It's been SUMS Journey: Olufeyisayo S. Soewu (2006)

— 02.08.18

by Adam Greenwood

Olufeyisayo Sofolahan Soewu, Sheffield MBA graduate (2006), works in HR at Pivot-GIS Ltd which is a multi-sector corporation in Lagos, Nigeria.

"My first acquaintance with Olufeysiayo was a response to a call-out for Nigerian based alumni on behalf of an alumnus just starting out there", says Adam Greenwood, Alumni & Communications Coordinator. It was a really nice gesture by Oluefeysiayo to offer support to a Sheffield graduate who was looking to build personal connections. The fact that Olufeyisayo contacted us immediately was indicative of his warmth of character and willingness to help".

In this interview, Olufeyisayo shares an array of stunning photoraphy from his current life in the vibrant city of Lagos, plus useful career tips and an insight into his life anchors.

“I owe my current career growth and record to the Management School for having offered me quality education that gave me great exposure and ‘tooled’ me with essential skill sets.”

1. We first contacted you back in November 2017 when you kindly offered to lend your time and support to reach out to a new alumni working in Nigeria. Why do you think it is important to support fellow alumni?

First of all and on an emotional level, I owe my current career growth and record to the school for having offered me quality education that gave me great exposure and ‘tooled’ me with essential skill sets that has helped me manage my career from a perspective that shows a solid foundation in learning. Thus, I would always be willing to help out any alumni of SUMS. Secondly, meeting any alumni will only expand one’s network and we all know that networks contribute a great deal to success in business.

2. You work as a Team Lead in HR & Administration for Pivot-GIS Ltd, an engineering, procurement, construction and maintenance corporation in Lagos, Nigeria. What are the opportunities and challenges of working within the HR sector in Nigeria?

Oh, there are numerous opportunities as there are so many challenges in dealing with the profession of Human Resources in Nigeria. I will highlight some challenges and that should give an idea of where the opportunities lie in doing HR differently. Some of the challenges faced with HR in Nigeria include: outdated policies even from a national point of view; many organisations still run manual processes in handling HR based activities; many organisations still see HR as an operational activity rather than strategic and a core pillar in growing businesses; inability of many organisations to separate the dictates of business owners from doing what is right for the organisations; numerous small players providing HR based support from a third party vendor perspective; etc...

“Due to life in Lagos where traffic can be crazy, I typically get into the office about an hour and a half before the official resumption time, which is 8am. I use that extra time to plan my day, do some reading and put down my thoughts on things I would like to achieve.”

3. Describe a typical day in the office...

Due to life in Lagos where traffic can be crazy, I typically get into the office about an hour and a half before the official resumption time, which is 8am. I use that extra time to plan my day, do some reading and put down my thoughts on things I would like to achieve. When the day officially kicks off, I typically work through policy matters to ensure everything regarding catering to employees follows approved people policies. Due to the nature of the business of the company, where we handle engineering, procurement, construction, operations and maintenance for clients in the oil & gas industries, we have multiple project locations around the country which I am part of the team coordinating these outfields, especially as it concerns HR activities. Handle day-to-day HR operational matters around recruitment & onboarding, employee welfare, compensation and leave administration. Other matters I get involved in include, performance monitoring, managing/fostering the corporate relationship between Pivot GIS and other companies within the Honeywell Group (Pivot GIS is a Honeywell Group subsidiary).

4. What's it like living and working in Lagos? How does this compare with Sheffield?

Honestly, living and working in Lagos does have its challenges and can really be tough on the individual. In addition to the high cost of living in the city of Lagos, you have to contend with bad traffic virtually every single day of the week.Thus, this tends to tire you out over the long term and does cause high levels of stress. It is very essential to always look for activities that will help one cope with the insane levels of stress in Lagos. Is there a basis for comparison? I don’t think so. Sheffield has a uniqueness about it, especially the concerted efforts to transform the economy from an industrial base to a more service oriented city, which I think has been handled well.

5. You gained a Postgraduate Masters in MBA/Management from us back in 2006. What did you enjoy most about the course?

The one thing that stood out for me was the quality of the faculty/teaching staff. Their experiences were definitely brought to bear on the teaching and learning outcomes of the various courses each student had to go through.

6. What do you do to relax and unwind after a busy day in the office?

I could go for a run, practising to become a photographer (self-taught), watch a movie at the cinema and go home to spend time with the family.

“Employees must learn to fully understand the scope and scale of their roles within the workplace, which helps them better interact with their immediate environment.”

7. What advice do you give to your employees in the area of workplace wellbeing?

First of all, it is really about understanding the overarching strategic outlook of the business and aligning oneself with those kind of objectives, which then helps the individual shape his/her expectations. In this regard, it greatly reduces the tension/friction between employees and employers. Employees must learn to fully understand the scope and scale of their roles within the workplace, which helps them better interact with their immediate environment. They must build internal networks/relationships, one, in order to foster a more amiable work environment and two, gives them a better leverage to get more work done quicker especially as some of their activities might require interacting with another department.

10. Finally, what are your top 3 pieces of advice for a student looking to work in HR?

a. Must be willing and ready to think radically differently about how to handle matters that come up during the cause of dealing with people.
b. Must possess the ability to stay true to principles/policies/processes that guide HR activities within and outside the workplace.
c. Must have a genuine passion for fostering relationships that would drive overall employee welfare.

Do you want to be interviewed? Alumni can ask for a interview by emailing mgtalumni@sheffield.ac.uk

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