A Day in the Work Life of: Ufuoma Okumagba - Business / Communications Manager
If you stumbled on Ufuoma's Instagram page, you may be likely to think she doesn't have a day job but rather travels the world carefree and without a hassle in the world. Afterall she's just got back from her 25th country! But you wouldn't be alone in thinking same. Someone recently left a comment on one of her photos, 'advising' that she use her money for more important things.
But Ufuoma has a day job that she loves - working and grinding like many other people. As a business/communication manager in one of the world's most recognisable global technology companies, Ufuoma has to juggle many balls and often has her hands full.
I'm particularly inspired by her journey to securing this role as an immigrant in Canada. I know first-hand how difficult and seemingly impossible that can be. But again she's done it using one of the free tools that everyone has access to, but yet we often overlook!
She shares a day in her work life with us. Her responsibilities, best moments, the myths about her job and what other career she's genuinely curious about. No surprises on that last one - it's very much related to travelling!
1. My alarm goes off...
at 7:30am and I snooze it for a couple of minutes before finally getting up. That extra 10, 20 minutes of sleep in the morning is so precious.
When I’m fully awake, I proceed to say a quick word of prayer and check my phone to be sure the world did not end while I was asleep. And then it’s shower time. I love talking to God while I take a shower so this is really how I say my morning prayers. After I am done with that, I pick out my outfit of the day, grab my already packed lunch and head out the door.
2. I get to work via....
a very reliable bus commute. I live in Ottawa, a relatively small city in Canada and the bus schedule is pretty accurate. It is a 30-minute commute to work.
I always look forward to my commute. It is very enjoyable and gives me the opportunity to read a book or catch up on the news and/or my favorite blogs. I also mentally map out my day and write a to-do-list in the short time that I have.
3. I am responsible for...
Quite frankly, a lot.
In theory, I am a Business/Communications Manager but I really do everything that needs to be done to ensure that our goals are met, especially that of the team that I manage. In summary, I am responsible for ensuring that the business strategies that are implemented by senior level management are in alignment with the company’s overall objectives and that they are communicated effectively.
For example, if there is a new tech product the engineering team is working on, it is brought to my team’s notice and we are required to apply critical thinking and give feedback on how viable it is, business-wise. If the product does hit the ground running, we then communicate it internally.
Working in a global company like Nokia means my role is very dynamic and changes very often - no two days are exactly the same.
4. I got the job...
By being a sharp-shooter.
I started out in the banking industry in Nigeria. I had completed an undergraduate degree in Banking and Finance from Covenant University so a career in the bank seemed like a logical path to follow. I actually really loved working in Finance for the two years I was in Nigeria until I moved to Canada to pursue a Master’s Degree in International Business. After the program was done, I had to do an internship as it was a requirement for graduation and so the job search began.
Canada was a totally new environment for me and as an immigrant, I struggled at first to adapt to the new landscape. Even the “little” things like resume structures mattered a lot and as you can imagine, it was totally different from what was accepted in Nigeria. Once I got the hang of it all though, the interviews started coming in. A well written resume can really do wonders in the job market anywhere.
Anyway, one day I decided to sign up for a free trial of LinkedIn premium which lets you contact pretty much anyone on LinkedIn via Inmails. Of course there are etiquettes to using the Inmail and I knew all of those. After applying for the internship on the company site, I sent out a well-written message to the recruiter on LinkedIn (read: slid in the DMs). I found her name just by doing a simple LinkedIn search. It was pretty much hit or miss but at that point, there was really nothing to lose.
I sent a very enthusiastic message without coming across as desperate or creepy and it worked. The next day, she replied my message and booked me for an interview spot. I prepared for it, gave it my best shot and voila, I got the job.
A month after my internship was over, I got hired full time and fast forward to two years later, I was promoted to head the team I was working in. So, cheers to small beginnings, being faithful with the “little” tasks, staying grounded, and working hard. And of course, a big shout out to Linkedin’s premium feature, even though I canceled my free trial because it had already served its purpose.
5. My typical day at work
Meetings. Lunch. Work. Repeat.
A typical day at work involves spending a lot of time on the phone and at meetings, coordinating and interacting with colleagues and sometimes vendors. I sometimes have to make presentations to a large group or the people in my business unit.
Mornings are my busiest periods as the EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa) offices are still open and I work very closely with my colleagues in those regions. On the days when I do not have lunch at my desk while talking on the phone and trying not to choke at the same time, I grab lunch with some of my colleagues who are available.
