The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Vodafone, Patricia Obo-Nai has shared some useful insights for building a solid foundation in corporate Ghana, on the Y Leaderboard series.
The ‘Y Leaderboard Series’ is a segment with the objective to develop the youth and provide inspiration to listeners by hosting leaders and achievers in various industries in Ghana and beyond.
Using her personal experience, she buttressed the importance of internships and National Service in shaping the career direction of young people.
‘’I really got a lot of learning from my internship into national service and by the time I finished National Service, my offer letter was on my desk. I did not apply for my first job.
“I was repairing radios and amplifiers as an intern because I needed a practical experience to put my theory in perspective, ’’ she said making a valid point for internships in career development.
The Vodafone CEO also dispelled the myths that women are not ready for leadership because they lack confidence.
‘’I don’t think we have even scratched the surface when it comes to what has to be done for girls. Women are capable and available but it is the world systems, norms and culture that are not allowing our girls the opportunity.
“I was shocked at the global statistics that 33,000 young girls below 18 get married every single day. I don’t believe we have done enough for girls. We should do more’’ she stated.
She also cautioned the youth about being in a hurry to climb the leadership ladder without going through the mill.
‘’Young men and women of today don’t want the stress and I think it’s important that you do it for yourself. Build the experience for Yourself, we’re all in a hurry to get the lead role. We feel we have the degree, we need to get the job first, we need to move to management level but it takes depth. You need to understand the business to get there, if you’re 30 years old, at least build three years on a role.
“That is minimum, it will help you to grow and then you move on. If you have the opportunity to use your time of internship to build your skill, then you may be able to move faster on the career ladder. Even If you miss that opportunity, your first four to five years after school is for experience building,’’ she said.
To succeed she advised young women to accept help so that they can build their careers.
“My work has not been stressful for me because of the external support I received from my family. External support really helps. I used to stay in Tema and would have to drive to Tigo in Accra for work and take the kids to school. But my mother-in-law was there to support me. She would pick up the kids from school, bath them and feed them. And I will them pick them up after work,’’ she said.
Patricia Obo-Nai believes that it is possible to change the world, however, she admits you cannot have everyone on board and she says that is fine.
‘’Whether we like it or not, we are living in an era where people still have their biases because of the way they’ve been socialized. You will try to drive the change but you can’t change everyone’’ she advised.
She admonished women, to grasp every opportunity on the table and do more than taking minutes.
“A lot of women are working hard. They are sitting in the meeting taking the minutes. Don’t be the one taking the minutes, be the one making the PowerPoint presentation.
“Be the one at the table where people will see you and know that you know your stuff and you work hard, otherwise, you’ll always be asking why these guys are being promoted.
“It’s because although you work hard, nobody knows. Nobody tells your story for you when the decisions are being made so make sure somebody knows you work hard, and work hard’’ she stated.
Patricia Obo-Nai who is a twin and alumna of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) says she had a strong Catholic upbringing and learnt co-existence from PRESEC.
‘’I got my Catholic upbringing from Bishop Bowers and St Roses, and PRESEC taught me about co-existence. The best part of being a twin is you can wear your twin’s clothes’’ she said.