Category Archives: Work

All Work and (almost) No Play Makes Rodney a Dull Guy

So now having been through 10 weeks of work and 10 weeks of school, I have learned a lot of things. Fortunately, most of those things have been nice πŸ™‚ I will share a selection of them:


  • For the most part, I go to school with some very awesome people! All of my groups have been really supportive of the fact that I study and work full-time. So it might mean that we have to meet at times where they would prefer to be free or something like that. And in every instance they have been accommodating. I should say that two of my three groups have been amazing to work with. I have learned a lot with them and from them.
  • I don’t use my job as a reason not to do my fair share of group-based work (at least I hope I don’t). Yes, there are times when I simply can’t be in the lecture or the seminar because work has to come first. But I resolved in my mind before I started that I wouldn’t be one of those people who don’t pull their own weight in the group.
  • Sometimes I think my professors take my work schedule and plan important events to purposefully conflict πŸ™‚ Some professors seems to get this right every time. Luckily there has always been a solution everyone can live with.
  • I underestimated the amount of effort involved when our courses start up. In Sweden, which is probably a bit different than US schools, each semester has two blocks that are about 8-10 weeks long. So it means that at two points in the semester you have intense start-up activities. Didn’t see that coming, but I am coping well…even if it requires that I take a day off of work here or there to make it possible.


  • I am still loving my new job. I am still very happy that I made the move from IBM to HP. I miss people for sure, but I don’t have any regrets.
  • My boss has been amazingly flexible and understanding about school. Generally I can manage quite well between school and work. There are some school assignments and dates that are mandatory, but I still always put in my 50+ hours to get things done.
  • There are some things that are common to all multi-national corporations, no matter where you go. That is mostly good and has helped make the transition a bit easier.
  • Did I mention I am still very happy? πŸ™‚


So for all of this, what does it mean in practical terms.

  • I had to make a conscious choice to really scale back my social life for the next 2 years. So please, if I am not as responsive or declining invites, it’s not personally. It might be strange, but please don’t stop sending invites πŸ™‚ They are psychological proof that somewhere out there I still have friends πŸ™‚ Meetings for coffees or food work better than big nights out.
  • I am thankful for my car. I couldn’t make this work without one! Connected to this is the fact thatΒ I am thankful that my classes are reasonably accessible by car. Some locations are easier than others, but it helps me to make things work.
  • Coffee is my friend. It is my constant companion.
  • I have learned to enjoy my friend’s Facebook photos and stories of the weekend as if they were my own. In the last 10 weeks I have only had 1 weekend where there was no studying or work involved. Keep those pictures and stories coming! πŸ™‚ I live vicariously through all of you these days.
  • There such a thing as 04.30 in the morning. And more important I learned that it’s a great time to catch up on e-mails and reading over a cup of coffee. Or three.
  • Shamefully, within the last 10 weeks, I have been to the McDonalds twice as much as I have been to the my gym which is one door over. I have started to change that now.
  • I’m understanding again why students cook things in large quantities. What you might give up in taste, you make up in time.
  • BBC Knowledge TV is a great way to procrastinate and kill some time in a way where you don’t feel completely bad for it because you’ve learned something in the process.


Despite all of this, I still feel I can do this. It hasn’t been an easy semester (in fact I am not even sure I passed by first two courses), nor has work been easy in any sense of the word. But I can say that I am using the knowledge and experience from both work and school to compliment each other. And combined with the great people I am meeting along the way – that makes me happy πŸ™‚

Final CSC Blog Entry: “Just Walk Beside Me, And Be My Friend” – for my CSC Nigeria Team 6 Colleagues ( #ibmcsc )

It’s a bittersweet moment now. If I said that I wasn’t at all emotional, I would be lying.

The team has officially disbanded and have gone towards their onwards journeys. It’s sweet because I know many people are ready to begin their post-CSC experiences. For some that will be going back home to see family and good friends. For others, the adventures continue around Africa and around the world for a couple of weeks more.

It’s bitter because we started out as colleagues, but ended up as friends. And it is always hard to say good to those you care for.

