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Tomi Jaiyeola - Pepperdine University

Tomi Jaiyeola

Lagos, Nigeria

Title: Program Manager, CodeLagos

Company: The Office of the Special Adviser on Education, Lagos State Government



Seaver College Class of 2009

BA, Economics

School of Public Policy of 2015

MPP, Public Policy


What does being one of Pepperdine's Outstanding Abroad mean to you?

It's pretty cool and I'm honored.

Describe any significant achievements in your life in vocation, service, and/or philanthropy.

Personally, I consider being able to make a difference in someone's life an achievement, so I consider what I do as an achievement. Working in the education sector, I coordinate projects that focus on empowering and developing the capacity of thousands of individuals across various ages and backgrounds, giving them platforms to succeed.

I get to work on different education-focused projects, but particularly with CodeLagos, we've taught thousands of Lagos residents how to code and opened up their capacity for logical reasoning, problem-solving, design thinking, and creativity. It's really exciting.

Another project I get to work on is called ReadySetWork, which prepares college seniors across Lagos for the job market. We bring together the largest volunteer-based faculty in the country to train over 5,000 students in soft skills and business tools for their professional careers, and we focus on reorienting their mindsets as they enter the workforce.

It is such a rewarding and humbling experience to see graduates of these programs who share stories about how much their lives have changed as a result of this system.

How has Pepperdine played a role in these achievements?

The words "purpose, service, and leadership" have never left me. They are part of my personal ethos. I would not have taken this job if I didn't believe in the purpose of the work that we do, and I would not be working at my current job if it did not align with my life's purpose of serving others. No matter how insane things get, I remember why I do what I do, and the many individuals I get to serve through my work. Pepperdine is a huge part of that, because I think serving others is the Pepperdine way, and I'm as big of a Wave as you can get.

Who inspires you and why?

My dad. His love for people, his heart of service, and most of all, his heart for God inspire me every day.

What's next for you? Five-year outlook? Ten-year plan?

Honestly, I don't know, probably a director at one of the multilateral organizations, and being a part of creating projects and policies that will transform the lives of many all over the world. Whatever it is, it will be about transforming lives and making an impact in the world.

What is your "secret sauce?"

A positive outlook, a heavy dose of humility, and a solid support system. This combination has gotten me through shifts, moves, career uncertainties, and pretty much just about everything. First, I remind myself that things could be better and they will get better. Then I keep in mind that I don't know everything, so sometimes holding my tongue is better than sticking it out or whining. The third element is that no matter how high or low I get, the people I keep around me matter the most.

How do you prepare for a busy day?

I start by praying. I pause and talk to God about my day and commit all I have to do to him. I make a to-do list of everything I need to work on, I play some music on my drive to work, and of course I have coffee.

What is one of your favorite hobbies?

Watching old television shows on YouTube.

What is your favorite quote?

I have a few of them, but one that always stands out to me is a very famous one attributed to Audrey Hepburn: "For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone."

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

This changes from time to time, but right now probably a travel photographer.