Chisom Ojukwu, 27, is the business development manager at BlueTag Synergy Limited. He speaks about his love for business
What spurred your interest in business development?
It has always been a big deal for me because growing up; I had to help my parents in their business. However, I was not interested in it because I thought it was all about buying and selling. It was also very stressful. During my NYSC in Osun State, I realised that business goes beyond the buying and selling of commodities. The one year that I was in Osun State, broadened my horizon and made me understand that for a business to be successful, one has to observe it, see how it works and where there is a problem, fix it. I became interested in the area of management consulting. Then, I eventually got a job with PricewaterhouseCoopers.
What is your educational background?
I attended Dority International Secondary School, Aba, Abia State. I later studied Chemical Engineering at the Federal University of Science and Technology, Owerri.
Was it easy to transition from chemical engineering to business?
It was easy because everybody engages in business one way or the other; you may either be selling goods or an idea. The difference is just the way it is packaged. Business is about adding value and as a chemical engineer; I was trained to add value. I started at PWC as an auditor of an oil and gas unit. With my experience in oil and gas, I was able to work as an auditor so I just needed to apply it to the business part.
What places have you worked?
I was posted to Community High School, Wakajaiye, Osun State, for my NYSC programme and it was a good experience for me because I impacted lives. Then, I got a job as a business developer with an Information Technology firm that provides solutions for Health Station. I worked there for about six months before I got a job with PWC in 2014. I left in December 2017 to BlueTag Energy Project Limited as the business development manager.
What is your job description?
I head the team that comes up with business strategies that have to do with negotiation, invoices, interactions with clients and partners of the firm. I am involved with everything and anything that moves the organisation forward. I also do presentations with individuals and government officials.
As a business developer, how do you get to understand and cater to your organisation’s specific needs?
The first thing for me is to realise the value my organisation is selling because our need is connected to that value. For us, our value is to make the processes in the oil and gas industry easier. For instance, one of our solutions is to help locate if there is a leak in the pipeline and provide solutions. By doing this, we are also protecting the environment and adding value to mankind.
What motivates you in your work?
When I was in the university, I was intrigued by projects outside the school. One of the things I will never forget in chemical engineering is the clearing of natural gases. So, anytime I see a flood, I think about the money we can make by converting it to gas. Since I am with a company that uses technology to provide solutions, it makes me motivated to do my job and help the company find the places it needs to be in order to plug in the solution that will make the country better and safer.
What do you think is the role of mentorship in the lives of Nigerian youths?
Mentorship is important because experience is the best teacher. It is good to learn from someone that has experienced the things that you are struggling with because they have made their mistakes and learnt from it. However, I don’t think young people understand what mentorship is all about. It is not about finding somebody that has experience that will help you overcome your struggles; it is about adding value to them too. Mentorship is great but you have to realise that it is not a one-sided relationship. You need to give something back to your mentor. It could be the smallest thing like an encouraging text message in the morning. Also, you need to be careful not to have the wrong mentor.
What challenges do you face on your job and how do you overcome them?
One of the challenges for me is the system that we have. It is tough to do business in Nigeria but I have noticed that there have been some improvements, especially in technology. There are some processes that are now automated. For instance, if you want to enroll for employment, you can go through a process and not have to meet different people. However, there are still some organisations that are not like that yet so you have to struggle for regulations that are ancient. Also, a challenge for me is the fact that there are standard working hours but some people prefer to work at night. As a business developer, I basically report to my directors so I don’t have to be in the office as long as I am delivering on my job mandate.
What are your other interests?
Some of my strong points are speaking and writing. So, when I am not working, I am either doing public speaking or writing a book. I just co-authored a book of fiction and I run a writing company called, Words are Work. We write, publish and edit stories for individuals and companies. Also, at most weekends, I host corporate events, annual general meetings and weddings. For me, it is fun and fulfilling.
What advice do you have for youths who are pursuing careers?
Don’t feel restricted. Don’t let anyone tell you that there is something you cannot do. When I was growing up, it was either you had dreams to be an engineer, doctor or a lawyer because those were considered to be the important professions. Fast forward to this day, these professionals are not even the top earners anywhere in the world, even in Nigeria. Follow only what you enjoy doing, identify what your talent is and explore it to its full potential.
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