Welcome to our GALLERY of
3. ALUMNI LECTURES
1ST ALUMNI LECTURE
1ST UNILAG FACULTY OF ENGINEERING ALUMNI LECTURE SERIES
“ALUMNI AS DRIVERS OF INSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT”
Julius Berger Auditorium, University of Lagos
Engr. Charles Adekunle Aladewolu FNSE
B.SC (UNILAG) 1972
MBA (UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK, UK)
CHAIRMAN/CEO TECO LTD
CHAIRMAN/CEO TECO MILLS & STEEL WORKS LTD
PRESIDENT/CEO SCHOOL FOR BUSINESS SUCCESS.
TECO House, Teco Avenue,
Plot 15 Central Business District, Alausa, Ikeja Lagos
Delivered on March 16, 2017
Vice – Chancellor of the University of Lagos
Dean, faculty of Engineering, University of Lagos
Faculty Staff and Students of the University of Lagos
Members of ULEC 69/72
Ladies and Gentlemen
Permit me to begin this lecture by thanking God Almighty, the maker of the Heavens and Earth who has made it possible for most of us here present to pass through this great institution called the University of Lagos. We are what we are today by the Grace of God and by the identity of the University of Lagos in general and the reputation of the Faculty of Engineering in particular.
I first set my feet on the grounds of UNILAG in 1968. I was then a final year Advance Level Student of the Federal School of Science, Onikan Lagos. I was studying Pure Maths, Applied maths and Physics, to prepare me for a degree in Engineering.
A few years earlier, I had made up my mind to study mechanical engineering in order to become a member of the group of men and women who were performing miracles and wonders.
“While in college, I had admired many things I saw around me. How people had made beautiful cars out of ordinary metal, rubber and plastics. While holidaying in Lagos, I had visited the airport and could not help gazing at the metal birds called aeroplane. How they leapt up from the runways, flew thousands of kilometres, located the appropriate destination and landed in safety. God made man and all the materials in the universe, I bow before Him. But man made the cars, aeroplanes, ships, clothes of wonderful colours and designs, trains and all sorts of engines and buildings”
SUCCESS IS YOUR BIRTHRIGHT
At another time I would sit at Marina, Lagos or the Bar Beach watching ships loaded with containers, vehicles and other heavy objects. They were floating and did not sink. I would pick a stone and threw it into the sea, the small stone would sink.
In my young mind, these were like miracles.
I did not know about the law of floatation until much later.
My admission to study Mechanical Engineering in 1969 was a dream fulfilled. Many of my colleagues are present here today and we style ourselves ULEC 69/72. UP ULEC.
We came in as students in 1969 and became Alumni of the faculty in 1972.
ULEC 69/72 remains a platform for sustaining our friendship and we have remained close friends since our departure from Unilag. I will like to specially recognise members of ULEC 69/72 here present, by a show of hands.
Thank you and God bless you.
We have identified with the faculty of Engineering and offered some supports in our own little way and hope that after today’s inauguration, the enlarged Alumni Association will do much more to support development programs of the faculty.
I recall my days in the university as a Federal Government Scholar. I, therefore, did not suffer any distraction with respect to the payment of school fees. The faculty of Engineering building was and is still a mass of concrete from foundation to roof level. It is unique and there is no one like it in any other university I have visited.
The lecturers were very thorough and helpful.
We called some of them Dr. Rigour. I do not want to mention specific names but suffice it to say that we enjoyed our days in Unilag and are happy to keep our relationship with the institution and to give back to the faculty some of what the faculty has given to us.
The American Heritage Dictionary of English Language (2000) defines ‘ALUMNI’ as all graduates or former students of a school, college or university. The Free Encyclopaedia (2011) says the word ALUMNI is a plural of Alumnus, which basically refers to a male graduate of an institution.
The female graduate, is called Alumna and its plural is Alumnae. However the term ALUMNI is used to refer to a group of graduates that contain both genders.
The word Alumnus or Alumna is derived from the Latin word ‘Alere’ which means “to nourish”.
