LLA Interview features Napa Onwusah: The Tech and Business Leader


Tell us about yourself and your career journey

My career journey has been defined by defying limits and pursuing my passions. It all began in 1989 when I made a conscious decision to remove the word “impossible” from my vocabulary. At eleven years old, computer education was introduced at my school, and despite the limited access to computers at home, I was captivated by their potential to transform our lives.

I fell in love with technology and knew I wanted to pursue a career in computer science, even though my mother had other plans for me in the field of law. Determined to make my vision a reality, I turned to prayer, seeking guidance and a way to navigate this conversation. Providence intervened when my mother unexpectedly traveled, leaving my father in charge of my college applications. Seizing the opportunity, I applied for computer science as my top choices and was admitted in 1991 when computer degrees were not highly regarded. Though my mother still holds a grudge, I knew I had chosen the path meant for me.

In 1998, during my time at Enugu State University of Science and Technology, I was interested in working at Microsoft, despite the scarcity of tech multinationals in Africa. I had an unwavering belief that I could make it happen in Nigeria. After graduation, I secured a job at a tech company, although it wasn’t my ideal role. However, I saw an opening when I discovered that Microsoft was planning to establish an office in Nigeria. With determination, I proposed the idea of setting up a software arm at the tech company I worked with, knowing it could be a stepping stone to working with Microsoft. After persistent efforts, my managing director agreed to give me a chance.

I poured my heart and soul into building the software arm, eventually closing the biggest software deal for Microsoft Nigeria. Along the way, I forged valuable relationships with the entire Microsoft team. Finally, the moment I had been waiting for arrived—a role opened up at Microsoft, and I was offered the position. It was a triumphant moment that marked the apex of my career. From there, I went on to work at esteemed companies such as Cisco, SAP, Nokia, Visa, Google, and Amazon, continuing to push boundaries and embrace new challenges.

You have such an inspiring story, where did all the drive come from?

Thank you so much for your kind words! I truly appreciate it. You know, the drive and determination that have fueled my journey can be traced back to some incredible influences in my life, especially my amazing father. Let me tell you, he was a trailblazer during a time when investing in the education of female children wasn’t seen as a top priority. But my father,  he believed with all his heart that any of his children, regardless of gender, could achieve absolutely anything they set their minds to.

I must say, he was a true champion of gender equality. He made it clear to my sisters and I that our dreams had no limits. That belief he had in us really lit a fire within our hearts. It pushed us to reach for the stars, to strive for excellence in everything we pursued. And guess what? My two sisters, who are now amazing doctors, and I, owe so much of our success to our incredible parents, who pushed us to unleash our full potential.

It wasn’t just about education, you know? It was about creating an environment that fostered growth, that encouraged us to be our best selves. I can still remember the conversations we had around the dinner table, the pep talks from our dad, and the unwavering support that always lifted us up. Our parents, especially my father, believed in us when we sometimes doubted ourselves.

And you know what makes it even more special? My father’s belief in gender equality went far beyond our own family. It was a mindset that inspired us to challenge the status quo, to break down those gender stereotypes. We knew that our success wouldn’t just be for us; it would be a beacon of hope for others, encouraging them to dream big, no matter their gender.

So, my friend, when you ask about where my drive comes from, it’s the incredible support, love, and belief of my father, in fact, my parents. They nurtured our dreams, empowered us to go after what we truly wanted, and showed us that we could make a difference. Their warmth and unwavering belief have shaped my journey and continue to fuel my passion every single day.

I am forever grateful for the love and guidance that my family has given me. They’ve truly been the wind beneath my wings. And now, it’s my turn to pay it forward and inspire others to reach for their own dreams, just as my father did for us.

Have you encountered any challenges that have affected your journey and how did you overcome them?

Oh, boy, let me tell you about the challenges I’ve faced on my career journey. It’s been a wild ride, and I’ve encountered my fair share of sexist, racist, and ageist hurdles along the way. It’s like a trifecta of issues that can really knock you down if you let them.

But hey, here’s the thing: I refuse to let these challenges define me or hold me back. I’ve always believed in the power of resilience and determination, and let me tell you, they’ve been my secret weapons in overcoming these obstacles.

First off, finding a support system has been absolutely crucial. I sought out like-minded individuals who were dealing with similar challenges. We formed a tight-knit community where we could share our experiences, offer advice, and lift each other up when things got tough. Having that support network has made all the difference in keeping my spirits high and my determination strong.

Now, education and self-improvement have been my trusty companions on this journey. I’ve made it a priority to constantly expand my knowledge, develop my skills, and stay on top of industry trends. By being a knowledgeable and competent professional, I’ve been able to break down the barriers and prove my worth, despite any preconceived biases.