I had the incredible fortune and honour to work with Leslie, Kelsen, Bouke, Cinthia, Minh-Hai, Bob, Sundar, Mithilesh, Christina, Bianka, Peter, Laura (hereafter known as My Little Sister), Bhuvana, and Mariana. Our bond was immediate from the day we all first met on location at the Sheraton Hotel in Lagos. Laughing and getting to know each other, if you hadn’t know about us and were walking past, it would have seemed to the casual observer that we were friends for a long time.

In our four weeks together we supported each other, learned from each other, tested each other, grew frustrated with each other, had our assumptions challenged by each other, grew as people from engaging with each other, and somewhere in between the first meal we shared together and the last team toast –Β  became friends with each other. This group has my greatest admiration and deepest respect. It’s hard to imagine that we won’t keep in touch. But I will miss having daily access to their thoughtful insights, their passion for the client and to make IBM proud, their wisdom and balanced judgement, their infectious willingness to go the extra mile and serve, and just plain fun. But I also know I carry a part of each of them with me.

I think I would close this entry with a group picture, a quote from Albert Camus, and a sense of feeling blessed and grateful for having 14 new colleagues friends to walk besides me in my life’s journey.

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“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead.

Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow.

Just walk beside me and be my friend.”

May you always be blessed, watched over, and looked after. May you know that my tears are not because our time together is over, but are tears of gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of my life. And finally, may you know that this is not goodbye; rather it is take care until we meet again.


The Governor’s Dinner ( #ibmcsc )

So after our final presentations, we were graciously invited by Mr. Governor to a dinner to celebrate the end of the assignment and as a way to say thanks to the CSC Nigeria 6 Team for their work. The night was filled with a sense of celebration, notes of appreciation from all involved, and a fantastic dance performance by the Ekiti State Troupe. The evening ended with commerative gifts from Ekiti State and some very nice words relayed to us from Mr Governor.

Pictures from the fantastic night!

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CSC Nigeria Team 6 Final Presentations to the Ekiti State Governor’s Executive Council ( #ibmcsc )

So today is the day! The four weeks of work that we have done culminates today in a presentation of our work to Mr Governor’s Executive Council (which includes his Commissioners and Special Advisors, Permanent Secretaries, and other guests of Mr Governor).

The team decided to do the presentation wearing traditional Nigeria clothing, which was very well received by our clients and the Council!

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After some comments and introductions from the Governor as well as from the IBM General Manager for West Africa, the team gave their presentations on the 5 projects that we had been working on:

  • New Initial for Social Development (NISD) – a NGO (Presented by Bob)
  • Ekiti State University (Presented by Christina)
  • E-Schools (Presented by Peter)
  • E-Government (Presented by Cinthia)
  • Citizens Information Management System (Presented by Rodney)

I have to say that I was proud of everyone presenting! And for representing their teams and IBM so well. It was a great source of pride to be associated with such a great team!

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After the presentations with Mr Governor, Christina and I took questions from the television press. I have a new appreciation for those who be interviewed all of the time!

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In the evening we are invited to a dinner hosted by Mr.Governor as a celebration of the work that we had done. We will cover that in a separate blog entry πŸ™‚


Osogbo Sacred Forest and Dance Performance ( #ibmcsc )

So today the team took the long awaited trip to Osogbo in order to visit the sacred forest. It was the one thing that we had wanted to see and it was fantastic that we were able to finally see the forest and learn about it’s history and cultural significance. It was named a UNESCO World Heritage site. We were also equally fortunate to get a personal tour with by the Managing Director of the site.

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After our visit to Osogbo we saw a dance troop perform traditional African dancing which was complete with acrobatics. They were a pretty interesting bunch to see dancing!

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We also paid a visit to the Nike Gallery (not associated with the sports clothing company, but it is the name of a famous Nigerian artist) and her home and workshop, but more on that later.

Dams and Kings ( #ibmcsc )

After a great volunteer experience on Saturday, on Sunday we took a visit further into Ekiti State to visit Ero Dam in Ikun-Ekiti (to understand where the water comes from), and paid courtesy visits to the Onikun of Ikun, the Onigogo of Igogo, and the Oore of Mobaland.