Thus, when these former students or graduates come together for the purpose of establishing strong relationships with their former universities and to nourish its development, they become known as ‘ALUMNI ASSOCIATION’ of those universities (Singer and Hughey, 2002; Christensen, 2010)
Since decades ago, societies of former students have been existing in order to assist their universities with a number of service delivery activities. In developed countries, the history of Alumni Association dates back as far as the establishment of the respective educational institutions (Chadamoyo and Dumbu, 2012)
The Relationship of an Alumnus or Alumna with his or her university is like that of a child with his or her parents. Just as our parents played significant roles in our upbringing, so also are the institutions that we attended played major roles to what we have become today. As good children, we have an obligation to take care of our parents and to show our appreciation for the seeds they sewed in our lives. In the same way, we have a duty as Alumni to support this great institution, the University of Lagos and its Faculty of Engineering in particular.
ROLES OF ALUMNI ASSOCIATION/BENEFITS TO THE UNIVERSITY
The main aims of an alumni Association are to:
Create a desire among ex-students to identify themselves with their university.
Generate and sustain interest and participation in the affairs of their alma mater.
Contribute to the development of the Institution such as building new facilities, funding research, improving teaching methods and adding new innovative technology.
Promote the university’s name and reputation
Constitute alternative source of income for the development of the university
Foster a spirit of loyalty and promote the general welfare of the institution
Support the parent institution’s goals and strengthen the ties between the community and the university.
Lobby political institutions to the benefit of their university and to play the role of institutional advocacy where necessary.
Play the role of ambassadors of the university
Use their connections in business and government to reinforce the economic benefits of university research and sponsorship.
They constitute the loud external voice of the university.
Serve their institutions by helping to shape public opinion in their favour.
Support the Alumni Association through payment of alumni dues as at when due.
Support the university through an annual gift commensurate with their personal circumstances.
Mentor current students
Assist fresh graduates with career development
Provide scholarship to brilliant students from poor families.
Provide secular feedback to the university
Alumni are the real measure of the institution’s brand. The reputation and prominence of the institutions rest on the manifestation of its graduates/alumni.
They are lifelong learners and “external students” of their universities.
They can increase the credibility of their Alma Mater
They like to plough back what was given to them as a student.
Alumni participation affects university ranking, student enrolment and tuition revenue.
EXPECTATIONS OF THE ALUMNI FROM THEIR ALMA MATER /BENEFITS TO THE ALUMNI
Institutions look up to their alumni Associations for making donations and pledges towards the financing of their institutions.
If, however, the Association is remembered only during fund raising activities, the relationship between it and the institution will not be as robust and cordial as it should be.
The institution also has obligations towards members of the Association.
Such obligations include:
Strategic level representation on the council where policies are formulated
Participation in Faculty Board where decisions are made
Recognition through invitation to important events such as graduation or matriculation ceremonies
Access to the university library
Access to Research findings
Opportunities for career development, such as post graduate studies and short courses. Alumni expect to be given first preference in the choice of post-graduate program.
Access to business networks & consultation
Access to a global alumni community where membership provides unique benefits and services.
Alumni like to be recognised as university ambassadors at functions outside the university.
They like to be given preference for employment opportunities arising in the university.
Alumni Awards should be given to those of them that have made outstanding contributions to the institution and public service.
They should be able to have Connections to business ventures with other alumni
The faculty should publish a quarterly magazine which informs Alumni members about the activities of the faculty/university.
It should organise workshops, seminars, public lectures on subjects of importance to Alumni business ventures.
The faculty should organise ceremonies to initiate new graduates into the Alumni Association.
It should adopt recruitment strategies to increase alumni membership
Tracing of old friends and fellow alumni should be undertaken by the faculty.
It should create opportunities for networking.
The more popular and prestigious the institution, the higher the value and quality of the alumni’s degree.
BENEFITS TO STUDENTS
Industrial attachment of students for one to four weeks in the companies of Alumni Association members.
Act as career advisors and educational counsellors for students
Offer professional training sessions for free
Ensure relevance of curriculum and research to the needs of the society. This will enhance employment opportunities for graduates
Meet university authorities regularly to discuss issues of concern to students.
