Debola Deji-Kurunmi: Unlocking Potentials
Words By – Josephine Agbonkhese
Her heart beats for unlocking potentials in people, institutions and nations. In 2018, she was selected by the US Government as one of Africas most promising young leaders and a Mandela Washington Fellow. Debola Deji-Kurunmi is the Founder of IMMERSE Coaching Company, Executive Director, Ideation Hub Africa, and President, Kingdom Leaders Global Alliance, a non-denominational Christian Ministry. She also, sits on the board of a number of organisations, providing strategic advisory and leadership development to firms including, Mandela Washing Fellowship Alumni Association of Nigeria and the Sickle Cell Advocacy.
Fondly called DDK, the recipient of the 2014 New Leader for Tomorrow in the order of business, government, and parliaments at the Crans Montana Forum in Geneva, has served twice as a Mentor on the Queens Young Leader Awards, a UK Government fellowship that honours exceptional young leaders in the Commonwealth.
The best-selling author, highly sought-after keynote speaker, public policy advisor and transformational coach, speaks on her passion, style, vision and more in this interview with Allure.
How did you become so skilled in many areas?
My journey has always been shaped by curiosity, a many-sided prism of perception, voracious appetite for new knowledge and strong capacity to apply wisdom to shape my realities. This is who I have always been, in part by nature and in part, by nurture. I believe I have simply leveraged the unique endowments God has given me, and pursued my different passions without feeling the need to be known for only one thing.
What was your childhood ambition?
As a child, I wanted to be a speaker who traveled the world, encouraging people. I also wanted to be an author, a painter or fine artist, the first female President in Nigeria, and a Pastor. Those were some of my strongest images of myself. At some point, I wanted to be a Medical Doctor, but was too afraid of blood.
The interesting thing is that everything I told my parents I wanted to be; theyd basically affirm my ability to achieve that thing, without any iota of discouragement. I believe this approach fuelled my conviction that anything is possible, and I could change the world on my own terms.
Today, I have spoken across four continents, written 22 books, and currently, lead organisations that create transformation for individuals and institutions.
Did any career path or professional background prepare you for this?
Yes, my career path and professional experience have contributed in shaping me for the work I do now as a transformational coach for visionary leaders, public policy advisor, ministry gift and international speaker. Ive had a 15-year career journey across academic research, human capital management, learning consulting and impact advisory across various organisations including Philips Consulting Limited.
Who needs a coach?
Everyone needs a Coach! From C-Suite leaders, to high-performing corporate teams, to iconic culture shapers and world-class athletes, to young aspiring female leaders, spiritual guides or university undergraduates. Anyone who aspires to a life of masterful expressions of their finest gifts and highest graces, without compromising their deepest values, needs a Coach.
Many claim coaches are often unrealistic in their provision of solutions; do you agree?
Coaching requires the mastery of specific and observable competencies that equips a coach to provide holistic, transformational and effective solutions for moving their clients to new possibilities and success. A client is responsible for understanding their needs, unique requirements and specific future outcomes; then they have to carefully select a coach that will facilitate the accomplishment of their goals.
On your part, how do you guard against such and try to be practical in your approaches?
I am a Certified Masteries Practitioner with the International Association of Coaching, USA, a Certified Visionary Leadership Coach and in 2021, I received the Motherland Awards in Nigerias Education and Coaching Category. Since 2014, I have directly coached hundreds of first-class female leaders, C-Suite Executives, high-growth visionaries, impact-driven entrepreneurs and influential voices, who are serious about building institutions, amplifying influence and scaling impact without compromising their integrity and faith.
My coaching is tested, pragmatic and excellent for crafting go-to market strategy, rapid execution techniques, visionary launch and mastery, and personal reinvention.
What principles guide your approaches at every point?
My conviction has always been that we cannot access a more significant tomorrow (though already in Gods plans for us) by remaining who we are today. This is because, our innate divine greatness, requires a system of growth to fully manifest.
Youre a gospel minister; how do you draw the line in your approach to issues as a coach?
This is a great question! As a Minister of the Gospel, my conviction is that God has made provisions in His Word for us to access life-transforming wisdom that empowers us for dominion, victory, peace, purpose fulfilment and character development. This is the truth. My first assignment is often to lead people to the Word, and help them gain the wisdom they need for life.
My values are based on my faith, but my tools and expertise are connected to my training and thought-leadership.
Since 2015 youve hosted Development Dialogue on the platform of Ideation Hub; how has this impacted development in the country from your observation?
Our work at Ideation Hub Africa has been focused on building a virile ecosystem of non-profit practitioners and development actors in Nigeria, and across Africa, whose work and impact can augment the efforts of government at delivering social value and creating change for citizens, especially amongst our most vulnerable population.
