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Some of the children Emmas team has supported to get back into school

India / Education / Planning and budgeting specialist

Emma Mba

Emma meeting with old students of Aleka Academy, Ankpa.
Emma meeting with old students of Aleka Academy, Ankpa
Emma meeting with old students of Aleka Academy, Ankpa Emma founded Aleka Academy with 3 Nigerian friends in 2000 to provide secondary school age children in a rural community with brighter opportunities. Aleka Ejeh is Emma’s chieftaincy title and means someone who is an ambassador for the Igala people, with the heart of a leopard.


Ethical, professional and supportive.









Why did you choose to join Mott MacDonald? 

Two reasons – In 2008, Mott MacDonald was in the top 10 best companies to work for and Cambridge Education had just won a 6-year DfID education programme contract in Nigeria, where I been living and teaching for 12 years.

What is the best thing about your job

The best thing about my job is that we are changing attitudes and behaviour of such a wide range of people, from policy makers and government officials, to teachers and communities.  The result of this has been not only more children in school more regularly, but also children beginning to learn more too.

How would you describe the culture of Mott MacDonald? 

Ethical, professional and supportive, which means you work with great colleagues who have similar values and you not only constantly learn and improve technically but as a manager you also support others to develop.

How would you describe your role and responsibilities to friends or family?

I work on ESSPIN – an education programme funded by UKAid which aims to improve basic education in 6 states in Nigeria.  I manage a team of 20 technical and admin staff who form the Kwara State team and we work together to encourage and support the state government to use their resources more effectively.  We not only work to improve teaching and learning in the classroom, we also help the state to strengthen the systems which support this, such as planning and budgeting, HR management, data collection and analysis, M&E, school inspection and community participation.  We also work with CSOs to strengthen voice and accountability mechanisms.

Have you been involved in any charities or done any volunteer work?

I originally came to Nigeria in 1996 as a VSO volunteer English teacher.  In 2000 I started and ran a secondary school with 3 Nigerian friends in the same rural town.  The aim of the school was simple – to provide an affordable, safe, fun place for all children to learn by ensuring that they were taught 8 lessons a day by competent teachers, something that didn’t happen in the public schools.  Today the school is one of the best in the country, with our students representing the state at national level in competitions.  Our students not only gain academic knowledge and skills, they also participate in a wide range of extra-curricular activities so that when they leave our school, they are equipped with the character and values needed to have a bright future, and to contribute to the development of Nigeria.

What would your perfect day consist of?

Playing with my 3 year old son and making him laugh, then watching the sun go down with my husband over a keg or two of palm wine.

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