The visit to the dam was really interesting. On the drive out to the dam as well as at the location itself, you’re reminded constantly of the natural beauty of Ekiti State and that even though it is land-locked, it has so much going for it in terms of natural resources that with the proper development could be used for renewable energy as well as some other things such as crop production, tourism, and economic development. Since I was lucky enough to share a car ride with the Permanent Secretary whose portfolio includes these areas, I was able to share some of my views and we had a really great conversation about opportunity and development.

The visit to the Kings was equally exciting. We paid a courtesy visit to the Onikun of Ikun (the dam is located in his village), and then we paid a visit to the Onigogo of Igogo (who is also American) and His Majesty hosted a lunch with traditional Nigerian food and palm wine for us at the community centre. Finally, on the way back to Ado, we paid a courtesy visit to Oore of Mobaland, who could be considered to be the “King of Kings.” In each of the cases we were grateful for their hospitality and making us feel at home.

At this point it would probably be helpful to explain the concept of Kings in Nigeria (at least as I understand it). In every town there is a King. In a sense we would consider the King to be something like a Mayor. However, they have no political powers and are not elected by the people. Like other royalty they inherit their position by birth or succession. But even without political authority, they carry strong moral authority amongst the people of the land that they have responsibility for. Thus they have pretty strong influence in their communities and therefore have a form of soft power. They are custodians of history and keepers of tradition. Where they live are considered to be palaces (however extravagant or modest they are). Furthermore, there levels of Kings. In addition to Kings of villages, there are also Regional/State Kings as well.

After our final royal visit we made our way back to the hotel for a quiet night – which was sorely needed after having such an active Saturday and Sunday.

It dawns on our now that in our assignment there are fewer days ahead than there are behind. One some level I am excited because my next stop is Kilimanjaro with Christina. On the other hand, Ekiti State has really grown on me. πŸ™‚

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(sorry for the sideways pictures..I’ll fix them before they go up on my Fotki website I promise!)

School for the Deaf and the Blind – Community Service Event ( #ibmcsc )

Community Service Event: School for the Blind and the Deaf ( #ibmcsc )

On Saturday the team went to the Ekiti School for the Deaf and Blind, which was our community service event during our trip in Ekiti state. Kelsen, Mithilish, and I made an early visit to the school on Wednesday in order to understand the environment and to get some ideas around the ways that we could contribute. We were determined that the day be something more than a “meet and greet” where we shake hands with officials and get a tour – the team wanted to be interactive and get their hands dirty!

After the meeting we came up with one very clear project: to take the computer equipment that they had received a few months earlier and use our expertise to set up their specialised computer lab which could support visually-impaired students. We also asked them to give us suggestions as well in time for Saturday. So we received their listing of suggestions on Friday evening and shortly after we got to the schools we took on the following projects:

Building a computer lab that supports visually-impaired students
Washing clothes
Erosion Control (digging a gutter)
Personal hygiene counseling
Sporting activities
“The Future” for the Visually-Impaired

I participated in the project for personal hygiene counseling, setting up the computer lab, and “the future.” I have to say that this was one of the best parts of the experience so far. The kids were so thankful that we were just spending time with them, getting to know them, and helping them with things that they might not have been able to do themselves.

I have to say that I am particularly proud of the computer lab. We managed to set up a machine that can make photocopies of braille pages, a printer that can print out in braille, and set up some computers and laptops which support the visually impaired. So both the hearing and visual-impaired kids can take advantage of the computer lab. We also downloaded some activity kits and software from IBM’s On-Demand volunteer community so kids could plays games and do events teaching them more about math and science.

