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Move Back To Nigeria: “Nothing Is Quite Impossible in Nigeria” Mitun Dada Shares Her Remarkable 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.

MoveBacktoNigeria.com’s mission is to showcase stories of Nigerians abroad who have moved back home and are taking giant strides, often against all odds and to serve as inspiration to others. This, however does not preclude us from sharing stories of the people who have moved back and are facing various challenges.

This week, we are excited to profile Mitun Dada, Abuja-based civil engineer, social media expert and business consultant, clearly a woman of many interesting parts. For more on her academic and professional background,as well as her youth empowerment initiatives, do read on.

Thanks for speaking with us. Can you please introduce yourself and describe yourself professionally and otherwise?
My name is Mitun Dada and I am a Civil Engineer by training. I currently work as an Assistant Project Manager for a construction project management company and I also run my own company, Ledgewood Nig. Ltd; a leading social media, online marketing and business consultancy organization based in Abuja.

When and why did you leave Nigeria?
I first left Nigeria in 1990 as a very young girl with my sister. Our parents had moved to the states the year before and settled down there, so we went over to join them. We must have been like 5 years old then.

Tell us about your educational background.
I have a BSc in Civil Engineering with a focus on Construction Management, from Rutgers University in New Jersey and an MSc in Property Development from the University of Portsmouth in the UK.

Did you always want to be an engineer?
Not right away. Actually, I always knew I wanted to run my own business, but while I was in high school, my two favourite subjects were math and physics and I wanted to study something challenging that I could not learn on my own or teach myself so I decided on engineering. Initially, I wanted to do computer engineering but I didn’t quite like that, then I declared Industrial Engineering as a major and after a year of taking those courses, I still had no idea what exactly they did. So, after that summer, I sat down and researched all the various engineering options and decided on civil engineering. I love buildings and structures and the idea of creating something almost out of thing.

How did your professional life and career begin?
My professional role as an engineer, began in the States while I was still in university. In my final year studying civil engineering, I started to look for work as a construction manager but could not find anything satisfactory. Instead what I ended up doing was working as a structural engineer which I started part time as a student then continued full time after I graduated, until I decided to move back to Nigeria. I had to do a lot of learning on the job as this was not my core focus in school, so I found it challenging but very rewarding.

When did you move back to Nigeria and what prompted the move?
I moved back in 2008, my parents had moved back to Nigeria a few years earlier and they convinced my sister and I to quit our jobs and come do NYSC and check it out. So we quit our jobs and packed our bags.

It was as simple as that?
Yes it was actually. The joys of being young! But I moved back to the UK the year after NYSC and did my Masters and worked for a little while before settling down for good in Abuja in early 2012.

Please tell us what you do professionally in Nigeria.
I believe in generating multiple streams of income and I always love a good challenge. I am a bit of a serial entrepreneur and I love to help people and impact everyone positively everywhere I go. So aside from my 9-5 as an engineer, my social media and business consultancy organization runs a youth empowerment program every other month in Abuja for now called Ledgewood Nig. Business Development and Career Day. It is absolutely free to the public, targeted towards anyone between the ages of 19 to 33 and we have trainings, seminars and workshops on personal and professional development and on various entrepreneurial skills.

I also recently started a Customer Service and Customized training company and I co-run an NGO called Nigeria Reads Initiative which aims to promote literacy all over Nigeria by establishing local community libraries in outer communities to foster good reading habits and a strong reading culture to less privileged children and young adults. Our pioneer library is the Tasha Community Library and we currently have a few more underway.

That’s very impressive but sounds like a lot on your plate! How do you successfully juggle it all?
I don’t sleep! Well, I am usually always on the go, but I am very conscious of the fact that I need to maintain a work-life balance; if I do not take care of myself properly then I will not be able to function at my optimum. I generally wake up a bit early during the week between 5.30am and 6am, say my prayers ask God for the strength to do all the things I need to do then get some work done. Then, I get ready to do school runs and head to the office. I tend to have lots of meetings after 5pm and on the weekends and I have some good people I team up with and that really helps. If I find myself feeling overwhelmed or swamped, I simply pull back and try to regroup and I usually do this by reducing my work load for a day and go for a nice run that always helps to clear my head.

