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Move Back to Nigeria: ‘I Often Miss The Comforts & Conveniences of Living Abroad…But Home is Indeed Home!’ Oil & Gas Engineer shares Her Story

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Move Back to Nigeria is a series on BellaNaija which aims to encourage young and not-so-young professionals in the diaspora who are trying to make the decision of whether to move back to Nigeria. In collaboration with the brilliant team at MoveBackToNigeria.com, we hope to bring you a weekly interview with individuals who have successfully made the leap, considering the leap, as well as those who have tried it and realized it is not for them.

The idea is to share their successes and their challenges as they made the decisions they did. A lot of Nigerians in the diaspora have questions about making a change at home in Nigeria. Many suggest really good ideas on how to make things better; others would like to contribute to making a difference back home but are just not sure where to begin.

Movebacktonigeria.com is the fastest growing online community of Nigerian professionals living, studying and working in diaspora.

We caught up with a returnee engineer who anonymously discusses her professional experiences and her move back to Nigeria story. Her pragmatic and detailed take on life as an engineer and what it entails, is definitely worth reading.

Thanks for speaking with us: Can you please introduce yourself?
I was born and bred in Nigeria, I left in 2000 for my A levels in Ireland. I then moved on to the UK, University of Nottingham, to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering. After my BEng., I took a year out to travel, attempt to learn a new language and reflect on the future. By the end of the gap year, I landed a job in Investment Banking.

After a degree in engineering, your first job was in investment banking. Was this where your interests really were?
Not at all! My ideal job was in my field – engineering. However it was a nightmare getting a relevant job. So after several unsuccessful applications I took what I got as I couldn’t stay much longer without a job. A lot of my friends and schoolmates were moving into investment banking as well and I thought – why not give it  a shot.

I always had at the back of my mind that it was not what I really wanted so I kept on applying for my ‘dream job’.  Nine months later I got a job as a junior engineer at a petrochemical consulting firm in London.  I worked with the firm  for 18 months before moving on to pursue a Master’s degree in Petroleum Engineering from Imperial College.

Right! So what came next for you after your Masters degree?
Upon completion of my master’s degree, I got an offer to work with a leading oilfield service company in Nigeria. Therefore the decision to move back to Nigeria was not a deliberate one, it just happened.

You were not consciously looking for a job that would bring you to Nigeria?
Not particularly. When I interviewed for the job, the recruiter advised me to keep an open mind towards international assignments for some reason I never thought it would be Nigeria. Of course, I secretly welcomed the idea of being assigned to my home country, but at the time I wasn’t mentally prepared for the move. When the offer finally came – it was for Nigeria, I gladly accepted it.

I figured that being assigned to my home country would offer me a great soft landing back home and into the job/role. In hindsight, I am happy that it was Nigeria. I knew that at some point I would definitely be returning home especially since I’m not the type to have lived abroad long-term.

Ok. Tell us about your current role.
I work as a Reservoir Engineer providing technical support in reservoir testing to our E & P clients in order to allow them prove their reservoir potential, confirm well performance and improve field productivity throughout the life of an asset. We generally are in place from the beginning of the field cycle up until the end; from exploration all the way to development and sometimes abandonment in the later years.

For those who may be considering a career in reservoir engineering, what is the average pay package at an entry level position for instance?
Let me create some background. There are generally two classes of companies in the oil industry; service and producing/operating company. For entry-level REs, operating companies pay way better than service companies. The perks of the service companies are extensive exposure and quicker career progression, but in terms of the pay, it is not at par with that of engineers at operating companies. In terms of figures, the IOCs typically start on about N13 million per annum (on average). Service companies packages start off lower, but tend to have more benefits such as housing, transportation allowances, for a basic figure I would say N7-8 million.

Right! How has your experience been since moving back?
It was interesting enough moving back to Lagos but suddenly I had to make another move to Port Harcourt, a city I had never been to, that was a huge culture shock. To be fair to the company, they make such transitions as comfortable as can be, taking care of accommodation and everything else. However, I was somewhat restricted in a sense because all my time was spent around work, all my friends were from work and so I really didn’t get to experience the city and everything else that came with living in Port Harcourt. After my year and a half stint in PH, I moved to my current assignment in Lagos.

Now you’re in Lagos, what is it like moving back home after being away for over a decade?
During my time away, I came back home almost every year. However, I know coming home during holidays and actually living in Nigeria are completely different. I must say it wasn’t a terrible shock for me because there were some things I was well aware of such as the daily issues of traffic, the erratic electricity and dealing with people. It just took me a while to adjust to the Nigerian schedule and thankfully, I have a very good support system in my family who made sure I had everything that I needed. The work culture as well also took some getting used to.

So what have the positives of moving back been for you?
Definitely being around my family especially my grandma whom I’m very close to. Just being back home really – at the end of the day, home is home. Although I still miss the comfort and conveniences of living abroad, I don’t regret my decision to move back home. Also, since I moved back I have been able to set up my own business, something I would never have even considered while living in the UK.

