Founder and CEO of BlackHouse Media (BHM), Ayeni Adekunle urged final year students at the Pan-Atlantic University 2023 Career Fair to garner knowledge and develop their skills, leverage opportunities, as well as position themselves as they prepare to launch their careers outside the university walls.

He made this statement in his keynote address on February 8, 2023 at the university’s campus in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos.

Student, Pan-Atlantic University, Jessica Fortune-Oguh; Member of Faculty, Pan-Atlantic University, Anthony Okoeguale; Founder/CEO, BlackHouse Media (BHM), Ayeni Adekunle; Director, Alumni, Career and Internship Office, Pan-Atlantic University, Nkiru Ukachukwu and Student, Pan-Atlantic University, Onyinyechi Ekumankama at the 2023 Pan-Atlantic University Career Fair where Ayeni gave the keynote address on February 8, 2023.

As Nigeria battles with rising unemployment which according to the National Bureau of Statistics stood at over 33.3%, with 53.4% unemployment rate among people aged 15 to 24 as of the fourth quarter of 2021, 

Nigeria’s unemployment crisis is making it increasingly difficult for many university graduates to get their dream jobs and is forcing many young people out of the country to Europe and America in search of better lives. A report by the Africa Polling Institute (API) reveals that 73% of Nigerians were looking to emigrate with their families in 2021 – a 41% increase compared to 2019 results. 

As the global labour market becomes borderless with remote work making it possible for people to work with international organisations in countries far away from their home country, Ayeni told the students to take advantage of global opportunities.

Ayeni during his keynote address at the PAU 2023 Career Fair.

“Today’s environment is a bit different from five years ago. Thanks to technology, you have more opportunities to dream big and do better. Five years ago, you could count the number of Nigerians working with American companies. Today, you can be in your house and work for a company in San Francisco, earning dollars,” he said. “Therefore, take note of opportunities social media presents, technology presents, innovation presents, and avoid distractions.’’

Ayeni was a journalist before starting his PR consultancy in 2006 which has now grown into an international company with interests in technology, media innovation, entertainment, public relations, and advertising, as well as offices in the United Kingdom, Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria.

Students interacting with Ayeni after his keynote address at the Career Fair

Ayeni, who was recently named Nigeria’s PR Practitioner of the year for the third year in a row, used the story of his career growth to fill the students with the confidence to position themselves for opportunities and career success.

“You can be anything you want. It’s cliche, and everyone says that but you don’t have to follow the traditional path of ‘I am leaving university, so I have to proceed to do my masters, or I didn’t come out with a distinction, so I can’t be great,” the BHM founder said. “While we encourage students to come out with distinctions because exceptions aren’t always the norm, if you find yourself in situations you don’t want to be in, don’t look down on yourself! Nobody would have hired me when I left school because I left with a Third Class. Today, I have built a business hiring hundreds of people in different parts of the world.”

Ayeni interacting with members of the PAU faculty after his keynote address at the Career Fair

Ayeni’s BlackHouse Media (BHM), the public relations agency he started from his living room in Lagos in 2006, opened an office in the UK in March 2021, making it the first and only Nigerian PR agency to ever open an office in Europe.

“What you take out of here is a combination of many things: the knowledge gained and the people you have met. But the most important thing you can take away is to believe in whatever it is you want to do and then do it,” Ayeni told the final year students. 

“Find yourself, look inwards, understand who you are, why you are here, what is important to you and what you want to be. Position yourself to be able to get opportunities and get the resources from those opportunities and finally, when you do get those opportunities, understand that we all have a responsibility to play our parts in fixing Nigeria.”

Themed “Entrepreneurship and Generation Z: Leveraging Opportunities for Value Creation” the PAU Career Fair, an annual event that offers recruiters the opportunity to meet with a large pool of talented individuals suitable for various job roles, brought together 20 companies, including Dangote Group and Kuda Bank.