Today’s students are tomorrow’s Alumni Association members. The way they are treated will influence their degree of commitment to the Association after graduation.
The university should sponsor annual Alumni event which will bring Alumni and students together. It could be tagged ‘Alumni Home coming Day’. It could include novelty football contest, games and seminars. Such events will provide opportunities for Alumni, students and faculty members to interact socially.
Some Engineering faculties organise “National Engineering week” on an annual basis to increase public awareness and understanding of engineering and technology and to encourage today’s students to consider engineering as a career.
The new products of our tertiary institutions who will become the alumni of tomorrow must be ‘manufactured’ to produce innovative and creative ideas which will make them become agents and catalysts for positive change and transformation.
They must be able to integrate with our own society and to solve the peculiar problems that face us as Nigerians.
Alumni members should be able to contribute to curriculum development at the universities which will strengthen academic competitiveness, raise international image and create more opportunities for graduate employment.
FUNDING & ACCOUNTABILITY
Funding university education is a major challenge even among the developed and wealthy nations of the world. With increasing enrolment and decreasing government funding, the institutions have to be creative in sourcing funds.
Some of the sources of funding that universities have resorted to globally are:
The Alumni (I will dwell more on this source of funding later)
Business partnerships e.g. Shopping mall, hotel on university land
Increase tuition fees (usually violently resisted)
Donor support with tax incentive for such donors
Student loan scheme.
Care must be taken to ensure that substantial donors must not on the basis of their donations influence the direction and vision of the institution for selfish purposes.
Source of Donations for Higher Education in USA
Source: Council for Aid of Education Survey
By: Ann Kaplan- Survey Director
The Dean, Sir,
Ladies & Gentlemen
Another way of dealing with shortfall in funding is to reduce cost by outsourcing non-core academic activities such as:
Bus services & Transport department.
THE ALUMNI AS DRIVERS OF INSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
It is a well-known fact that without education and research, we risk being irrelevant in determining the course of human history and development in the 21st century.
According to UNESCO Report (2007) Asia increased its share of world researchers to 41.4% in 2007 while sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) had a share increase of 0.6%. Are we surprised that the Asian Tigers are way ahead of us in terms of development?
Knowledge will continue to surpass physical capital as a source of wealth. According to “World Development Report of 1998-99”, I quote
“Knowledge is like light. It is weightless and intangible, it can easily travel the world enlightening the lives of people everywhere. Yet billions of people still live in the darkness of poverty”
“Education at all levels is the switch to turn on the light. Our institutions must do more research, develop the capacity to acquire, absorb and internalise knowledge from the rest of the world”
These activities require an increased level of funding. Sadly enough, the desire to increase enrolment and Research activities in our universities is not backed by a corresponding increase in budgetary allocation. In fact, the allocation to universities per student is on the downward slope. This leads to a decline in the quality of education, research and staff motivation and increases tension in our campuses.
When the old universities in developed countries got to this critical point in their history, they turned to their Alumni for rescue. The institutions were not disappointed. The Alumni rose to the occasion and bailed out their alma mater. The trend remains the same up till today.
Now that our own alma mater has reached the same turning point, a call is being made to our ALUMNI to rise to the occasion and show solidarity with our great university and the faculty of engineering in particular.
We can do this in various ways.
FUND RAISING ACTIVITIES
Fund raised from Alumni of an institution can form a major contribution to the institution’s annual budget.
Fund raising however, is hard work. Harrell (2010) confirms that reaching out to graduates is a momentous task. The university database must be updated with current address and telephone numbers etc. of members.
1. Fund Raising can take the form of an annual dinner where alumni, friends of the institution, corporations and wealthy individuals of proven integrity in the society are invited for a social evening in a venue with good ambience, music, food and drinks. Donations, pledges, grants which are taken at such event are credited to the designated account of the institution’s Association. Funds can also be raised in this way to support the development of a specific project in the university such as faculty building, library, procurement of workshop equipment etc.
