Education: BS, American University; MS, Polytechnic Institute of New York University; JD, Rutgers The State University of New Jersey
First Job: Kmart
What I'm Reading: Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
My Philosophy: To whom much is given, much is expected.
Headquarters: Newark, New Jersey
Annual Revenues: $115 million
Uzoamaka Okoye • Gibbons P.C.
Associate2013 award winner
My leadership style is simple—I believe in building consensus, making each member of the team feel that he or she serves a distinctly important purpose on the team, and being true to my personality. I have, and still do, receive assignments without a larger goal emphasized. While not always necessary, conveying such comprehensive information is key to motivating team members. No one is too junior on a team, and I treat others as I would like to be treated. These are not unique concepts but simple and time-honored values. I have found that some people mistake genuine courtesies, even among adversaries, as a weakness, but I find courtesy to be a strength. However, while there is an appropriate occasion for input, there is also a time and place for decision, and I do not find it difficult to make and implement those decisions.
I have had two careers in what feels like a short period of time: first as a project engineer and now as an attorney. In both, I have often found myself one of few women in the room, or more often as one of few faces of color in the room. As such, it has always been important to me to lead by example. I have been fortunate to have great role models and mentors and hope that in my leadership I can be the same for others.
How has education affected your career?
Education has affected not just my career, but my life, and long before I was even born. My mother and her sisters attended St. Teresa’s Convent Catholic School in Monrovia, Liberia, away from home as boarding students. They would all go on to attend college and graduate and professional schools. My mother went to Germany, where she learned German and attended medical school. Similarly, my father attended St. Patrick’s College in Emene, Nigeria, and received his master’s and PhD in Russia and Germany. Education changed the trajectory of each of my parents’ lives, and it has done the same for me.
Is there a role model who has had a profound impact on your career and/or life? What did he/she motivate you to do?
I attended an informal mentorship group for women attorneys of color the first month I started working as an attorney. I still attend quarterly meetings, and that group of friends and sister-attorneys has had a profound impact on my career. As a mentor, role model, and friend, Paulette Brown, who organized the group, has provided a safe place for us discuss specific challenges, business plans, strategies, dreams, and goals. She has motivated me to continue to grow and strive to be the best at what I do and be confident when discussing my skills.