Olajumoke Adenowo: Nigeria's star architect on how she made it

Story highlights

  • Olajumoke Adenowo is one of Nigeria's leading architects
  • At 23, she had designed her first building -- Federal Ministry of Lands in Abuja
  • Here she tells CNN how she made it, why she mentors and her biggest dreams
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(CNN)Olajumoke Adenowo's life is one of numbers.

She enrolled at the University of Ife at just 14. Five years later, she had her first degree in architecture, and by 23 she was employed and designing her first building. Three years later, she set up shop solo, and two decades on she is one of Nigeria's most accomplished architects.
    Always an overachiever, the ambitious builder -- once described as the "face of architecture in the Nigeria" -- has dedicated her illustrious career to reimagining her homeland's landscape.
      Involved in the design and construction of over 70 buildings, she has brought institutional facilities, epic 2,500-seat auditoriums, residences, estates and cutting edge corporate offices to life.
      Adenowo's hugely successful career is no doubt a reflection of the dreamer's passion for her craft, and her success has been confirmed by numerous architectural accolades awarded to the 46-year-old.
      Besides these business-based achievements, her work with women pushing for gender equality -- Adenowo hosts her own radio show mentoring women -- has seen her receive several commendations from the likes of the United Nations Information Center over the years.
      Here she reveals to CNN how she designs both functional and beautiful structures across the continent, her top tips for success and why she wants to inspire the next generation.
      Mentorship is vital. Upon graduating at an early age, Adenowo quickly found work at Femi Majekodunmi Associates architectural firm where she impressed her boss -- then the President of the International Union of Architectects -- with her passion and enthusiasm. The work ethic she displayed opened up great opportunities for the rising designer who was soon asked to create the Federal Ministry of Lands in Abuja. "I was always ready. I would be at the office at 11pm on Sunday when other girls are dancing or something. I think my boss saw my passion and he gave me a chance," she says. "If we had more mentors like that in Africa, I believe the younger generation would blossom faster."
      It's OK to work things out as you go. At 25, Adenowo decided to go it alone and start her own company, AD Consulting. It was a big risk to undertake but her reputation as one of Nigeria's most prominent architects proves that sometimes you have jump into the unknown. "The office was a little bigger than th