Adanma Akujieze serves as LDG’s vice president of finance.
What were the circumstances when you first had an inkling that you might become a leader someday?
Watching my parents, who were both professionals, and hearing their consistent words of affirmation gave me the confidence to believe that I would grow up to be a person of influence. One of my parents’ consistent declarations to my brothers and me was that “you will achieve even greater things that we have been able to.” That has stuck with me through the years. In the Igbo culture of Eastern Nigeria, the first daughter (the “Ada”) is revered in most families as “junior mom.” It was certainly the case in mine. My Ada-ness was compounded by the fact that I am my parents’ only daughter. A significant expression of my leadership potential/capacity happened during my early teenage years: in 1999, my mom took a relatively long trip away from home as she traveled with my oldest brother from the City of Warri, in Nigeria, drop him off at Boston University. My dad, two other brothers, and I were home alone. True to my mom’s nature, she cooked and froze A LOT of food for us and made a ton of arrangements to ensure her six-week long absence was as non-disruptive as possible. I remember being really excited to coordinate home affairs. I rose to the occasion as Ada, as I delighted in heating up dinners for the family; making sure chores were done; and trips to the cleaners were made. I would call my dad in the office during the day to check on him. I would do same with my brothers at school. I was the acting mom and I loved it. It seemed to just come naturally. I could tell I was making a difference and my parents and brothers did not hesitate to point out the same. I think that was a very formative time for me with regard to leadership.
What inspires you as a leader? What do you enjoy most about the role?
The opportunity and platform to live out solid values and virtues each day keeps me going as a leader. Thinking through issues with my team and making decisions together is always very exciting for me.
Who has been your greatest inspiration and/or mentor?
My parents have been my greatest inspiration since childhood. They have always held me to the highest standards and remained my biggest fans through every step of my life’s journey. Through their own lives, I learned the virtues of faith, commitment, compassion and work ethic. That foundation has helped mold me into the woman that I am today and is integral to my daily walk. Along the way I have both actively sought out and unintentionally attracted a number of “destiny helpers” and mentors whose words and actions have enabled me to step into higher heights in each season of my life.
What are some of the most significant obstacles you’ve overcome in your career? How did you accomplish this?
Certain key events come to mind: significant unplanned process and personnel changes, economic downturns, and failed projects. Through all of these, I have had mentors and advocates reminding me to fix my focus on the objective of my present task/role and to continue leading and learning. I have grown to understand the importance of keeping the right perspective in the midst of adversity. This knowledge has consequently enlarged my capacity to be open minded in the face of trials and challenges so that each new one appears more surmountable than the one before.
As a working mother, what values, techniques, or support systems have you used to achieve balance? What are the trade-offs?
My husband is a great source of support for me. He is my confidant, cheerleader and most trusted friend. I derive so much strength and joy from being his partner in life and in parenting.
The joys of our family can be summed up in three key elements: laughter, learning and love. My husband and I have made the commitment to embrace all three of these and model them for our kids. We freely laugh (and sometimes cry) together as we share details of our day. We enjoy learning about everything from new fitness techniques to new biblical concepts. And our capacity to love one another and others in our sphere of influence is rooted in our faith.
We make sure our kids become familiar with names of colleagues at work so that they know “dad and mom have work friends too” just as they have “school friends.” I have found that helps them not view my job as a threat/competition.
I am continuing to master the art of using time efficiently. Whether it is reviewing documents, responding to emails or simply getting ready for the next day/week, I use available technology to my maximum advantage by making sure even the most odd times of my waking hours are spent being productive.
You volunteer a lot of time with important community activities. Why is community stewardship important to you?
Without the investment of time, energy, and passion by leaders who have walked this path before me to build our communities and foster a variety of causes that I continue to benefit from, I would not have a lot of the opportunities I have today as a working mom. That is more than enough motivation for me to pay it forward.
And on a more personal note, serving is a great way for me to get to know my social and professional community better. It introduces a sense of camaraderie by reinforcing the fact that there are other people just like me – same age range; same stage in career and parenting, etc. – who delight in service.
Do you wish to describe anything about your life’s journey that brought you to the United States?
My relationship with God is the cornerstone of my life. I would be remiss to not mention that I believe more than anything else mentioned above, God’s Grace has caused doors to be opened to me and amazing leadership opportunities to be entrusted to me.