Jane Egerton-Idehen is a Telecommunications Executive who hails and bases in Lagos, Nigeria. She is the Country Manager, Nigeria, and Regional Sales Manager, West Africa at Avanti Communications Group plc. A Master’s degree holder from Warwick Business School, UK and an Executive Education from Harvard Business School and Yale School of Management, Jane possesses over 15 years of work experience in the telecommunications industry. Her experience spans over numerous countries including Nigeria, Ghana, and Liberia. A lover of knowledge and a leading member of numerous reputable organizations, Jane leverages on her vast experience to push for diversity in male-dominated fields.
She undertook the writing of this book after discovering an overwhelming gender gap between men and women in top management positions, especially within the Telecommunications industry in Africa. Jane chose to research more about the gender gap and write a fact-based nonfictional account of her life as a career woman. She began writing the manuscript during the peak of her career in 2017 and this was completed for launching in 2020.
In the last five years, Jane wrote nonfictional articles that were featured on www.womenncareer.com, Business and Financial Times, Ghana. Her previous writing credits include; Own the Room, Bring your A-Game, The Turtle of Okinawa, The Louboutin Theory and other interesting articles.
Following the raving reviews which she got from these published articles, Jane’s first book titled Be Fearless: Give Yourself Permission to be You is set to be launched across all digital formats on March 17, 2020, while the hardcopy version will be launched on 6th of April, 2020 in Lagos, Nigeria and on 1st of May, 2020 in Accra, Ghana. A page-turning thriller that begs to be read in a single sitting, Jane masterfully delves into the cultural expectations, biases, impossibilities, and misconceptions that hinder the girl-child from being and aspiring to be more.
Talking about her literary journey, Jane speaks exclusively with Ananke about her first soon-to-be-published book and what she has in store for her prospective readers.
First of all, Congratulations on authoring your first book. We heard the launch date is close. Can you tell us the precise date(s) and venue/platform for it?
Thank you so much. The launch date for the E-book, Kindle version is March 17, 2020, on Amazon. But we do have the hardcover version which will be launched on April 6, 2020, in Lagos, Nigeria and on May 1, 2020, in Accra, Ghana.
We know that writing your first book must not have come without a lot of adventures and challenges. Can you share some of these with us?
I think one of the interesting things I learnt by writing my first book is how difficult it could be and how vulnerable the process is. Something else I also learnt is that I had to learn to give time to it because I was working and also writing. I was doing my 9 am-5 pm job and also, I was writing. There was a lot of time I needed to give to the project. It required that I had to free up time, so I had to de-prioritize a lot of things. I love a lot of social activities and sports, but I had to just give that up in order to prioritize family life, work, and the book. So things like dancing; ballroom dancing, salsa dance which I love a lot, I had to stop going. I didn’t go to the gym for nine months and I ended up adding a lot of weight. I reduced my golfing – I barely folded. I love to cycle, but I didn’t cycle during this period. So, these are some of the things I was giving up just to create time and find time for the book.
They say every author has an epic moment when he/she realize that writing a book is a calling that he/she has to pursue. What was your epic moment?
I don’t think I would say I had an epic moment. I would say I stumbled into writing. I had and still have a coach who thought I had some unique experiences that I needed to share with the younger women. She always encouraged me to write but I just thought I was too busy to write. Then once I had an extended leave, I just thought to myself, “Maybe, I should just write”. And when I wrote and published that first article, people loved it. There were rave reviews and lots of positive comments. I wrote the second and the third. And that’s how I started writing. So, there was no like an epic moment that I said I want to be an author or I’m going to be a writer. I think it was a process that I kind of fell into and because I found out that it was valuable to the readers and they thought they were learning from it. They appreciated the fact that I was sharing that valuable information with them, I felt fulfilled knowing that I was helping someone out there.
For every destination reached, there must have been a journey made. Can you tell us a bit about your literary journey and how it all started?
Like I said, that’s how it started; the fact that I stumbled into writing. But the journey itself was interesting because I had to put in the work when I decided I wanted to make it a book. I had help along the way, so one of the things I did was to join a writers’ club. A writers’ club is a group of people that meet, they each write, submit their work (in my case, it was a biweekly submission) and review other people’s work. These works are read and during the sessions, you give feedback and recommendations and generally talk about each other’s work. So, that was how it happened, because that meant that I had to deliver a piece every two weeks.
You have an amazing incentive on the launch date for all buyers of your book. Can you throw more light on this?
Yes, we have two giveaways going on right now. The first giveaway is to sponsor the winner from Nigeria to Accra, Ghana for the launch on May 1, 2020. The other is a ShopRite voucher for the equivalent of #15,000 or 50USD or 200 Ghana Cedis. What we are asking interested candidates to do is to follow me on social media @nk_amadi. They would also buy the E-book on March 17th, read the book – at least, the first 30 pages – and tell us what they found interesting about the book.
Also, the E-book version would be sold at a hugely discounted price of 2USD, 700 Naira or 10 Ghana Cedis on only the launch date; March 17, 2020. Price reverts back after this day.
What are your expectations with respect to the launch of your new book? Are there any you would like to share with your prospective readers and buyers?
