Ama Duncan is a Corporate Trainer, Founder of The Fabulous Woman Network and CEO of Corporate Training Solutions. Ama is passionate about celebrating women and improving service culture and has interviewed over 130 women and shared their stories on Facebook reaching over 2.5m people. She regularly shares her insights on radio, TV, networking events, conferences, newspapers and blogs, Until recently, Ama was the Learning and Development Manager of Golden Tulip Kumasi City hotel, Ghana where her work on enhancing their company culture was acclaimed and recommended to other hotels. Before this, she had stints with Standard Chartered Bank (Ghana), Baylis and Harding PLC (UK), Worcestershire County Council (UK) and Camp Joy (US). Ama is a graduate of the Paris Graduate School of Management and University of Ghana.
There are many women’s networks and all no doubt important, but what was the specific purpose for which you set up the Fabulous Women Network?
The Fabulous Woman Network (The FWN) aims to celebrate, develop and inspire women to shine in their own corners. We do these through activities which bring women together to share experiences, learn, network and collaborate. On social media, we interview and share stories about women who are brightening their own corners in spite of their past mistakes, challenges and fears; we believe that as we share these, other women will take inspiration to keep on moving forward.
Investing in oneself is obviously one of the smartest things anyone can do but what are some of the things your members tell you are the reasons why they join networks like yours?
We are actually not a group, but we organize regular events for women. From the conversations we have had with our regular participants and followers, they love the opportunity to network with other women, the idea-sharing, support we give to each other and the feeling that ‘we are not alone in this’. Sometimes, we perceive our problems to be so gargantuan and hence make excuses as to why we cannot progress; until we hear the success stories of other women and realize that indeed, our problems are no problems at all but stepping stones for us to reach higher heights.
What do you think is instrumental in building an effective network and how do you keep it brilliant and assess its impact?
I believe respect for individual differences is absolutely important, as well as open-mindedness while being grounded in our principles (and for that matter Christian principles for me). We value our participants’/followers’ feedback as well as evaluate all our events so that we can consistently improve.
What are some of the things you’ve learnt on your own way up that women tend to underestimate but to succeed need to pay more attention to?
The number one lesson for me is the importance of staying connected to God. I mean, I had read about it and all, but it didn’t quite click until I had the privilege of founding this ministry. Being aware of His ever-present presence and listening for His leading has made ALL the difference. Also, we all need help! I know I am nowhere near my potential but I look back and I realize that there is no way I would be here today, but for so many amazing people who have each helped me. So yes, it is very important to surround ourselves with the right network who will contribute positively to our development while we enrich their lives as well.
Taking time off to think is another important lesson. We women are busy; we have work, family, educational, social demands, etc and hence are always on the move. But the question is; where are we going really? Sometimes, we spend so much time running around without even realizing that our focus is not on what is important. I believe it is not only okay to find time to relax and think, it is essential in order to fulfill one’s purpose.
Women have often been accused of being too emotional. How can women be authoritative without wanting or feeling like they have to act like men?
Fact: being emotional is actually a plus for us because we can actually care! The world needs movers and shakers who care. So by all means, be firm and insist on getting the right thing done at the right time but feel free to be a woman. Let it out when you must and please do not fret about what others say (develop a tough skin). The most important thing is that you get the job done right and still remain a woman.
If you were identifying a young woman to groom to accelerate her advancement professionally, what specific traits would you look for?
Seriousness! It doesn’t matter what she knows, wants to achieve, how much passion she has, etc, as long as she is serious about changing her life I will be more than happy to dedicate resources to help her.
I am sure you’ve had your share of setbacks. What would you say has made you successful nevertheless? What would you do differently with hindsight?
I think the realization that failure is actually part of the most beautiful success stories has helped me persevere. I have had a lot of very shocking and negative things said about me in the past. Such memories would usually make me tread carefully so that I won’t make mistakes for people to get more negative things to say about me. But then, the more I learn about others, the more I realize that I’m not being treated differently. So now, I am less afraid of making mistakes and of embarrassment. In hindsight, I would want to be less afraid and dare just a little more each day hahahaaa.
You are also a corporate trainer. What would you say are the special areas that women need to invest in, in order to thrive in the workplace personally and for the greater good of the organizations the work for?
Communication skills. Many times, we have brilliant ideas but lack the confidence and know-how to communicate them. I am always learning how to communicate better through training sessions, reading, watching others, etc and I believe it is in every woman’s best interest to do same. Personal branding is also key. Fortunately or unfortunately, people will judge us according to how they perceive us. So why not invest in branding ourselves in the way we wish to be seen as?
What do you admire in women you look up to and those you learn from?
Gosh, many attributes! Assertiveness, persuasiveness, presence, elegance, honesty, spirituality, helpfulness, friendliness, among others.
You were learning and development manager of a top hotel- Golden Tulip. Why did you decide to start your own business and what’s your next big goal?
Because it was the right thing to do at the right time. Amazing a job as it was, I had been there for 8 years, I needed to move so that God could enlarge my coast. My next big goal is to lead our team to achieve our 2017 objectives which will include some amazing projects which will ultimately celebrate, develop and inspire women to shine on a larger scale.
For more information on Vera Ng’oma’s work and resources in leadership, personal and career development and excellence building, click here.