What happens when a girl from the slums dares to dream? She bags an Engineering Degree, and Executive Education from Harvard Business School, becomes a Telecoms Head, and mentors others to do the same.
In Be Fearless: Give Yourself Permission To Be You, Jane Egerton-Idehen draws from her over fifteen years’ experience as a telecommunication executive in West Africa to help women build lasting careers, especially in the male-dominated STEM industry. Rising from the slums of Ajegunle in Lagos, Nigeria, to brokering million-Dollar deals for global telecoms giants, hers is a story of hope, challenging gender roles, and embracing who you are. This is a book about women for women and the men who love, nurture, support and work with them at home and in the office.
Jane is the typical ordinary girl from a ‘middle class’ family of the slums. A dreamer from birth, she created a lot of imaginary places in her head as her comfort zone, which she escaped to at will. But much as she dreamed, conditions appeared to be worsening rather than improving. Her turning point came in 1988. From that little disillusioned girl who attended an overcrowded substandard public high school, she metamorphosed into a girl who could attend one of the reputable Federal government-owned schools in Owerri and went further to attain a University degree. Hers is a story of twists and turns as she navigates through life in pursuit of a career that is blatantly male-dominated and gender-biased.
Told by the author herself in her voice, the reader is taken back to the time and setting of the nonfictional book. With each word that the writer uses, the reader is dragged along in a journey that runs riot of his/her emotions. In several instances, I found the words speaking to me. Put in the same situation, would I have taken the same exact actions, I found myself wondering? In other instances, I find myself edgy and uncomfortable at how easily she could describe the same situations and even emotions that I had at one time or another faced in my own life journey.
“Each time you walk in a room desiring these management positions, the fact that you are female, black, and married with kids is working against you.”
Jane masterfully delves into the cultural expectations, biases, impossibilities, and misconceptions that hinder the girl-child from being and aspiring to be more. It would have been a bit cliche if she hadn’t been able to make her character come alive the way it did. Because it was highly relatable to me, I found myself drawn back into my past; into the pains and agony that followed from being discriminated against based on gender.
“I believe that choices for women do not have to be binary—, either this or that. I believe there is a healthy and fulfilling place of balance. The task for us as men and women is to find that balance.”
Jane skillfully introduces a male perspective in a form that I could never have guessed until I got to that stage of the book. Spellbound, I read this chapter with bated breath, waiting and waiting to see if I would disagree with any nuance or sentence. But no, I could find no single word that I disagreed with. Could I have loved this chapter more than I did? I sincerely doubt that. This chapter was the highlight of it for me.
“From that moment, I knew that if I was going to be all in, I needed to adjust my mindset to accommodate her strong and determined personality. I would have made her the most miserable person on Earth if I tried to turn her any other way around.”
This memoir is a richly-complex, carefully-constructed, page-turning nonfictional book that thoroughly compels the reader to read at a single sitting. Based on her own true life story, her characters are true and convincing, their dilemmas sympathetically explored to such extent that one is drawn in and come to care for these people mirror entangled lives mirror ours in reality. Her writing is striking, cleverly alternating between being comical in her very spectacular way of narration and being utterly solemn to the point of drawing tears. Her ending is one of optimism, giving her readers especially the females, more grounds for hope and dreams.
Published by The Book Shepherd. Publication Date - March 17, 2020 for the E-book on Amazon. April 6, 2020 for the hard copy version in Lagos, Nigeria. May 1, 2020 for the hard copy version in Accra, Ghana. Source - Review copy.