And the negatives, if any?
Negatives would be just the basic infrastructural challenges. They are not unique to me, every Nigerian faces these same challenges. It is very frustrating particularly because Nigeria has so much potential and it could be a hundred times better than what it is today.

That is certainly true. On a final note, what advice can you offer readers who may be considering the move back home?
I think whoever plans on making the move back home has to do so after extensive research as it is not a decision you just venture into it blindly. You have to be well informed which could be from regular visits, or from family and friends.

Getting a job prior to making the move is also one of the best things that could happen as it provides a very soft landing. The job market is really tough and unless you are actually living in the country, you don’t get to hear about job opportunities but then thanks to people like you guys at movebacktoNigeria.com, more information on current job openings available for Nigerians in Diaspora is now easily accessible.

 Many thanks for your time and best wishes moving forward!

Photo Credit: madamenoire.com
_____________________________________________________________________________________________
The  primary objective of MoveBackToNigeria.com is to connect Nigerian professionals with various opportunities in Nigeria, ranging from recruitment drives to information & support regarding relocation processes, financial & tax advice and much more. Move Back To Nigeria also features social interest topics such as what’s on, where to live, how-to survival tips and so on. Consistently engaging with and featuring Nigerian professionals in weekly  interviews, Move Back To Nigeria regularly publishes social interest articles relevant to the general public. Everyone is welcome to their online discussions & fora and you are invited to air your views & suggestions on the topical and trending matters section. For more information and further inquiries, please contact [email protected]

MBTN helps Nigerian and African professionals from across the world connect with career and Investment opportunities. We also organise networking events, conferences and workshops that give you the required tools to get ahead in your career in Africa or elsewhere. Find out more at www.mbtnglobal.com. Follow us on Twitter @mbtnglobal and Instagram @mbtnglobal

40 Comments

  1. Xtsy

    November 22, 2013 at 9:43 am

    Straightforward situation

  2. lila

    November 22, 2013 at 9:56 am

    7-8 million per annum!!!….i knew i should have listened in further maths class…

    • Chic

      November 22, 2013 at 10:37 am

      As in! Dear God please take me back in time to high school precisely and I promise to do better in the sciences

    • Idak

      November 24, 2013 at 6:58 pm

      Hahahahaha!
      Even if you flunked sciences,’He will make again another’.
      Sciences no be the only route to hammering.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      November 22, 2013 at 4:21 pm

      REs and geologists are the beloved darlings of this hydrocarbons industry. Everyone else come follow them for back dey do houseboy/girl work 🙂

      And believe me when I say that you really don’t want to know how much they really earn once they start acquiring experience in their field. If you’re toting an Msc from Imperial, your attraction to employers multiplies and salaries with a few years of experience head towards & past the £100k mark.

      Our generation really needs to start giving career talks to secondary school girls im Nigeria, informing them of the 101 reasons why they can enjoy the good life without selling their bodies to men. The engr. sector holds a wealth of opportunities….

    • Tony

      November 23, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      Some of us have started giving career talk in secondary schools but sometimes hardly find willing female speakers to come along. I have invited ladies several times and probably more than 10, but only three made it to our event and only two spoke. One was an only girls Secondary School, the other a Co-educational Secondary School

    • Idak

      November 24, 2013 at 7:19 pm

      They already know that they can have the good life without selling their bodies,they just want easier and more assured route.
      2ndly, the kind of role models that social media in particular celebrates makes it difficult for vulnerable girls to follow that advice of yours. Or might sound harsh but it is debatable that most of the most celebrated females on social media are selling one part of their female anatomy or the other, either outrightly, codeldly or even subtely. Apart from your close friends, how many professionals do you know their stotries or have used as your do but folks here use actresses, assumed models and ‘celebrities’ with no properly defined talent. These are the people the vulnerable girls in high school are aspiring to be like.
      I know a lot of women are making it via Ikebe power in the corporate but their are women making it cleanly. We need to celebrate and announce such ladies and do it in spaces where young vulnerable girls have access to,not Guardian and Thisday.
      BN, I son give you assignment.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      November 24, 2013 at 8:50 pm

      Well done, Tony & please continue the good work for as long as you can. Those kids need real people giving them real-life advice about careers to balance all the fake perception of celebrity lifestyles they read about on blogs.

    • Idak

      November 25, 2013 at 10:52 am

      That was a typo in the last line.
      I meant; BN, I don give you assignment.

    • Mrs Dangote (nee Anonymous)

      November 25, 2013 at 3:49 pm

      Tony you can invite me…seriously!

    • Amarachi Alisiobi

      November 25, 2013 at 3:55 pm

      Absolutely agree with this….

    • TA

      November 27, 2013 at 3:57 pm

      Me too! lol! 😉

    • TA

      November 27, 2013 at 5:18 pm

      As in,why on earth did I hate maths and some of the sciences? They still dont interest me anyways,only their fat pay package am totally loving. Lol! 🙂

  3. Chum chum

    November 22, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Home is indeed home….

