The ideology that one can only be a master in one field has been proven wrong, repeatedly. Sandra Ginikachi Stephen is one of those who have broken out of the norm. From being a trained Animal and Environmental Biologist, she veered off to an entirely new field where she currently works as a Visa Processor in a destination company.
Sandra, exploring more options available to her, is also involved in event styling and utilises her paper craft skill for interior and outdoor decoration. She has, through constant practicing, developed and mastered these skills for profitability.
Sandra acknowledges that her experience during work has instilled some indispensable values in her. “Working has impacted me in diverse ways. It has given me a sense of responsibility to my community and nation at large. Now I want to learn more, so I could give more. Working has also taught and is still teaching me patience.”
During the course of working, Sandra has also acquired some level of direction socially. “It’s brought some sort of focus to my social life. Now, I always have a target concerning my circle. How would this person assist in actualizing this? What solution can he/she proffer? How passionate is he/she with giving back to the nation and so on?”
Due to her remarkable career advancement, Sandra could be easily mistaken as one who had a background in her chosen field. However, she is quick to clear this perception. “What I do presently is way different from my course of study, I must say. I studied Animal and Environmental Biology but currently I am doing the job of a hospitality and tourism person. Not related in any way one would say.”
Regardless of the fact that Sandra may have deviated from her course of study, she indicated she still has interest to explore career options in that line and considers her experience so far as an advantage. “Even though I still look forward to taking up a career in my field, I count this a plus.”
In fact, she refers to career switch as a turn that could eventually lead one to their required career destination. “I wouldn’t call it a change in career but with reference to the word ‘career path’, my current job is one of those turns we take.”
Speaking about her work benefits, Sandra highlighted that asides the financial rewards, her job also creates an opportunity to build skills for personal growth. “There’s a whole lot of growth and benefits accompanied with my job. Here, if you are focused, you’d develop skills that would help you successfully start up your own destination management firm with massive financial benefits attached”
Spotting tolerance as one of the major lessons she has learnt at work, Sandra noted that it is a vital quality one needs to survive in any organization. “Tolerance. Working in any organization requires a measure of tolerance and this one is not exempted. Experiences have taught me to be tolerant. Whatever happens at the workplace ends at the workplace.”
Sandra also identified lessons that have contributed to her personal development. These lessons have equipped her with a wide range of skills and ethics that are relevant to her both as an individual and especially as an employee. “In my course of working, I have developed character. I have learnt and still learning the art of professionalism both within and without the work environment. My job is “risk”. The first thing I learnt on resumption was learning to unlearn whatever I thought I knew. Even those occupying managerial positions still learn on the job. I have also learnt team work.”
Financially, Sandra admitted she has had an impressive progression of income. “My work has helped me maintain a consistent financial lifestyle. Coupled with other financial benefits accompanying.”
Despite her regular job, Sandra has her side hustle to back her up. She stated that her side hustle is birthed from her love for paper crafting. “I am a creative person. I love crafting. And taking it as a side hustle has had this way of keeping me active. It makes me ask questions like “how can this/that be done more creatively”. I even apply this to my regular job.”
She added that having a side job has liberated her from any chance of monotonousness that could lead to boredom and at the same time provides another source of income for her. “More so, for someone that gets bored easily, it helps me see the brighter side. I wouldn’t also leave out the juicy feeling of having an extra flow of income.”
In the aspect of work disadvantages, she stated that they were minute compared to the advantages. “More advantages than any disadvantage I can think of. My job bears up so much risk that could cost the company a lot of money. But you’d admit that every other job does too.”
A challenge that Sandra classified as a positive one is the competitive spirit of workers in the organization who have given themselves to self-development in order to retain relevance. “I wouldn’t call it a challenge or should I say it’s a positive challenge. It is an organization where all or most of her staff are fighting to maintain relevance. Everyone working to be better every day in his or her different sections. More like positive energy.”
