Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Freda Ruth Murray-Bruce, Where Passion Meets Intelligence

To quote the woman herself, "sometimes in life, your achievements are not based on passion or motivation". Yet passion and motivation have been behind her every step towards admirable success.

Meet Ms Freda Ruth Murray-Bruce. Driven, compassionate and God-fearing, Freda is Director General of the Bayelsa State Investment Promotion Agency [BIPA], an outfit that provides assistance with investor activity in Bayelsa State, home to Nigeria’s largest crude oil and natural gas deposits.

A conqueror of challenges in her own right, Freda started life as a Language student at the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. On completion, she travelled to the UK, and worked in web development for British Telecoms and desktop publishing for Morgan Stanley. She left the UK to Canada, where she worked for Hewlett-Packard and Bell Canada, whilst completing a Masters in Computer Science.

But it was not enough. Something was missing. "I seemingly had it all", she recalls "my house overlooked a golf course worth $50,000 in annual membership, yet I felt very empty. I was not impacting people."

Freda hearkened to this hunger from within, and decided to pursue a Master's degree in Development, with a view to working with the UN and exercising her passion as a human rights and development activist. Fast forward 2 years, and armed with an LLM from the University of Westminster, the development world was her oyster. Where better to start than in her country, Nigeria? After all, charity begins at home.

She returned home after a 15 year hiatus, and worked for UNIDO and UNDP. Her foray into politics came with the then Vice President Goodluck’s invitation to join his think tank. She did, and has not looked back since. About her job at BIPA, Freda says "when I heard about the job, which was about bringing investment into Bayelsa to change the fortunes of a deprived community, I could not pass up on it."

When she is not working to change the fortunes of deprived communities in Bayelsa, or impacting the lives of orphans and young children, Freda loves to dabble in interior design, read, write, and direct theatre pieces. This self-confessed introvert is "passionate about life, but not outgoing." "I am happiest when I am indoors," she says with candid confidence. She is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Leicester.

Asked why she felt it was important to share her story with 'Yaaya', she replied "I have a desire to impact lives. I have a great passion for people, so will contribute to platforms [such as Yaaya] that allow me to encourage people with my own challenges and strife. The second reason is a national due. Nigeria is a collection of every one of us. We owe it to ourselves."

Her advice to ambitious black women? "Never give up. Life will [give] you many opportunities to doubt yourself. Always see a tomorrow better than today. People are tired of beggars. Don't go asking for help. Proffer solutions. Be encouraged. You will make it."

By any yardstick an accomplished woman, Ms Murray-Bruce possesses a disquiet characteristic of determined people. To her, the future is bright, but yet to begin. "I have not started what God called me on earth for. I believe I am destined to represent Nigeria nationally and internationally, advocating for changes that will further the destiny of millions. Don't just watch this space," [laughs] "pray for this space!"

We will watch, wait, and pray. But first, we will say this: that few women genuinely embody the 'Yaayan' attributes: strong and supportive, passionate and purposeful, courageous and caring. Yet in one lifetime, Freda has demonstrated all these, and then some. We salute Ms Murray-Bruce. She. Is. Yaaya!

Image Source | Image is copyright of Yaaya


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