Like a diamond in the sun, Mrs. Emma Addo-Owusu glowed, as she took a retrospective look at her selfless efforts, down the lane. Looking straight ahead in deep contemplation, she heaved a sigh of relief and at the same time beamed with smiles.
“It’s been amazing to have the opportunity of contributing meaningfully to people’s lives,” she said, getting set to reel her success story in the sphere of humanity.
Addo-Owusu is certainly a force to reckon with in the brand industry in Ghana. This Founder/Chief Executive Officer of KOBADEM Image Training Institute, Accra, Ghana is an Image Consultant, who is currently changing the face of personal branding in the neighbouring West African country. With key focus on providing personalised training to individuals and staff of business organisations, Addo-Owusu, who has a Nigerian background but married to a Ghanaian, is sure-footed in her chosen path.
With full determination to succeed against all odds and initial challenges of life, Addo-Owusu, an amiable and kind-hearted lady of many parts, has been able to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that where there is a will, there is a way.
Apparently building on the Nigerian spirit of enterprise and never giving up, even in the face of the tough challenges, the mother of two boys explained that her Nigerian background really helped when she made the decision to move to Ghana.
“My Nigerian background has been very useful in stabilising me when I made the decision to move to Ghana. It’s been useful in assisting me to blend seamlessly into the local culture and those who make it up. Being able to speak and understand the Ghanaian language has helped too. So has marrying a Ghanaian made the assimilation much easy. English is spoken here as well and we do share a few common foods. So, adapting has not been too stressful for me,” she said.
EARLY LIFE IN NIGERIA
Though Addo-Owusu is now fully immersed into the Ghanaian system, she still shares fond memories of her early life in Nigeria. She attended Tunwase Nursery and Primary School, Ikeja, Lagos for her primary school education and attended both Oregun High School, Ikeja and Opebi Grammar School, also Ikeja for her secondary school education.
“I grew up in Lagos and lived initially in Agege before my parents moved to Ikeja. Compared to Nigeria, Ghana can be said to be a quiet oasis. They are friendly, hospitable and are easy to get along with.
“Growing up in Lagos, I always have fond memories of Nigeria. My upbringing was very tough and blessed at the same time. My dad, though a Nigerian, is also partly Togolese, but he lived most of his teenage and adult life in Nigeria.
“I grew up absorbing two cultures: Igbo and Yoruba. My mother was from Onitsha (Anambra State), born into the Anazonwu family and she brought me up together with her mother who ensured we all could speak Igbo. So, I speak both Igbo and Yoruba fluently. I have four other siblings of which I am number two in the family line. We are all girls.
“I’ve grown up in the midst of plenty and in the midst of severe want. I appreciate both worlds so much because I know how it feels to have lots of money and also how it feels to have nothing at all. Owing to this, I can deeply empathise with people going through difficult situations. It has made me more compassionate towards those with little or nothing and more willing to give out and share what I have,” she enthused.
According to Addo-Owusu, “My mother’s unexpected death saw me drop out of school at SSS 2. I was about 18 years old and it was a very traumatic experience for me. Eventually, I would fight to return back to school at almost 30-years-old but ensured that I did graduate from the University with a Second Class Upper Division in Sociology and Political Science,” she recalled.
MOVING TO GHANA
On the initial culture shocks she had to cope with and how they have helped in her full immersion into the system in Ghana, she said, “I moved into Ghana from Togo, knowing nobody here with just one suitcase and one travel bag. I remembered an old acquaintance I hadn’t seen in years and prayed they would take me in when I arrived. I’m grateful they took me in without asking questions. Actually, I had come into Ghana without my dad’s blessing. My dad, being a protective father, was worried about me and was against my move to Ghana. But I was so desperate to succeed and would not let anything hold me back. So, I took the risk and moved here alone. By God’s grace, I survived and with his help, I’m where I am today.
“The culture shocks are many. Oh my goodness! First, I thought they (Ghanaians) were too slow in getting things done. Growing up in a boisterous place like Lagos where everyone is in a hurry made me feel Ghanaians were just too slow. Later, I realised that it was actually a way of life that bonded with their spirit of hospitality. Ghana is a peaceful country and quite calm. It was a struggle to reduce my high tempo but I had to, in order to fit in. Also, while Nigerians are direct and will say it as it is, Ghanaians are more diplomatic, almost afraid of hurting your feelings. This was so different since we would often speak our minds out and get over with it. Furthermore, I did not understand the food system until I experienced Kenkey, which I love a lot!”
