Here, Adesua Dozie, general counsel for GE Gas Power Systems and Services, Sub-Saharan Africa, shares some frank advice on career success, her thoughts on female empowerment, and how she juggles corporate responsibilities with family life as a working mother to three children.
Adesua joined GE in 2013 from The Coca-Cola Company, and has previously worked for Elf Petroleum Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of Total S.A, as well as Ajumogobia and Okeke, a Lagos law firm. She is a member of the Nigerian and New York Bar Associations and holds an LLM in corporate and commercial law from Cornell University.
Q. When did you first encounter the GE Women’s Network?
A. I first heard about the Women’s Network when I was being interviewed for my current role. It was very reassuring to learn that there was a conducive environment in GE for women to manage a busy work and home life. This was one of the critical factors for me and I have not been disappointed. I have found the Women’s Network to be a wonderful platform to network with women across the different GE businesses, meet and interact with GE leaders, and offers support in understanding the organisational matrix.
Q. You led a big business win in Nigeria. Can you share some of your biggest learnings on the project?
A. The biggest learning for me was that simplification isn’t just a buzz word or the latest initiative. It’s a key business metric. It adds immense value to the work that we do, enables a large and complex company like ours to execute with speed, precision and flexibility and compels a relentless focus on the customer. Our customers in this region want solutions that are simple and sustainable.
Q. What advice do you have for women looking to succeed in commercial roles?
A. I think this counsel is gender neutral. First of all, seek to add value by focusing on the task at hand and executing with excellent results. Secondly, believe and trust. Believe in yourself: you are better and more qualified than you think. Trust yourself, your instincts and the processes that are in place in the company. Thirdly, it’s important to realise that not all growth is horizontal. Lateral moves, expanded responsibilities and project work provide an excellent foundation for a promotion or a move to another role.
Finally, we work for a phenomenal company, a diversified conglomerate, and this provides innumerable opportunities to learn and grow. We must do our best to take advantage of all the opportunities that are on offer to learn something new or increase our depth of knowledge.
Q. Any advice on work-life balance?
A. I’ve learnt that prioritisation and flexibility are very important. Different stages of life require different levels of attention and it’s important to have clarity and the courage to discern and apply what is required at each stage. Thankfully, we work for an organisation where taking time off or having additional flexibility in your work is not detrimental to the success of your career.
It is however critical that we all realise that this doesn’t mean we are relieved of the responsibility to deliver or execute. For this I thank our colleagues in IT who have provided us with a number of tools that ensure that we are always connected. Finally, one of my mentors, a very wise woman, advises that women strategise their personal lives in the same way that they strategise their careers. It’s important to have a support system that works on both fronts.
Q. Please share your thoughts on how we can continuously work towards empowering women in GE Africa.
A. In my opinion and with the benefit of my experience in different organisations, women in GE Africa are already empowered. The leadership of the company, the executive sponsors of the Women’s Network and the hub leaders (both regional and global) are committed to ensuring that there is a level playing field and equal access to opportunities for all – irrespective of race or gender. There is more focus on this than I have experienced in any other company that I’ve worked for.
Women need to ‘’lean in“ (as Sheryl Sandberg advises), ensure that we are aware of and have access to all the tools and resources available, and take our seats at the table. As the popular saying goes, if it’s to be, it’s up to me!