AMANDLA! WOMEN TO WATCH EDITION
Nana Serwah Godson-Amamoo
Partner, AB & David, Ghana.
Why did you decide to study law?
Equal doses of nurture and nature, I believe. I was raised to be confident in who I am, to love hard work and be helpful to others. I was also the child with a relentless curiosity, a love for debate, a rebellious streak and a deep sense of fairness. I would stand up to bullies and bring home “a stray cat” now and again. Everyone who knew me well said I would be a lawyer and I agreed. However, the actual decision was made in 1995 as I watched Hilary Clinton in her pink power suit on TV delivering her thundering defense of women’s rights as pivotal to human rights in Beijing.
What is your proudest professional moment thus far?
I have had many proud moments, but my heart swells the most every time we close on a transaction or project that has a direct impact on the growth of my country. It gives me immense joy to be part of something that improves lives and livelihoods; be it a new legislations, a commercial arrangements or an infrastructure projects.
Looking back, what is one decision/action you would have done differently?
I live without regrets. I believe time and energy can never be lost – they only change their form. All our experiences ultimately become part of who we are. So, I embrace every shortcoming, challenge or set back, as a learning curve and opportunity for growth.
Share some major professional challenges you have faced, or continue to face as a woman in law.
The culture of my firm is fairly gender neutral and it is currently run by a female managing partner. However, this is quite unusual in law and even rarer in the markets I serve. Earlier in my career, I struggled with the subtle effects of gender stereotyping and the perception that women in law and leadership are the ‘exceptions to the rule’. Gender frequently dominated the assessment of a woman’s performance and achievements, thereby taking the shine away from the actual effort she invested. So, I tried to avoid being the only woman, or one of the only women, in the room. With experience, I have learnt not to focus on this challenge, but to point to the solutions and act on them. Women have the skills to do what is regarded as extraordinary. The more we do it, the more common it will become, and perceptions will gradually change. What happened to “practice makes perfect”?
What are some practical strategies for survival in the legal profession?
Every challenge is a learning opportunity – learn the lesson well and apply it quickly so that it becomes part of you. Identify your niche; the practice area that you love and speaks to your purpose. Become a subject matter expert in that area and work to be acknowledged as a thought leader and Go-To expert. It takes hard work to be the real deal but the payoff can be huge so invest the time. Acknowledge the skills you don't have and build them – the soft and the hard. Develop a growth mindset that allows you to properly channel feedback and to look at failure as a means to identify your strengths and weaknesses for the next task. Grow a strong work ethic with a positive attitude – quit bellyaching and put in the time, effort, and elbow grease to hit your goals.