  4. Iamtiredofthediaspora

    November 22, 2013 at 11:21 am

    I wish MBTN would do a piece on how to actually get jobs in Nigeria. e.g bodies we can join to help us network, international recruiting firms etc. It will help a lot of people who want to move back but don’t know how to go about finding a job in Nigeria.

  5. madman

    November 22, 2013 at 11:49 am

    but some people move back because they don’t have papers. I don’t understand why there is a conversation on moving back home.

    • ogeAdiro

      November 22, 2013 at 5:56 pm

      There is a conversation because some people genuinely want to go/come back. If I was in her shoes I’ll make the same move because in yankee/jand she’ll probably just remain middle class but in Naija with a salary like that, too much potential.

  6. B

    November 22, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Bb I love your series on moving back but some constructive criticism (assuming someone in your team proof read this before publishing). When abbreviations are used in an article intended for the general public,pls expatriate so it’s clear.

    Thanks

  7. B

    November 22, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Bn I love your series on moving back but some constructive criticism (assuming someone in your team proof read this before publishing). When abbreviations are used in an article intended for the general public,pls expantiate so it’s clear.
    Thanks

  8. Badass

    November 22, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Actually, her estimates are very conservative. The average oil servicing pays entry level of 10 million, while the IOCs pay between 13-17m starting, for engineers ( that’s for all the benefits though)

    E go beta!

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      November 22, 2013 at 4:33 pm

      Yeah, I thought she was being really conservative as well but figured she must have been quoting starting salaries for fresh graduates, in which case I can see the basic salaries sitting within her estimates. The benefits can quickly boost those figures closer to your own estimates. Then when the experience starts tallying up? Carry go to the highest bidder…

    • age is nothing really

      November 27, 2013 at 3:51 pm

      I tire! I think say na only me spot the conservative salary,hian! The money big pass so well well,and not to mention the pay packages of the bigwigs like all dem Exxon Mobil,Chevron,Total or Total,their own pay is just… oh well let me go and day dream some more. Lol!

  9. ADG

    November 22, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    straight foward and honest

  10. faceofcilla

    November 22, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Now this is what it means to try to make a difference for your country and not just complaining! I love this series it will help those of us considering moving back! Thanks

    • okk

      November 22, 2013 at 8:20 pm

      wait…I’m confused. What kind of difference is she making? She works in a petrochemical company (probably a multinational one), how does that affect Nigeria. Just saying.

  11. Chichi chb

    November 22, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    Could we get one on the health care field in Nigeria. I am curious

    • TA

      November 27, 2013 at 4:17 pm

      Thanks,yeah,me too. BN,please note

  12. NNENNE

    November 23, 2013 at 3:21 am

    That’s the way to move. Get your job first.

  13. Msunderstood

    November 23, 2013 at 4:59 am

    I’m currently studying pet engr n I have a first degree in chem engr. I was getting confused on where to specialize. I feel like I clicked on this page by fate, it’s reservoir engrn no more going back n forth. Thank u.
    I hope to someday come back to naija to practise as well.

  14. Tanwa

    November 23, 2013 at 6:47 am

    I don’t know about her circumstances but from experience engineering is a hot deal in England. The companies recruit from the class room and even offer incentive like paying off student loans, arranging mortgages etc. a colleague of mine has just got a job offer confirmed from one such company. Starting pay is 48000 pounds per annum . She’s 21 and still in school.

    • Idak

      November 24, 2013 at 6:55 pm

      So you just drew conclusions from the experience of one friend of yours?
      This is the same problem we have of people relocating to specific places abroad based on one person’s testimony and ignoring the trend and general statistics or coming home from abroad because you know or heard of one person who landed an 18m per annum job in Lagos or Abuja. Meanwhile many more are coming home and regretting the return or relocating abroad and regretting it.

    • Tanwa

      November 25, 2013 at 3:38 pm

      If you want statistics you’ve really got to get out there and do the research me thinks the real problem is lazy grumpy people waiting for others to do the leg work for them.

  15. richard akpan

    November 23, 2013 at 6:56 am

    hmmmmmm.13 mill per annum..thats good.

  16. Olu

    November 23, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    This interviewer needs to stop uttering words such as ‘Right’, ‘That is certainly true’, etc. in the course of an interview. Your job is to ask questions and not to expressly consent to the answers they give you. It’s unprofessional journalism!

    • O.T. Dubois

      November 24, 2013 at 5:11 am

      I thought I was the only one who noticed the ‘Right!’. It’s such an awkward word to use as an interviewer.

  17. Endo

    November 24, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    The last paragraph nailed it. Getting a job first before
    relocating home is the best way to go. Pls share your endometriosis
    [email protected] endochallenges.wordpress.com. Let’s beat endo
    together!

  18. Anon1

    November 24, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    wetin be ur own?

  19. frances

    November 26, 2013 at 1:46 am

    Tony,keep up the good work.and I am interested in the speakers thing,I think its a great way to help our young girls.
    You can email me if you still need speakers,I will be willing to join. [email protected]

  20. Bukky

    January 1, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    @ Tony, I also wont mind to be a volunteer. my email is [email protected]

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