Sandra advised young people to seek continuous growth and not dwell on past knowledge. She recommended constant improvement for anyone aspiring to advance career wise. “We all are still finding our feet. No one, even those at the top would ever admit that they have reached the apex. Everyone is trying to do more and be more. That is all you need to do – do more everyday. Do not settle. People are watching, opportunities are lurking and looking for the relentless. It will all work out someday. Even better than you ever imagined it.”
Having read Sandra Ginikachi Stephen’s interview, we hope that more people will work towards building themselves and mastering their craft to the highest level.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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One of the scarcest and presumably the hardest things to find these days in Nigeria is the ‘right’ job. In fact the concept of a right job have far been erased from the minds of many and overtime people apply for any available job. Every now and then thousands of unemployed people steadily cast their net broad and wide hoping to catch a job from the deep blue sea of companies. Asides from being open to any type of job, some people would do anything to get the job.
Due to this high desperation in job search, some recruiting agencies consider it to be a money making venture thereby exploiting many job seekers. Often times, some job opportunities these recruiter present are fake and just a deceptive means of enriching themselves. So while they present irresistible job opportunities to the desperate unemployed crowd, they enlarge their pockets.
In most occasions some job seekers are left indecisive, dangling between missing out and grabbing the seemingly life changing job offer. Several cases have been reported by victim who had the unpleasant experiences. From our research, we spotted a list of companies from the Ngcareer platform who have exploited many job seekers.
Shifting our focus away from exploiting recruiters, job seekers are also part of this as most are usually the first to strike a deal. They literally lure either the recruiting agency or the HR personnel in order to buy their favour.
With this development, it seems as though the job sector is slightly turning into a market where people trade, continuously buying and selling jobs. If things continue to play out this way we then ask the question, do the qualified ever get the jobs right for them or are the spaces sold out?
Let’s know your thoughts.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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EMPLOYEE INSIGHT: “THINK LONG, THINK HARD, BE OBJECTIVE AND LOGICAL WITH YOUR CHOICES”- NNEDIMMA IKEME
Teaching, especially when it comes to children, is one of the toughest responsibilities one could handle owing to the fact that much patience and energy is required. Nevertheless, this imperative task cannot be shoved aside and just like the great Whitney Houston sang, “I believe in the children of our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way,” emphasizing the need to properly educate the little ones.
While most parents and guardians don’t have the time and patience to live out these words, there are those who have dedicated their lives to teaching and grooming these children. This set of people whom we often call teachers continuously bear the
Today our spotlight is on Nnedimma Ikeme, a tutor in a lesson centre who uses both formal and informal methods to teach children. She is undoubtedly one of the few special hands chosen to nurture little ones and without exaggeration, one could perceive Nnedimma’s impact distance away.
For one who had no prior knowledge about her current career path, Nnedimma has opened herself up and has developed deep passion for the new world in front of her. Nnedimma stated the tremendous impact working has made in her personal and career life, “working has greatly helped me prioritise my life better and has given me a clearer career path,” she said.
From what started as a casual voluntary work, Nnedimma admitted that she has grown to love her profession even though it was not her course of study in school. However, she has consciously equipped herself by exploring most of the learning opportunities available to her and has acquired necessary skills over the past three years.
“Working as a volunteer at first, helped me realize I loved teaching and with time, I worked intentionally to hone that skill; garnering experience as I worked.”
Nnedimma has experienced significant advancement in her chosen field since she commenced work. Her rapid career growth has proven that an amateur in any field can eventually become a master with diligence and dedication. “There has been growth with regard to promotion; from a volunteer, Assistant Tutor to a full-time Tutor that also doubles as an Interim Administrator when the need arises. The financial benefits have not been as good as I would like them to be, but it’s all ‘work in progress’”.
One way to check our progress most times is through feedback. Nnedimma narrated her most remarkable experience which highlights her initial struggles with a particular child and the results she had afterwards. Her narrative;
“My first one-on-one child, Jose Maria is someone I can never forget. He taught me patience and made me imbibe virtues that I thought alien to my personality, while I explored and stretched myself beyond what was expected from me as a teacher. Working with the older kids and still maintaining a wonderful rapport has also helped shape up my work life for the better. Feedback from parents and children alike, make all the stress worth it.”
