understand it initially, I was eager to learn. A friend recommended a book to me to help broaden my understanding of Cryptocurrency and what it did was explain to me the use cases of crypto like how it can be used for sending money abroad and back to Nigeria, it can also be used as a form of peaceful protest like what we did at Feminist Coalition to support the EndSars movement and so on.
Luckily around that time, a friend reached out to me to let me know Binance was looking for someone to lead communications and they thought my expertise would be perfect for the role; that was where it started and I have never looked back since then.
“Women tend to feel like they can only apply for a job if they have all the skills but that is untrue. A lot of skills are transferable, so do not be afraid to apply for a job because you do not meet all the criteria. If you meet some, it is a starting point.”
How Has Your Past Work Experience Prepared You For What You Do Now At Binance?
I have been able to easily apply a lot of the things I did before, whether it is telling people’s stories and so on and so forth to my current job at Binance. I worked on a campaign called ‘My Crypto Life’ where we showed how Cryptocurrency has changed the lives of different people. A lot of my skills are transferable in terms of storytelling. My job essentially is to break down information the same way I did when writing articles about pop-culture. The only difference is that now, I am writing articles about Cryptocurrency in a way everyday people can understand.
What Is A Typical Day Like For Dami Odufuwa?
A typical workday for me is usually a long day between nine and twelve hours. I wake up early because I work with people all over the world, so I try to start my day around 8:00am. The first thing I do is catch up on all my messages. I have fallen in love with writing down my tasks for the day on paper. My mornings are usually dedicated to Binance. Typically, I have a lot of things to do as Head of Product Comms and you can be sure that working in a company like Binance, there is always something happening. I have also incorporated taking lunch breaks and a nap into my workday routine. I know it might not sound revolutionary, but I used to work straight up.
One of the key things about me on a typical day is attending a lot of meetings. On a good day I can have about four to five meetings. I also try to set aside a few hours to work on Backdrop and Feminist Coalition.
In the evenings after the day’s work is when I speak to my family and friends. Depending on where I am geographically, I would usually take my dog on a walk, but one thing that gets me through the day is watching tv shows, it really helps me clear my mind.
Why Did You Start The Feminist Coalition?
Before Feminist Coalition, we had Wine and Whine which is just a community for women to talk about everything, network, come up with solutions to things and while I loved what we were doing, I felt like I could do more. During the pandemic, there was a rise in femicide and violence against women and it was heartbreaking. There were all these hashtags and do not get me wrong, social media is a powerful tool in advocating for women’s rights, but I wanted to do more in addition to what was already being done.
The creation of Feminist Coalition was inspired by the anguish of Nigerian women and wanting us to come together to pull funds, resources, energy into a bigger block of change and this is where the idea for Feminist Coalition was birthed. We (Odunayo Eweniyi and I) reached out to a couple of women in different fields who we know are passionate about women’s rights, and they all said yes to the idea and became the founding members of the Feminist Coalition.
Did Any Learnings From Wine and Whine Inspire The Creation of Feminist Coalition?
Absolutely, some of the things I learnt from Wine and Whine that inspired the creation of Feminist Coalition is that when there is a cause, women come together. We see it on the internet, women are always crowd funding for other women. Women are always speaking up. From Wine and Whine, I also learnt the importance of community and building a community and we can see this in everything Feminist Coalition has done.
Tell Us About Backdrop, What Inspired The Creation Of The Photo-Sharing App?
I love to travel, and I love sharing my trips on social media. Whenever I am away on holiday or even going out in Lagos, I realised it can be hard finding nice places to go to for recreation or just to have a nice meal and if there is one thing I know, it is that Gen Z’s and Millennials love a picture worthy location. This is where the inspiration for Backdrop came from.
However, Backdrop was not actually my idea. It came from a lady named Eniola who was talking to one of the Co-founders of Backdrop, Timi, saying, “wouldn’t it be great to have an app which helps you find places to go based on your interest?” Timi eventually approached me with the idea because he remembered the work I had done in the past and believed my experience in building media companies along with my passion for travel, would make me the right person to build it.
What Advice Would You Give To African Women Who Are Interested in Pursuing A Career In Tech?
To African women interested in pursuing a career in Tech, I would say do not be afraid of the fact that you do not have all the experience required because you can learn on the job. Everything I have done; though I knew some of it, I had to learn the rest on the job. Women tend to feel like they can only apply for a job if they have all the skills but that is untrue. A lot of skills are transferable, so do not be afraid to apply for a job because you do not meet all the criteria. If you meet some, it is a starting point.
Secondly, I would say to network. Build connections with like-minded people who are interested in your industry.