About 41.9% of all alumni in the USA are donors to their undergraduate institutions.
Sung and Yang (2009) claims that about 25% of university graduates worldwide give back to the institutions that moulded them.
2. The second method of raising funds for the institution is from membership dues. The larger the membership of the Alumni Association, the more the dues that can accrue from this source. However, many members prefer free membership option. In a research carried out by Kelsey Fraser and Joe Le Master, as much as 38% and 21% of funds raised accrued from membership dues and corporate sponsorship respectively. The university will have to consider the pros and cons of fee paying and free membership options.
3. The third option is from our Alumni in diaspora. The fact that a large number of our Alumni is working overseas is a confirmation that they are well trained by our local institutions. In addition to the dues or donations to their alma mater, their employers should contribute to the cost of training them so that we can train more professionals for them. In this way we turn brain drain to brain gain.
Alumni in diaspora should encourage and promote faculty and student exchange programs with the overseas institutions where they are working.
MODE OF OPERATION (MODUS OPERANDI)
Alumni Association can be formal or informal.
It can be dependent or independent of the Alumni Relations Office of the university.
It is registered as a non-for-profit organisation. It has its own staff to plan and operate its logistics. It is free from the bureaucracy of the University system.
Although the Association maintains a separate corporate status, but operates as a division of the university. The staff are university employees. The advantage is that the Association and Institution have a common strategic goal. The office is run at no cost to the Association. It also eliminates confusion when dealing with external partners and donors.
In this case the Association is fully integrated into the institution’s operational system.
The Faculty Board should consider the options and choose the model that is most suitable to our peculiar circumstances.
“The best investment any of us can ever make is in the lives of others. The returns are tremendous” says Bill Gates
The Faculty of Engineering of the University of Lagos, our faculty, our University is calling on all of us to invest in the development of the institution that gave its best to us.
Let us remember that every matter remains in a state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line except a force acts on it.
We are the force and the time for ACTION is NOW.
If we do NOTHING we shall accomplish NOTHING. Therefore, we must ARISE and start to do SOMETHING to answer the call.
I trust that those of us present here today will set the ball rolling. We must spread the word to our colleagues within and outside Nigeria. Let us make UNILAG Faculty of Engineering the best in Africa. Our children and grandchildren will be proud of us.
I KNOW WE CAN. YES, WE CAN. AND WE WILL
God bless you.
Engr. Charles A. Aladewolu FNSE
Alumni. (2000). In The American Heritage Dictionary of English Language (3rd ed.). Boston publisher Houghton Mifflin
Alumni. (2011). In The Free Encyclopaedia Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alumnus
Bedigian, B. (2006). Alumni Matter: Unleashing a Lifetime of Value. The Benefit of CRM Principals in the Postsecondary Environment. Hezel Associates (NJ1). Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED493448.pdf
Chadamoyo P, Dumbu E .(2012) Engaging Alumni in collaborative partnership for improved service delivery in Open and Distance Learning: The Zimbabwe Open University experience: Masvingo Region. Journal of Education and practice 3(9): 150-158
Christensen, Clayton M. (2010). How Will You Measure Your Life? Harvard Business Review 88 (7-8) 46–51.
Education Institutions Report (2008). Report on the Ministerial committee on Transformation and social cohesion and the Elimination of Discrimination in Public Higher Education Institution, Final report: South Africa Department of Education
Harrell C (2010). University Fundraising Target Alumni Donations Through Direct Marketing. Retrieved from http://www.articlesnatch.com/Article/University-Fundraising-Targets.
Karpova E. (2006). Alumni Relations, Fundraising and Development in US Universities, IREX University Administration Support program. St. Petersburg state University. Retrieved from: http://www.irex.org/programs/uasp/CaseStudies/06/Karpova.pdf
Rust Braam A. A. (2012). Challenges of Alumni associations at Universities. African Journal of Business Management 6(45), 11273-11280.
