How I mislaid my Career Track

My return to Nigeria after graduation in the USA was a culture shock. In hindsight, I was actually fighting a Battle on two fronts., which led to how I mislaid my career track.

  • The patriarchy dictate of doing 20 years corporate stint alongside the top-down directives of authority figures.
  • My personality trait of social incompetence where I did not have the emotional intelligence to manage my situation.

The situation was not helped due to the fact that the oil price had slumped to US$13 in 1986 and the Petroleum and Expoloration (P&E) companies were in stagnation. Even after my Youth Service assignment at Chevron Plc (then Gulf Oil Ltd) I had to find a job outside this sector.

This then brought in the Old-boy network when I had an interview and job taken at ICI (Nig) Plc as a Chemist in the Paints Division. I then got embroiled with the Technical Director, who was an English expatriate that I recognized would only have held a Manager status in the UK.

Rebel without a cause
credit: Unsplash

My diffidence towards him showed up and I was put om probation before my appointment could be extended and confirmed. Of course I hit back and I recollect vividly having to plead and bribe the department secretary to help type my letter of resignation.
O Sweetness and Joy! On my way over to submit, I met the HR Manager enroute who asked if I was alright, which I responded with a smile. Only to drop the letter on his desk, before his return. The follow up was that the Personnel Director, from Head Office, came down to Paints Division and took askance, mentioning that I was the first Management Trainee to resign within one year, in his over ten years experience with the firm.

Well I had luck and circumstance with me as I had already secured another job, fifteen minutes walk away at another Multinational firm, as a Production engineer. I did get stick for my attitude since the Chairman and Board of ICI were not happy with my intransigience, letting the side down. But then I had a thick hide at the time.

Exercise: How would you have handled this situation better and what advice would you give your younger self?