How I Work: Opeyemi Odeyale’s transition from coveted corporate jobs to the startup world

by | Feb 24, 2020

In almost two decades since he graduated, Opeyemi Odeyale has worked in some of the biggest financial institutions in the world. But despite the upward trajectory of his career, he decided to step down and, instead, venture into the startup world with the launch of his company Ping Express, a money transfer service.

Opeyemi shares with us how he runs a startup across three time zones while raising kids, and staying productive.


Current role: Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer
Location(s): Lagos, UK, and the US
Current computer: MacBook Pro 13
Current mobile device: iPhone XS
Describe how you work in one word: Focused

Tell us briefly how you started out and how you got where you are today

In 2002, I began my working career with Schlumberger in Port Harcourt as an offshore logistics trainee. Eighteen months later, I joined PricewaterhouseCoopers to work as an audit associate where I worked for just over two years before migrating to the UK for an MBA degree in 2005.

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Upon graduating, I had a stint with J.P. Morgan in Edinburgh before I was headhunted in the summer of 2007 to join the team that was put together to start the investment banking division of the now-defunct Oceanic Capital in Lagos.

In the summer of 2010, I relocated to London to work with BNP Paribas and Barclays Bank until 2016 when I left as an assistant vice president and co-founded Ping Express. Today, Ping Express originates transactions from 32 countries in North America and Europe and terminates in 16 countries in Africa.

opeyemi odelaye

Walk us through a typical workday

I wake up at 7 a.m. to respond to urgent messages and prepare for one of the most important tasks of the day, dropping my kids off at school. Working across three distinct time zones, I go to bed very late as I attend to business demands from three continents.

From 9.30 a.m. I catch up on my emails, create a to-do list, and attend to any escalations from the various heads of business units.

I try to push meetings to afternoons so I can get the most out of the mornings. From 6 to 8 p.m. I aim to spend time with the kids and pick up work afterwards until the close of business in the US.

What apps, gadgets, or tools can’t you do without?

MacBook, iPhone, Glip, TripIt, Audiomack, Invstr, WhatsApp, and of course, Ping Express App.

What’s your favourite shortcut or hack?

Do Not Disturb on iPhone, Top Stories News app, and iPhone Wallet.

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What task(s) do you dislike but still do?

Paperwork – I prefer to digitise everything.

How do you keep track of what you have to do?

The Fantastical app helps me sync all my calendars, while the Notes app does everything else.

Ope 1

How do you recharge or take a break?

Movies help me stay out of my head.

Besides work, what do you spend time doing? What do you enjoy?

Movie evening with my wife when I am in town, a little bit of social media, and occasional FIFA 20 with my son.

What are you currently reading, watching, or listening to? What do you recommend?

Movies: Ballers and Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates.
Songs: Afro Pop

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Live out of your head, live in the moment!

What’s a problem you’re still trying to solve?

Poverty.

Who would you like to see answer these questions?

Tosin Labeodan, Associate Director, Energy, Utilities & Mining, PricewaterhouseCoopers, ACA.

Samuel Okike
Samuel Okike

I write about media, technology and internet culture. Reach me on Twitter @okikesam

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