Akasemi Ollor isn’t 30 yet, but she’s already far out on the dream track of the average commercial lawyer. She’s making headlines, getting tipped for bigger things and just plowing through the often rocky terrain of business regulation with what looks like unusual ease.
That’s the picture we get of Ollor’s career trajectory from the outside looking in. But it’s certainly not been a stroll in the park. As a young woman working in an industry that’s heavily dominated by men, she’s had to stay on her best game to get recognized for the talent she undoubtedly possesses. The hard work is paying off: she’s writing her way into the history books, and doing so in places far from home.
Perhaps the biggest moment in her career yet was playing a role in the acquisition of an oil field in Ghana by a company in that country- the first ever for a private company indigenous to Ghana. Acting as a representative of famed Nigerian law firm, George Etomi and Partners, she helped the acquiring company with the legal advice they needed in their negotiation for the takeover of the oil block.
Ollor may have first come to know about the oil industry while growing up in Port Harcourt. But it was her preoccupation with books that was the more outstanding feature of her childhood- a tendency she still bears with her to this day. Beginning at age five, she began interacting with writing of varying sorts.
Perhaps her familiarity with text on pages featured in her decision to become an inspector and preparer of legal documents. While at secondary school, she excelled in English, as well as in Commerce- another hint of the direction in which she would turn later on. Ollor went on to study law at the Igbenedion University and graduated in 2010 as one of the top students of that class.
After successfully completing studies at the Nigerian Law School (where she finished among the top 10 percentile), she joined George Etomi and Partners as an associate. But her driven personality would not let her dwell on her attainments; in 2013, she went off to the University of Nottingham to enroll in a Masters’ program. She bagged a Masters in Maritime Law the following year.
Ollor had the chance to stay in the UK and build her career there. But she says she believed that her knowledge would be needed back home.
“…I always believed there was work to do on the continent,” she explained in an interview with Face2Face Africa. “And Africa was the place I could make the most impact.”
It was the sort of thinking that had probably inspired her to get active with the student unions in her undergraduate days. There was a chance to make a mark in a space crying for impact. She took it.
Ollor didn’t have to wait that long to get into the thick of driving African commerce forward. Following her return, she got involved in a number of big negotiations, including a bank merger and assisting several multinational companies with the information they needed to operate within the bounds of Nigeria’s business regulations.
In 2015, George Etomi and Partners were hired to advise Ghana’s Springfield Group on its negotiations with the country’s government to acquire an oil block on the West Cape. The negotiations were successful, thanks in part to the work done by Ollor. In 2016, the Ghanaian parliament approved the acquisition, allowing an indigenous company to hold a majority stake on an oil well for the first time in Ghana’s history.
Springfield has since employed her to fill the role of its Head of Compliance and International Business Practices.
Ollor says she’s had to put in a good deal of effort to quash the misgivings people have had about her abilities based on her age and gender. But she’s also thankful that she’s received support from other persons, including some of the people she’s worked with; they have been convinced of her competence by her hard work and the results she’s turned out.
Featured image source: JiveNaija
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