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Profile: Nadia Odunayo

Woman smiling broadly wearing a white top and beige trousers

Nadia Odunayo (2010, PPE)

Nadia Odunayo (2010, PPE) is the Founder and CEO of the book tracking and recommendations hub, The StoryGraph, an alternative to Goodreads. She was previously the Co-Founder/Director of Ignition Works, a software consulting company. Prior to that, she was a Software Engineer at Pivotal Labs, working as a consultant on apps and websites for startups, and she also worked on Pivotal’s Platform-as-a-Service, Cloud Foundry.

How did you change from the moment you walked through Univ’s doors to your graduation?
I think I became a lot more confident in my own worldview and opinions and knowing what I wanted out of life! I found Univ, both via my fellow students and the tutors, to be so welcoming and accepting, and a safe space to be outspoken and to fail. I just loved all of the discussions I was a part of, from the deep to the silly, whether in a tutor’s office, in the dining hall, or in a friend’s room during the early hours of the morning.

What does a day in your life look like today?
Honestly, it varies so much, and that’s what I love about running my own startup.

I’m always experimenting with my morning routine which typically always includes some meditation and French practice on Duolingo (I have ridiculous 2000+ day streaks on both of those), checking up on various StoryGraph systems and dashboards, chatting with my co-founder, who lives in California, some form of exercise, and some reading. After that, I’ll spend most of the rest of the day developing a StoryGraph feature, mixing in other tasks, some StoryGraph-related and other life admin-type ones.

I’ll continue working into the evening if I’m not heading out to a dance class or dinner with a friend!

Woman giving a TED talk about being a readerWhat’s your favourite feature on The StoryGraph?
Up Next Suggestions! We give users personalised recommendations for what to read next from their to-read list based on a range of factors: Maybe you want something similar to your last read? Or perhaps you’re behind on your reading goal and need a short book to start to catch up? Or do you want to read a book that users similar to you have rated highly?

When I thought about building the ultimate reading tracking app, one of my dream features was the ability to help make the decision of what to read next a lot easier and we’re already doing that for people!

Right now this is a paid feature, but we’re currently restructuring our Plus plan and I can’t wait to make Up Next Suggestions free for everyone.

Do you have any advice for current Univ students?
Now is the perfect time to be adventurous and try out new things! Being at Univ, and Oxford more generally, is a great environment for putting yourself out there and trying things that are out of your comfort zone.

For example, some of my best memories from my time at Univ involve activities that aren’t typically things I’d go for (and haven’t done since): Jailbreak (the 36-hour charity hitchhiking challenge), acting in the Univ Revue play, and attending Glastonbury.

But who knows? You might discover a hidden passion, meet someone special who you wouldn’t have met otherwise, or strengthen what will end up being a life-long friendship, all of which could change the trajectory of your life!

Woman wearing white top and orange trousers giving a business presentation in a conference room Do you have any favourite moments from your time at Univ?
I have several but I’ll only mention a couple that spring to mind right now.

First up was the Univ Ambassadors Roadshow, where we travelled around Sheffield and Doncaster, in a mini tour bus, visiting schools giving presentations and hosting workshops, all to inspire sixth formers to aim for Oxbridge and other top London universities. The group of people who went were awesome and it was wonderful doing such fulfilling volunteering.

Second, Sujoy Mukerji, an economics professor, was one of my favourite tutors, in spite of his very serious, reserved demeanour. A few of us ended up having a late-night study session with him in the run-up to Finals. About 15-20 minutes into the session there was a brusque knock on the door, which startled us a little. Sujoy responded with a “Come in!” and in came a couple of members of the Kitchen staff, with a whole spread of tea and biscuits! We were so surprised and very touched.

On top of that, there were just several fun moments, filled with laughter, in the Buttery and, in the run-up to Finals, late nights in the library and the 90 High Street revision room.

Describe Univ in three words.
Friendly, supportive, and nurturing!

Nadia was one of the original sitters for our Young Univ Gallery.

Published: 21 August 2023

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