An Economist turned HR professional, Writer and Poet, Safee is one of those youths you will want to reckon with and learn a couple of things from. Young and vibrant, she definitely knows her onions and is not leaving any stone unturned to get to the pinnacle of her dreams.
Assaalaamu ‘alaikum Wa Rahmatullaah
Please Ma’am, introduce yourself to us
I’m Sofiat Peter, an HR Professional, Poet and Writer.
Can you tell us about your background and how growing up was like for you?
Growing up, I was the only child for a while. For like the first 5-6 years of my life. So I had to do a lot of things on my own. I had to learn to be by myself. It was a bit lonely but then it became easy all along, and it wasn’t so bad after all. So, I basically got used to my own company and later in life it worked. Because you can’t always be used to being with people. There are times you need to spend time by yourself, do something for yourself, and that’s something I’ve mastered.
In what way did your growing up motivated you? And in what way did it impact your life, such as your person & personality, principles and other things?
Growing up was just there. There was nothing eventful about it for me. Just normal go to school, come back. Of course, I was a high flyer back in school. Top in the class, primary through secondary school. I was just that smart girl. I didn’t have any issues. I do my chores. Just normal stuffs, nothing out of the box.
So growing up was just there. There was no particular event that shaped my life so big. I think a lot of things happened later on in my life, not from the beginning. Later on when I finished school. Just before I finished varsity, and after varsity.
In a nutshell, my journey to becoming me and a better person started back in university, just before I finished, and during my NYSC.
What are your principles in life?
My principles in life are –
- You can’t give what you don’t have.
- No matter how much you want to give the world, if you don’t give yourself first, nothing will ever work out.
- It’s important that you prioritize yourself, because then you can now do better out there. If you’re the giver, you like to give, give, give. Let’s use money for example, you have a million naira and you keep giving, giving and giving because you love to give, but you aren’t taking out time to just go work and earn more money, you will eventually give all your money and go broke. And guess what, all the people that you gave money, when you go broke they are not going to come to you. They are going to move on to the next available person, and that’s life. You don’t say because you like to give, you like to be of service, and you just keep doing it and doing it.
- Recognize the importance of having time for yourself, taking care of yourself – mentally, physically, spiritually. Improve the quality of who you are, because it is then that you will be able to even do more for people. And guess what, it is then that people will even appreciate you more.
So summarily, just take care of yourself. Then you can take care of the world even more. If you don’t take care of yourself, you will burn out and that’s the end. People will move on, people will leave. That’s just the end.
So I prioritize myself and I’m also the kind of person that believe a lot in relating with the right people, consuming the right people, consuming the right things. I believe that what you consume, consumes you. That’s like the ultimate thing.
And your dreams?
Well I won’t really term it as dreams. I have goals. I have things I want to achieve in my life. Everything revolves around being somebody who is a value giver. I want to be the value print in my community, society. Someone who is a problem solver at large. Like on an international level, not just in my house or in my state. Someone who can proffer solutions to problems that are facing the human race in ways that I know how to, like in my profession or what I do as a creative, as a writer, and a speaker. Reaching out and connecting people with ways that can change their lives.
I mean life is short and the least you can do is do something wonderful and beautiful with other people, and transfer that beauty to other people as well. Rather than just leave it for yourself
An Economist turned Human Resource Executive. Tell us about your career transition.
When I was in secondary school, I like Economics as a course. I like the intersection of demand and supply, and Economics was all about what to produce, how to produce, for whom to produce and in what quantity to produce, and pricing and equilibrium. I love the entire concept. But you know what, I had this subject as a course in the university and I think I wanted to dig deeper into it. That was how it started. My choice of Economics at the beginning wasn’t related to any career. And I felt with Economics you can work anywhere really. Every company needs an Economist. Alas, today you don’t see a job advert out there that says we need an Economist. It may be captured as an investment banker, and all these finance related career.
But I soon found out I wasn’t interested in any of the jobs related to Economics. So what do you do? I realized I’ve always been a people person. I’ve always been passionate about people. People reach out to me to ask me for advice, for mentorship, for this, for that and I do my best. I’m not the type that mentors people. I don’t know how to do long term mentoring because, trust me, I’m still mentoring myself. But I try to give what I can in the bits that I can and I hope people just make use of it and they are fine, all good and would go and dig deeper somewhere.
