A 20-year journey with Tropical Cables and Conductor – Ing. Irina Odame shares her story

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I began my career at Tropical Cable and Conductor Ltd. 20 years ago, in June 2000. I had just turned 37 that year. That year was the beginning of a new millennium, and the age of technological advancements that would change our daily lives as we knew it (high speed internet and the era of social media, smartphones and so on).

The world was full of uncertainties, and as I remember it, many thought it could come to an end. The fear was that all electronic and digital gadgets will start malfunctioning because they had not been programmed to roll over into the new millennium.

I, like many others, did not believe it of course, but my world was also full of uncertainties: I was a mother of two young children, launching a career with a new company and diving into the private sector after working for the government of Ghana for 10 years. At the time, it was an important step for me –  I had always wanted to work and succeed in the private sector, to diversify my experience and advance my career.

My professional career, began in the year 1990 when I joined the then National Energy Board (NEB) under the leadership of Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobby, a dynamic, enthusiastic and inspiring leader. I was assigned to a project titled National LPG Promotion Programme. NEB was later restructured and renamed to Ministry of Energy – Technical Wing.

We were a group of professionals working in different fields: Appolonia Biogas project, Petroleum projects, various other renewable energy projects including photovoltaic initiatives, Rural Electrification projects (SHEP) etc. The experience was instrumental in setting a foundation for what would become a long and rewarding career in Ghana.

Tropical Cable and Conductor Ltd (TCCL), the company that I joined in the year 2000, was a two-year old cable manufacturing company with one production hall and a few offices. With two drawing lines and one stranding line in the year 2000, the company was set to manufacture overhead line distribution and transmission cables for power transmission and distribution.

It was successful from the start and, I knew back then that the company had immense potential to be a leading cable manufacturing company in Ghana. I was deeply impressed by the person behind this successful project – a young enterprising gentleman and Managing Director/Founder of TCCL, Tony Oteng-Gyasi.

Tony was not only interested in spearheading innovation in Ghana but was a fair-minded and inspiring leader. He played a great role in my career as a lady-engineer and in my life as a working mother, and I take this opportunity to express my never-ending gratitude.

With a background in MSc. Mechanical Engineering, my role as Quality Manager at TCCL involved setting up the requirements for quality control in cable making – working with specifications and standards, development of new product range, development of quality management system based on ISO quality management principles, to ensure that all TCCL products meet international standards for electric cables.

During my time with TCCL, I have witnessed the company grow from a manufacturer of overhead line conductors to underground armoured and unarmoured power and control cables, aerial bundled conductors, wide range of housewiring and telecom cables.

In 2004, TCCL became the first cable manufacturing company in West Africa to receive ISO 9001 compliance certification.

In 2007, Tony established a sister company – Western Rod and Wire Ltd., to manufacture EC grade Aluminium rod – our main raw material for the manufacture of Aluminium cables. This expansion has meant that since 2008, TCCL no longer required the importation of Aluminium rod, rather sourcing these locally and providing in country-based solutions.

In 2015, TCCL also expanded into manufacture of its own polymers – PVC compounds – which is the raw material for insulation and sheathing applications for electric cables. The benefits of developing innovations and raw material capacity in Ghana cannot be understated. These developments play an important role in lowering the production costs, increasing employment, and boosting the local economy.

Looking back 20 years down the line, I realise how far we have come both as a person and as a company. We are currently looking at further expansion of our telecommunication cables range to include TV coaxial cables and undertake an MV cables project.

I am grateful to have been provided with the opportunity to grow along with the company, which has invested in my training and professional development in cable manufacture and quality management.

During my time with TCCL, I have not only given exposure to various trainings in my field, but also afforded the opportunity to participate in the Ghana Standards Authority TC10 Technical committee for the development of electric cables standards in Ghana, become Council Member of the Ghana Institution of Engineering (2014-2016) and become Vice President of the then Ghana National Electrotechnical Committee (GNEC) for the period from 2011-2017. GNEC is now the IEC National Committee of Ghana and an associate member of International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

In the years to come, my focus is on imparting my knowledge to younger and upcoming colleagues. I believe the future of the company lies in the continuous development of those who will lead after us, and their professional development is crucial to the continued success of this leading company.

On a personal note, I would like to add that with great support from my husband who also contributed in shaping my career from the start, our children have grown, graduated from universities and have become admiringly independent adults.

I will end here by saying how proud I am to have joined TCCL. I am truly excited to have been a part of this success, and I look forward to continue to contribute towards TCCL being at the forefront of cable manufacturing in Ghana and West Africa. I am grateful to all my colleagues and fellow management team members for their support over the years.

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