Singer, T. S. and Hughey, A. W. (2002), The Role of the Alumni Association in Student life. New Directions for Student Services, 2002: 51–68. doi:10.1002/ss.70
Sung, M., and Yang, S. U. (2009). Student–university relationships and reputation: a study of the links between key factors fostering students’ supportive behavioral intentions towards their university. Higher Education, 57(6), 787-811.
Trustrum, L. B., and Wee, S. L. (2007). Relationship marketing strategy in higher education. Unpublished manuscript, Asia Pacific University.
White A (2015). The Next generation of Alumni Giving. Johnson, Grossnickle & Associates Inc.
2ND ALUMNI LECTURE
“ALUMNI ASSOCIATION: A VERITABLE TOOL FOR NETWORKING AND PROMOTION FOR PROFESSIONALISM”.
Engr. Dideolu Falobi, FNSE, FNISafetyE
Kresta Laurel Limited
Delivered on March 24, 2018
Thirty-six (36) years ago, I started as a young precocious student of our Faculty, the Faculty of Engineering of first choice in Nigeria. For the next five years, I was tutored, trained and given the basics required for me to excel. In those five years, I was transformed from a young Ilesa boy to an engineer fully determined to face the world with all the experiences, good, bad and ugly, I garnered here.
The past 31 years of my post graduation life have been spent deploying those experiences.
Looking back, I must admit that the founding fathers of the University of Lagos and its Faculty of Engineering gave us a lot to thank them eternally for. Thus, the faculty deserves whatever we can give back. That is one of the reasons we are here today.
I consider it a great honour and rare privilege for me to deliver the 2nd Annual Lecture of our Faculty’s Alumni Association. I thank the Chairman and members of the Board of Trustees of the Association as well as the Dean and other members of staff of the Faculty for this great opportunity.
The topic of this lecture is “Alumni Association: A Veritable Tool for Networking and Promotion for Professionalism”. In delivering this Lecture, I will review the origin of Alumni Associations and look at the aims and objectives of our own Alumni Association. I will also review models for funding Alumni Associations and do a case study of a very successful Alumni Association. We will then look at how active membership of Alumni Association benefits members.
Distinguished audience, I will thereafter proceed to take maximum advantage of the opportunity of this unique platform to share my thoughts on our nation before rounding it up with the sharing of the thoughts of a young engineer with whom I became acquainted recently on the challenges in our profession.
OUR ALUMNI ASSOCIATION
As we all know, alumni of a college or institution consist of its graduates. In most cases alumni associations were initially motivated by the determination to perpetuate the friendship and comradeship developed while together as undergraduates, but of course, this eventually metamorphoses into a formal and structured organisation with clear aims and objectives. The University of Lagos, Faculty of Engineering Alumni Association is not different. Kudos must be given to the 1969/72 set of the Faculty who came together and midwifed the Alumni Association which, even though still relatively in its infancy, holds a lot of promise for a great tomorrow.
Our Alumni Association has clear aims and objectives as enshrined in the draft constitution, I reproduce the below:
1. To provide a link between the Faculty, its Alumni, and the public in general.
2. To affiliate with the University of Lagos Alumni Association as a Sectoral Group.
3. To assist the Faculty in whatever way possible in its development and in its drive to establish and maintain a tradition of excellence in all its endeavours.
4. To promote mutual understanding, co-operation and interaction amongst its members.
5. To advise the authorities of the Faculty, the University and the Federal Government on academic matters for the purpose of ensuring that the Faculty remains a centre of excellence.
6. To establish a fund for the maintenance and promotion of scholarship and research in the Faculty.
7. To arrange seminars, conferences and symposia on matters of contemporary interest and to publish the proceedings and papers as may be deemed necessary.
8. To establish such magazines, periodicals, newsletters and other publications as it may deem necessary for the achievement of its objects.
9. To confer, consult, maintain contact and co-operate with any persons, associations, societies, institutions, corporate organisations or bodies of persons established in Nigeria or elsewhere having objectives in whole or in part similar to those of the Association.
10. To raise funds voluntarily and receive donations, gifts, grants and bequests from its members and the general public for financing any of the aforementioned objectives and most importantly to organize such fund-raising activities as may be decided upon by the National Executive Committee of the Association.
