Alum of the Month - May 2022

Onyeka Aghatise

The decision to study at LSE is up there in the top five decisions I have made in my life.

 Onyeka Aghatise

  • Programme studied: MSc Human Resource Management
  • Year of Graduation: 2009
  • LinkedIn profile

Meet our Alum of the Month, Onyeka Aghatise. Since Onyeka graduated from LSE’s MSc Human Resource Management in 2009, she has had an exciting HR career, garnering circa 15 years of diverse HR experience in various international organisations across multiple geographies including The United Kingdom, Nigeria, The Netherlands and North Africa.

What’s your current job role? 

I am the Global Talent Manager for Finance at Shell International based in London. This role provides me with the opportunity to make indelible progress on the trajectory of my organisation by setting and driving a talent and leadership agenda that enables the finance function to meet the challenges of the energy transition. I work with the Chief Financial Officer and the Global Finance Leadership Team to articulate and drive a strategy that outlines how we attract and develop the best, most motivated, and most diverse talent to drive performance and thrive through the energy transition. 

This is particularly important now as the competition for talent becomes increasingly global and the relationship between society and organisation, and employee and employer are experiencing a revolution. 

What would you say is your favourite thing about working in the HR profession? 

The best thing about working in HR is the opportunity to make a difference through people. HR would be a cross between its head and heart if an organisation were a person. Working in HR focuses on enabling the organisation to achieve its strategic agenda by having the right people in the right roles with the right skills. It also focuses on enabling people to fulfil their potential, from matching them to the right job, supporting them in identifying and closing skill and experience gaps, and supporting them through the personal moments that matter. Not only is this rewarding, but it also fits right in with my passion.   

The other thing I love about HR is the challenge; the landscape is constantly changing. People are dynamic; agility and flexibility must underpin effective human resource management. So, whether it's evolving technology or changing societal context and expectations, new regulatory requirements or changes in corporate direction, I find that as HR professionals we have to constantly develop new ways to address fundamental challenges in the organisations we partner with. 

How has studying at the Department of Management allowed you to make an impact?  

The decision to study at LSE is up there in the top five decisions I have made in my life. LSE provided a cultural immersion that prepared me for an international career. In addition, it enhanced my understanding of different world viewpoints and appreciation for diversity of experiences, thoughts, and skills. Most importantly it challenged my self-inflicted limitations on ambition. The foundation of this was revaluating cultural expectations of confidence (especially in women) and believing in my potential for impact.  

This started with competing for my first role in an international organisation which I thought was way out of my league. I always joke about how LSE got me that job. My partner had sent me the job posting, and after studying it, I concluded that they were looking for a gold-maned unicorn! So naturally, I was reluctant to apply, but I did. I had experienced people from around the world with ambitions like mine and with no apologies about it. I tried to apply several times, but technology failed, and I gave up. I decided to google the recruiter; I saw a number for him and called him the next day. I expressed my interest and explained that technology was culpable for missing the deadline. He asked me, “are you Onyeka Ajufo,” I said yes, he replied, “your resume came to us 13 times!” Though I got an error, my submissions were being made. While the recruiter was sympathetic with my efforts and willing to support my candidacy, I applied so close to the deadline and was in a different city so unable to make the mandatory pre-interview. He thought about it, and after what felt like ten minutes (probably was a minute), he said, “you know what, I’ll put you through to the next round; you went to LSE, and I trust that”. 

Since leaving LSE, I have worked in different parts of the world doing exciting and impactful things personally and professionally. I dedicated over a decade to supporting young adults who need advice on the next steps for further education as an alumni volunteer recruiter for the LSE, engaged in community building activities as a WEF Global Shaper and mentored young adults on an ongoing basis. Professionally, I have developed and driven global people agendas, driven large scale transformation projects and helped start-ups go from concept to tangible operations. 

LSE was integral to giving me a foot in at the start of this journey! 

Are there any other projects or hobbies you’ve been working on outside of work? 

I mentor young adults in my spare time, supporting them as they navigate from academia to the world of work. I also support earlier career professionals thinking through decisions that influence their career trajectory. I have been very fortunate in my career and have benefitted from active mentoring and sponsorship which has opened up professional opportunities for me. Beyond paying it forward and impacting the lives of others in the way I have been fortunate to experience, I find that as a mentor, I benefit immensely through a broadening and sharpening of my perspectives. 

I also (with my business partner) help small enterprises who do not have access to ongoing HR support navigate their HR challenges early on in their business journey. 

Finally, I love to write on trending HR topics, even though I have not done as much recently. An article I particularly love is an article on recruitment in Nigeria titled “The smell of the place... creating an organisational culture”.  

What inspires you? 

The fragility of life.  

As morbid as it sounds, we are all here for a limited amount of time and while we are here, the earth is our home, it is all we know. We make it better or worse with our actions or inaction: no in-betweens. 

Every day I am driven by the awareness that my time is finite and therefore the urgency for impact on people is always immediate.