Definitely, we know that the audience for my book is quite wide, but I think I would say that the primary audience is young girls. I would really want women who are aware of the barriers that have been created to hinder their success to motivate and encourage secondary/high school students and university students to pursue a career in STEM. Of course, the secondary audience is parents, grandparents and family members that are exposed to these female children or ladies and can support them; colleagues especially those that are trying to empathize with women; policymakers, book lovers and readers who enjoy reading books to also find snippets in the boom that can help their career or just inspire and motivate them. For my readers, the key goal of this book is to share insights from women who have sought to develop their careers while married using that to empower other women. My idea is to commence a discussion with men, organizations, and institutions on how best to support women on this journey. I would also love the fact that the book would allow us to discuss the stumbling blocks to gender parity in our society. I hope that women find tools within this book to encourage and guide them on their career journey.
We have heard so much about this new book. What does your book hold in store for the reader? Any clues or anecdotes of fascination for your readers?
Yes, I can give just some small spoilers. I have two chapters in this book that are dedicated to men and I found out that highly interesting because most people don’t know. One of those two chapters was actually written by my husband because I wanted other men to hear from a male perspective. Another interesting fact I would like to share which some people do not know is that my daughter is the muse for that book. The inspiration to write that book was my daughter; Sarah. So, these are two things I think will fascinate the reader as they read along.
In relation to the writing profession, what are your short and long term goals? Should we expect a new book in the works anytime soon? What really does the future hold for you?
My analogy towards this profession is that writing is like having a baby. When you are pregnant for nine months, you are just thinking about giving birth. You don’t want to think about having another baby. And that’s how I felt writing this book. But once you give birth and experience the joy of motherhood because you have seen your baby, then you start considering having another one. So yes, when I was writing this book, I said to myself that the process is so tedious. It was just like a writer once said that you are sitting in front of a computer or a typewriter and literally bleeding cos you are pouring out yourself, your experiences. Some of them are quite painful. Some of them are quite uncomfortable. Some of them requires you to really dig down, open yourself, be vulnerable and share. So, even though I never really thought of writing another book when I was writing my first book, but I would say that having written this and given it to a lot of people to preview it and all the positive comments and that I have gotten from them, I am inspired to write another. So, maybe there is possibly a second book that is going to be in the making very soon.
Seeing as you do read a lot and have the intentions of authoring other books, is there a specific genre that you are interested in: first, as a reader and then as a writer? If yes, why?
As a reader, I must say I do have some tastes. I love creative writing in general because I love autobiographies and books that inspire and motivate. I am not really a fan of fiction, but I do love the narrative style of writing. As a reader, my love for books is a bit situational. I try to have a wide span over life phases.
For those aspiring to write or hesitant to write, what advice would you give them?
If you are aspiring to write, I would just say “write!”. The first one can never be fine or the second one may not be good, but there’s a trash can. You just have to keep writing. For those hesitant, I would say to just write, just start because that’s what I did. Also for those that are hesitant, maybe you should find out why you are hesitant, maybe your story is not fully there or it is not clear, or you’ve not really understood the ‘why’ because I think when you understand the ‘why’, you would want to write, that is if you know why you are writing and to whom you are writing to. So, I would say put in the hard work, grab as many tools as you can and generally invest in the process so that your craft is honed nicely and the quality of your work is good.
Who is your favorite author and why?
I don’t really have a favorite author. Like I said, my readings are in phases. For a while now, I have been loving a lot of Malcolm Gladwell, Tony Morrison, and several others. For Malcolm, I love his style of writing and his inquisitive mind. He is very narrative in the way he writes and I really love that. For Toni Morrison, it is her use of language, the fact that she can go there; she would literally stake a claim by taking a genre, a topic or an audience that is not mainstream and literally write such a good work, that the book grows beyond the target audience. So she, when it comes to that, is very spectacular in terms of the way she positions her book.
Is your style of writing influenced/inspired by anyone or a book?
One interesting thing about the process I took in writing is that when I decided to write a book, I stopped reading books because I didn’t want to be influenced. I wanted my voice. I was looking for my voice. I wanted clarity. I didn’t want to be influenced by somebody else. So, for the whole year plus that I wrote my book, I did not read any book. But you know, the funny thing is that when I finally finished the project, I went shopping and bought like 20 books at the same time. I think I have been so starved of books and of reading. But even though I made conscious efforts not to be influenced by others, it is possible that subconsciously, all the books that I have loved and read over the years would have somehow inspired me.
You are a big advocate of Women in STEM. How do you think your book can empower the society – particularly women – for a more inclusive world and pursuit of a career in the STEM field?
One of the big things about that book is that it talked a lot about gender parity; what it means for both men, for women, and for the society, for the business owners and for all the stakeholders. We need both the corporates, the organizations, the policymakers, the government, people in the public sector, people in the civil society and all the stakeholders that we require to help push this, because it is really like a big ginormous task and I don’t think one person can do it. But I think when we all buy into the vision of gender parity, then yes, we can do it.
Do you have some final words? Is there any other information you would love to share with your audience and the world?
My final words are that while I was writing this book, one of the bigger themes I wanted for that book was to reach out to the men. Most times, when we have a discussion about gender parity and all that, it appears it is just the women having the discussion. But we cannot achieve it without men; our husbands, brothers, bosses, colleagues, neighbors to work with women to achieve it. We are calling for male sponsors that will support and encourage this because they can see their daughters and their wives and their nephews in light of what this book is talking about. So, my big thing about this book is about collaboration with men, to have more men as male mentors, sponsors, and advocates because I believe if men understand the issues, it would be easier to resolve it. It would be easier to have that discussion because both parties would have an understanding of what the issues are and what it takes to resolve it. ,neighbors,