So I’m passionate about people, I’m passionate about quality leadership, I’m passionate about results, I’m passionate about welfare of people. Because people are the most important asset of any company. There’s no strategy that works without your people.
That was when I decided to start doing my pro exams as an HR person. Did online courses, started learning more about HR. Got my jobs in HR. Continued learning more about HR, and how to connect the people with the business and then the economy at large. Because that’s the point, general economic rule and welfare, and then being able to connect my job to a bigger picture, not just an HR but somebody that drives growth within the company and even beyond the company. That’s it. Maybe in the future I might find something useful to do with economics, but right now I‘m more about people and development. But then, never say never. Who knows?
You’re a TEDx Speaker. That’s a feat you’ve accomplished in the speaking world. Tell us about your TEDx experience.
A friend of mine reached out to me. He was the convener for the one that happened in Ogun state and he wanted me to speak. It was good. The theme was on embracing change. Because of my love for creativity, I did it in a spoken word piece. It was exciting going from somebody who would just watch TED talks on her laptop on YouTube to someone who was finally on a TED stage giving TED talks. It was very good, really nice. I think I met a few amazing Muslim sisters there as well who were really excited and all of that. So it was good.
The point of it all is, even as a Hijabi and all of that, you want to be able to talk sense, let people see you and feel your presence in a very deep one, a relevant way, not just that’s the girl that covers her hair, that’s the Alhaja. That was what happened that day, the audience were wowed. The response after the show was amazing. My friend I went with had to wait for me to finish with all the people that wanted to talk to me. I guess, of course, it must have been that good.
I also had a few Muslim sisters who came to meet me and was like your confidence was good. How did you do that?
It was good for me, personally. And I think I was able to inspire few people as well. So definitely, it was good.
You’re a Career Consultant and CV expert, tell us about that.
I’ve met people as a recruiter. I’ve met people who were confused, they don’t know what to do. People who know what to do but can’t represent it very well on their C.V. That kind of like made me do this. So people get to call me up and ask me what they need to do, how to do it and all. When I can spare the time I attend to them. Coz I understand that clarity is very important and its essential for everybody. So if you can help someone, talk to someone, fine. Just do it, and let them just put you through in ways they know how to.
You also seem to be passionate about Personal Development. Tell us about that.
I’m very passionate about personal development because I realize it makes all the difference. It takes you from where you are to where you want to be. It helps you to make more of yourself, to be more confident in yourself and what you have to offer.
If you don’t work on yourself, you don’t get to get the best out of yourself. You also lose self-esteem, you be in somebody’s shadow, one corner and I didn’t come to this world to become somebody’s shadow. That’s not it. That’s not me. That’s not what I was made for. I was made for so much more. So why not make it happen, Why not put in the work I need to put in to get the kind of results I want to get. Relate with the kind of people I want to relate with, to get to the kind of places I want to get to.
That’s what personal development is all about. If you do not nurture yourself, you’re not going to grow. And what is life without growth? Waste.
You seem to have a lot interest and it appears you’re all out to make all of them come true.
All my interest are centred around ‘the person’ and how ‘the person’ relates with other people and environment. Life can’t be perfect, life can’t be free of issues and problems. But you can do what you can in your own way to make a change. If you realize that you’re someone who has a lot of talents, you just don’t sit down. If you can write well, speak well, who says you can’t be all the things that you are. You’re given all of those things for a reason. So develop them.
Who says you can’t be a writer and a poet and still be an HR professional. So that’s basically what it is for me
Tell us about Podcasts with Safee Peter. What’s the drill on that?
Podcast with Safee Peter is something I started last year because I wanted to lend my voice to something good. I do poetry. I put it on audio and put it out there. But I realized that I want somewhere more steady, somewhere people can go to and have access to some of the thoughts and lessons that I want to share. That’s what inspired podcast with Safee Peter. Because I really wanted to communicate with a lot more people without boundaries, not just people on my contact or just my followers. The podcast is reaching people that I’ve probably never met before but they still get to learn from it. It’s currently on over eight (8) platforms including Google podcast, Apple podcast, and Spotify. I’m proud to say that I have a listener range of over a thousand and, in fact, will hit two thousand very soon with basically a listener range of people across ten (10) countries all over the world.
