Ene Audu (Accounting and Management MSc, 2017)
Ene shares how both her undergraduate and postgraduate study at Queen Mary has helped her shape her career and know her worth in her home country of Nigeria, her experience of working in a typically male dominated industry, and what it was like to study in London as an international student.
Why did you study BSc Computer Science with Business Management and MSc Accounting and Management at Queen Mary? Did you have a particular career path in mind?
I honestly enjoyed maths and learning new things; I’d never written a single line of code before starting my undergrad and I was looking for a new challenge and experience; the world has also been moving more in line with tech and I wanted to ensure I was part of that shift, so computer science felt very much apt. I studied it with business management because I also wanted to see not just the implementation of it but also learn how to manage myself and possibly others in the future. I thoroughly enjoyed the business management part of my course and decided I wanted to make a career path out of it, hence my masters.
What did you enjoy most about studying both your undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Queen Mary? Was there anything that surprised you in your studies?
The sense of community and willingness from everyone to help out whenever I asked was definitely a very pleasant surprise. I loved living in London and Queen Mary is very distinctly located, it afforded me the ability to see all of London but still very much be in tune with my studies. I also loved how one-on-one the lectures were and how the lecturers were open to answering questions, ensured that we understood concepts, and that we got the work done. I felt very supported in my studies.
Were there any academics that had a strong influence on shaping your time and studies here?
Prof Colin Haslam and Dr Nick Tsitsianis. They truly made me enjoy my master’s degree and made me want to learn. They were always so encouraging and helpful too.
I understand that you were an international student at Queen Mary, where is home for you?
Home is Lagos Nigeria, where I was born and raised.
What was it like studying and living in a different country?
It was certainly very different! There was the initial culture shock of having to learn how to do things differently compared to what I was used to which I found challenging at first, but I loved that there were societies and groups that I could be a part of to help bridge the gap. I joined the African and Caribbean Society (ACS) and the Nigerian Society and made friends quickly, so it made studying in a new country less frightening.
My degrees have definitely helped me in my career. I am able to confidently interact with clients using technical jargon and I am then able to relay these conversations and information to my technical team. My master’s degree has also helped with the more business side of my role.
Can you describe your career path up to date and touch on your current role?
I moved back to Nigeria at the end of 2017 and in my home country we have a programme called the National Youth service Corp (NYSC), which is a 1-year service year where you get posted to different states/communities within the country to help give back what you have learnt from university. I was posted to Kano State where I completed the service year and got a role interning for my current company. I got retained full time after my placement year and I have been with ipNX Nig Limited as an Account Manager since 2019. I have received several promotions in the role, and I am currently a Senior Officer and looking to make an Assistant Management role by the end of next year.
How did you find moving back to Nigeria to work?
It was a little tough having to move away from the constant availability of power and the efficient transportation services in London. To an extent it is still taking some getting used to, but I am more settled now and able to navigate these Lagos stresses more efficiently.
What are some of your daily responsibilities in your role as Account Manager at ipNX Nigeria Limited and how does this job allow you to explore what you feel passionate about?
I currently supervise a team, so daily activities include the delegation of tasks, reviewing individual team members’ portfolios to ensure all clients’ issues, tasks, needs or requests are treated and up to date. Generating new prospective leads/clients that can be converted to new revenue sources and looking for areas to upsell and cross-sell with our existing clientele further fall within my remit. I also have to share weekly reports and status updates with my regional head and sometimes Divisional CEO. My company as a whole covers all types of connectivity needs, from internet, VPNs, collocation, email and web hosting, and event Wi-Fi requests so it offers lots of variety.
How diverse is the industry that you currently work in?
I currently work in the ICT/Telecoms space, which is an area that is still greatly dominated by males. My company shares the idea that so long as you can do the job, the job is yours and you are deserving of it. We have a very diverse ratio of women and men at low level and executive levels and there is a large number of female network engineers and technical staff on the board. We always strive for greater diversity and inclusion in our workplace.
The industry standards are shifting, and more and more often I see new roles and appointments on LinkedIn of female top-level executives in the industry. I would say it’s about a 35-65 spilt presently and I think that this gap will definitely be bridged in the next few years.
Have you faced any challenges as a woman in your industry to date?
I cannot say that I have; I feel fortunate to have started out in a company that shares the idea that there needs to be equity as well as equality. I see so many strong women who I look up to in the company and this motivates me to also showcase what I can do. I have had the privilege of presenting to our executive level on a few occasions because I am seen first for my value and not as a woman who happens to be in tech.
My message to international students is that your time at Queen Mary will be a once in a lifetime experience, the diversity on campus is very beautiful and encouraging so you will feel at home no matter where you come from around the world.
How have your degrees helped you in your career? Which aspects of your degrees are relevant to your current role?
My degrees have definitely helped me in my career. As said above, I work in the ICT/Telecoms space and some of the science/tech is on networking and networking protocols and my degrees mean that I am able to confidently interact with clients using technical jargon and I am then able to relay these conversations and information to my technical team. Because of my academic knowledge, clients do not necessarily have to wait to have a technical team member in a meeting before their needs can be understood. My master’s degree has also helped with the more business side of my role; I’m able to critically analyse trends, patterns and make informed decisions and judgment calls to ensure that as a company we are profitable while still serving the best interests of our clients.
What was special about your time at Queen Mary?
Definitely the people I met and the fact that I was able to interact with so many different individuals from vastly different walks of life; my eyes were opened to new ways of interpreting and understanding things and I really enjoyed learning about new cultures. As well as joining the ACS and Nigerian society as I mentioned earlier, I also joined Quest radio for a short time. During my time at Queen Mary I discovered a newfound love for radio, and I was able to explore this alongside my studies.
What advice would you give to prospective international students considering studying at Queen Mary?
You will truly enjoy your time at Queen Mary; the academics are tough, but you should expect this as you are about to join a top tier university. But don’t let this put you off as there are so many different outlets and people to help you on your journey. Socially, your time at Queen Mary will be a once in a lifetime experience, the diversity on campus is very beautiful and encouraging so you will feel at home no matter where you come from around the world and no matter where you choose or do not choose to classify yourself as an individual.
What are your future aspirations in terms of your career and in life?
I have always fancied taking an MBA course to boost my managerial aspirations. I am still very much considering and looking forward to this. I expect to secure a senior manager role in the next 2-4 years and an MBA will definitely help boost this. Watch this space!
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