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Q&A with Akua Owusu-Nartey

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Akua Owusu-Nartey, Regional Managing Director @Ogilvy Africa

How would you describe your career path in a few words?

My Career has been a roller-coaster ride, filled with a multitude of exhilarating, inspiring, and challenging experiences. Throughout every stage, I have had to be brave, confident, diligent, positive, and resilient. The journey has been both rewarding and gratifying, and I am grateful for the valuable lessons that I have learned along the way.

The initial years of my career marked a crucial period of learning and foundation building. As a junior, I was driven, passionate yet inexperienced, which inevitably meant encountering challenges and making mistakes. These experiences provided opportunities for self-reflection and improvement. Despite the curveballs, I remained committed to waking up every day and putting my hand to the plough.

In the years that followed, I gained greater independence, wearing many hats and building my knowledge within the advertising industry. This lead to a period of purpose shaping, as I began to recalibrate my future in alignment with my personal goals and vision.

In 2012, I was thrown into managing the Publicis business in CWAR, this proved to be a formidable challenge that launched my senior leadership training wheels. Today, I’m leading in my own stride, I work with a team of 60 talented individuals. I focus on creating an environment where my people can thrive and solve real life client problems.

What was your most challenging experience and has it changed your mindset?

My most challenging work experience was working with a partner who didn’t recognize the importance of fostering collaboration and creating a conducive and inspiring environment. As leaders, it is our responsibility to strike a balance between fulfilling business objectives and supporting our team members to be the best version of themselves.

Unfortunately, working with a partner who was focused on his personal recognition hindered our ability to establish the right atmosphere for success. I learned that the only thing I could control was how I responded to the situation. I responded by refocusing and picking only the battles that mattered for the team. My job was to inspire positive action and it worked.

Key lessons

  • People judge what you do and not what you say.

  • People see and know more than we think they see.

  • We shouldn’t stop doing the right things, it makes a world of difference

When you get surprised by unusual or uncertain context, what do you think?

I’m a ball of positive energy and I love making light of everything but there’s a conflicting side. The side that instantly see the potential pitfalls and drawbacks in any given situation and immediately sets out to find solutions. In an uncertain context, I look out for the chinks in the armor. When the pandemic struck and it became clear that traditional in-person collaboration would no longer be possible, I quickly recognized the need to transition to remote work. By analyzing the situation and identifying potential issues, I was able to deftly navigate the transition to remote work and maintain continuity.

Based on your experience, what’s the key success factor for a female leader

As women, we are endowed with certain superpowers such as empathy, intuition, humility, and even the proverbial 'imposter syndrome' that drives us to constantly pursue excellence, business success, nurture our teams and be fiercely protective.

It is important that we value these qualities, as they allow us to lead with a balance of head and heart and inspire others. As women, we should work harder at becoming more comfortable with sharing our experiences and battle wounds with the world. By doing so, we can empower each other and serve as a light as our very own daughters take flight.

Each of us is unique and brings different strengths and weaknesses to the table. As we look to the future, may we focus on the eighty percent and not the twenty in the eighty, twenty rule. This means we celebrate and focus on our strengths and the parts of us that make us great leaders, and on the daily, work in service of recalibrating the twenty percent which represents the chinks in are amor.

Anytime we think about giving up, we must remember how far we have come and that going back is not an option. A better future for women started generations ago and continues with us.

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