Concerning her challenges at work, Nnedimma highlighted two major familiar key points which is usually the case for most people in her profession. “The exhausting long hours and the remuneration are major challenges.”
Due to the nature of her job, its demands and tight schedule, Nnedimma admitted that she barely has time to include other activities that would improve her financial life. “I earn better than I did five years ago, but considering the changing times, it’s not enough. The constrictive nature of my job does not give room for an extra source of income, hence my earnings are not enough for all I need to do within a stipulated time.”
Like most workers, Nnedimma identified low payment as a major disadvantage. She stated, “I work for long hours, but I don’t get enough remuneration. The hours do not give room for anything else,” she said. However as regards having a side hustle, “I would love to have one,” she confessed.
Wrapping up her interview session, Nnedimma had some deep words for young career climbers. “Think long, think hard, be objective, and logical with your choices. Money is a good incentive/motivator, but if you are green, ensure that experience comes first, then higher remuneration befitting one’s experience will surely follow,” she advised.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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The financial management world is a broad and tasking one where concentration and discipline are the key to unlocking success as a practitioner. Handling of finances, no matter how small especially in the area of loans, is probably one of the most risky jobs. Despite the risk involved, more persons continue to find their footing in that line of career. Let us peek into the work life of Ahayedo Rachael Osarugue, a Credit Officer.
Rachael summarises her job description simply, “I give out loans and also help people save.” This may sound simple but certainly entails a great deal of financial expertise in order to deal with the different financial situations of clients.
From her educational background, Rachael was lucky to have had a little foundation in her chosen career, “I studied business administration in school and right now I’m presently managing my branch though my career is based more on accounting now.”
Racheal has gleaned some vital life lessons during the course of work, she stated the sense of responsibility it has given her and her ability to adequately make futuristic plans.
“Working has really made me understand what my parents went through to settle my needs while I was much younger. It has also taught me how important it is to plan for the future as working is not forever.”
From her experience, Rachael concluded, “there is no good or bad client.” With this non-judgmental attitude towards her clients, she continues to keep an open mind about her job. This way she ensures all clients are served without any bias or disrespect.
Notwithstanding her open mindedness, Racheal acknowledged a major disadvantage that more often than not causes a setback in the organisation. “It’s possible you give out loans and you don’t get a payback or your payback is delayed,” she said.
The first step to solving a problem is to first identify it. After Rachael identified what challenged her most, she ensured it never hinders her from executing her job excellently. “I’m not too good with computers so I have to go extra length to do a perfect job,” she admitted.
Unlike most employees whose reason for having other opportunities asides their main job is basically to make more money. However, Rachael, driven by her passion for teaching, added it as a side hustle. She rightly stated, “I teach sometimes because I enjoy it.”
Based on her work experience so far, Rachael specifically advised those that would like to venture into the same career, “just don’t trust any client, not even the one that seems best at the moment.”
From the lessons Ahayedo Rachael Osarugue has shared with us, you can tell the work of a credit officers isn’t easy but with the right attitude, one can continuously improve and become better.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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The effects of nepotism on the growth of a business can never be overemphasized. Actually, it has been a clog on the wheel of most businesses. It is painful and discouraging when a loyal employee, due for promotion, is relegated in favour of another who is not qualified for that particular position but is accepted because he or she is the Boss’s relative.
Unfortunately, most business owners are not aware of the far-reaching consequences nepotism has on their business growth. Indirectly, this scenario encourages what we call ‘eye-service’ in the workplace. Every employee wants to be in ‘Oga’s good books’ by behaving a certain way in his presence – to get his favour – and in his absence, act in a certain way which on the long run affects the business negatively. They do this not because they hate the organization but because of the insecurity they feel with regards to their being promoted based on their efforts in growing the business and not the bias that comes from their Boss’s nepotistic tendencies.
