Amanda Ken-Umuze, a Laidlaw Scholar at London Business School, on tackling technology and infrastructure limitations in Africa and serving as a role model to empower other women.
I am a product of West-African and British cultures, and I call Europe and Africa home. My worldview and appreciation of diversity were shaped by the many creeds and cultures that I interacted with from an early age. I graduated with a first-class degree in the top 1% of my class from Pan-Atlantic University, and I worked as a business professional in Lagos, Nigeria, Africa’s largest market.
I was also a programme manager at the Nigerian Association for Women’s Advancement and seek to be a role model showing the professional capabilities of women in business. Due to my passion for solving problems within my environment, I started an eco-friendly club called Living Green. My curiosity for strategy implementation and consulting exposed me to internships at top finance and consulting firms including KPMG, First Bank and Shell. Later I pursued my passion for luxury fashion as a creative director of Trax Apparel.
What led you to apply for the Laidlaw Scholarship at London Business School?
Long term¸ I plan to serve as an economic adviser to governments in Africa to help bridge the technology and infrastructure gaps by putting together bankable projects capable of attracting the right type of funding across key markets. Through this work, I will demonstrate the ability of African females to tackle the twin bugbear of technology and infrastructure limitations that has worked to decelerate Africa’s participation in global value chains.
In Nigeria, many young girls are deprived of schooling by their parents and married off to earn a living. Though there have been some improvements, we are still facing low female literacy rates and high gender disparity in the enrollment of formal schooling. As a recipient of this scholarship, I plan to push for the education of female children from low-income families, by working with the United Nations to help achieve inclusive quality education and serve as a policy advisor for girls’ education in Nigeria. By extension, this would impact the economic situation positively and reduce crime rates in such communities.
I wish to serve as a symbol of what it’s like to empower not only oneself, but those around you too.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
“The only limitation you have is that which you set for yourself –Live a life without limits”
“Life is about growing, learning and becoming, you cannot grow, learn or become if you do not embrace the changes in your life"
What is the worst piece of advice you have been given?
“As a woman, you shouldn’t have to be too ambitious."
Top 3 tips that will help someone become a better leader
- Be passionate about helping others
- Be kind
- Be determined
Which leaders in the world inspire you the most and why?
Coco Chanel: "In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.”
Chanel designed garments that helped to change the way women were viewed in society. She revolutionized the way the female body looked (and felt) in clothing by stripping back the layers and corsets women were known to wear in the 1900s, and highlighting the natural shape of a woman. She led by modernizing and reinventing women’s fashion. She also believed women could look just as elegant in a pantsuit as they could in a dress.
Aliko Dangot: A leading philanthropist. He owns the world's third-largest sugar refinery and has been the richest man in Africa for ten years in a row. He is a Nigerian who believes in Africa and invests in Africa
What does it mean for you to be a Laidlaw Scholar?
Becoming a Laidlaw Scholar has been an absolute blessing.
This has been one of my greatest achievements so far! To be among such exceptional women who are passionate about education, empowerment and enhancing female representation across executive boards and businesses worldwide. It is truly inspiring to see women who want to see others succeed. The real changemakers.
The Laidlaw Foundation has made it possible for women from various socio-economic backgrounds to access world-class education at top universities in the world while leveraging our network to break through glass ceilings. The business world as we know it is ever-changing, and equipping women with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in a rapidly changing world is priceless.
🎵 My current anthem: "The Bones" by Maren Morris
📚 My top book recommendation: Atomic Habits by James Clear
🎧 Podcast obsession: 10 mins with Jesus
🌈 Something that made me feel joy recently: Chunkz and Yung Filly’s Youtube videos
❤️ A cause I care about: I am the creative director of Trax, a Luxury fashion Brand in Africa. Our company is focused on constantly providing global standard bespoke, premium
fashion and lifestyle apparels. Our unique Arts work and craftmanship has continued
to make us stand out. Whilst we continue to grow and explore our creative potential,
we offer fashion and lifestyle solutions ranging from Retail ready to wear outfits,
Wholesale fashion wear Solutions, Tailored and bespoke wears, Styling Solutions, Art
Gallery, Lifestyle Advisory, Lounge and Hospitality Service and Event Management
Support Services. See photos of our work below.
Amanda is a Laidlaw Scholar at London Business School. The Laidlaw Women's Business Education Scholarship aims to help build a pipeline of future women leaders through access to best-in-class education, resources and global networks by providing full and half scholarships to women who would not otherwise be in a position to reap the benefits of attending an outstanding school.
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