“I began working here even before I had my hair permed”
Loyalty /ˈlɔɪəlti/ – the quality of being loyal; a strong feeling of support or allegiance. Faithfulness, devotion, dependability, and trustworthiness are but a few words used to describe this concept which appears quite ubiquitous, yet in reality is so rare, especially in the dog-eat-dog corporate world.
However, for Mrs. Esther Ruby Arthur, loyalty fails to encapsulate the full impact of her 40 years of service to the Agricultural Development Bank Limited (ADB). Through the 80s, 90s, 2000s, 2010 and 2020s, and more than 10 Managing Directors, she has witnessed the evolution of banking in general, and ADB in particular; sharing in its highs and lows.
As the woman fondly called Aunty Esther by her colleagues marks her appropriately-named Ruby Anniversary, with a well-deserved retirement on the horizon, we seek to glean lessons from one of the longest serving persons in any bank in the country.
Background and early life
Born on December 29, 1961, as one of six children, evenly split with three boys and three girls, Esther always stood out from the rest of the pack. Her educational journey was fraught with many challenges; whilst her siblings attended private basic schools, Esther, on the other hand had her basic education at a number of government-owned Local Authority (LA) schools.
Despite the seeming disadvantage, the sprightly girl distinguished herself to the delight of her teachers. “Due to my association with a number of ladies who went to schools like Wesley Girls and Holy Child, some people assume I had the same experience. Nothing could be further from the truth,” she says of the perception most people who came into contact with her had of her during the period of her second-cycle education.
However, in Form Four, her father – on account of the decision by Esther’s older sister to drop out of school – decided that he was not going to further the education of his other daughters. “All my friends were going to school, I could not imagine myself not continuing with my education,” she says.
Not to be deterred by her father’s decision and with the active encouragement of her mother, young Esther continued her academic pursuit, proceeding to a secretarial school and proceeded to the then-Accra Polytechnic, now Accra Technical University, where she performed exceptionally well.
Aged 19, she joined ADB as one of 25 persons who were appointed as a tranche. She is the last surviving member of the group currently at the bank.
Speaking of the experience, she says, “I received my appointment letter for the commencement of work on Friday, May 1, 1981, however, being the Workers’ Day holiday, I reported to work on Monday which was May 4, 1981.”
Esther’s first role at the bank was as secretary and she rose to the position of private secretary to a number of General Managers. Following the encouragement of her husband and General Manager at the time, she enrolled at the University of Ghana in 2000, graduating with a Second Class Upper in Psychology, Sociology and Management.
Upon completion of her first degree, she was reassigned to the position of Human Resource Officer; a role which encompassed the entire spectrum of personnel management. Having found her niche, Mrs. Arthur pursued a graduate degree in Human Resource Management in 2008.
In 2009, following a series of internal restructuring, she took up a new position in banking supervisory; a role which saw her traverse the country ensuring standards were adhered to at the banks teeming number of branches. She continued in this position for eight years until 2017.
Subsequently, she briefly headed the Bank’s burgeoning mobile money transfer reconciliation audits in the e-commerce department and later reprised her role in human resources management as Interim HR Manager for two years. She is currently serving in the capacity of Deputy HR manager, having passed the baton to a younger manager for the long haul.
Beginning in 2019, Esther Ruby Arthur has been a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
A multifaceted individual, Esther had stints singing with the celebrated Joyful Way Incorporated, beginning in 1981. Prior to that, she was a singer with the Faithful Servants of renowned playwright Uncle Ebo Whyte’s Youth for Christ (YFC). As further evidence of her penchant for loyalty, she currently serves as the Board Chair of the Accra arm of YFC.
Mrs. Arthur is also the Operations Director of the not-for-profit Changing Lives Together (CLT) Inc., a Christian, charitable, non-profit organisation, which has the mission of providing sustainable economic development, through humanitarian projects, to alleviate poverty, for impoverished communities in rural Ghana. The NGO has currently adopted Suma-Ahenkro in the Bono Region for its engagements.
Since 1988, she has been married to a Senior Maritime Officer turned clergyman, Rev. Augustus Arthur. Together, they have four sons; a computer scientist, a set of twins; a Medical Practitioner and a Pastor, and a Medical Doctor. A lifelong Sidney Sheldon enthusiast, she has had to temper her consumption of his books, she however says that one of her favourite pastimes is cooking.
In her own words
On her work in Human Resources, “I personally like people, I enjoy solving problems; it comes so naturally to me. Working with people is not difficult for me. When there is something I can do to solve a problem, I will do it as I would not be comfortable until a solution has been found. I really enjoyed that I could solve problems with staff.”
On Four decades
On 40 years in the same place, “When people hear that I have been around for 40 years, they tend to think my experience has been monotonous. It has been anything but monotonous; I joined when we had our head office at Ring Road and different departments were in different buildings, some across the street.
I have seen us grow from perhaps 20 branches in 1981 to more than 80 currently. I have also had the opportunity to work with a wide array of people and in various capacities. This requires one to constantly challenge the mind, trying to learn different things. I can safely say I have not had a monotonous experience.”
Lessons for the youth
On lessons for young professionals, “I’ll ask them to exercise patience, it is often hard to do but they should be patient and seek to enjoy what they do at the moment or else work becomes a drag. I would also tell them to focus and be consistent in everything that they do. No head will be keen on an employee who is full of excuses.”
Loyalty in the 21st century workplace
On loyalty in the corporate world today she said: “Times have changed, so I will suggest that for many young professionals, they might have to move at some point in their careers. There are instances where staying at one place might be indicative of a lack of professional growth, however, if there is already an opportunity for growth, and you are in an institution where you are fighting and breaking glass ceilings, why not?
However, professionals should ensure that they do not make these moves because of some supposed greener pastures, some have burnt their fingers badly. Listen to your inner self and pray before making any move, especially when you have a family.”
Current MD’s appreciation
Commenting on her 40th anniversary with the Bank, Dr. John Kofi Mensah, commended Mrs. Esther Ruby Arthur for her rich service to the bank and exhibition of loyalty, dedication, discipline and selflessness which has kept her all these years.
“I have worked with her for the past almost four years and I am not surprised she has spent all these years with the bank. She shows the highest form of professionalism and care to all. Her ability to listen and come back with feedback is exemplary.”
Cheers to loyalty and congratulations, Madam!