The leadership inspirations of Bola Tinubu

Bola Tinubu: My way

Bola Tinubu was named on the BBC 100 Women list of the most inspiring and influential women of 2018. The corporate lawyer and founder of The Cece Yara Foundation, Nigeria’s first free helpline for children, reveals her inspirations

I’m inspired every day by women who work hard to excel in their fields. Dame Esther Rantzen, founder of ChildLine in the UK, motivated me to set up Nigeria’s first free helpline for children.

I wanted to provide a platform from which children’s voices could be heard. A quarter of girls aged under 18 in Nigeria are sexually abused. The Cece Yara Foundation (in the Hausa language “cece yara” means “save the child”) is my way of helping – and holding the perpetrators to account.

Observing my father in court was a formative experience. A corporate lawyer himself, he would sometimes bring me along to watch him work. I was mesmerised and instantly hooked on law as a career.

The best piece of advice I have ever been given is: “Listen to your instincts – they are rarely wrong.”

There’s no such thing as a perfect work-life balance. Raising my five children while working in such a demanding profession is a delicate juggling act that needs a curated support system.

It’s vital to keep learning. I recently completed the IoD Diploma in Company Direction, for instance. This taught me a critical skill: how to test the quality of an organisation’s strategy and use the results to evaluate its options for the future.

One of my favourite quotes is: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” St Teresa of Calcutta.

My next challenge over the coming few years is to take part in the Cape Town Cycle Tour, which is more than 100km.

To find out how the IoD Diploma in Company Direction could benefit you, visit

Bola Tinubu will be speaking at IoD Open House on the Road later this year, click here for more information

About author

Hannah Gresty

Hannah Gresty

Until she left the magazine in August 2019, Hannah Gresty was the assistant editor of Director. She previously worked on a local news website and at a fashion PR company before joining the Director team as editorial assistant in 2016.

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