Learn How to Fish Early – Diamond Bank Prepared Me For All Moments

Learn How to Fish Early – Diamond Bank Prepared Me For All Moments

I have received many emails since I shared a post on UN in LinkedIn. Many have asked me to share guidance on career planning. Largely, it is very hard to write about yourself in this way. Nonetheless, to help young graduates who asked, I am sharing some decisions I made earlier.

Getting ready to leave FUTO (Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Nigeria), my undergraduate university, I committed to focus on accumulating capabilities over just making money early. My thesis was that by building capability, I could transition to the top level in the world. For me, it was irrelevant where I was beginning: the most important thing was really what lies ahead.


Ndubuisi Ekekwe receives award from Richard Branson

I defended my undergrad thesis on Friday. On the following Monday I started work. I went straight from hostel to the new job without reaching home. There was no need; I had only a bag to school as I was a squatter. Though usually getting official accommodations on academic awards, the usual temptation to sell, and then squat with willing friends won many times.

My Department Chair (Prof SOE Ogbogu) had accepted a job for me nine months earlier. For this job, I did not interview the employer; it also did not interview me. The week the firm came to FUTO, I was out of school to get advertisers in Aba and Onitsha for my campus newsmagazine – FUTO Bubbles.

Ndubuisi Ekekwe with Bill Gates

I began work in that firm – a pioneer CDMA company. They gave me a flat, a car with driver, and good salary. Then on second day, I asked to meet the Founder, and the CEO. I spoke with them, and they failed my “interview”: they presented a roadmap on how to make money but none to develop the person making that money. I saw a total dislocation on how life could be about money that early with no strategy on acquiring skills (my desire to start master’s program immediately was not permissible). On 3rd day, I resigned. It was easy to do that; I had options – I could return to FUTO as a graduate assistant teacher which the department had already offered. Also, there were other jobs on pipelines.

The first day I met Mr. Tony Elumelu. He became a mentor; I remain thankful for his supports.

One of those jobs was to work in a local IT company doing structured office wiring in Shell. I joined that firm for no specific formal wage even though the owner was always giving me money. But I did enjoy the job – I was learning common sense skills which could be easily monetized. Also, I knew that it was temporary since NYSC was coming; the CDMA job was structured that I would serve there. (My suggestion remains to choose where you could make more money in Nigeria provided it can give you space to use that money to develop yourself in a case where the firm has no clear strategy on staff development. But if getting that more money is all you get, if you have other options, re-consider.)

Then NYSC came, and opportunities opened. NYSC Plateau State secretariat needed a contractor to do structured office wiring in the state secretariat. I had registered a company a day out of camp. I applied and won the contract. I bought my first car from that NYSC contract. It was the first time Federal Government of Nigeria was to pay me.

Ndubuisi Ekekwe with former UN Sec Gen

Post NYSC

I did all possible to stay in Jos after NYSC but without a university offering engineering master’s degree (then), it was not possible. Attempt to visit ATBU Bauchi did not work out as I went on a Friday without any deep knowledge that schools largely close on Fridays for prayers. So, I had to leave Jos. And I left.

Immediately, the plan was to find a Nigerian firm that could support my plan – provide a good job and allow me to study! I was lucky – I found Diamond Bank. My secondary school classmate who was working as an office assistant had made a case that the bank was great on supporting human development. Yes, even though Diamond Bank paid well, the greatest value was the absolute commitment to develop people. As I had written here, there was no training or certification invoice the bank did not pay.

I enjoyed Diamond Bank; it was a bank with limitless opportunities. They paid every training invoice I sent to them and the bank was awesome. There was no boss; we were all comrades serving Nigerians. In short, I never saw my supervisors as bosses; they were colleagues and they made spending 48 hours at work normal.

When I joined Diamond Bank, a multinational oil company through FUTO wanted me. I explained to my Department Chair that I was not interested. By then, I was already in training school in Apapa branch of the bank. But somehow to avoid burning the bridges with FUTO, I was asked to honor the invitation. The oil company flew me to Trans Amadi (my first time of entering a plane); I went and politely declined the job. The job was to pay more than what Diamond Bank was paying. By then, I had figured out that knowing about finance would be helping in my path in future (I had wanted to own my firm). Also, the banking job was more tradable in future than working in a big oil firm where trading the skills acquired could see more barriers. Besides, the problem was not money as the NYSC contract money was still intact. I later took 6,000 pounds sterling to pay for correspondence doctoral program in UK.

All Together

I am still working on this career. But I have known one thing: while making money is nice, do all necessary to work in a place you can learn. Giving you a fish is great, but teaching you how to fish is PRICELESS.

Finally, always assume that only 10% of Nigerian professionals will stay in their fields after 15 years. Our economy is very small when compared to those jockeying for opportunities at the top. So, as companies begin to weed, triggering career paralyses, it is what you know that will see you through. So, developing skills early will help you instead of packing money only to see that you are out with no tradable skills. A job that gives you skills which can be monetized in a Nigerian economy should always be preferable as you can “sell” those skills later. And then, always pray for favor, because no matter what, grace is all you need.


