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Chinju Nwankwo works for GE and runs a lifestyle blog in Abuja, Nigeria. She studied for a masters in management at Imperial College Business School in London
I was born in Enugu, in southeastern Nigeria and have very fond memories of my childhood. I grew up knowing the value of a disciplined work ethic. My parents have trusted me to be independent and supported my decisions — whether it be moving 3,000 miles away for school in the UK, spending a semester in Italy or my choice of what to study.
My mother and father have shown me there are endless possibilities and we can achieve whatever we put our minds to. At a young age I had big dreams — I wanted to be Nigeria’s finance minister. This influenced my choice of what to study at undergraduate level.
I studied a BA in economics with a minor in business studies at New York University. I decided to go there because I was completing my secondary education in England and fancied a change of scenery. I loved the idea of being in the Big Apple. I would be surrounded by everything I was passionate about, like fashion, style and art.
I graduated from NYU in spring 2015. I decided to attend Imperial College Business School in London in the autumn of that year. I enjoyed the business aspect of my economics degree, so I wanted a masters programme that would explore in more detail some of the principles I had already been introduced to, such as finance.
ICBS’s masters in management covered modules such as accounting and operations management, with the added benefit of options for unique pathways — I studied the energy business — and an international study trip. I ended up going on a study tour to South Africa.
Since completing the masters, I have moved back to Nigeria. I live in Abuja, the capital, and work as an analyst in General Electric’s commercial finance team for Sub-Saharan Africa.
The soft skills I learnt on the masters programme definitely turned out to be the most useful. Having the chance to work in teams of people from a diverse range of backgrounds has been invaluable in helping me navigate the different personalities of the global team I support at GE. The best lessons I learnt were about managing people. I enjoyed the organisational behaviour and human resource management course because it provided practical insights about how to manage my own expectations and those of others.
At the beginning of the course my intention was to pursue a career in management consulting. This did not come to pass, but not in a bad way. I was interviewed at some of the consulting firms but I felt it was not the right next step for me.
When I moved back to Nigeria, I wanted to work for a multinational company dedicated to supporting the economic development of Nigeria and Africa. I think a lot of the change that Nigeria desperately needs will come from the private sector and I was motivated to join GE because I had read about its work in industries such as power, healthcare and transportation.
I support the regional commercial finance team of the energy connections business. I like the level of responsibility and how easy it is to connect with the company’s leadership. I hope to join GE’s financial management programme in the next year or two. As I have just moved back home, I am not in a hurry to leave soon but I keep an open mind.
My biggest worries are that I will not be able to achieve everything I want to in my personal and professional life — launching a home fragrance and beauty brand for example. I love fragrances and scented candles. I am currently working on launching my own “made in Nigeria” brand, COL Fragrances. It has been a long journey and a great experience figuring out how to start a new business while working full time.
This is where the time management skills I picked up at ICBS have proved essential. At ICBS, I juggled multiple deadlines and was the co-founder of the ICBS Women in Business society, so I learnt that if you prioritise effectively, there is time for everything.
The only downside to the masters programme was that ICBS’s career team could have dedicated more resources to supporting international students who were interested in staying in the UK after the course. I am happy to be home in Nigeria, but applying for jobs in the UK is an exhausting experience and tough for international students.
I like living in Abuja. Unlike in Lagos, Nigeria’s old capital, there is little to no traffic and because mobility is not restricted, it means I can do more with my time.
When I am not supporting the commercial finance team at GE, I run a lifestyle blog (www.attics.me). I use it as an outlet for my creative side. I love blogging because it is a great way to make the world smaller and connect with people I might not otherwise have access to.