How I Balance Empowering Young Girls as a Nonprofit Founder With Being a Deputy Global COO

Sponsored by Credit Suisse

Idara Otu

Photo courtesy of Credit Suisse.

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On any given day, Idara Otu is making a positive difference in the world — it’s only where she’s helping others that changes.

During workdays, Otu is the Deputy Global COO of Securities Research at Credit Suisse. Here, she works alongside the Securities Research management team to develop and execute their global strategy as it relates to Marketing and new media, and she manages projects regarding the use of alternative data in research reports, too.

“At Credit Suisse, I am most proud of the way we’ve been able to incorporate large data assets into our research reports and tackle real-world topics,” shares Otu. One of these topics is the report they published on the Therapeutic Journeys of Diabetes. “The ability to share our findings with members of Congress on the Diabetes Caucus was such a great example of when Wall Street meets Main Street,” she notes. “And, through the strides Securities Research has made on marketing via new media, we’ve been able to open up a significant portion of our insights to a wider audience through social media.” In this way, she’s been able to share helpful, innovative research with the world.

But this is nowhere near where Otu’s impact ends. 

Outside of work hours, Otu is focused on another passion — Let Girls Read Run Grow (LGRRG), a 501c3, nonprofit organization she founded in 2017. LGRRG, “seeks to develop African girls through education, athletics, and entrepreneurship,” Otu tells us. 

One aspect of LGRRG’s far-reaching impact that Otu is proud of is their work through Camp NexGen. Otu tells us this is a “SPORT x STEAM camp that targets vulnerable, disadvantaged youth by exposing them to athletic training and STEAM projects, emphasizing that they can pursue both athletic disciplines and STEAM education. Additionally, the camp proves just how fun STEAM subjects can be through our Build-A-Drone workshops. To date, we’ve held camps in Nigeria and Zimbabwe and have affected over 250 students.”

For example, she notes that at their most recent SPORT x STEAM event in Zimbabwe, 150 disadvantaged students were given soccer training from professional soccer players, and also taught how to build and fly drones.

Here, Otu tells us more about her amazing work, how she balances multiple jobs, and her best advice for others who are thinking about managing two positions.

Why did you start Let Girls Read Run Grow?

After retiring from professional sports in 2016, I wanted to stay connected and give back to many of the young girls who I met along my athletic and professional journeys. When I reflected on the things I felt made me successful, I kept coming back to three things:

  1. Education (read)

  2. Athletics (run)

  3. Entrepreneurial drive (grow) 

This is how the name of the organization was born.

Let Girls Read, Run, Grow is always looking for volunteers. If you are interested in our work or camps, please visit www.letgirlsreadrungrow.org to learn more.

That’s amazing! Could you tell us more about how you balance having two jobs? And how does Credit Suisse support you in finding this balance?

It all comes down to prioritization and time management. My LGRRG work happens after hours and on weekends. Luckily, most of my work is project oriented and, therefore, not always tied to market hours. I will often outsource tasks I am not able to do during a typical workday to other members of my team as well.

What are the most rewarding and challenging parts of working two jobs?

The most rewarding part of working two jobs is when both of my worlds collide. This year at Credit Suisse’s Womens Financial Forum, LGRRG was selected to be a vendor as part of the vendor fair during the conference. It was great to share my work with the charity and the camp we run with clients and colleagues. That experience sparked many conversations with my colleagues about potentially joining as a volunteer in one of the future camps LGRRG hosts in Africa.

What is your best advice for other women who are considering having multiple jobs?

It’s important to fully understand your why when thinking about pursuing multiple jobs and commitments. It can be incredibly difficult to manage at times, so remembering your why will be critical to sustaining energy and focus during those times.

As a Director and Founder, what tips do you have for other women who are looking to grow as leaders, and perhaps found their own companies? 

Surround yourself with other leaders or founders you admire. Assist them on their journeys to learn what it takes to do the same. Prioritize continuous learning, and seek to address your own weaknesses while networking with those who compliment your primary skill set.

What’s the one career move you’ve made that you’re most proud of? 

Early in my career, I was a research analyst but truly wanted to be a trader. Going against what was normal at the time, I took a leap of faith and switched companies to take an opportunity to be a commodities trader. That experience taught me that staying true to your own desires will always bring you more satisfaction than following paths set by others.



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