How have you found the move? Highs and lows?
I love Nigeria, but the move back definitely has had its highs and its lows. Sometimes I just want to go back to constant light and power and petrol. Working and Living in Nigeria is a whole different ball game compared to having lived and worked in the States and UK. Things here are not as straight-forward. There’s a lot of politics and things do not always go as planned. However, on the flipside, I love the fact that nothing is quite impossible in Nigeria. There are a lot of opportunities here, as we are still a developing nation and Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa so I find that quite exciting.

And have you had to make significant lifestyle adjustments?
Yes, a few. For instance, I take less vacations. Americans love their vacations, now I am lucky if I can squeeze one in a year. Most of my lifestyle differences would be more of a personal decision, I have always been big on volunteering but I do volunteer more since I moved back; there is just so much that can be done and I work-out a lot more, which I love to do as well and it keeps me refreshed and fit.

Have you also had any particular work-related challenges and positives? If yes, how have you dealt with the challenges?
When I first moved back I found it a bit challenging finding a job. Even though I had gotten a few job offers, the jobs just never started or I just wouldn’t hear back from the company. I couldn’t believe the whole process! I would have gotten the offer letters, signed and returned them and then nothing! That was quite unnerving but I got over it and God did see me through those times, anytime I fell down He always picked me right back up.

You’ve clearly risen beyond those challenges…Moving on, where do you see yourself and your brand in the mid to long term?
In the mid to long term, I hope to see a lot of growth for myself and my brand. I would like all my businesses and NGOs to go nation-wide and also hopefully feature in the international markets as well.

Finally, do you have any tips or words of advice for people potentially considering a similar move back to Nigeria?
Go for it! You will not lose, and if it does not quite work out the way you expected, chalk it up to a great learning experience and keep going.

Many thanks for your time and best wishes moving forward.
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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

24 Comments

  1. Non professional opinion

    April 4, 2014 at 9:59 am

    I respect her hustle. Hardwork is always admirable. Keep it up!

  2. ada

    April 4, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Multiple streams of good income is one effective way to live well in this economy and also have a little diversity/fun in your work/job. Though I get really fagged out sometimes, I can’t give up my side-biz cuz its more hands-on and fun than the routine 8-5! Thumbs up Mitun!

  3. Fumz

    April 4, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Rutgers stand up! I went to undergrad with Mitun and I must say this is one strong woman right here!! So Inspiring so true! Love you Mitun!! woohoo!!! lol.. On the real though, I’m so proud of your girl keep on doing big big things!!!

  4. Zero

    April 4, 2014 at 11:28 am

    I no believe all this tori…e no get hoe she go leave uk or yankee go back naija if to say e get good job for dere..make una no dey mislead d genuine ones with good jobs to come suffer for naija…we need help 4 naija, i come visit of recent and we still get very loooooong way to go…na bad belle people na him i fear pass 4 naija, especially workplaces…u fit cry when you see how even married women dey disgrace themself for promotion..na apology..abeg, me i like my nice life for uk oh, good job, no need for yeye complain everyday about one nonsense wey dey happen for work..nice people,nicw work,nice life,no one harms or victimizes anyone..if ur good,ur good and you get the credit or promotion u deserve..simple and efficient life. we really need to take cue from this men…

    • nene

      April 4, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      some people leave because they might also be thinking of starting a family. chances of a black woman getting married abroad are not high, so some people come back in the hopes of not only working but also finding a husband. so it’s not always because they didn’t have a good job abroad. money is not everything, and some people prefer to have a family over having stupendous wealth, especially if that person is a woman.

    • slice

      April 4, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      family tends to be a big push for these things. Here parents are in Naija. Her sister is moving back. Wetin remain? Sure she may have good friends in the U.K. but when your whole family is moving like that even good job may not be enough to make you stay.

  5. Tilux

    April 4, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    With a name like Zero I didn’t quite expect anything good from you. I’ve been in the U.K for 17 years and plan to go back home, not because of the lack of a good job but because I strongly believe it takes all hands on deck to make Nigeria a place where someday our yet to be born children can be proud of. Hope, love and passion is what I believe it’ll take, rather than wait for an up reformed government. Call me a dreamer but I refuse to give up hope. One day at a time. Long live the FRN!

