In an exclusive interview with Jessica Okafor, granted Bayo Speaks as a face of the week. She revealed her background, career, way of life and achievements.
Jessica Okafor is the Director of Ispeak Diction and Social Polish Academy (School of Diction and Etiquette). A registered institution with the Nigeria Corporate Affairs Commission whose mission is to transform the society through polish speech and etiquette.
She is a quintessential elocutionist and a social polish coach who helps entrepreneurs, students, educators, coaches and other individuals who wishes to improve their speaking skills accelerate from timid speakers to confident eloquent speakers.
May we get to meet you; who really is Jessica Okafor?
Jessica Okafor is a quintessential elocutionist and a social polish coach who helps entrepreneurs, students, educators, coaches and other individuals who wishes to improve their speaking skills accelerate from timid speakers to confident eloquent speakers. She is the Director of Ispeak Diction and Social Polish Academy (School of Diction and Etiquette). A registered institution with the Nigeria Corporate Affairs Commission whose mission is to transform the society through polish speech and etiquette.
Can you please tell us about your background?
I was born to a family of six. I am the last child of my parents. In fact, I am the child that came when nobody was expecting her. In Igbo dialect, this kind of children are called, “Euche or Atuanya“.
I wasn’t from the Aristocratic class but I and my siblings were given all we need. My mother made sure to provide for us to the best of her efforts. She was the pillar of the family as my daddy wasn’t always around. My mother was a seamstress then and the little money she made from her sewing was what we depended on until my siblings started contributing to the welfare of the family.
Briefly tell us about your educational background?
I had my primary school at Woliwo Primary School, Onitsha where I had my first school leaving certificate. My secondary school was at Eastern Academy Onitsha, there I was exposed to many competitions and I was a member of debate club. I had my tertiary education at Nwafor Orizu College of Education, Nsugbe. There, I studied English Language. The four years’ experience in the institution contributed immensely to my growth.
In the process i founded an association known as NOSWA-Nwafor Orizu Student Women Association. This association helps married women in the college to learn how to balance their academic lives with their marriage lives. We organize weekly classes where we teach them on relationships and educational topics.
What do you do for a living?
I am the director of Ispeak Diction and Social Polish Academy, a renowned institution that helps individuals to improve their speaking skills and maintain their stance as professionals. We have trained 1000 professionals from different walks of life and they are impacting lives with their voices. We offer both online and offline classes and we issue certificates to our students upon completion of our courses.
What career mistake has given you the biggest lesson?
I never see any failure as a mistake but a step to learning and improving myself. Hence, I wouldn’t say I have made any career mistake but one of the stumbling blocks I had encountered was trying to get it right. When I started out, I tried to get answers to all the puzzles without realizing that some answers will come as I proceed on my journey.
What dream did you have while growing up? As a little girl who has limitless dreams, I desired to be a lawyer to help people who have no money find justice. At some point, I started teaching children leaving within my vicinity on right behaviours. We will organize classes with a wood as board and a chalk, we will write the good things children should do and the punishments for the wrong actions. It was amazing seeing that little girl grew into adult, I know I’m not a lawyer but I am living that dream of helping people achieve their goals.
How do you get to prepare a content before publication?
Every content I write comes with thorough research.
It is one of my principles to ensure there is a valuable fact to share, hence I prepare before publishing. One of my coaches once told me that content is audience oriented. Hence, it’s not what you wish to write about but what your audience will love to read. Therefore, each content I publish has something valuable to teach my audience.
What was your first win that made you confident that you were doing the right thing?
My first win was getting featured on different blogs and magazines. I was thrilled when I was contacted by an editor to share my brand story as they wish to publish it on their magazine. Then, I was super excited as I never imagined my career will take me this far in a space of one year.
Who is your mentor and why?
My mentor is my mother, Mrs. Angelina Okonkwo, she taught me all that I know about life and relationships. My mother is a woman of the people and a Leader par excellence. She was once the leader of our town women association and the overall head of the women association in my village. She led them for eight years and they wish to reinstate her again which was against the rule because of her leadership attributes but she declined as she wouldn’t want a breach in the constitution. She values relationship and respects every relationship she has. The manner with which she welcomes people is amazing. Today, she remains one of the respected women in my community.
What do you like doing in your spare time?
As a mother five wonderful kids, I barely have a spare time. It’s either I’m attending to the kids needs or I’m teaching my clients. However, what I love doing is reading. I love equipping myself with the right knowledge.
If you could know the absolute and total truth to one question, what question would you ask?
Why is it that life isn’t always favorable to those that deserves it?
Can you please tell us about the people you admire?
I admire Opray Winfrey, her confidence and authenticity is second to none. I love the way she supports other women to bloom through her platform. I love the way she embraced her identity, despite her affluence, she is never ashamed to tell her stories.
Michelle Obama is another woman I admire so much. Her intentionality to nurture young minds into responsible adults is admirable. She is one woman that pays attention, and she listens. This is one of the skills young minds crave today, to be listened to when they speak and to show them that you care.
Are you in a relationship; if yes, what advice would you give to young couple out there?
Yes, I am married to a sweet man. The rate at which marriages are breaking today is alarming. Hence, I advise young couple to communicate often. Communication is key to effective marriage. Never assume what the other person had in mind. Communicate your thoughts always even amidst quarrels. It helps to strengthen your bond with one another. More also, don’t make decisions when you are angry as you tend to make the wrong decisions. Give yourself time to calm down, weigh the prons and cons before making any decisions.
If you are to become the President of Nigeria, what would you do for the youth to deter them from immortality.
One of the prevalent problems of the youth is unemployment. Hence, if I can provide employment in different sectors for all youths, it will curb crimes and immoralities.
What are some of your achievements?
As an elocutionist and a social polish coach, one of my achievements is being able to transform individuals who knows nothing about speaking into becoming an international speaker and this we have done over the years. We were able to train 1000+ individuals from different walks of life into becoming eloquent confident speakers. I have authored two books: Activate your Voice and A-Z English Pronunciation. I have featured in numerous blogs and magazines. I have also been interviewed on radio stations.
Where do you hope to be in the next four years?
In the next four years, I hope to establish a physical institution where people can come in and be transformed. This institution will comprise different units namely Fashion Units, Etiquette Units, Language Units, Modeling Units…