Nepotism affects employee’s psychology making them feel that since they don’t stand a chance of being promoted or their efforts being recognized, they shouldn’t bother working hard or putting in their best; having it at the back of their minds that their Boss’s relative will always be preferred over them. Over time, employees’ passion for the job declines and everyone tends towards ‘eye-servicing’ because they feel that no matter how good they are and what values they have added to the company, their efforts will go unrecognized.
When employees do not give their best to the organization, it negatively affects the quality of the service rendered and in time, customers complaints starts soaring and subsequently a withdrawal in patronage occurs and this causes the business revenue to decline because income is generated when money is exchanged for products or services offered by the business to their customers. When there are no customers or a few customers, you know what that implies.
In addition, most business owners should take the bull by the horn to put an end to this workplace mayhem since this problem largely stems from them. Employees love to work in an environment where their career advancement prospects is certain against an atmosphere that stifles their potentials. As much as we love our relatives, if they aren’t best fit for a position and you have a loyal staff who is due for that position, why not allow him or her occupy that position?
Although we have looked at nepotism as it concerns promotions, it also plays out in other areas at the workplace like when taking disciplinary action to staff for unruly behavior. Everyone should be subject to same rules and principles, and not selective administration of penalties.
Written by Rejoice Emmanuel
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Whilst an increased pay could be a motivating factor for most employees, some however have proven that their dedication hasn’t been driven by money. Even though they look forward to earning more than they currently do, they never allowed that to get in the way of delivering their work.
We had a better understanding of this when we interviewed Dele Babalola, a HSE/M Officer with over six years of experience. Even with the many responsibilities attached to his title, from identifying all risk causing factors that could delay work progress, bring harm to staff, damages to equipment. Basically, he handles the maintenance and repairs of all hospital equipment and property as well as logistics for the hospital operation and demands, and still, Dele ensures that he executes them all excellently.
“Work has made me target oriented,” he said, indicating how his work has impacted his life.
It is one thing to start a career but finding a need to be met in that chosen career is something most employees often don’t think about. Dele, on the other hand, has found a need in his profession and as such has never considered a career change. “There are health challenges and staff wellbeing to consider,” Dele said.
Even though the progress he has made in his career so far has been accompanied by more demands, Dele believes that it’s all part of being an employee.
“My work has been filled with promotion, more responsibilities with little financial increase. They said the benefit of a reliable employee is more work.”
As regards his finances, Dele said, “it has been a steady growth,” and quickly added, “an increase in pay never hurts.”
Despite the challenge of low pay, Dele desires more knowledge that would increase his efficiency, “More training would help me become more efficient.”
When asked if he has a side hustle, Dele admitted, “yes, because salary no matter how much is always budgeted before it even gets to you.”
Dele Babalola ended his interview with these simple words of advice directed to young career people, “keep being focused, constantly improve your skill set, certifications go a long way. Be humble, diligent and dedicated.”
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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Mrs. Chika I. A. started out her teaching career as a care giver but has risen through the profession to becoming a well-experienced expert in educational management and a proficient developer of start-up schools convincing and increasing the confidence of parents/guardians to admit their wards and thus bringing in more money to school owners in Port Harcourt. She is currently a consultant manager for schools within and outside Port Harcourt metropolis and is a staff of the Universal Basic Education Board where she teaches in one of the State Primary Schools in Port Harcourt. With over 20 years of seamless dedication, we’ll see what drives and sustains her passion in one profession most young Nigerians wouldn’t want to venture into.
