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#BusinessTalks: An interview with Femi Opaneye

Entrepreneur Femi Opaneye was one of the first speakers at #BusinessTalks – a series of presentations by top professionals and part of ULaw Business School’s unique pledge to bring business into the classroom.

Entrepreneur Femi Opaneye was one of the first speakers at #BusinessTalks – a series of presentations by top professionals and part of ULaw Business School’s unique pledge to bring business into the classroom.

Femi studied the Legal Practice Course at The University of Law’s Bloomsbury Campus, graduating in 2002. He worked for a number of law firms until 2006, when he undertook five Financial Conduct Authority-recognised qualifications. It was on this basis that he secured his first role in investment banking.

After years following a traditional career path he knew for certain, what he had always known in his heart, that corporate life was not for him and it was time for a change.

In 2014, Femi set up his own business. He is now the CEO and founder of LinkedinOptimization, a company dedicated to projecting client’s expertise as well as generating leads and engagement via LinkedIn profiles.

We caught up with Femi to ask him about his career.

It took me less than a day to make the decision to quit investment banking. I knew it was the right decision because I never enjoyed corporate life  but it was difficult at the time because I was venturing into the unknown.

I’m an entrepreneur first, so the decision to found LinkedinOptimization was about setting up the ideal business for me. I wanted a business I could scale at my own pace, I wanted an online business which I could take with  me wherever I go, I wanted it to be simple; I wanted a business with lower overheads, I didn’t want to raise capital and I didn’t want any business partners.

I explored a number of ideas that ticked all the boxes but this one made the most sense. Beyond this, I believe there’s a gap in the market for premium LinkedIn services among the professional service industries.

The biggest challenge in setting up my own business was, and still is me. It required an enormous amount of willpower to leave my comfort zone and it requires immense self-discipline to remain there. It’s a constant battle but it has got easier over the years. My corporate life didn’t prepare me to be an entrepreneur; I’ve had to fail my way to success.

 Lawyers are trained to be commercially-minded so as to provide advice in the best interests of their clients; I became the client. My legal studies have played a part in my risk analysis. Having said that, I still consider myself a high risk taker, which is the reason why becoming an entrepreneur made sense to me.

I recommend students emulate the LinkedIn profiles of those 5 – 15 years ahead of them. What a Partner of a law firm or a CEO in business writes on his or her LinkedIn profile is what’s important to them. To a large extent, they want to hire people like them.

Most major corporations and those that lead them have a presence on LinkedIn. Companies are much more sophisticated in the way they use it and will often state what they’re looking for in their ideal employees. Valuable information can be gleaned from company pages and the profiles of those leading the companies. LinkedIn also gives students an opportunity to interact with potential employers prior to working for them.

Students should avoid putting their age on their LinkedIn profiles. I’ve seen a number of students commence their LinkedIn summary with how old they are, as if it has some bearing on whether or not they’ll get hired. A lot of students also make the mistake of rambling on about themselves. An employer wants to know the value you can bring to their firm. 

Career highlights for me are being respected as an equal among successful business people with 20, 30 or 40 years more experience than me. Learning first-hand about the business environment has also been invaluable to me. 

Many people don’t know I lived in Hong Kong for 7 years, and travelled around the Asia-Pacific region. I was fortunate enough to interact with people from a whole host of cultures and backgrounds, even forming bonds with people where a language barrier existed.

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