Through the Lens of Novo Isioro- A Trailblazer and Inspiration

During a time where women are advancing in their careers, goals and educational pursuits, some may begin to believe that the glass ceilings will soon…

During a time where women are advancing in their careers, goals and educational pursuits, some may begin to believe that the glass ceilings will soon be shattered. Although it’s reasonable for one to think this way, there are still so many areas where women trail behind men. Whether it’s access to basic rights, equal salary for equal pay or consideration for positions of leadership, women are not unfamiliar with being denied access to the spaces and opportunities they desire. While this may deter the efforts of some women, or cause them to cower in discouragement, this is not the case for Novo Isioro. Not only is she a literal trailblazer, she is also an inspiration to girls and young women who desire to overcome obstacles and challenges they are presented with, based on their gender.

Novo is Nigeria’s first female presidential documentary-photographer. From a young age Novo was drawn to the corporate world. A self-described “official person,” she has always loved the corporate environment and had thought she would be some executive in some corporate organization. With degrees in Management and Public Relations it is not a surprise that she ended up in the President’s cabinet, albeit for a somewhat non-traditional position. “I was called by one of my corporate clients to photograph a simple meeting of an old boys’ association of his alma-mater without a pay, an offer I accepted because I considered the assignment to be a good opportunity to network. I met someone who asked me what documentary photography means, the answer was not that simple. For example, if one studied medicine then you are a doctor; if one studied law then you are a lawyer and practicing law; etc. But it wasn’t so easy defining my role as a Documentary Photography in one sentence, because it was very much an uncommon practice for Photographers around this part of the world. Well, I simply tried to explain using examples of organizations I had worked for, and he was impressed. He mentioned he had a documentary team and he thought I could help them achieve more. So, he put me on his team and the rest is history.”

Novo Isioro speaking at FAME Conference (Female Advocacy Mentoring Empowerment)

After being hand-picked for a unique role and being placed in a position many would do anything for, Novo recognizes just how an opportunity met her preparedness and how her upbringing and environmental lessons have shaped her. “I am shaped by my upbringing, my parents- my dad especially helped me shape my views on life. I have learned from a very young age that you must do what it takes (right values) to achieve what you want. Growing up and not being privileged to be exposed to certain interesting things my peers had, definitely also contributed to having right values of contentment.”

These influences not only molded Novo, but they also helped prepare her for the numerous challenges she faces in her current position and life in general. Many women can confirm that the hardships she’s had are indeed real and will quickly attest to their existence in certain industries and sectors. As Novo tells it, she has been challenged in many surprising and unexpected ways over the past two years in her office, but these same challenges have helped her grow in wonderful ways:

“Working as the first female photographer in the presidency comes with a lot of pushback. When people are not used to certain things, and you come with those things, they tend to reject or oppose it, they question who you are. But you know, it’s not about who I am but about who I represent, which is the female community all over the world. Every day is like a battle field trying to reinforce and reassert myself, make others see that I can do this. Most of the time I am on a trip with my boss [the Vice President], and I am the only female on the team. There’s a lot of attention on me – the good, bad and ugly. But it’s just natural for people to question your ability. Sometimes we go on certain assignments to certain places, and because I am a female I am told ‘you can’t cross here, or you can’t do this and that. What am I supposed to do when there are several restrictions for females in certain environments, but my work must still go on. I can’t give excuses, I have to get my job done. That has made me even more courageous and proactive in my job application. A lesson I pass on to my interns is, no excuse is good enough. I have always thought that I am strong, that I could be all that there is to be, but life itself has a way of making you question those strong beliefs we have of ourselves. Living out what we believe we are, experiencing it and even practicing it is totally different. Now, I can boldly say that I don’t only think I am strong but I am actually strong because I live this experience daily. This position I occupy is for only the strong. This includes physical strength and all, but most importantly strength of character”

Novo is a long way from wearing skirts and heels and being the pretty executive she once aspired to be, but in sneakers and blazers, which have become part of her daily uniform, she is able to inspire countless numbers of girls and women, in a way she may not have if she ended up working as an executive in a corporate environment. While there are many who do not pursue their dreams due to fear, uncertainty or being the first of their kind, Novo encourages others to push these thoughts aside. “Never let fear hold you back”. It’s natural to be afraid but embrace your fears. It is natural to think, if the men didn’t succeed in it, how am I supposed to do it? Don’t stop the thoughts there, tell yourself you can! Some people will tell you to your face ‘you can’t’! I have been told that before. To combat my fears, every day I wake up and look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘Novo you can’. A simple strategy is to recognize the challenges in front of you and accept them by thinking solutions, finding ways to overcome them. In the end, you have to know that you can, only if you want to. It will be hard, but you have to want it enough to overcome the hardship.”

With an infectious attitude, a diligent and hard-working mindset it is no surprise that Novo is where she is and has accomplished all these things. With numerous projects in the works and more surprises up her sleeve, we are certain we will continue to see more of Novo Isioro’s work showcased internationally and will see her on a much larger platform one day very soon.


By: Natacha Lorius

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and positions expressed by the authors and those providing comments, opinions on this website are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of M-Lifestyle and their affiliates. M-Lifestyle does not claim ownership of any images used, unless otherwise specified.




  1. Toyin O says:

    Definitely a trailblazer..??


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