Addo-Owusu also spoke on her early career path and work life.
“I worked in the insurance industry, energy Industry and then began a fashion business. Later on, I became a fashion columnist, writing for the Mirror Newspaper, Ghana’s biggest lifestyle newspaper. I wrote the column for six years while pursing my business activities. During that period, I got certified as an Image Consultant from a Fashion Institute in California, USA, after which I opened Kobadem Image Training Institute, where I train young girls in beauty care. This, I combine with offering professional training on interpersonal skills development programmes all over Ghana,” she recounted.
Speaking on why she went into personal branding, she explained that she found it challenging as a topic and was determined to help people through training, to build their personal brands.
“I went into personal branding because I found it challenging as a topic to understand and master. I completely immersed myself in the rudiments of building a professional brand and maintaining it as it grows. I’m determined to assist as many as possible through training, to build their very own unique personal brand,” she explained, even as she added that she felt happy drawing attention to the subject for people to be conscious of their personal brand.
“Personally, I’m honoured to be seen to have been contributing to the development of personal branding in Ghana. I have been so focused on providing training on what I’m passionate about, that it came as a surprise to receive kind compliments from friends, colleagues and associates about the work I’m engaged in. For me, I’m happy to draw attention to the subject of personal branding and to note that more people are now more conscious of their personal brand and the impact a strong brand can do for the growth of business.”
Addo-Owusu, who, no doubt, has made a name for herself in Ghana through personal branding, said she realised that many people were not aware of the benefits in personal brand, which spurred her interest to make impacts on people’s lives.
“I realised that quite a number of people are not aware of the financial benefits they can get from having a professional personal brand that many people will want to be associated with. Equally, some don’t realise how much influence they can wield just by having a dynamic personal brand that people can relate to.”
Addo-Owusu added, “I’m grateful for what I have been able to accomplish. However, there is much more that can be done to help people out there carefully and consistently articulate their personal brand. The awareness I’m generating should go beyond what is obvious and help motivate people to give thought to their personal brand and what they can do to enhance it and with enough resources and any available support I get, I intend to avail myself more in promoting branding as an efficient tool for personal development and business growth.”
TRULY, AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE
On her career and professional high points, Addo-Owusu says it has been an amazing experience as she feels really satisfied with the impacts she’s been making on people’s lives.
“I had the privilege of facilitating the ‘Joy 99.7 Business Masterclass’ series for eight weeks in a row. The programme was broadcast live online and streamed on Facebook as well. It was truly an amazing experience as we got to educate the public on what exactly a personal brand is, how to build one, how to grow and maintain it and, furthermore, how to repair a damaged personal brand. These topics proved very insightful to listeners and they were able to make the most of the information that was presented out there to build their personal brand.
“We have, to that end, decided to organise two training seminars on personal branding that will generate personal brand awareness as well as educate the participants on how to build and manage their professional personal brand.”
Addo-Owusu, who is also a Guest Columnist with Business and Financial Times of Ghana, says her articles have helped a lot as her clients are always happy with her work and they often come to her for branding advice.
“I wrote an article for the Business and Financial Times on ‘The Role of Business Etiquette in Personal Branding’ which, by God’s grace, went very well and consequently, I will be writing more articles on issues relating to personal branding and other image-related issues in theBusiness and Financial Times. I have just completed my second article for the Newspaper.
“My clients were surprised and very excited. I’ve assured them that I will be here to serve them in any capacity that I can. They often approach me these days for branding advice and I feel honoured to assist them in any way possible. A lot of them have contracted my company, KOBADEM Image Consultants, to provide professional training for them on personal branding, personal grooming, business etiquette and customer service for their staff and, sometimes, I have had to travel out to facilitate these training.
“Generally, it’s been amazing to have the opportunity of contributing meaningfully to people’s lives. Personal branding is a field I feel particularly excited to keep developing and watch as it continuously grows and expands,” Addo-Owusu says.
…This article was first published in The Point newspaper