Have you ever come across a book title seemingly out of nowhere, and then to find that it was memorable, impactful, and inspiring. That describes the book written by a CFO and part-owner of an architectural firm, Bolanle “Bola” Williams-Olley. The title is Build Boldly: Chart Your Unique Career Path and Lead With Courage. Interviewing this talented and driven financial leader was also a treat that I’ll remember for a long time.
Who is Bolanle Williams-Olley?
- Born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria to a single mom who was a financial controller
- Started accounting career as a project accountant in the architextural industry
- Holds a masters degree in education and social policy from NYU and a masters in applied mathematics
- Currently CFO and part-owner at Mancini Duffy
- Non-Profit Founder of SheBuildsLives, SheBuildsMoney, and SheBuildsWaves
- In the CFO Bookshelf greenroom discussion, she mentioned her amazing family and that she loves themed parties
- Released her first book, Build Boldly in 2021
I had no idea what a project accountant did.Bolanle Williams-Olley
- The circuitous journey to the c-suite
- Bolane’s mom is a hero
- The BOLD Framework
- The part where the host nearly cried while reading the book
- On being memorable
- Self-development for financial leaders
- More than token giving
- Who should read this book?
- Advice for women in leadership positions
Book Observations from Mark’s Notebook
If you’ve listened to the show, you’ll already know that I thought this book was special. Bola wrote this book from the heart while using her mind to carve out a simple leadership framework. I was inspired by her drive, tenacity, and her eagerness to help others. I’m also amazed at what she has accomplished at such a young age.
Below are some random notes from my book journal:
- She was not a trained accountant from the beginning, she was a math person learning the financial aspects of the business from the ground up
- Loved her can-do attitude during the recession
- She kept seeking new experiences – she didn’t let work or projects find her, she discovered meaningful work on her own
- Hated the part, “You take too much time off for your daughter.”
- Resliance – attending grad school and pregnent with number two
- Her first boss invested in Bola – that’s the way it should be
- Bola didn’t just touch accounting, she touched everything in the business – every young financial professional needs to hear this message
- Before accepting role at Mancini, Bola did her homework – resulted in a rich interview experience
- I want to meet and shake hands with the person who interviewed Bola at Mancini – I should interview him – he nailed it – he’s a leader
- Self-development – love it – each employee in charge of their own career map
- Short monthly pulse reviews – reminds me of AARs
- Chapter 7 – my favorite
- 30 hats – beautiful
- Regarding community – that’s critical – Bola found a formal network – also, make it easy for working moms who already work hard at the office
- Project Accountants – she had them start a monthly financial review meeting with PMs
Memorable Quotes in Build Boldly
Giving is my love language.Build Boldly – page 77
… I had found an avenue to help other children and stop focusing on myself, and at the same moment, God had blessed me with my own child.Build Boldly – Page 78
I’m the first black CFO many people have ever met.Build Boldly – page 83
As a leader, I ask myself, ‘How can I show people that what they want is attainable?’Build Boldly – page 115
When my leadership team and I make decisions based on both the data and our guts, they usually pan out. However, when we make decisions based on just the data, we’re missing an important element of decision making.Build Boldly – page 122
Six Leadership Questions
In the final chapter, Bola provides practical guidance in becoming a B.O.L.D. leader. I found her six leadership questions practical and relevant to any management position:
- Am I creating an experience for employees that’s better than what I came up through?
- Am I doing things becase they have always been done that way, or am I poushing into changes that will make things better?
- Am I listening to my people and making them feel seen, heard, and valued?
- Am I creating a culture that fosters boldness?
- What intentinal choiecs will I make today?
- Am I nuturing the people around me?
Books Mentioned by Bolanle Williams-Olley
I continue to be in awe of the books mentioned by guests on the CFO Bookshelf podcast. Here are two recent favorites that Bola mentioned on the show:
If You Liked Our Visit with Bola
Looking for your next listen? Then I highly recommend our conversation with Daniele Martins, the FP&A Global Director at ThoughtWorks.
Shoutout to Lauren Genest at Brand Groupies
Brand Groupies is a full-service social media, public relations, and personal branding agency specializing in “SOPR,” the fusion of SOcial and PR because the two go hand-in-hand.
Lauren Genest was instrumental in making this interview happen. I interact with many publicists, PR, and social media managers. Lauren was a pleasure to work with through numerous email exchanges. She made my work easy–so much so, that I wanted to do likewise. A huge thumbs up to Team Brand Groupies.