At about 3pm everything slows down and I’ll spend that time updating spreadsheets, writing memos and press releases. Fun times!
6. My most memorable moment on the job so far
Definitely has to be the day I got promoted as I had not seen it coming at all. It was a regular Tuesday morning when it happened and I got a note to go to the HR department. I work closely with HR in my role so I had assumed it was just a regular work day, only to be handed a promotion letter. I was elated.
7. The worst part of my job...
Hmm. I’ll say having to work with different people in different time zones. That means early mornings or late nights. I have somehow been able to navigate it by finding a middle ground but it's still quite challenging to be honest. On the bright side, it is such a learning experience for me. Learning new cultures, business ethics and so much more from all my virtual colleagues.
8. The perks and best part of my job...
I love the fact that I work in a global company which gives me huge exposure into several markets, cultures and people from all over the world. I specifically like when I talk to my colleagues in Nigeria and I feel closer to home. My job gives me the opportunity to learn so much and working in a tech company and learning about new technologies in the market is pretty awesome.
However, my favorite part has to be the ability to work from home. The company policy says you should be in the office at least three times weekly. So that means you get to work from home two times a week if you want. Pretty cool if you ask me. Particularly on winter days when it is too cold to go outside, I just grab my hot chocolate, wear my cosy PJs, power up my laptop and I am good to go.
9. One misconception people have about my job
I guess a misconception will be that it is an easy job and anyone can do it. This is because it is not as specialized as some other traditional roles. A business role requires critical thinking and this is a skill a lot of people think they have, but it requires so much more. Finance and accounting skills, communication skills and loads of business acumen. When you are not in a more “traditional” role like Engineering or Medicine, some people assume they can do your job too.
10. If someone wanted a career like this, I'll advice them to...
You may want to consider doing an MBA or Masters degree in Business, especially if you want to work in a global company.
You will also have to be very vast and knowledgeable, as well as involved in other things outside of work. So, volunteering, community service, etc. These things show people skills and cultural adaptation.
Having worked in Nigeria and now working in Canada, I have found that the difference between the work environments is, the latter is more interested in what you have to offer asides the good grades you picked up in school. There is so much emphasis in life outside work. So, a B or C student who has a lot of volunteering experience is probably rated higher than an A student who has no involvement outside school at all. So, join a debate club, volunteer at your local community, anything to make you a much more rounded person outside of the four walls of your school or work place.
11. After work I...
After work, on the days when I have the energy to, I go for yoga classes. They are good for my mind and body. On occasion, I travel somewhere new to immerse myself in a different culture and to break free from my daily routine.
I also enjoy just heading home, cooking dinner, and catching up on my favorite shows. Sometimes, doing absolutely nothing and having a lazy evening is the best way to unwind after a day at work.
12. What I love the most about a 9 - 5
I love that it gives me an avenue to learn so much and become a much more knowledgeable individual. I also love that it provides a structure that helps me plan my time and finances.
Most importantly, a 9-5 gives me the finances I need to cater to my dreams and the other things I am passionate about. I am happy to have a good one, even on the days when I do not exactly feel like it.
13. If I ever quit my job or if I never had to work, I'd go on to...
Travel the world but not just for my own sake. I will love to go on mission trips and volunteer abroad, especially in developing countries. I really want to give back to society and that is definitely one of the projects I am looking to take on sometime in the future. Hopefully sooner rather than later.
14. One career I'm genuinely curious about, and might try in my second life...
I’m really curious about pilots. How do they feel being several feet in the air and moving a ton of people to a certain destination? The pressure must be so much knowing that so many people are depending on them to arrive to their destinations safely. I wonder what goes on in their head and how they are able to stay sane. Pilots intrigue me, so much.
So, if you're job hunting or seeking a career move and have not signed up to LinkedIn's free trial, are you really putting in your best? Many times, it's just about going that extra mile that people overlook. Even if you have to pay for the premium feature for a few more months, I think it could be worth it!
I also love how she emphasises the difference between just having good grades as an A student and being a B student but having lots of other extracurricular activities below your belt. As you'd recall from this feature with Nine First Class Graduates from around the world, those extras matter!
And she's not the only one super intrigued about Pilots! I'm really hoping I can feature a pilot on here real soon. So feel free to let me know if you've got a connect. And if you'd like to share a day in your work life or know anyone who would, feel free to get in touch!
We've previously featured Ufuoma re her travels in this post on 9 Female (Solo) Travellers. It was a lovely one, and you should check it out. Also follow Ufuoma's amazing travel blog at www.theufuoma.com and her Instagram is @theufuoma.
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