    • Onye Ara

      April 5, 2014 at 6:17 pm

      You made a valid point but disparaging Zero actually detracts from your point. He/She has a valid point too.
      You may be going back to naija because you think all hands need to be on deck to save her. Frankly,some people do not believe in the viability of the country and we must not be demonized for not believing. It is our inalienable right and it is rooted in reality.
      There is no right answer to the vexing question of whether to move back to naija or stay abroad. Like relationships,no two circumstances are the same.
      To each his/her own.

  6. Seyi

    April 4, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    I love her positive attitude to work! There is no need for negativity! I was born in the UK, as much as it is organised and all, there are still flaws. No country is perfect. Besides, the British, Americans, etc had to work hard to get their country to where it is today.

    more-than-one-love.blogspot.co.uk

    • nike

      April 4, 2014 at 4:15 pm

      Seyi jo go sitdown somewhere jare. We still aint heard frm you.

  7. FunkyW

    April 4, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Kudos to you Mitun! Please take good care of yourself.

    @Zero, its a pity your pessimism doesn’t let you see beyond your nose.

  8. Confuzzled

    April 4, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    I have almost exactly the same educational background as she does!! Planning to move back in a few months. She is an inspiration!!

  9. BabyDee

    April 4, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Still waiting for the remarkable part…………..
    I don’t see what’s different or extra fantastic from other move back stories we’ve seen here.

    -BabyDee

  10. Fumz

    April 4, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    @ Zero, I can understand why you might feel this way. Moving to Nigeria is/ was a personal decision for me. Like I always tell my friends who are looking to come back East, Nigeria is not for everybody. You have to make a decision to come back and be a winner…
    Though it sucks that sometimes even the basic things come with a struggle here in Nigeria, the rewards are sometimes greater… I wouldn’t advice anyone to leave a great job and rush to Nigeria to come and hustle, you have to have a plan, maybe two, maybe 3, you just have to know that you are in this to win . I will not sit here and act like living in Nigeria is a bed of roses, there are so many things wrong with this country but with the Grace of the God and a positive attitude, things sorta kinda sort itself out. I’m glad I made the move, not sure how much longer I plan to stay, but I gave it a try and I have absolutely no regrets. I brings me so much joy, when I see people who moved here doing so well, and there are too many success stories. It aint easy, but somebody gotta do it! So I say to anyone who is looking to move back, do you research, mix with the right people and ready to take risks upon risks because thats’ what it takes to make it out here.. You just gotta be ready.!

    • Dee

      May 17, 2014 at 7:42 am

      Well said. At the end of the day it’s a very personal decision and anyone that wants to take it must be prepared to knuckle down.

  11. fashionandstylepolice

    April 4, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    Strong Black Woman. Thumbs up.

  12. Mary Claret

    April 4, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    niiicee….a fellow Scarlet Knight. That is what’s up.

  13. NYK

    April 5, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    u call waking up at 5:30 am early
    come and work in Lagos VI and live in Agbado
    i wkae up at 4:30am and wont return home till 11:30pm
    so when do i sleep??????????
    let me doze off jare

    • Onye Ara

      April 5, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      According to Bonang, they were never ready. 🙂

  14. Stephanie

    April 5, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    That’s very true, there are a lot of opportunities in Nigeria
    blogsvila.blogspot.com

  15. Jinmiolu

    April 5, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Bella naija or whoever is behind this move back thing, all this stuff is just normal we need a better story, a better inspiration, a better approach to young people issues. Of all the returnees personally have not seen anything special been done here by these guys. There is nothing extra ordinary here. Nigerians can do all this, a civil engineer should come with new approach to housing problems not all this usual stuff. Where are the techies that is where we are lacking. Have met lot of Nigerians here I can tell you most are hyped the only thing they seen to get along with is a functioning system. We have power problems where are these diaspora guys in that area, we have serious water and health care problem what is the innovation that will turn around these grey areas for us those are what we need. Before you call me names am speaking from my evaluation of those have met here nothing special or may be have not met the special ones.

  16. babysco

    April 6, 2014 at 3:12 am

    Yes I support @zero stop giving us false hope jare instead do my style thing you’re playing with people’s life here

  17. D

    April 6, 2014 at 5:26 am

    I thought the same thing about waking up early. Even in the US I wake up earlier than 5:30am on week days and this is with no kids ooo…She looks like Bisi Dada’s sister or is she?

  18. Dee

    May 17, 2014 at 7:41 am

    Thumbs up to Mitun, I love that she’s involved in volunteering and helping others through her projects.

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