Breaking the glass ceiling

Breaking the glass ceiling

Patricia Obonia, TigoIf you are on Tigo, Patricia Obo-Nai, the telecommunications industry’s youngest Chief Technology Officer (CTO), ensures that the systems are up and running to keep you talking. Power Principle:As an individual, I believe that you must have self-worth and self-esteem. As a CTO, I believe that whatever you lay your hands on, do it with all your heart and do it well.
What career achievements are you most proud of?
Becoming a CTO at my age. When I was made CTO, I was only 33 years old. The fact that I have risen very fast, especially working within a male-dominated field, where there are older and more experienced men within the department as well. I never applied for the role of CTO; I was promoted based on sheer performance, hard work and the belief that I could do it and that is one thing I am most proud of.
What four words best describe you?
I would describe myself as honest, respectful, hardworking and God-fearing.
What in your opinion are some of your day-to-day challenges as a CTO?

Everyone expects you to have all information at all times, so there’s always that pressure to always be in the know. It therefore puts a lot of responsibility on me to keep an eye on everything. As CTO, I must know where to find all information at all times, especially on the spot. Being on top of your job in terms of providing information to other managers in other departments is also in itself a challenge. Being up-to-date with everything that happens within my department, especially making sure that my staff report everything to me, at all times is quite a task, but so far, I have managed well. One thing I cannot stand is being surprised, so I constantly check my mail for updates etc. I always tell my staff: “If anything happens, call Patricia!”
What have been the principal barriers to resolving these challenges in the past?
I have built, over time, very good working relationships and my principles are very well established and have not changed either and these have helped me in resolving some of these challenges.
What management lessons have been hardest to learn? Getting into the minds of people, especially getting to know what works and what does not work, in terms of what motivates my staff, has always been a challenge when it comes to management. Getting to know peoples’ interests and aspirations, especially at a certain period in time when I thought I had provided everything I could in my capacity and the fact that still some of my staff were leaving to other companies, even with significant salary increases was a mystery to me. You can never understand people thoroughly. For me, it has been completely mind-blowing and this has been one of my most significant learning experiences.

What inspires you?
Being given responsibility is inspiration enough for me. My worth as a person comes out when I’m given responsibility.
What are the secrets of your success?
Seriously and significantly, I believe success is a mind-set. You can decide to be happy or prosperous, but you must have the mind set to be successful and if you don’t have that inner drive, if you don’t have that self-esteem to even understand the intelligence and knowledge that you have, you always thrive on negativity. Success is being given something to do and doing it well and having someone satisfied with the end product. For me, it’s the mind to achieve.
 Who is a good manager?
A good manager knows how to delegate, is on top of issues and develops and nurtures good working relationships with his or her employees and staff.

How do you inspire confidence in people?

By acknowledging and rewarding effort of staff and employees. And by consistently challenging and telling my employees that I believe in them.
Who has most influenced you?
When I was growing up, it was my mother and my sisters who most significantly influenced me. My mother gave us good education and religion. Good moral and Christian values were instilled in us, the children, right from the start. My role model has always been my immediate boss, Mr. Ben Tagoe, who has constantly challenged, inspired and motivated me to reach my goals and aspirations. Later in life, it has been and still is my husband, who has been such a great support.

Obo-Nai attended Bishop Bowers School for her primary education and then went to St. Roses Secondary School for her O-Level and subsequently Presbyterian Boys Secondary School, Legon, for her A-Level certificate. She studied electrical engineering at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) from 1995 to 1999. After KNUST, Obo-Nai worked with TIGO for her national service and was subsequently employed as a full-time planning engineer. Later she moved to the Roll-Out Department and then was promoted to assistant planning manager, then planning manager and in December 2006 she was made CTO.  In 2009, she earned an Executive MBA in Project Management from the University of Ghana, Legon.