The most important part of the podcast is the conversations. I’m someone who loves meaningful conversations. If It’s not meaningful or deep or that kind of valuable conversation I don’t think I can flow. I’m the kind of person that’s very passionate about meaningful conversations, the kind of conversation you have that people are leaving with value, not just empty. I realized let me put this out there to the world. Whoever is interested will click on it and they will listen to it and they will love it. Whoever is not will not listen, and that’s fine by me.
LISTEN TO HER PODCAST HERE; PODCAST WITH SAFEE PETER
Has being a Muslim ever had any influence in (any of) your decision(s) and the career path you’re threading?
Of course being a Muslim has affected a lot of the decisions I’ve made. I think there was a time I applied for a job and was in for the interview session, and they don’t wear Hijab in that company, and it was one of the big fours. I know I wanted to work in a big four so bad but then that was a factor. I think about two or three of them as at that time were not letting people use Hijab. I had to drop it and just move on.
I also know I didn’t want anything that has to do with riba and all of that. So I know I didn’t want to be a banker.
You have a lot going for you. What keeps you going?
Sometimes what keeps me going is that everything I do is a part of who I am. When I’m not doing something I feel like I’ve abandoned myself.
For the entire year I just put out my first podcast for the year last month. Before then I felt like something in me was dying. I was like Safee you’re made to do this, you’re made to talk, to reach out to people. So do your bit, and when you’re not doing that it’s like you’re wasting away. You’re not doing what you’re made to do and that’s very sad and depressing.
So these things keep me alive and you want to keep doing those things. Coz life will stress you out. Even your so called job or career will stress you out. So you have to do things that will fill you up and fuel you. That’s what these things do for me.
As a Career Consultant and HR expert, what advice would you give job seekers? Particularly our Muslim brethren.
My advice to job seekers is that it’s important you know the value you bring to the table. If you don’t have any value at all, you cannot communicate it. There’s no value for you to have, if you know you don’t have it. What’s the most important thing? Try to be a value creating person. Someone who creates value. Value is different for different persons. Value is your ability to contribute to your society. Values sometimes can be your problem solving ability, how you satisfy clients and customers. If you’re great communicator everybody will want you on their team, everybody wants you on the team. Because when you do that pitch, it just sells. People buy your idea. Value is relative.
Once you can do that and you recognize your ability to do that, then you can communicate it. Then you can be confident in what you have to offer. That’s it.
As a Muslim you need to pray to Allaah about it. You’re struggling with your job, you want a new job, you want to change job. Whatever it is you’re looking for in life, spirituality is very important. Career or not. Even if it’s marriage or business, you need Allaah more than you need yourself, or that business or that job. So you need to understand that, first of all, you cannot do anything without your Lord being happy with it or saying yes to it. Then ultimately put in the efforts you want to put and continue praying to Allaah. Allaah’s Mercy is ultimate, no matter what you want to do if Allaah doesn’t show you Mercy in that line you’re not going to get anything done.
So I always say spirituality is key in everything we do, then let’s put the effort.
Also, there’s quite a number of Muslims who shy away from doing great things, exemplary, revolutionary things. They feel that our place is just in one room on the mat, just reading Qur’aan and cramming hadith. It’s beyond that, it’s way beyond that. Even as a practicing Muslim, you want to still be out there showing people you can have your spirituality intact and still get things done around the world. Be a problem solver. In fact, it’s even better for humanity. You’re not just on your mat in your room being selfish and reading Qur’aan and saying I just want to go to heaven. What if you go out there and people see what you’re doing and because of that they want to do better. That’s beautiful, that’s humanity. That’s rewarding, it’s fulfilling. So it’s not limited to just I know the whole Qur’aan now, so I’m just going to sit down and be mediocre
As a HR expert, what are the must-have skills you would advise our Muslim professionals to have in this era?
You have to be able to communicate. If you’re not a good communicator, they won’t call you to the table where decisions are being made. If you’re not a quality thinker, they won’t mention your name where important peoples’ name are being mentioned. People want to associate themselves with people who have sense, and when they speak it is obvious that they have sense, and when they act it is obvious that they have sense, and when they relate with people, build relationships with people it is obvious again that they have sense, quality sense. So people want to relate with you and feel that vibe. That’s when they will call you to the table and say you know what, we’re thinking about this, what do you think? We want to hear from you. That’s when they want to hear from you, they want to relate with you, they want to work with you. That’s how it works.
