Thelma Efua Quaye

Head, Network Design , Planning and Optimization, Airtel Ghana

It’s your journey, own it

I was born in Sekondi, a twin city in the western region of Ghana. I attended one of the best girls school in Ghana, Holy Child School in Cape coast and then went to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, where I studied Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Post this I did an MBA in Strategic and Project management from Paris Graduate School of Management.

Early influencers

My mother has had a great influence on me. She always believed in me and pushed me, even when I did not believe in myself. For instance she suggested and made sure I went to Holy Child School to get a good education as a foundation.
I was very good at Maths and Physics and all my friends were going into Civil engineering. I wanted something different so I opted for Electronic and Electrical Engineering and I have thoroughly enjoyed my career in the telecommunications. I started out as a network engineer at MTN and moved to the planning department after a year. After 3 years with MTN, I joined Zain Ghana where I rose through the ranks from an engineer to manager in various departments across transmission design and planning, network quality and network design, planning and optimization.

Career Journey with Airtel

My journey with Airtel has been very fulfilling, from a transmission engineer, I have played diverse roles in governance, contract management, network quality improvements, network design, planning and optimization. I have acquired a lot of knowledge through my work at Airtel,. Airtel provided the opportunity to help me test my limits. I get to multitask, fold my sleeves and get my hands dirty, I have learnt that very well. I have also had the privilege to develop myself by moving across various departments that are very different in scope.

I have improved my leadership and managerial skills tremendously through the training opportunities and learning from others.

Mentorship & Inspiration

At every point in time, I think people have seen much more potential than I saw in myself. I have been inspired by my leaders at the company to stretch beyond what I think are my limits, and some way somehow, I always outdo myself. I always encourage everyone to always challenge themselves.

Sheryl Sandberg has influenced me tremendously through her book, Lean In. Her book gives me comfort as a woman that I am not a failure as a mother because I am away working and cannot be at home as much as I’d want to with my family. I also know the need to raise my son to be the kind of man who will support the kind of daughter I am raising. Over all, I challenge myself with her question: what will you do if you were not afraid?

Lucy Quist, Airtel Ghana MD is another women who I just admire. The way she is able to juggle herself, family and work so effortlessly. She is a brilliant woman who is able to understand and breakdown very complex issues for resolution. She is a trail blazer and I am encouraged and inspired every time I have an encounter with her.

Advice to Women

Think about things this way : what will you do if you were not afraid? I don’t believe in the mantra that what a man can do a woman can or cannot do better. Don’t compare yourself with men, stop waiting for special treatment, work hard, be yourself, and be proud of being a woman. For mothers like Sheryl Sandberg says, done is better than perfect. Take one day at a time.