But you know what? Sometimes you just have to face those challenges head-on. I’ve never shied away from speaking up and advocating for myself when confronted with sexist, racist, or ageist behavior. It takes courage, but it’s important to assert your expertise, challenge unfair treatment, and demand equal respect and opportunities.

In those really tough cases, I sought legal or organizational support to ensure my rights were protected. It’s not always an easy path, but taking action against discrimination is necessary for creating lasting change and holding institutions accountable.

Let me tell you, though, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. There have been moments when I felt disheartened or doubted myself. But I never let those challenges define me. Instead, I channeled my energy into proving my capabilities and seizing opportunities that allowed me to shine.

We’re all on a unique journey, and the strategies to overcome these challenges may vary. But with determination, support, continuous self-improvement, and the guts to confront bias, we can rise above the limitations imposed by sexism, racism, and ageism.

And hey, we’re not alone in this. By sharing our experiences and advocating for change, we contribute to a more inclusive and equitable future. Together, we can smash those biases and create a world where everyone has equal opportunities, regardless of their background or identity.

So, my friend, keep fighting the good fight. Don’t let those challenges define you. Embrace your resilience, surround yourself with support, and let’s pave the way for a brighter, more inclusive future. We’ve got this!

How did you build your brand and create a unique identity in your competitive industry?

Building my brand and creating a unique identity in a competitive industry has been an incredible journey. It required a combination of self-discovery, strategic thinking, and consistent effort. First and foremost, I took the time for self-reflection. I dug deep to understand my passions, values, and strengths. This self-awareness became the foundation of my brand and helped me differentiate myself from others.

Next, I focused on defining my niche. I identified a specific area where I could excel and provide unique value. By narrowing my focus, I positioned myself as an expert in that particular domain, which helped me stand out in the crowded market. Authenticity played a pivotal role in shaping my brand. I embraced who I am and what makes me special. I let my true personality shine through in my interactions, content, and overall approach. This genuine and relatable persona resonated with my audience and allowed me to forge deeper connections. Consistency was key in building my brand. I consistently delivered high-quality work and maintained a strong online presence. I leveraged social media platforms, created engaging content, and actively engaged with my audience. By consistently demonstrating my expertise and providing value, I built trust and credibility over time. Collaboration and networking were crucial aspects of my journey. I sought opportunities to collaborate with others in my industry, which helped expand my reach and expose me to new audiences. I actively participated in industry events, conferences, and online communities, which allowed me to connect with like-minded professionals and learn from their experiences. Lastly, I continuously adapted and evolved. I stayed updated on industry trends, embraced new technologies, and sought feedback from my audience. By staying agile and open to growth, I ensured that my brand remained relevant and aligned with the changing needs of my industry.

How were you able to handle the pressures of being a woman in your industry?

Handling the pressures of being a woman in my industry has been a challenging journey, but I’ve learned some strategies that have helped me thrive. First and foremost, I’ve learned to embrace my abilities and value as a professional. Building self-confidence has been crucial. I acknowledge my accomplishments, set clear goals, and seek support from mentors and allies who understand and appreciate my skills and potential.

Having a strong support network has made a significant difference. I’ve surrounded myself with individuals who uplift and empower me. Mentors, both male and female, have provided invaluable guidance and a safe space for me to discuss my challenges and aspirations. Connecting with like-minded professionals through networking events and online communities has been a source of encouragement and inspiration. Continuous learning and skill-building have been essential in navigating the industry’s pressures. I stay updated on industry trends, new technologies, and best practices. Sharpening my skills not only boosts my confidence but also enhances my credibility and ability to adapt to changing demands. Lastly, I’ve learned to speak up and advocate for myself. I actively contribute to discussions, share my ideas, and make my voice heard. By expressing my thoughts and opinions, I’ve gained respect and recognition for my expertise.


What advice would you give to young professionals willing to run in the same industry?

If you’re a young professional looking to build a career in technology, I have some advice that might help you on your journey.

First, never stop learning. Technology moves at lightning speed, so continuous learning is key. Stay up-to-date on the latest trends, tools, and programming languages. Seek out online courses, workshops, and certifications to level up your skills and stay relevant in the industry. But it’s not all about theory! Hands-on experience is invaluable. Look for internships, co-op programs, or entry-level positions that allow you to apply what you’ve learned in real-world scenarios. If opportunities are scarce, don’t worry! You can build your own projects or contribute to open-source initiatives to showcase your talent and gain practical experience.

