Esine Okudzeto is a Lawyer, Christian, Wife and Mother and even though she is creating her own niche as a fast rising corporate/commercial lawyer, she is largely known for her familial relationship with renowned legal luminary and NPP sympathizer, Lawyer Sam Okudzeto.
Esine Okudzeto is a partner at her biological fathers legal chambers named, Sam Okudzeto & Associates, where she also heads one of the Corporate/ Commercial law groups for the leading firm, with her focus largely on Mergers and Acquisitions, Capital Markets, Oil and Gas law, Corporate law, Commercial law, Labour law, Intellectual property and Arbitration.
Esine has performed due diligence for several international clients advising these clients on mergers and acquisitions in Ghana. Esine played a leading role in a Fortune 500 company’s acquisition of Unilever Plc’s oil palm business in Ghana. Esine was also the lead transactional advisor for the creation of a joint venture that set up a cargo hub, warehouse and handing service at Kotoka International Airport. In the aforementioned transactions, Esine was instrumental in the incorporation of companies, the negotiation and drafting of licensing agreements, the drafting of shareholders agreements, the drafting of leases and company regulations, the registration of trademarks, the registration of leases, as well as providing legal advice on tax and labor issues.
Esine is a board member of Sena Chartered Secretaries, the firm’s sister company that specializes in company secretarial and investment consultancy. Esine serves as a corporate secretary for various clients, where she attends board meetings and advises companies on their corporate responsibilities and powers. She also helps corporations with filing relevant documents in compliance with the Company’s Act of Ghana. Esine is also a Board member of the Ghana Oil Club and she teaches as an adjunct lecturer in Advocacy and Legal Ethics at the Ghana School of Law.
In 2006, Esine clerked for Justice Akua Kuenyehia at the International Criminal Court at The Hague. She has also served on the Rules of Court Committee of the Judicial Service where she helped in establishing procedure rules for legal proceedings in District Courts, the Court of Appeal and Commissions of Inquiry.
Esine is a member of the Ghana Bar Association, the International Bar Association and the Rotary Club of Accra, Ring Road Central. Earlier in her career, she served as a Macroeconomist at the African Development Bank.
She was admitted to the Bar, Ghana in 2005, after having obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Honors from the Brock University based in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada in the year 2000 and returned to Ghana, where she successfully pursed and obtained a Bachelor of Law (LLB) Honors from the University Of Ghana, Legon, Ghana in 2003. She later in 2011 obtained her Masters Law Degree, LLM in International Business Law and Transactions with a focus on Oil and Gas Transactions, Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy, from the renowned, University of Dundee, based in Scotland, United Kingdom.
She is frequent in both Ga and Twi. Esine Okudzeto, in an interview published online at Africa-Legal.com, reveled in motherhood and her legal profession. saying that, It is only by accepting and embracing who women are, that can help them reach their potential. In this interview, with veteran South African journalist, Tania Broughton, she speaks also about the hurdles she has faced and her determination to have it all.
Esine Okudzeto revealed that, she had literally stumbled into law via a circuitous route. “In my childhood I wanted to the first female in a profession. I wanted to be a female policewoman and then a footballer,” she recalls. Raised in a family where women and men were considered equal, her entrepreneurial spirit was nurtured, so much so that when she went to university, it was to do a programme which focused on entrepreneurship. This led to a degree in marketing. “In my mind I planned to pursue an MBA and then, maybe, a law degree,” she said. But she needed experience and so took on work as a marketing coordinator and then at the law firm Sam Okudzeto and Associates, founded by her father, a stalwart in the Ghanaian and international law arena.
“I realised that law was my passion and I applied to do a law degree at the University of Ghana,” she said. She qualified as an attorney 13 years ago and her “go getter” attitude towards life has seen her rise to the ranks of deputy managing partner at the firm where she first tasted all things legal.
“The sky’s the limit for me. I believe every problem has a solution,” Okudzeto says and she doesn’t let her gender get in her way. “I have acknowledged from an early age that I am a woman and I should make the most of it all, that is both the good and the bad. My parents brought me up that way. I have heard that some female lawyers don’t have an easy time of it, but I have been blessed because my family and the people I interact with see women as equals. For example, in our firm, both the managing partner and the deputy, myself, are women.”
She was the driving force of the joint venture between Ghana Airport Company Ltd and Air Ghana which led to the creation of two very successful companies, but, she admits, it’s an area of law where the outcome cannot always be predicted and sometimes deals fail. “I was involved in a negotiation between a client and European company. On D-Day, fundamental changes were made to the final draft of the agreement without consultation or notice with either my client or us, the lawyers. There was a lot of back and forth….I always wonder if we could have resolved the issue….there is always an ‘if’. But in business deals and in matters where we come up against political expectations, all you can do is use all your legal weaponry and engage with all stakeholders to find an amicable solution.”
Okudzeto says there are many opportunities for lawyers in Africa. “There is the current growth in the technology industry which some lawyers in Ghana have already seized upon. The energy section is experiencing growth and there has been a drive for ‘local content’ both within the petroleum and electricity industries. This has led to the creation of a number of joint ventures as well as mergers and acquisitions. In Ghana, the recent directive by the Bank of Ghana for banks to increase their minimum capital helped saw a significant rise in legal work within this sector.
“Africa is an emerging continent - but people wishing to do business here must acquaint themselves with the laws of the different countries to make sure they stay on the right side of them. They must also be aware of the issues the continent faces and which will be with us for a while. But don’t focus on them negatively….look for solutions because these produce business opportunities.”
For all her positivity, Okudzeto, like most working women, has doubts over whether or not she is there enough for her three young children, Emery Eyako, seven, her namesake Enise-Marie Essie, five, and “the baby”, Erin Eyna, who is four. She recalls, for example, a time when she struggled with balancing work, the needs of her then six-month-old son and trying to finish her dissertation. “I was staying up most nights to nurse my son….my husband Blessed Numetu was fantastic and suggested that the nanny help out at night so I could get a few hours sleep. He didn't consider me a ‘bad mother’ for doing this...and I finished my dissertation on time and got my degree. It can be tough but I believe God keeps prompting me when I should be there for my children and guiding me in the decisions we make about our children. Blessed is very supportive about my long hours at work...I also have a great team at work who are very efficient so that I can leave work by 5pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”
She spends these precious times “hanging out with the kids”, playing “Just Dance 2018” and painting together at their home in East Legon in the capital, Accra. Okudzeto says she loves Africa because it is home to her family “and there is no winter. But what I don’t love is the corruption. Africa is unable to reach its potential because of this and it means, at the end of the day, we all suffer.”
PIC: Mr Robert Ahomka- Lindsey(left) in a chat with Mr Jorge Velazquez Roa (right) and Mrs. Esine Okudzeto (middle).
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