I am also proud of time we spend with the blind children talking about the future. I gave them a homework assignment that they had to write me a letter telling me what they want to be when they grow up and I promised to do some research to find good examples which would help to prove to them they can follow their dreams. And several of us from the IBM team committed to use our personal connections to see what we could do to support the school after we left (we had each begun working on contacting organisations separately and it’s wasn’t until a few days later that it was clear that several of us were reaching out to our personal contacts. It’s moments like these when I am at my proudest to be an IBMer and work with colleagues who think beyond themselves. πŸ™‚

But rather than write a lot of text about it…pictures πŸ™‚

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Meeting with the Ekiti House of Assembly Leadership ( #ibmcsc )

Today the group working with the ICT department had a meeting with the leadership of the Ekiti House of Assembly, including with RT Honourable Speaker Omirin Adewale Albert, Hon. Deputy Speaker Orisalade Adetunji Taiwo, and senior members of their staff. We heard from the Speaker and were given the opportunity to explain to the Speaker and his staff our work our Smerter Governance and Citizen Identity Management Systems projects (Cynthia did a great job representing the team as the primary speaker). It was a great opportunity to meet with more members of the government and get a legislative perspective to our projects (and it even resulted in some small scope change which will be great for the project).

And of course, pictures from the event:

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Tomorrow we will be working on our community service project at the School for the Deaf and Blind. The team is looking forward to the volunteer opportunity. And with all of the major photo-takers in our team there, you can be sure that we will have a lot of photos πŸ™‚

The End-User Experience ( #ibmcsc )

Today we had the opportunity to drive out Isan-Ekiti, which is considered one of the rural areas of Ekiti state. The drive took us about 45 minutes from our office and even the ride itself was a mixture of paved roads and roadworks under construction. The purpose of the visit was connected to our Citizen Information Management System (CIMS) project. The felt that it was be a good idea to talk to the people who would be impacted by the project that we want to implement – elderly citizens. We were specifically interested in understanding their experiences with the process today and what they thought about some of our proposals to introduce some technology-related solutions into the payment process. We also wanted to get a sense of the different types of towns where our solutions would be implemented in terms of infrastructure and communities.

We were scheduled to meet with 5 of Isan-Ekiti elderly residents, but we ended up meeting with about a dozen. Thanks to our local host team (Yemi and Ayo) we were able to speak to them (the residents spoke Yoruban so we needed translation support), I think we were able to have a great conversation and learn a lot about the process from the End-User perspective including what issues were important to them (trust, convenience, security, ease of use, amongst other criteria) as we work on the alternatives. What I can say here now is that the use of biometrics was a clearly preferred option! That was fantastic to know because it shows that technology can be adapted to the environment, instead of the other way around.

I think the team and I left with new energy. We have faces now to the work we are doing. I am committed to make this important part of their lives more convenient, more secure, and the more efficient. One of the residents we had the privilege of speaking with prayed for our success. I have no intention of letting her down.

And of course the pictures πŸ™‚

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Church and Golf

This morning I woke up and went to church, which I have to say is the first time in a very long time. However, I really wanted to participate in a church service in Nigeria as I had heard that they were very intense experiences with lots of prayer and singing. About half of the group went to the services and I have to say that I am very glad that we did go! The church was welcoming of us all, and even took a few moments out of the service to mention that we were there, what IBM was working on in the community, and then the minister asked the congregation to pray for our success. It’s really hard to describe what we experienced. In some places, it was about solemn reflection. And in other parts of the sermon, it was only what I could describe as “violent prayer.” Not violent in the sense where people were hurt, but in the sense that there was a lot of shaking, shouting our prayers and asking for redemption, and holding hands. If the roles of ministers are to whip the congregation into a frenzy of devotion and unity of message and purpose, then the mission was accomplished. The congregation seemed to hang on their every word. At the end of the service, the congregation gave us some small gifts and told us we were warmly welcome back. It was hard not to smile leaving the church. Next week we hope to visit a traditional Yoruba church as well as a mosque as Ekiti seems to be a multi-religious society.

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After a morning of prayer (the service was 3 hours!), we had a an afternoon of golf thanks to the kind auspices of the Chief Security Officer (CSO). There were 3 of us who met up with the the CSO who took us to the golf course in Ekiti. I have to say that it was a great experience and it was great to spend the afternoon being a bit active and working on improving my horrible golf handicap! Towards the end of the game we were joined by a couple of other colleagues and just then it started to rain. So back at the lodge area, we had some beers and started talking with people around it. It was a great way to end the Sunday! I also realised that I am a long long way away from being anywhere close to Tiger Woods.

I don’t have golf pics at the moment, but promise to add them later!