As earlier mentioned Mrs. Chika began her career providing care to 0 to 1 year old babies in a private school in Port Harcourt, more than 20 years ago; long after obtaining her GCE (General Certificate of Education) in 1990 and having before then, obtained a Distinction in her first school leaving examination. With little or no degree in education, she had a rough and slow ride in advancing her career as a teacher and went in and out of teaching, sometimes freelancing as an assistant teacher (which is more or less the job description of a teacher) in some private schools paying peanuts in Port Harcourt. Her dedication, hard-work, touch of excellence and eagerness to learn and adapt to the 21st century advancements in education teaching methods, gave her an edge over her counterparts in the teaching profession. This skyrocketed her career growth and she began working in the full capacity of a Teacher and had taught for several years before obtaining her National Certificate in Education (NCE) in 2010. During our interview with her, She stated that most of the schools she taught in had parents giving good reports and recommendations as she made tangible impacts in the lives of the pupils and proprietors found it difficult letting her go. She says:
“In fact one of the proprietors I worked for, that wasn’t faithful in salary payments, almost created a scene when she knelt down on the tarred road – in public view – pleading that I should come back teaching in her school; promising to pay on time; but I had gotten a bigger offer to manage a start-up school then, so I couldn’t stay.”
Mrs. Chika developed one of the most prime and quality schools in Port Harcourt in terms of infrastructure, sophistication of teaching materials; serene, beautifully painted and well decorated child-friendly classrooms, safe playing ground and well protected balcony’s, going on to conducting and supervising the recruitment process of quality staff, developing the curriculum/scheme of work for each class, utilizing various curricula combinations (American, British, Montessori), liaising with suppliers of educational materials and getting the best deals in quality, emphasizing on the importance of extra-curricular activities, vocational skills, musical instruments prowess and ballet dance skills, swimming skills, excursions, e-learning, efficient teaching methods for special kids, amongst other educational advancements. She went on to establish more schools in that regard. Her taste for knowledge drove her to getting various educational certifications and then she applied for a Bachelor’s degree in Education. When the employment offer by the government came, she had to make a tough decision of leaving her position and its pay to a position offering less than half her pay then. This shows vividly that her passion for teaching isn’t driven by money. She resigned and is currently a staff of the Rivers State Government under the Rivers State UBE board touching the lives of less-opportune children.
Having quite an interesting career trajectory, Mrs Chika threw light on the impact and challenges she had encountered so far on her career journey. Speaking on how working has impacted her life, she declares;
“I have gained experience over the years which have made me work with much more confidence, contributing to my expertise and making me highly sought-after by school investors and directors. So, the experience I have which can’t be taken away added to my wealth of knowledge in my profession and the financial aspect – though not much, has been of great impact to me.”
In addition, she spoke on the challenges that she encounters whilst working.
“The non-supply of teaching aids and learning materials has been a major challenge so far. My employer supply what they think is basic like the board, just recently more desks for the children were brought in, and a conducive classroom. But there are some other teaching aids and learning materials that needs to facilitate teaching and learning which they ought to supply but they don’t; so it hampers the teaching and learning process. Also, the meager salary paid in these economic times is a challenge. We have to live within our means and save ahead and also stock the kitchen ahead of time because we aren’t certain when the next salary would come. ”
When asked if she faces any challenges with teaching stubborn children, she has this to say:
“In education, we don’t tag any child stubborn. Every child is unique in his or her own way.”
PROFESSIONAL ADVANCEMENTS IN TERMS OF PROMOTION and FINANCE
Besides the challenges Mrs. Chika faces whilst impacting knowledge to the upcoming generation, there has also been a stall in promotional benefits of staffs. In fact it spreads across the civil service and we know that with promotion comes an increase in finance. Expressing her disappointment, when asked her career trajectory in terms of promotion and benefits, she has this to say:
“As a civil servant, it’s not in my hands to detect. It’s the government that carries it out. Though, there ought to be promotion after every two years during which promotional interviews are conducted; but for the past 10 years now nothing like that has happened. So I depend on God who doesn’t disappoint to reward me better. Aside the loans which are given once in a while, I’m unaware of any other benefits.”