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42 thoughts on “Learn How to Fish Early – Diamond Bank Prepared Me For All Moments

  1. Adebayo Samuel Ogunkoya · Edit

    Inspiring!

    Thanks you for availing yourself to mentor us.

    You are a blessing to our generation and we do not take it for granted.

    Thank you prof. Ndibuisi Ekekwe

    Reply
  2. I love hearing inspiring stories like yours, it emphasizes that the greatest investment there is in education,I really hope our country gets more serious in education for the now and for the future to enable us to be able to meet the challenges or today and tomorrow. It is disheartening to know that a lot of future possible Ndubisi Ekekwes are out there begging on the streets or hawking. We really need to do more for an inclusive society, and education is the surest way

    Reply
  3. Thanks, sir for this wonderful and priceless lesson. I am really inspired and this has added to my arsenal of wisdom.

    Sir, I want to ask, what is your advice for a young graduate who has interest and “potential capabilities” in lots of things. A lot of time people get confused on how to balance and move ahead when they have good options. They try to do this and that and at the end along the way it gets messy. What is your advice for a young graduate or student who find himself in such a situation?

    Reply
    1. I think one has to have focus to actually make impacts. My suggestion would be for that person to think deep and commit on some specific areas. And then become great in those areas. That discovery process is important as without it one may be busy, working hard but not adding a lot of career value.

      Reply
      1. To add to that. You must first determine what you want and be resolute about it. Being clear and specific on your chosen career path is key to success. If you run after many rabbits at the same time, you are unlikely to catch any. You must be able to give a short precise answer when someone asks”What do you want to do in life?” Decide this and then begin to read, study and develop requisite skills that can enhance your capacity to earn money or commercialize whose abilities. Success comes largely by self-development initiatives, much more than anything you were taught at school. Ucheka Anofienem

        Reply
  4. Inspiring piece. Thank you Sir for not just offering us a glimpse of your grass to grace experience, but as well passing a message of hope to we the upcoming generation.

    Reply
  5. Thank you, Sir, for this inspiring piece. I believe this was written specifically for me as I have been having conflicting interests of late. you are truly a blessing to my generation.

    Reply
  6. Prof. This truly is inspiring. Through your inspiring story, I have learnt that creating value in ourselves is very important. Equally important, as repeatedly touched on throughout this story is the marvelous power of choice. The choices at our disposal are infinite, we are only limited by our imaginations.

    Thank once more Prof. Ndubuisi Ekekwe.

    Reply
    1. “Through your inspiring story, I have learnt that creating value in ourselves is very important.” That is the most important value for any career. If you do not create your personal value, you would not thrive to create market values

      Reply
      1. Prof. I have a synopsis seating on my desktop for 3yrs. it concerning strategic-urban development planning as a vehicle for growth and systematic development for emerging economies.

        I know the most precious thing a person can give to another is their time. your time is precious, but I’d be glad if you can oblige me this, as I believe that this truly is a good system that can guarantee growth, at the micro level, for all aspect of our economy. Your input can help.

        email: u.aliche@uabw.com

        Thanks a mill Prof.

        Reply
      2. Prof. I have a synopsis seating on my desktop for 3yrs. it concerning strategic-urban development planning as a vehicle for growth and systematic development for emerging economies.
        I know the most precious thing a person can give to another is their time. your time is precious, but I’d be glad if you can oblige me this, as I believe that this truly is a good system that can guarantee growth, at the micro level, for all aspect of our economy. Your input can help.
        email: u.aliche@uabw.com
        Thanks a mill Prof.

        Reply
  7. Professor Ekekwe, you are a blessing to young people. I am stunned at the decisions you made in the course of your career. How I wish we have more of you. Please may be you should create a network of people with similar interests as yours. With this you could reach out to a larger audience- youth. God bless you sir.

    Reply
          1. Thank you Ndubuisi,

            Diamond Bank is a great family which gives you the opportunity to improve yourself continuously. I work with the bank and I am glad of the opportunity I have been given and the Skye is my limit.

  8. Thank You sir, it is always great and nspiring reading your articles related to career development. we need your kinds in every establishment who help people grow.

    Reply
  9. Ibrahim Yusuf Oluwadamilare · Edit

    This is a motivating write-up sir. I am IBRAHIM Yusuf Oluwadamilare, I just finished NYSC but volunteering for an NGO. Professor sir, what is your advice for somebody whose long term goal is to own an NGO whose vision is to achieve a sustainable community through good health and well-being?

    #IRemainToBeMotivated.

    Reply
  10. Rukayat Abosede Tijani · Edit

    Wow! I was touched, flabbergasted by this story
    It amazing
    I am lucky to have read this because that’s what am facing right now.
    Thanks @Ndubuisi ekekwe

    Reply

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