Chemical Engineering Students Glean Valuable Entrepreneurial Advice
Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Fluid Management Services, Mrs Olubunmi Akingba delivered a transparent and down-to-earth presentation titled, “The Engineer as an Entrepreneur; Prospects and Challenges,” at the Chemical Engineering Town & Gown interaction on Thursday, November 12, 2015 . The guest speaker passionately shared from her rich engineering and business experience, detailing her professional and spiritual journey to becoming a successful CEO. She emphatically urged the students, “Have a relationship with God. It’s not about doing what people and institutions tell you to do; you must be able to stand alone with Christ.”
Head of Chemical Engineering, Dr Vincent Efeovbokhan, stated that in the developed world, most research is carried out as a result of industry-related problems. “That is why developed countries are on the cutting edge of research - they link with industries,” he remarked. Dr Efeovbokhan reminded all in attendance of the purpose of the Town & Gown interaction stating that it connects the University with Industry experts in order to create students who will be ready-made graduates by the time they leave.
In opening her presentation, Mrs Akingba shared that the most significant event in her life occurred as a 400 level student when she gave her life to Jesus. Early on in her Christian walk, she identified her place in the body of Christ. “Walk in the light of what He calls you to do,” she encouraged the students. “Whatever He’s called you to do, He will give you the desire to do.” She shared how the Lord told her that He wanted her to finance the spread of the Gospel. “It didn’t happen overnight,” she said. “It was a 20-year journey from discovering that purpose to walking in it.” She explained how many students expect God’s purpose to unfold in their lives overnight. But God took her through a process of preparation to ensure she was ready for what He had.
Mrs Akingba worked in the oil industry for 16 years. When she was in charge of production, she was the only woman and at 24 years of age she was the plant manager before moving into the sales and marketing aspect of the company. But she always wanted to leave and start her own business. Opportunities arose, but she didn’t have a peace about leaving yet. “God was training me,” she told the students. “The good thing about working under a boss is that you’re taught practises and processes. God was giving me practise for when I would start my own business,” she remarked. When the right time came, Mrs Akingba stepped out and began a business selling diesel.
She shared how God had told her he had given her a 3-year head start in her business but competition would soon come. It was important for her to maximise her advantage. In order to do so, she attended Harvard University for a 3-year programme. “Some of the most valuable things I learned were about running multiple businesses and that every business has a lifecycle. When it peaks, you have to decide what to do; whether you will reinvent, sell or let it die, but you can run streams of businesses at different stages of the business cycle,” she commented.
Mrs Akingba identified some of the pitfalls young entrepreneurs encounter. “Some people copy others,” she remarked. “If you want to be an entrepreneur, you must bring value to the table. If you are able to do this, you will be sought out. God will bring people your way who can partner with you, and you need to work in love with whoever God brings,” Mrs Akingba stated. She shared how many Nigerians believe that if you don’t know certain people and go to their parties, you won’t earn the favour you desire, to be successful. “If you have a valuable product, it will sell itself,” she remarked. She encouraged the students to flee all appearances of evil and to avoid placing themselves in compromising positions.
When advising students on entrepreneurship she encouraged them, “Be someone who keeps your word – even if it hurts. Don’t compromise,” she advised the students, “it will create confusion and you won’t be able to hear God’s voice over the noise and fuzz out there.”
“Have a system in place. Many Nigerian businesses don’t have this and international investors are reluctant to invest in businesses that have no systems and safeguards in place. Ensure you follow business ethics, have job descriptions for your staff and carry out appraisals,” she advised. “If you intend on being Standards Organisation of Nigeria (ISO) certified, you must tick all the boxes and your business must run on autopilot as they will audit your processes.”
Mrs Akingba concluded by encouraging the Chemical Engineering student to seek God for their place in His kingdom and to walk in the light of what He calls them to.
The Head of Department in his closing thanked Mrs Akingba for her challenging and informative presentation. He remarked that it was clearly evident that the most important thing in her journey has been that she listened to God and followed Him. “Don’t follow others,” he reiterated. “Find out God’s plan for you and follow it.”
Also in attendance were other members of the Department of Chemical Engineering and members of the Directorate of Media and Corporate Affairs.