HIGH POINT OF CAREER
When asked the question: ‘What has stood out for you since you started working, in other words, what’s your best experience so far?’. She has this to say:
“The outcome of my teaching on the lives of the children and teaching itself gives me joy. Children don’t need to be grown-ups to reflect the teaching even there and then, change occurs. Education is all about change and when this change manifests in the children’s’ lives it gives me joy. When you tell a child – if it’s in the moral aspect – that this is not good, and you see that child adjust and there’s a change in behavior, you know that you have achieved your goal. When you’re teaching a subject which the child had no previous knowledge about and at the end, that child becomes a guru on that topic, you’ve achieved your goal and achieving goals makes you happy and satisfied with your job”.
As a wrap up, our interviewee gave her advice to those seeking to build a career in Teaching. She opined;
“Have genuine love for the profession and passion also. If you don’t love teaching don’t go into it. Don’t go into teaching because you want to make money. You can’t make money in the classroom. You can’t turn those children into money or you’ll be tagged a ‘ritualist’. God has a way of blessing teachers. I can’t quote in ABC terms that this is how God blesses teachers; God has his own unique way of blessing teachers. So don’t go in expecting huge mega pay because you may be frustrated but go in with the intention of helping those young ones grow in knowledge”.
Mrs. Chika added that teachers should open themselves up to opportunities for career development.
“The world is changing and so every aspect of life changes with it. We should not be rigid but easily adaptable to technological advancements in education and teaching techniques”.
From Mrs. Chika’s Perspective about the work place, it is quite obvious that growth in whatever career path you’ve chosen is driven by your passion, taste for excellence/knowledge and not just the money. In fact the money shouldn’t be the prime focus especially in the teaching profession and happiness comes when you’ve met your goals.
Written by Rejoice Emmanuel
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Different life’s phases come with strings of uncertainties urging us to travel over and make sense out of them. This process is often what we refer to as self-discovery. Just like every other phase, the career phase also requires some level of discovering in order for us to fit into the perfect picture we desire.
While self-discovery may take a very long time for some people, it could also take a very short time for some other persons. Within a space of three years of working, Kosisochukwu Ikeme, our interviewee for this week, has explored quite a number of career options which she is certain has helped her know herself better.
Kosisochukwu believes that her working experience so far has impacted her life positively both on a personal and professional level, “I have gotten better at organizing things and managing people. I have also become more independent and the confidence to take on new things has greatly increased. My confidence in myself is getting better by the day and I have realised I can actually do anything if I set my mind and apply myself consciously to it even when it is an unfamiliar territory.”
Notwithstanding her educational background, Kosisochukwu approached the career world with an open mind, embracing different opportunities that came her way.
“I have a BSc. in Human Nutrition and Dietetics and I am a Registered Dietician-Nutritionist but I presently work as an Administrator/Human Resource Management Personnel which is totally off from Nutrition. I have never really seen myself working in the hospital as a Dietician, I had plans of working as a Freelance Dietician and offering Consultation services that is if I decided to practice Dietetics. Years after graduation, I was stuck in limbo of cluelessness; had no idea what I wanted to do or what I was good at. So I went from working as Customer Service Executive in a Courier Service company to working briefly as a Dietician to working presently as an Administrator/Human Resource Management Personnel.”
Due to her willingness to learn from scratch, Kosisochukwu continues to make tangible progress at work,
“I went from working as a Volunteer to an Intern and then a Full-Time Employee in the firm where I presently work.”
Kosisochukwu, as a result of her ability to dare, has served in different capacities, graciously pioneering each role even without prior knowledge. She indicated that this experience has improved and refined her to a great extent.
“Working with the firm where I am presently is my best experience so far. Here I found a platform to explore and learn things about myself that I never knew. I have grown beyond my imagination, I dare say. Taking on a role/responsibility of heading a department with no prior experience/knowledge has helped me realise that it’s in our own minds that we stay limited. I have learned, unlearned and relearned and still undergoing the process as I work understanding the system and getting grounded in it. My Boss has been beyond amazing, it’s not every day someone takes a chance on you and sees a million and one things in you that you don’t and never gets tired of nudging you to do and be better.”
As expected, her new role at work did not come without challenges which practically demands she learns on the job.