We believe our initiatives have been impactful, including Development Dialogue, which is an annual conference for those who work in Nigerias social sector. Strengthening the effort of NGO leaders, Civil Society Organisations and social enterprises, has the immediate effect of supporting a nations development, because when these practitioners are empowered, they have an increased ability to support national prosperity through their interventions, advocacy, community engagement and policy partnerships.
What do you find most challenging about coaching?
One of the most recurring things often said about me is that, I have an uncommon ability to inspire people towards their own goals. I guess the bigger gift is likely how I am able to creatively organise my insights into a success system that makes it easy for others to replicate the results I have experienced. Whenever anything works for me, I want it to work for others as well.
Ive carried that same gift into our work at IMMERSE Coaching Company.
Since 2014, weve built a tech-driven global coaching community of over 70, 000+ members, using our breakthrough methodology to change their lives. The most challenging thing about this work is showing people why upgrading their minds, is more important than upgrading their cars, phones or citizenship, if they want to upgrade their lives.
How has the recent heat on global finance impacted your work at Ideation Hub Africa, especially since you support non-profits, CSOs and development agencies?
The work we do at Ideation Hub Africa is to equip and promote the growth of social development. We do this through programs and activities that provide early-stage social entrepreneurs and non-profit professionals with experiential education, enterprise incubation, growth advisory and collaborative platforms to start, scale and sustain their big ideas for changing Africa.
The recent heat on global finance has rather afforded us the opportunity to continue to equip non-profits, CSOs and development agencies, with the tools, thinking, knowledge, network, opportunities, and strategies, to boldly execute their mission amidst the high inflation and recent financial sector turmoil.
What gives you joy about the work you do?
My work gives me the unparalleled opportunity of seeing people change their own lives, and this is one of the highest sources of joy that I experience every day! I see individuals who shift significantly from addiction to achievement, from self-imposed limitations to self-leadership and from victimhood into visionary lives.
How best do you love to describe yourself?
Beyond an official bio; Id describe myself as a multi-influential future-forward female, and that, in simple terms, speaks of a many-sided visionary woman. I am a dimpled smile on the face of the world, a channel of unconditional love, Gods Special Duties agent, a fervent advocate for Africas rise, and the transformational coach for the worlds top 1% individuals and institutions.
How do you stay organised when working on different projects at once?
This is a question I get asked all the time actually, and the simple answer is in the power of systems. Today, our organisations are led by very excellent professionals, who drive the operational execution of our business objectives as well as aspirations. I do not work alone, and while I provide strategic direction and oversight; we are blessed with an extremely efficient team of staff members, consultants, support coaches, expert and resident mentors, volunteers, stewards and interns who help us get where we want to go.
Who inspires you in your industry and why?
I am greatly inspired by Dr. Cindy Trimm. Her life and work have great effectiveness, impact and legacy, clearly borne out of a deep relationship with God, passion for humanity and commendable degree of genius. She is in her sixties, but continues to be a relevant culture-shaper, as well as an influential voice for the Church, for governments and corporations. Shes my coach and mentor, and I feel so truly blessed by her example.
Whos been the greatest influence on your life since childhood?
My Parents. 100%! Pastor and Deaconess Dayo Adeoye have deeply impacted my life and shaped me into the person I have become. They are not only my biological parents, but also my spiritual parents. From my childhood till now, my parents have continued to be a very defining part of my life, in terms of their support, spiritual guidance, mentorship, loving nurture, and commitment to my professional and personal development.
Weve always been a close-knit family, and I share a very special bond with my dad, maybe because I take after him in many ways. I am also thankful that he is such an intellectual with a pragmatic understanding of our world, social dynamics, politics, and global economy. He still offers me advisory for my academic pursuits, career plans, investment decisions, and ministry endeavours. I am so blessed to be my parents daughter and my siblings sister.
What book are you reading now and what do you love most about it?
I am currently reading Reclaim your Mind by Dr. Cindy Trimm, and it is a truly mind-shifting resource for harnessing the power of the soul, and releasing oneself to experience a full and fulfilling life!
How many books do you often aim to read in a month?
I do not have a fixation on the number of books to be read, but on growth to be attained. I aim to read as many books as I need in each season to help me attain the knowledge I need for growth in specific areas of my life, leadership and vision.
Youve authored over 22 books; which is your favourite?
Each of my books hold a special place in my heart, but my top three favourites would be Firebrand, My Life is Full of Encounters, and a recent conversational collection called Majestic Mindsets.
What do you love to do when not working?
When I am not working, I am spending time with God, myself and family. I am a very private person, and though my work puts me in the public space often, I also cherish stepping back into my world to meditate, rest, connect with nature, enjoy quietness, laugh and dance my goofy steps.
Describe your style…
My style is surely bold, creative, original and elegant.
Your favourite travel destination…?
Ive enjoyed my time in Dubai and Seychelles, so they are definitely good spots for me. I would love to visit Paris soon, and then tour more African countries.