Saturday, September 21, 2019

Conversations: an email newsletter with career tips for young Nigerian professionals

Seven years and ~12 kg ago. I can't believe friends from university thought I had put on weight in this picture!

It is now 7+ years since I moved to Lagos to start my first job at P&G. Fresh out of university, I did not know what to expect. I was armed with a few shirts, a fierce determination to succeed, and two gifts from my mum: a pen holder and Richard Templar’s The Rules of Work.

There have been many ups and downs since then. Tough assignments, unexpected promotions, a downsizing, getting married, business school… The list could go on for a while. Through it all, I have learnt a lot about being a successful young professional in (and outside of) Nigeria.

I have always been drawn to sharing what I learn. I spend a lot of time reflecting (I have been told I spend too much time reflecting), reading, and talking to my role-models and mentors about life and career. I enjoy taking all that thinking and advice and condensing it for people who don’t invest as much time or don’t have access to such relationships.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

On Seun Onigbinde; Nigeria's Idealistic Idealism


You have argued for government transparency and judicious spending for years. You believe in these principles so much that you quit your job eight years ago to start a company dedicated to these ideals. You care strongly about your country and have criticized the government for its ineptitude. Then a development agency underwrites a position where you can apply your skills in service of your country. You will not change the entire system – of course, but you believe you might make a small difference.

Would you take the position?

Many Nigerians on Twitter seem to think you shouldn’t. Seun Onigbinde has been criticized strongly for accepting a position as Technical Adviser to the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning. Among other things, he is being criticized because he is critical of the current government and has previously said he would not accept an advisory position if he didn’t believe in the President.

I would make the same choice as Seun if I were in his shoes, so I wanted to spend some time thinking through it.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Happy Birthday, Koye

Wishes from my last birthday. Thank you, INSEAD fam
It’s my birthday!

I was just thinking about my birthday last year. I was in the penultimate period of the academic year at business school and I was anxious about recruiting. It turned out I was worrying about the wrong thing. The real trouble in the past year turned out to be the kind that blindsided me on a Wednesday morning deep in the middle of autumn. After I got off the phone, I remember thinking stupidly it was weird that the many dead leaves of autumn looked so beautiful.

The past year has been one heck of a ride. September to December went by in a blur as I interviewed ‘furiously’ and wrapped up the academic year. I’m glad my mum was there as I finished the MBA, and although my dad could not make that one – I’m sure he’ll be beaming in the audience when I earn the next degree (Yes you read that right). I had a three month break after the rollercoaster of the INSEAD year, which was great for reflecting, spending time with friends and family, and falling in love with Lagos again. We then moved to an exciting new city not too far from home (Home-home is Ibadan, home is Lagos).

Thursday, August 22, 2019

RE: Massive International Fraud and Money Laundering Conspiracy


I am very angry tonight.

I have just read the recent press release by the United States Department of Justice detailing how 80 defendants participated in a massive conspiracy to steal millions of dollars through various fraud schemes. I condemn theft and welcome efforts to apprehend and prosecute thieves, so that is not what angers me. I am angry because “most of these 80 defendants are Nigerians”.

I am angry because these people seek to normalize a world where it is okay to steal the hard-earned money of other people and companies. It will never be right to cause other people pain by stealing things that belong to them!

I am angry because these people and others like them make it harder for upstanding Nigerians to do business globally, travel the world easily, and access goods and services citizens of other countries take for granted.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

My Skin Is Black: On Africans and Black People from the US, Britain, and Elsewhere

Jay Z lyrics are from The Story of OJ (4:44, July 2017). The background picture is from Beyoncé and Jay Z's On The Run II tour in Paris.
A few weeks ago, someone came to our flat to fix a toilet leak. While kneeling by the toilet to diagnose the leak, he looked up at me and asked twice "are you sure nobody has been standing on the toilet seat?". I thought it was funny and laughed it off both times. "Of course nobody has been standing on the toilet seat".

Shortly after he left, I started to think that was a weird question. Then I realized it may have been racist. After all, he likely wouldn't ask a white family if they had been standing on their toilet seat. I told Busola about it later that evening and we discussed how slow I had been to recognize his racism. I also told a few friends who had moved to Europe over the past few years, and they were like "oh that was racist. Mschew*. Next time respond like this..."

Then I told a Black British acquaintance, and he was livid! He got so pissed and went on about how it was really bad behavior. I was intrigued by his response, so I told another Black British acquaintance. The second response was even more volatile. He took his annoyance one step further by getting upset with me for not detecting the racism and calling it out.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Five Teachers Who Shaped My Life


I saw The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Netflix) today, and it got me thinking about the many brilliant teachers I have had. While I often give my parents most of the credit for raising me, they were helped by some fine men and women who have dedicated their lives to feeding young minds.

I wrote up a quick post about five teachers who have played important parts in my ongoing journey through eternity.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Why are Goodbyes so Hard? An Amateur Theory


For many millennia, homo sapiens lived in small bands that foraged and lived together (1). Every once in a while, a small group would splinter off in search of better conditions, to avoid or resolve conflict, or after natural calamities, but it is safe to assume many of our ancestors lived most of their lives in the company of people they had always known.

Why am I telling you about unnamed people who lived all their lives in small groups thousands of years ago? Because I theorize that this might partly explain why it is so hard to say goodbye in 2019.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Thoughts On Nigeria's 2019 Elections


I have felt very detached from Nigeria’s elections this year. I remain passionate about the country and committed to its development, but it has been difficult to engage on social media or canvass votes for my preferred candidate.

There are many reasons for this. I was away from Nigeria studying when most of the campaigning started last year, so it was more difficult than in previous election cycles to get involved. Importantly, I am still scarred from my disappointment with Buhari's first term. I was a big fan in 2011 and 2015, thinking he would lead the war on corruption and terrorism and provide a facilitating environment to fuel economic growth and build lasting institutions.

I was wrong, it seems. The war on corruption seems to have been prosecuted selectively; the President defended Ganduje publicly despite video evidence of bribery and remains close to Orji Uzor Kalu who has been accused with a N7.7billion fraud. Court orders have been ignored and there have been attempts to weaponize the judiciary, such as in the cases of El-Zakzaky and Sambo Dasuki who remain in detention despite multiple court orders directing their release. The economy has fared poorly under Buhari’s watch and his administration has missed many opportunities to make tough choices in the best interests of Nigeria.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

INSEAD Class of December 2018 Valedictory Speech



After the incredible year I had at INSEAD, I also had the good fortune to be Valedictorian at the graduation in Fontainebleau, France. (INSEAD holds graduation ceremonies at two campuses: France and Singapore).

The video is available above (embedded YouTube), and I posted the text on Medium here.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

IBADAN - A Poem

A view of Ibadan from Bower's Tower. I took this picture.

Ibadan is good memories,
Of growing up with impish siblings and devoted parents,
Of walking around Iwo Road handing out flyers for church programs,
Of the delicious amala and gbegiri you could find on every side street,
Of brown cardboard boxes that arrived from the United States with loads of books,