Aisha Maina



University of Maiduguri

Cornell University

Lagos Business School

It all began with a laptop, access to the Internet, and a strong desire to support businesses that give Nigerians a better life. So relying on all three, Aisha Maina launched Aquarian Consult, a consulting firm providing business development services and human resources consulting, in addition to training, recruitment, and social empowerment services.

"Every business needs people to run it and ensure it's sustainable," Aisha says. "There are hundreds of thousands of people seeking employment, or wishing to change jobs. We help businesses get the right people and match job seekers with the right jobs."

Challenges are a sign of growth, so I welcome them.

What responsibilities do you have in your job?

I’m responsible for running the day-to-day matters at Aquarian Consult, as well as conducting the final screening exercise for applicants who have gone through the recruitment process. I make sure to look at each one before sending them off to the client.

I also work on documents as part of the HR consultancy team. I oversee and, depending on the project, work with a business development project team. We have many business development products and they include knowledge management system engineering and business process (re)engineering. I’m also part of the social empowerment projects team.

How did you decide a job in this career field was right for you?

While pondering the vast and interdependent challenges of Nigeria as a nation—and Nigerians as a people—I realized that to make our nation a better place, we must first help Nigerians have a better life. To do so, businesses must be supported through advice and engineering of business processes in order to allow them be sustainable. With more sustainable small businesses, more people will be employed, which in turn will enhance the general socio-economic status of the populace. Aquarian Consult was established to support businesses with strategic services and products that will ensure they’re indeed sustainable.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I love adding value. When we provide a strategic service, or deploy a strategic product for businesses and I see the positive impact it makes on the organization, it's amazing. I also love when we place candidates in a gainful job. It's these moments that are priceless and make all the work done worth it—and then some.

What challenges keep you awake at night?

I don’t really recall any challenges that have kept me up at night. I attribute that to the mindset that things have a way of sorting themselves out; worrying doesn’t make it any better. Challenges are a sign of growth, so I welcome them.

If I were not trying to grow, or if I were not growing—slowly or otherwise—I’d have very few challenges and remain stagnant.

Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?

Oh, yeah! Work/life can be very imbalanced, especially when there’s a project that requires the team's full and instant energy. We’ve worked seven days a week and almost 14-hour days. When that happens, and the project is finally over, I just want to rest. I haven’t found that no-fail tactic yet that works. However, my family and friends are understanding. They help me set my balance back in place.

Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I made it!” What was it?

Not yet. I haven’t gotten there yet. There are more things to achieve, more value to add, more lives to change positively, and more money to be made.

What are some of the rules you live by?

I live by the five Ps: Patience, Perseverance, Persistence, People, Prayer. In whatever I do or get involved in, it must be ethical, carried out with integrity, and not undermine my dignity.

What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?

Stay the course. It won't always be easy, but it will be fulfilling. Never give up, even when it seems bleak.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

We’ll have expanded to other African countries on our journey to becoming the business development consultancy firm that, while Nigerian, is truly global.