YPC Networking at The Study featuring Q&A with Folasade (Sade) Olanipekun-Lewis, Regional Director of Government and Airport Affairs at American Airlines

As an accomplished professional with over 20 years of success in management, government, nonprofit, and finance, Sade is a proven leader in Philadelphia. She’s been all over the country, shaping how cities manage their finances, but today, Sade took the time to chat with the Young Professionals Council – imparting wisdom, and sharing career advice.

Inside The Study at University City with fabulous food prepared by the Co-Op Restaurant & Lounge, a Q&A was led Andrew Still, Senior Associate – Forensic, EisnerAmper LLP, and Co-Chair of the Events Committee, followed by a night of networking, food, and drinks.

Andrew Still (AS):  Sade, thank you for joining us today. You’ve had such an amazing career with multiple positions for the City of Philadelphia. Recently you’ve gone to work for American Airlines as the Regional Director of Government and Airport Affairs. Knowing where you are now, how did your earlier career choices lead you to here?

Folasade (Sade) Olanipekun-Lewis (SO): I started making the right career choices when I finally stopped listening to what others told me I was good at – like Law School, I didn’t want to go to Law School, other people told me I should. I didn’t find out I didn’t want to be there until I was already there. Luckily, Law School did help me figure out what I was good at. Once I learned my technical craft, I started making careers choices that benefited me.

AS: What piece of advice would you give to your younger self at the start of your career?

SO: “Listen to your cadence.” Although I wouldn’t have had half as much experience as I do now, if I would have listened to what my cadence told me from the beginning,  it wouldn’t have taken me so long to discover myself.

AS: You are also very involved with the community, serving on various Boards and donating your time throughout Philadelphia.  What initiative or initiatives are these organizations pursuing that excite you the most as we head into the New Year?

SO: I love LEADERSHIP Philadelphia; it plays such a large role increasing the next wave of City advocates. I was a fellow a few years ago and it still inspires me to exact change through my community.

AS: What do you view as the biggest challenge facing the City of Philadelphia today?

SO: Primary and Secondary education . The City has got its talent lock on Post-Secondary education but if we can figure out how to bring up Primary education to the caliber of Post-Secondary, Philadelphia will be unstoppable.

AS: How can young professionals that are here today best use their time outside of work to make a difference?

SO: Service to your community, no matter the scale, can lead to opportunity! Never pass up an opportunity to talk about or explore an opportunity because you never know what doors it could lead you to.

AS: Thank you, Sade, for your time and wisdom. Before we conclude, do you have a favorite book or podcast you can leave us with?

SO: Yes, of course – the Motivation Manifesto! Without giving too much away, it explores our desire for personal freedoms like time freedom, emotional freedom, social freedom, and financial freedom. Definitely give it a read!

–Trevor Smith, Navy Yard Civic & Social Engagement Coordinator


For more information on future YPC events, visit our events calendar.