The career world sometimes, if not most times, isn’t a straight-line graph easily plotted. Our interviewee for this week on the column, Walter Aloh, is a typical example of those whose career path haven’t been straight but he’s been able to make the most of his experiences within just four years.
“I have been working for close to four (4) years now. Though I have spent close to 3 years at my current place of work (Deloitte & Touché), I must say it has been a good experience for me. Working in a BIG FOUR has tremendously improved my work rate, load capacity, exposure, confidence, professional skills and tolerance level. For instance I could be on a phone call and still multitask in between different activities. Also I wasn’t so confident speaking to people at a certain level some few years ago, but today the story is so different” Walter narrated to us.
Walter has changed jobs just once and it was as a result of a better opportunity that presented itself, in his words “I changed my job due to the promising career path I could see in a BIG 4, and the opportunity to work there, alongside the well improved pay.”
Walter is one of many Nigerians who change from their original profession and he attributed it to the Nigerian system, implying that most people in Nigeria never get the fair chance to practice what they studied in the University. He went further to expatiate his previous statement by giving a brief summary of his background from what he was trained in school to how he has been able to adjust to different roles which are to some extent worlds apart from his initial course of study,
“I was a technical/engineering student and majored in Petroleum Engineering in the university, but today I’m a forensic consultant. At my first place of work, I was a Digital marketer. So you see that they all don’t square out that way, and this ‘story’ isn’t unique to me. There is an unpopular saying out there meant for Nigerians living in Nigeria; that the university education basically helps to test if you can read, write, understand difficult concepts and still produce results. That is to say, if you attain a degree with a 1st class or 2.1, or 2.2 or acquire a Master’s degree, and you are within a certain age bracket, you can apply for jobs in Nigeria, regardless of what you studied in school, whilst some places are very specific with what you studied in school. However, I do not believe that a person’s final grade in school is a true test of their capabilities. This is Nigeria, anything to survive as long as it is moral and legal”
Despite the detour along his career path and the challenges that come with it, Walter can clearly say he has made tremendous progress in every area of his life, “well, it’s been good so far. Like I explained earlier, my knowledge and capacity base has really expanded. Promotions too has been very good, and in this environment which I’m sure is the same with other places, you constantly have to keep pulling your weight and churning out results, because it is an extremely competitive environment. The monetary growth too has been very good. One lesson I have learnt is to mind where I invest my money. If the investment company is not insured by a top insurance company, I won’t invest with them, even if they promise a million naira per week.”
He quickly emphasised the importance of having a proper career plan before one decides to make the move to whatever they may think is better, “I must add that one has to also be very strategic in terms of career plan and not be too comfortable on a job or what they have to offer. Things can change rapidly, and it’s normal to feel a bit jittery when you see how other colleagues move up, change jobs or go for more qualifications/certifications so as to get better pay or career interests, but once you start with the WHY in mind concerning your long and short term career/life goals, you will be just fine.”
On a lighter mood, Walter acknowledged that his experience so far has been quite remarkable, recalling some events that have stood out for him, “I have had a lot of good experiences. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a good number of cross-cultural colleagues from other countries, and also have developed a broader view of the world thanks to the different work related trips to other countries.”
Highlighting some life lessons he has learnt within the years he has been working, he said, “I have learnt to differentiate between friends and colleagues at work. One should be friendly and also firm in their decision making. Don’t be too trusting, and above all trust God to guide you all the way.”
As we know, regardless of the path we choose, there will always be challenges which necessarily are not meant to bring us down but could serve as check points. Walter identified some of the challenges that came with his, “There are quite a number of challenges, from daily demand to always make an impact and be valuable, to the unannounced competition with colleagues on who’s the better performer, to keeping up with part of the dress code which includes a hairy person like me having a clean shave all the time and down to satisfying client engagement objectives.”
One aspect most employees get wrong is managing their finances. Walter on the other hand seems to have become quite skilful in handling his finances. He had this to say about his financial life, “I must say that I have done my best to live within my means, live modestly and invest more in my future. I try as much as possible to assist people in need, and once in a while give myself a treat, along with family and friends. If one isn’t careful about their financial life, you’ll find that they would be living from pay check to pay check which is a disaster waiting to happen.”
Like it is often said, virtually everything has both good and bad sides to it. The work life unarguably has two sides to it. Admitting to this fact, Walter stated, “Some of the disadvantages which are not unique to me alone are; stress, very little time to spend with friends and family, average work-life choices (I won’t say balance) and little time to rest with so much to do.”
About having a side hustle, Walter indicated that there was no obvious one currently but eventually hopes that there would be one soon, “At the moment, I have no side hustle. When I say that, I actually mean it’s not reaping out value yet. In the fullness of time you will hear.”
To round up his interview, Walter had these pieces of advice to share with those about to start trailing a career path, “My first advice would be that they should trust God and not rely fully on their knowledge. Due to the expectations for new hires to immediately learn to swim in the big river and start making impact early, pressure would set in, which would potentially result in making too many mistakes on the job. Also, most work related environments are ‘perception oriented’ meaning that one’s first mistake could live with them for as long as they are within that environment or company.”
He further pointed out that patience and ability to learn will help those who want to climb the career ladder, “I always advice new entry level hires to be patient, take things easy and work with senior colleagues who they perceive to be more experienced and are good teachers on the job. I would also tell them to be fast learners, and do as much work as they can so as to make mistakes early and learn a lot in a short time. Depending on their career goals, they should invest in continuous learning and advancement so they can be relevant in their chosen career path.”
Lastly, Walter inserted, “Relationships are important, so I advice people to invest in good networks/relationships and find a mentor within the workplace who must not necessarily be a senior colleague in their department.”
From Walter Aloh’s perspective about the workplace, we can conclusively say that one’s career life is basically what they make of it. So whatever career path you have chosen, it is how you tread that matters in the end.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
Are you having challenges building a team of committed staff? With our pool of qualified prospective employees, we can help solve that. Send us an email at email@example.com
DO BUSINESS BETTER