Tell us about yourself
Due to OPSEC regulations, I am not allowed to disclose detailed information about myself as requested. I’m sorry about that. I can share the schools I attended though.
I attended Opoku Ware School, completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Ghana. I later pursued a Master of Social Work Graduate program at the University of Toledo, Ohio and went to the Army Logistics University, Fort Lee, Virginia for the Basic Officer Leadership Course.
Walk us through your early career journey (first 5 years)
I graduated from the University of Ghana in 2008, amidst the turmoil of the global economic recession. I went to the UK with basically no idea of what I was going to do with my life. I rescinded a decision to enlist in the UK Army and traveled to the United States in 2009. Initially, I wanted to go into nursing because it was the most secure job during the recession. I was admitted to the Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2013 to study nursing. I survived on part-time jobs in retail and students’ work-study programs. I enlisted as an Infantryman with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in 2013, dropped out of college, and attended the Infantry basic school at Fort Benning, Georgia in May 2014. I lost my slot in the nursing school after I graduated Infantry One Station Unit Training in September 2014 so I applied for the Master of Social Work Graduate program at the University of Toledo, Ohio, and was admitted in August 2015. I was awarded a Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship and contract so I did a Simultaneous Membership Program (SMP) with Ohio National Guard for two years. While in schools, I majored in Military Science and Social Work/Clinical Mental Health Therapy. I was also a Graduate Assistant at the President Hall and completed a 400 hours Clinical Internship with Harbor/Promedica of Ohio. I graduated in May 2017 and was commissioned into Army Active Duty as a 2ND Lieutenant, Transportation Officer. I served as Battalion Supply Support Activity Platoon, Battalion Maintenance Officer and promoted to Brigade Transportation Manager/Unit Movement Officer in November 2019.
What values/skills would you say you demonstrated in your early career journey that have contributed to your career success?
A can-do spirit. I was always ready to be trained and learn. The odds were always against me because I was a foreigner with an accent and a funny name. Every day was a proving day which I was tried and tested to see if I “truly belonged” and I always proved people wrong. I failed a lot of times but I always got back up, dusted up and tried again. To me, every dare was to do and every fail was a good life’s lesson; I gained somehow and never lost.
Did you always know you wanted to do what you are doing now?
Absolutely not. What I do in the Military has nothing to do with the education I had for 30 years. I was just ready to take on whatever challenge life gave me. I went to High School with a dream to be an Attorney so I studied General Arts. I went to college believing I was going to be a writer or poet. I went to Graduate School with an intent to be a clinical mental health therapist and here I am, a ground, sea, and aviation logistician leading soldiers of every race, age, sex and beliefs. Life is just a curveball to me.
What were some of the mistakes you made on the career journey?
I never had a mentor or looked up to anybody. I kind of went with the flow and trend. For me, it was trying to make a living by making enough money. I never considered other aspects of life and other lessons that I needed in order to be a well-rounded person. My inter-personal and professional connection was also poor. It took me many wrong turns to finally find where I belong because I never cared for guidance or perhaps, never asked for one.
If you had the opportunity to change one thing in your early career/work experience days what will it be?
Listen, listen, and listen: you can’t have too much of that. I wish I had sought knowledge on professional and leadership progression instead of how to make money.
Any advice to someone who is confused about their career planning?
Follow your heart and don’t follow trends. Seek happiness and be content with what you’re passionate about. Surround yourself with positive people and seek professional guidance and knowledge in the field you intend to go into.
If you had a minute to coach/advice a tertiary student about work readiness, what would it be?
Your yes is your yes and no is no. Never give your word unless you mean it and when you give it, always come through with your promise. Time management is key: 30 minutes prior to appointment is on-time. Never leave others waiting for you. Be the first in and last one out. Show up, hold doors open for others, and be ready to eat last. Life is a curveball so don’t build mansions in your dream. It doesn’t matter what you did because it is all about what you can do when given the chance to show. Practice, practice, and practice personal communication skills and give 100% in everything you do.
Knowing what you know now as a high-profile professional, what would be your advice to a rising young professional you are mentoring?
Learn to serve first before you even think about leading because the lessons learned at the bottom will sustain you at the top. Be careful about the toes you step on today; they may be attached to the hand you have to kiss someday. Put people first and never turn down an offer to help; it’s a small world and people know people. Hold onto what is right and never let the allure of power, money, and wealth corrupt your morals. In the end, family will be all you will have when everyone and everything is gone so don’t sacrifice that for a career progression.