So you can’t afford to just be somewhere doing random things like any other random person, you need to stand out. You need to be able to do things differently, do things better.
You need to improve the quality of your thoughts, how you relate with people, network with people. Don’t come as somebody that’s shy and timid with low self-esteem. Nobody wants to talk to somebody that has low self-esteem. Nobody wants to do business with that person. Nobody wants to hire somebody that has low self-esteem or send them to business proposal meeting, or meeting with a client or a prospective client. It’s not going to happen.
So you need to find a way to be identified as somebody who’s different. Carve your own niche. Just be different, in a good way.
What advice do you have for Sisters finding it tough to get partners because their aspirations, achievements, or careers keep putting off their admirers?
For sisters who are hard workers, inspirational and all of that. See if a man gets intimidated by what you are, bounce. There’s no point.
I want to be able to be myself, be my supreme self. I do not want to be in anybody’s shadow. I don’t want to turn down my fabulousness and wonderfulness because a man is not going to be comfortable with who I am. How in the world will I be thinking about spending the rest of my life and having children for this man that cannot even stand who I am. I feel it’s absolutely insane. It’s not something anybody should do. You’re killing yourself if you do that.
So any sign of any man that’s intimidated by your greatness, oh! No, better run. You don’t need people like that. You don’t need to compromise. You don’t need to lower your standards.
At some point I feel like where are the cool Muslim guys that are getting stuffs done and still have their Deen intact. Coz sometimes Muslims guys who have their Deen intact, are not really doing so much out there, they are not really making moves. Then you see the ones that are making moves but they are lost. They don’t even understand what spirituality is. They only want to talk business and stuffs. You don’t really see any spirituality in them. They are not really bothered about that. And then you start to wonder where are the brothers that really make sense. But Alhamdulillaah, over time you meet one. It’s important to be patient. You just have to be patient so you can eventually meet your type and enjoy the relationship.
But basically, regardless, there’s somebody out there. There’s definitely someone out there, and I’m talking out of experience. There’s somebody out there who would get you, relate with you at that level. You may think you know it all but may eventually meet a man that knows it better and might be guiding you through stuffs. It happens. From someone who thought you won’t find somebody who will fit, to somebody who now finds somebody she can listens to and say what do you think about this and the person will drop quality ideas, contribute to your growth, to your wellbeing. The person is even like probably better than you and you’re just learning from them, or they also admire you, they respect you for who you are. That’s who you need. You don’t need somebody that’s feeling intimidated. No. Don’t do it. I don’t care. Don’t do it. seriously that’s my advice.
Do not lower your standard. Be as awesome as you’re supposed to be. Whoever is supposed to match that awesomeness will match it and they will not feel bad about anything.
Any (general) advice for the Muslim Ummah?
Really I won’t say I’m worth advising anybody. But one thing is this, we all have struggles. I don’t care how spiritual you look on the outside or how much you think you have your Deen intact. You have challenges, you have troubles, you have what bothers you, everybody does. But it is important for us to understand that no matter what it is that you’re pursuing in life, what you want out of life, never forget that Allaah controls everything. I think this year, 2020, has taught us so much. Year 2020 has taught us that we know nothing, we have no clue, we don’t control anything. In the next 5mins, the world can end and we’re not going to be able to do anything about it. The entire human race will not be able to stop it, and that’s how powerless we are and clueless. So don’t ever think that you’re something. Always remember that Allaah is the ultimate. Ultimate Guide, Ultimate Power.
Finally, don’t be so laid back that you feel you are not going out there to get stuffs done, you’re not volunteering to do things that work. You don’t use your voice when you feel like you should be heard. It’s like you’re just toning yourself down, hiding in one corner, you’re not somewhere, they can’t really find you or see you. No, we should be ambassadors of Islaam in a way that shows I’m a Muslim, I’m beautiful, I’m amazing, I’m smart, I’m intelligent, I’m a problem solver, and I’m a value creator in this community, in this society, in this country, in the entire world, in my neighbourhood, in my own personal life. I know how to build relationships, foster meaningful relationships, and I’m all about the legitimate stuffs, I don’t care about anything that is illegitimate. You know still standing on your spiritual core values, Islaamic values. So basically, that’s it.