Scholar Spotlight - Lucy Nyamaah

Laidlaw Scholar, Lucy Nyamaah, on pushing past gender norms and envisioning a female-led future in the Energy sector.
Scholar Spotlight - Lucy Nyamaah
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Lucy Nyamaah, a Laidlaw Scholar at Oxford University's Saïd Business School, on pushing past gender norms and envisioning a female-led future in the Energy sector.

I was born and bred in Kumasi, Ghana. 

I like to tell people that my whole life has been one of gender imbalance; I am the only girl among my siblings, and choosing to read science and later Engineering meant that I was always in the minority. I remember that from a very young age, I struggled with the idea of gender boundaries and, if I’m honest with myself, some of the interests I chose to pursue were the rebel in me challenging those societal expectations. If you said I couldn’t do something just because I was a woman or a girl, that was exactly what I was going to do.

The idea to pursue an MBA was actually planted in 2017 but my priorities changed as we were dealing with a loss in the family. Now that I look back, it all worked out as it would not have been the best time in my career to pursue it.

I revisited the idea again in 2020, and this time I went as far as filling out the application forms. But when I got to questions about funding, I knew I would not be able to afford the tuition, so I hit the “close” button. It wasn’t until I heard of the Laidlaw Scholarships and the kinds of people they were looking for that I really began to believe again--that I was exactly the kind of person they were interested in investing in.

Me leading a mentoring session for the final-year female
students at the Chemu Secondary School in Ghana.

What is the most useful/impactful piece of advice you have been given in your life?

In every labour there is profit.” Truly immerse yourself in and be present in whatever you are doing because even seemingly unimportant activities impart skills and experiences you can draw from at a later stage in life. 

Conversely, what is the WORST piece of advice you have been given?

“Remember you are an African woman” - as if I could actually forget. This statement has kept me conflicted my whole life, it has kept me silent in situations where I ought to have spoken, and it has stopped me from reaching out for certain dreams. As I have gotten older, I have come to see it as society’s way of asking me to do my best but not to depart too far from a mould

What are your top 3 leadership tips?

  • Lead by example; don’t ask others to do what you are unwilling to do yourself. Getting off the sidewalk and into the trenches communicates dedication, instils confidence and earns the trust of your followers.
  • Bring awareness to situations other people are blinded to (especially useful for female leaders): Be it unconscious bias, unrecognition or non-inclusiveness. Any female leader would likely have navigated all of these so it is important to use the voice leadership gives you to bring awareness to these.
  • Be interested: Make an effort to know your team, understand what makes them tick, what their values and challenges are and what motivates them.

What does it mean for you to be a Laidlaw Scholar?

The Laidlaw scholarship is the bridge between a dream and my reality. Frankly, it is humbling to have been selected among what I imagine was a highly competitive list of exceptional female leaders. In many ways, it is also a validation of my journey up to this point; my conviction of female leadership capabilities, the struggles I have had to overcome and the successes that have followed. The scholarship is also a boost to stay focused in the pursuit of my dream.

Which leaders inspire you the most and why?

Jacinda Ardern: She embraces everything that comes with being female and takes it into her role. She has been extremely successful while displaying characteristics that we have long been told make women weak in leadership.

Indra Nooyi: She is proof that women, no matter where they start off in life and whatever societal shackles exist at the time are capable of rising from all that to lead multinational companies successfully

Describe a scene from the future you are striving to create.

..It’s a well-attended conference being hosted in Ghana. Women as far as the eyes can see have come to network and listen to a panel of accomplished female leaders in the Energy sector in Africa. Amongst the panellists participating in various sessions are successful women leaders who have been groomed by “Women in Energy Ghana”, a network that seeks to address systematic challenges facing women in energy as well as serving as an oasis for nurturing and developing a constant stream of female leaders that feeds the sector.


Quick-fire Questions

📺 Currently binging: How to get away with murder

📚 My top book recommendation:  Half of the Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (a test and fight for one's life, love, loyalty and  beliefs.)

🎶 My anthem: Million Little Miracles by Elevation Worship

🎵 Podcast obsession: Enjoying Everyday Life with Joyce Meyer

🌈 Something that made me feel joy recently: Seeing the pride on the faces of my mother and brothers when they found out I’ll be going to Oxford and reminiscing previous conversations about Oxford i’d had with my big brother


 

Lucy is a Laidlaw Scholar at Oxford University's Saïd Business School. You can find Lucy on LinkedIn. 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. 

🔦 Discover more Scholar Spotlights: 

⚡️ Adebusola Adegbuyi, a Laidlaw Scholar at Saïd Business School, on facing challenges with optimism and empowering young women to begin careers in technology.

⚡️ Aya Hammad, a University of York Laidlaw Scholar, on understanding the origins of cancer, promoting equality in healthcare, and learning to be adaptable.

⚡️ Xuerui Yin, a Laidlaw Scholar at London Business School, on overcoming societal norms, creating opportunities for underrepresented groups and working with compassion.

⚡️ Areesha Imaan Siddiqui, a University of Toronto Laidlaw Scholar and Co-President of the Laidlaw Alumni Society, on combatting homelessness and leading with open, honest communication.

⚡️ Polina Foteva, a University of St Andrews Laidlaw Scholar and STEM Subject Co-Lead, on working with a recently-discovered enzyme and making scientific knowledge more accessible.

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