We’re pleased to launch our professional spotlight series where we showcase amazing Black professionals in different industries. We highlight their life stories, how they navigated their careers and also discuss their motivations.
For this inaugural edition, we sat down to chat with Bankole Latinwo. “Banks”, as he is commonly referred to by friends and family, is a Senior Financial Analyst at Shopify, adept in the preparation and analysis of financial data. He spends most of his work day accounting, budgeting, and forecasting in order to communicate the results from his findings with key stakeholders. He has spent over a decade building his career as a financial analyst and explains that it brings him great satisfaction.
Where did it all begin?
Bankole: I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. My childhood was pretty basic, what I would describe as the “typical Nigerian childhood.” Like many of my peers, my days evolved around school and after-school lessons. From what I remember, it was the same routine of school-home-lesson every weekday. When I had a bit of free time, I would watch TV or go for bike rides with my brother.
Who would you consider your greatest influence?
Bankole: Speaking of my brother, he was and still is my greatest influence. He is my only sibling, so we spent a lot of time together. In many African households, you are told to look up to your elders. In my case I was privileged to look up to my older brother as he is someone worth emulating. Back then, my admiration for my brother stemmed from his ability to be popular and maintain extremely impressive grades. Presently, I enjoy speaking to him because he gives great advice.
The problem-solver. What’s that all about?
Bankole: The problem-solver. I believe that is how most of my family and friends would describe me. They bring their problems my way very often and I am able to talk them through their issues and come up with a solution. The problem-solving is similar to what I do for work as a financial analyst but this time without the finance and with real-life scenarios. I am quite resourceful and genuinely love listening to people so I guess that’s why they come to me.
Take us through your career journey so far.
Bankole: I have worked in many different industries however, I always work in the finance department. Following university, I started working in a small consulting firm and then I moved to a bigger consulting firm (Deloitte) a year later. Working at Deloitte was a great start and it provided me with stability in my early career years. Towards my senior years at Deloitte, I was promoted to a more technical role which involved corporate finance, M&A transaction service and reconstruring.
My growing interest in tech and search for a new opportunity influenced my decision to move to an e-commerce company, Konga Online Shopping Ltd. At Konga, I managed the FP&A team and oversaw the development of business plans and forecasts. Working at Konga was incomparable to my previous work experiences. It was the first time I experienced wearing business casual to the office and it felt good.
In 2018, I made the decision to move to Canada for even better opportunities. The move was not easy and I did not pick a favourable month to move. I moved to Ottawa on December 25, 2018. It was brutally cold but that harshness of the weather was suppressed by my excitement of seeing snow for the first time and also my willingness to start a new journey with my wife.
Thankfully, it took approximately 2 weeks to start a new job as I landed the first job I interviewed for. Working at Lowe-Martin was a delightful experience and I had the opportunity to improve my accounting skills. However, one of the main reasons I moved to Ottawa was because that is where Shopify’s headquarters is located. After 3 years at Lowe-Martin and getting settled in Ottawa, I knew it was time to give Shopify a shot.
Why did you choose a career in Finance?
Bankole: I have always wanted to work in finance. Growing up I excelled in maths at school so it was a career path that was an easy choice for me. I also had an Aunt that worked in the bank and she brought crisp banknotes to my house which fascinated my younger self. I often joke that it was a career that chose me, as my full name ‘Bankole’ has the word bank in it and banking is in the financial world.
Do you have any mentors?
Bankole: There are several people that have influenced who I am today. My mentors play a huge role in my success. I have had different mentors at different stages of my life. Most of my mentorships were formed organically, from former bosses who were great at providing guidance, motivation and support. A few other mentorships started from me reaching out to people I admire or I am interested in at that particular moment.
Tip: If there is someone whose career piques your interest, reach out to them. You will be surprised how much people enjoy sharing their journey, including their triumphs and struggles.
What are you most proud of?
Bankole: I am most proud of being a father. I am an incredibly proud Dad of a 21-months old girl. Becoming a father changed my perspective on life for the better, including the way I lived and thought about life. I love spending time with my daughter, I enjoy reading her books and watching her grow each day.
What has working in Shopify been like since you started 6 months ago?
Bankole: Overwhelming at start but very exciting overall. It is a big and fast-paced company and there is so much to learn. However, there have been several resources at my disposal that have aided me along the way. I also work with a fantastic team with such a supportive manager. Everyone on the team looks out for each other and people in the company always want to help. It makes work life more productive and enjoyable. Plus, you never feel alone. The culture at Shopify encourages collaboration. Although most of us work remotely, we meet up with our co-workers quite frequently.
Shopify is a place where trust is valued. At Shopify, we have this concept called the ‘trust battery’ which involves checking your trust with the people you relate with. It is charged at a general average level when you first meet someone and it either continues to charge or discharge based on your relationship with the person. I believe the importance of the trust battery is for awareness and to be intentional about doing things that can improve your trust battery in your team.
Do you have any advice for people applying for a job at Shopify?
Bankole: First and most important BE YOURSELF, come as you are. Authenticity is really valued at Shopify. Also, do not feel any role is too big for you, just apply.