We have concluded the first three weeks of classroom learning and training, and I can assure you that I have been fully immersed in the three core values of the group: Enterprise, Execution and Excellence. The Heirs Holdings graduate trainee programme is truly an immersive learning and development programme.
It is the second week of the three weeks job rotation with the Partnership and Policy Department of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) and it has been nothing short of an amazing experience. I have learnt a lot of things in such a short period of time and am still learning. I am also impressed at the rate at which I am honing my writing skills – all thanks to my senior colleagues, who make the learning process an easy one.
In the past few days, I have gained new knowledge and experiences. One of which is learning how the foundation writes its proposals for partnerships. It’s very distinctive. Earlier this week, I joined the team for a meeting with an external body, it was an educative and exciting experience. I also got to work on a proposal with a senior colleague – it was simply amazing. I am truly pleased with how the team is carrying me along and ensuring that I learn all that there is to learn to be a part of the team.
I have been assigned daily tasks, one of which is to interview some of the TEF Alumni Entrepreneurs and learn more about their entrepreneurial careers. These interviews are published daily, on the foundation’s official website, under the ‘TEF ALUMNI CORNER.’
The members of the team I work with are amazing, they are young and filled with so much wisdom and great intellectual capabilities. Working with and watching them work everyday, gives me that constant reassurance that this is definitely where I want to be – that my growth is assured here.
BUT! The gold does come along with some mire.
Although being a graduate trainee in Heirs Holdings and having my first job rotation with the Tony Elumelu Foundation, is incredible, the excitement is often, met by a collision with the realities of urban Lagos. It so happens, that the sparkle risks being short lived, usually at the beginning and close of work. No thanks to when you must shuttle between the ‘Mainland’ and the ‘Island’ daily. That alone, can drain a person, both physically and mentally.
I observe people. And, I have noticed how commuters fall asleep or battle with sleep in cars and buses, in the mornings (on their way to work) and in the evenings (after the close of work). While this ‘evening sleepiness’ can be understood and be linked to being exhausted from the day’s work, the fact that it seeps into the mornings? That’s a big NO! It’s not meant to be so.
As someone who spent most of her life in the eastern and northern parts of the country, I have come to realise that a lot of people working in Lagos barely catch some sleep. They leave their homes quite early in the mornings and return late in the evenings, do some work at home, and end up going to bed quite late at night. With such routine, they barely get up to seven to nine hours of sleep per night, as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation Guidelines, and the cycle continues. All the while endangering the body (which needs rest) and risking mental breakdown.
Another contributor to this acrid routine would be the endless and heavy traffic in the city. One gets stuck in traffic, most times for hours. And when you get to the end of the jam, you wouldn’t even be able to place your hands on the major cause of the ‘hold up’. It’s usually like MAGIC! Sadly, in most cases, the traffic tie-up is often caused by little or nothing. I think it’s just safe to refer to Lagos as the ‘Centre of Traffic Jam’. It is even crazier how most Lagosians seem to have accepted it as part of their lives, they basically see it as ‘normal’.
Again, there are myriad of yellow buses (Danfo) in Lagos in rickety states. Two days ago, I boarded a bus to Obalende and almost immediately, it started raining heavily. Being seated on that bus was equivalent to walking right under the heavy downpour without an umbrella, I was totally drenched. The bus had a rusted and leaking roof, broken doors and windows and wooden seats that screamed ‘discomfort’. Yet, most of the passengers didn’t really care, all they were concerned about was getting to work early. It was a perfect description of ‘Suffering and Smiling!’
Added to the downpour, some of the roads are in dilapidated states. That day, I can clearly remember getting off the bus and walking barefooted to the next bus stop because of the flooded roads, the mini ‘River Niger’, and the fear of ruining my work shoes. And oh, there are the rowdy crowds, the head throbbing blaring of car horns and having to jump off the bus as soon as you approach your destination. Will I ever get used these? That I’m not so sure of – lol.
At the end, aren’t these and more, what make Lagos enthralling? The pain and the pleasure combined? Lagos remains a city rife with opportunities and I am glad it gave me one, in Heirs Holdings and TEF.
So far, life as a graduate trainee has been a roller coaster ride. It has been filled with interesting, wonderful, and crazy experiences, and I am getting used to the new life. The good surely outweighs the bad. I love it here in Heirs Holdings and in Tony Elumelu Foundation and I believe all that is needed is a little bit of adjustment. I am certain it can only get better, and these are, stories I would tell in the nearest future with a smile on my face, seated in my beautiful mansion with a glass of wine in my hand.
~ Author: Chinenye Akandu