While technical expertise is important, don’t forget to broaden your skill set. Being a tech all-rounder opens up more doors for you. Consider adding skills in areas like user experience (UX) design, project management, data analysis, or cybersecurity. It makes you versatile and adaptable, which is highly sought after in today’s tech landscape.

Networking is a game-changer in the tech industry. Make connections, not just contacts! Attend tech events, join online communities, and actively engage with professionals in your field. Seek mentorship and collaborative projects that allow you to learn from experienced individuals and build valuable relationships along the way.

Effective communication and collaboration are important in the tech world. Hone your communication skills, both written and verbal, to effectively share your ideas and collaborate with others. Embrace teamwork and be open to diverse perspectives. It’s through collaboration that you’ll grow and achieve great things.

Never lose your curiosity and passion! Tech loves problem-solvers and innovators. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth. Stay curious about new technologies and their applications. Work on projects that ignite your passion and keep that fire burning within you.

Remember, your tech journey is an exciting rollercoaster ride. Stay committed, keep learning, and be open to new experiences. With your passion, drive, and the right mindset, you’re well on your way to building an awesome tech career. Buckle up and enjoy the journey! ????

How do you engage with different stakeholders, such as businesses, educational institutions, and communities, to promote diversity and equality?


Engaging with various stakeholders, such as businesses, educational institutions, and communities, to promote diversity and equality has been a cornerstone of my professional journey. Throughout my career, I have actively participated in diversity programs aimed at attracting, identifying, and cultivating pipelines of diverse talent. These initiatives have been instrumental in breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for underrepresented individuals. Advocating for diverse recruitment practices has been a priority for me. By highlighting the numerous benefits of a diverse workforce, such as enhanced innovation and broader perspectives, I have sought to encourage organizations to adopt inclusive hiring processes. Through sharing success stories and emphasizing the value of diversity, I aim to inspire businesses to prioritize diversity as a strategic imperative.

In my capacity as a Google #IAmRemarkable facilitator, I have had the privilege of supporting women in their journey of self-empowerment. By conducting workshops and fostering awareness about biases, I have helped participants recognize and confidently communicate their achievements. Creating inclusive work environments where everyone feels valued is crucial, and I am committed to fostering a sense of belonging through these initiatives. Engaging with employee resource groups has also been an integral part of my approach. By actively participating in these groups, I have contributed to a supportive network that promotes inclusivity and offers valuable resources to employees. I firmly believe that these groups play a vital role in cultivating an inclusive culture and fostering connections among diverse professionals.

Ultimately, by combining my professional expertise with my passion for diversity and equality, I strive to make a positive impact. By collaborating with stakeholders, advocating for change, and celebrating the contributions of diverse individuals, I work towards creating a more inclusive and equitable future. It is through these collective efforts that we can nurture a professional landscape that embraces and values the diversity of our global community.


In your experience, what are some common misconceptions or barriers people have regarding diversity and equality, and how do you address them?

In my experience, I’ve encountered common misconceptions and barriers surrounding diversity and equality. Addressing them requires empathy, patience, and open dialogue. It’s important to make the response personable, with a warm tone and concise wording. Here’s how I would approach it:

When it comes to diversity and equality, one common misconception is that diversity initiatives are unnecessary because everyone is treated fairly. However, it’s crucial to recognize and address unconscious biases that can influence decision-making. Systemic inequalities exist, impacting marginalized groups. By promoting awareness and fostering an inclusive environment, we ensure equal opportunities for everyone.

Another misconception is that diversity hires receive preferential treatment over more qualified candidates. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Diversity and meritocracy go hand in hand. Diversity hiring expands the talent pool without compromising qualifications. It aims to level the playing field, offering opportunities to individuals who faced historical barriers. Diverse perspectives enhance innovation and contribute to overall success.

One barrier to achieving diversity and equality is the lack of understanding about diverse cultures and identities. To overcome this, promoting cultural competence through education and training is key. We break down stereotypes and biases by fostering an inclusive environment where employees can learn from and engage with diverse cultures. This can be achieved through open dialogue, workshops, and cross-cultural experiences that build understanding and empathy.

Additionally, fear of change or perceived threats to the existing status quo can create barriers. Embracing diversity brings numerous benefits. It drives innovation, creativity, and leads to better decision-making. Sharing success stories of organizations that have thrived through diversity can help alleviate concerns and showcase the positive impact of inclusivity.

By approaching these misconceptions and barriers with empathy, promoting awareness, education, and inclusive practices, we can create a more diverse and equal society. Together, we can foster an environment where everyone can thrive and contribute their unique talents and perspectives, ultimately driving innovation and success.

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