“Considering it’s a role that I have absolutely no experience/knowledge in, it’s still a bit of a struggle finding my feet and setting up the HR/Admin system of the firm,” Kosisochukwu admitted.
Concerning her finances, she had this to say, “I won’t say there is an improvement in my finances but I have learnt to be more frugal with my spending, be very conscious and intentional about saving and I’m also learning to invest.”
Having learnt some quality life lessons from her experience, Kosisochukwu shared some piece of advice to those who are just starting out their career, “Be open to learning. It pays to be teachable. Nobody really has it all figured out but you have to be willing to take on opportunities when they come, seek to improve yourself and trust in your abilities.”
From her perspective, we can deduct the fact that in life, sometimes, we probably have to test different waters and cross several seas of uncertainty before getting to the final destination. It is during this journey, we acquire the knowledge and experience that eventually adds to the quality of our person.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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The engineering profession which officially dates back to 1390 has always had a strong label attached to it, “The Man’s World”. This meant its doors were shut to women and that made it almost impossible for females to get involved. Fast forward to the twenty first century, its doors sprang a bit open and accessible to females all over the world. Queen Ochuba, our interviewee for the week is one of the few females treading confidently and leaving footprints in the engineering field.
Knowing the odds and hurdles she would have to cross, Queen took out time to lay her foundation properly and be well-grounded in her chosen career. This has opened the doors of opportunities she has walked through over the years.
“I have a bachelor’s degree in Petroleum Engineering and an MSc. in Petroleum Engineering and Project Development. I’ve previously worked as a petroleum engineer (before and after my masters) and I currently work in a business development role for a petroleum engineering software development company.”
With a good number of years of experience under her belt, Queen has continued to make a bold statement and build her relevance professionally.
“I’ve developed my technical skills and I’m better at managing relationships. I’m also more independent, more confident, more out-spoken and I can blend into just about any circle.”
Big things they say start small and oftentimes it is in the small things that our level of commitment is tested. Queen’s progress so far can be linked to the level of commitment she has poured in the minor roles she has had to take on in the past.
“I started out as a Petroleum Engineering Graduate Intern in 2014, went on to do a master’s degree in 2016 and in 2017, I got a Graduate Trainee role in an oil service company after which I got a permanent offer towards the end of 2018. The benefits and conditions of service have been better with each offer.”
In the process of working, she has had some remarkable experiences but the one that stood out for her is the endless possibilities learning opens us to.
“I worked on a project in 2016 with my team. A few weeks later, I casually wrote a scholarship test and 85% of the questions were in the same area I had just worked on. Naturally, it felt good to know that I had learned a lot from the project, more importantly, I got funding for my masters as a result of being in that environment at that time. I learnt the value of information.”
Speaking about her financial life, Queen simply mentioned how she has been able to manage her finances as a working class lady. “I’ve developed financial discipline overtime, I’ve learnt to plan better and I’m able to contribute to my community.”
When asked about the disadvantages in her work, Queen couldn’t pinpoint any but rather made a suggestion on how things could be done better.
“I’m struggling to pick out a disadvantage. If I had to change one thing though, it will be to make working hours and location more flexible.”
Moving on to spot out a major challenge which she faces at work, Queen said, “I occasionally struggle to keep up when there’s an avalanche of events going on at the same time. Overtime, I’ve learnt to use to-do lists, group similar tasks, prioritize, and maintain focus through it all.”
Queen is not the regular kind of petroleum engineer who only depends on the oil money for her survival, she is skilled up, has her side hustle intact and juggles both work and it smartly.
“I love order and I’m great at organizing. Following this passion, sometime in 2013, I did a 3-month training in decorations and event management. By the end of the third month, I was already getting juicy offers to decorate for events and the rest they say is history. Interestingly, most of my jobs are on weekends and I’ve been able to assemble a team so it’s easy to juggle both.”
Ending her interview, Queen gave a short and precise advice to younger folks starting their career. “First, know the basics. Put yourself out there. Get mentors. Keep improving yourself and always have a positive mindset.”
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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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
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