Lastly, be very self-aware. Take some time to reflect on what are you passionate about, what are you good at, what you love to do and what you can earn money from. When you have found the intersection of these things, actively apply for jobs and don’t be discouraged.
If there is one thing we love to do at 21 Mag, it is telling the stories and experiences of women from all walks of life. Whether you are currently navigating the complexities of life or have a good grasp of where you are right now, we believe everyone has a story that needs to be told and no one knows this better than storyteller herself, Koromone Koroye, Tech Cabal’s current Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief. We spoke with Koromone who gladly spilled all the tea on her journey into the tech industry.
Hi Koromone! Tell Me About Yourself And What You Do.
My name is Koromone Koroye. I am a creative writer, storyteller, and a creative thinker. I am currently Tech Cabal’s acting Editor In Chief and Managing Editor and I am also a communications specialist and avid reader. I would like to think of myself as a very chill person. I love fashion, looking stylish, and living a very curated life with interesting experiences.
That Makes Two Of Us! What Led You Into The World Of Journalism And If You Weren’t Working At Tech Cabal, What Would You Be Doing Right Now?
I have always had an interest in the journalism world. My first major in college was print journalism, but I switched to creative writing because I wanted less structure when it came to my writing. Looking back now, I wish I did both because I am sure I would have benefited from having proper journalistic training in college. If I was not Managing Editor at Tech Cabal, I would probably be leading communications at a company within its growth phase. There tends to be a bit more stability there and a challenge as well, which is important to me, so I am not bored with mundane tasks that communications managers at times fall into.
Do You Think The African Tech Space Is Something More African Women Need To Get Into, and Why?
Absolutely! We need more women in the tech space. We have been seeing more female founders which I am really excited about, but we need more women stepping out and taking the risk of starting their own business.
It is unfortunate that there are a lot of women with companies in this industry who have not been able to scale it and grow it because they do not have access to capital, mentors or accelerators, so we need to see more female founders supporting one another. We need to see more African women in positions of authority at different startups and enterprises in the tech eco-system.
“Find your niche. What it is you do well? What are you skilled at? Find what it is you can keep doing no matter where you are and build on it.”
What Does A Typical Day Look Like For You?
I am a morning person, so my day typically starts around 5:00 or 6:00am depending on when my body wakes up. I like to have slow mornings as against rushing to start my day, so I start my day early with a combination of prayer, devotion, and bible study, whether it is for ten minutes or an hour. I also workout every day, if not at least five times a week and it is usually a combination of walking, running, going to the gym or doing yoga.
After getting back from my workout, I eat and get ready for the day. This at times looks like me writing down what I need to do in my planner or knowing exactly what needs to get done like reading emails, responding to slack messages, reviewing the website and so on. I get into deep work typically from 9:00am. I usually take breaks and sometimes I go on walks, read, maybe watch a show on Netflix to relax my brain. Listening to music and dancing also helps. It just depends on how the day is, how intense or calm it is.
What Skills And Experiences Would You Say Led You To The Tech Industry?
I would say my storytelling skills and strong leadership skills led me to the tech industry. I got my first job at the age of sixteen and had the experience of working in corporate America; climbing up the ranks, getting promoted, working with supervisors, literally checking boxes. I was essentially raised by very strong leaders, from working on campus, securing internships, you name it. This taught me to be able to manage myself and how to manage a team, so from very early in my career, I have gotten used to dealing with processes and structures. I came into the tech industry knowing I wanted to be a storyteller and I did not want that to change.
Where Do You See Yourself Career Wise In The Next Five Years?
I cannot say entirely as I still need to take some time to properly envision what it will look like and loosely map it out. I do not like to think too much about my future to the point where I am not malleable or flexible enough to allow for change when it comes. However, what I will say is that in the next five years, I hope to be connected to some powerful and impactful female founders in Africa, we’ll see what happens.
What Advice Would You Give To Women Considering A Career In The Tech Industry?
To women considering a career in the tech industry, I would say firstly, to know who you are and what value you bring. It is important to make sure these things are set in stone before you take a job, before even coming into the industry because you may find yourself in sticky situations at times by virtue of how the industry is. It can be overwhelming, and quite intoxicating. It is very easy to lose yourself, so you need to know who you are and how to navigate these situations.
Secondly, I would say, know your stuff. Do your research, read about the field you are looking to go into, sign up for newsletters, do not be afraid to speak to people who know the industry. Avoid looking at things at face value, dig deeper, ask questions. People love those who ask questions.
Lastly, find your niche. What it is you do well? What are you skilled at? Find what it is you can keep doing no matter where you are and build on it. Be open to learning and stay curious. Learn how to document! Document like your life depends on it and also understand how authority works and you will be just fine!