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An Ode To Ms Arunma Oteh

An Ode To Ms Arunma Oteh


Close to ten years ago, I watched with so much pride a woman of valour and grit challenge an unscrupulous system. She stood her ground and refused to be disrespected during an unfair hearing, showing me and so many others, an incredible facet of courage.  At the time, Ms Oteh was one of the very few bright examples of women working and thriving in the Nigeria public sector. I followed her work closely and learnt so much from her (hard work, competence and efficiency) from a distance. Her actions contributed to moulding me without her even knowing.  

Fast-forward to a few years later, after meeting Ms Oteh (Aunty A) at an Africa Development Bank Annual Meeting held in Ivory Coast, she became my mentor. Aunty A is remarkable and has poured so much into my career and development – she pulls me up and ensures I’m introduced to everybody in any room we are both inside. You cannot slack on professional networking around her. As for my technical skills and ensuring that I maintain the title, expert, in my field, she periodically goes through my published economic pieces with a fine tooth comb.  Her laser focus and refusal to settle for anything other than excellence are attributes I find myself mirroring which have contributed to some of my successes. Aunty A has inspired me to stretch myself and achieve goals that I never thought I could attain. For her, excellence is key and with hard work and dedication everything is possible. Being under her wings is a true blessing.  

Aunty A has contributed significantly to development across Africa. She has inspired multitudes of women to be and do better, as well as propelled many women to contribute their fair share to nation building.

Each for Equal charges us all to play our part in closing the gender gap. I have first-hand experience and I am a beneficiary of Aunty A’s commitment and dedication towards pulling other women up. Even during her time as the Vice President and Treasurer at the World Bank, with an incredibly tight schedule she actively supported other women. I remember my first stint at the World Bank/ IMF Spring Meeting, she made time to check in on how I was doing despite her tight schedule.  Working on project(s) with her excite me as it is always an opportunity to learn and sharpen my existing skills.

Mentorship can be a key ingredient to success. Having someone to challenge but support you, guide you (essentially, serve as a compass) and provide wisdom is an amazing gift. Mentorship enhances leadership. I have benefitted enormously from mentorship.

As I have grown in my career, I now mentor young professionals. My mentoring style reflects some snippets from my mentors. The aim is to pay it forward by pouring into my mentees what has been (and is still being) poured into me. I celebrate Ms Oteh (Aunty A) and my other impeccable female mentors that consistently push me to be the very best version of myself. #EachForEqual

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