11. To carry out the various aims and objectives through, inter alia, establishment of Standing Committees and when necessary, Ad-hoc Committees.
12. To do all such things as the Association may consider conducive to the achievement of any of the above objectives.
The aims and objectives listed above can be broadly divided into three namely:
1. The development of the Faculty and the University in general.
2. The promotion of mutual understanding, cooperation and interaction amongst its members.
3. The provisioning of a veritable tool for increasing the body of knowledge within the Nigerian polity.
Let me state that the above are the three main objectives of most Alumni Associations all over the world. Thus, our Alumni Association is in good company.
In order to achieve the aims and objectives as stated above, the Alumni Association requires funds. Thus, our draft Constitution has identified various sources of funding for the Association. They are as listed below:
1. Registration Fee by members.
2. Annual Subscription by members.
3. Special Levies and Donations.
4. Sponsorship of Activities.
5. Proceeds from investment opportunities.
A study of the models of funding of 20 University Alumni Associations in the USA in 2010 conducted by the NAPA group concluded that:
1. The traditional independence of Alumni Associations at many Universities is changing because dues often no longer cover the costs of delivering effective alumni relations while the support from University budgets, where available are declining.
2. The above is driving Alumni Associations offices towards a more strategic focus on priority-setting based on:
a. Creating and Articulating Value.
b. Positioning for relevancy.
c. Ensuring ROI (Return on Investment) by the interests of Alumni in each Institution.
3. As a result, Alumni Associations are adopting a more sophisticated market driven focus to:
i. Understand what the Alumni need and want in their relationship with their alma mater.
ii. Connect Alumni programming more closely to Institutional priorities.
The key findings are that the Alumni Association should understand the need of the members as well as the needs of the institution/faculty. Thus, rather than being driven by what the Alumni Association needs, the Association should study and evolve programmes that will benefit Alumni and the University (Faculties) in order to sustain the interest of members and the support of the University and Faculty in kind and in cash.
Ladies and gentlemen, the topic of this Lecture which is “Alumni Association: A Veritable Tool for Networking and Promotion for Professionalism” comes in here.
Networking in this context is defined in Investopedia as “A process that fosters the exchange of information and ideas among individuals or groups that share a common interest”. This may apply to social or business activities. The Business dictionary defines it as “Creating a group of acquaintance and associates and keeping it active through regular communication for mutual benefit – Networking is based on the question ‘How can I help?’ and not with ‘What can I get?’”. Networking is further defined by Enterprenuer.com as “Developing and using contacts made in business (or other spheres of life) for purposes beyond the reason of the initial contact”. Also, the ability to network is one of the most critical skills an entrepreneur can have (Entrepreneur.com).
Thus, a very critical need of most businessmen and professionals are networking platforms and events as well as acquisition of networking skills. In all our pursuits either in business or pleasure, networking facilitates and enhances our success.
In today’s world, networking is critical and absolutely essential. Job seekers, Fund Raisers, Businessmen, Professionals, e.t.c. all need a huge network to improve on their earnings, get new jobs, get new clients, etc.
BENEFITS OF NETWORKING
Some people believe that top executives may not need networking. Everyone does, never undervalue or underuse networking.
Research has shown that successful people are rich in social and business networks. It pays to develop relationships and connections that will advance your career. Specifically, you will know or understand job vacancies, get referrals from contacts and meet face to face with those with the power and authority to get you what you want.
Another benefit of networking is that the networker will meet more people, have more information, have great conversations, solve more problems, make better and faster decisions and get to be known- the more you are known , the more your business increases. Many times, getting at least a hint of the availability of a job or contract depends on ‘who you know and who knows you’. That is networking!
STRATEGIES OF NETWORKING.
· First things first. Have the right mindset. It is important to desire and pursue networking with professional zeal and commitment. Some people say ‘what will be, will be’ and refuse to seriously network. That is a wrong mindset. Networking works, I know it; I have enjoyed it – both in giving and taking.
· Set networking goals or why you want to network. Keep your eyes open for good networking opportunities, but look and plan before you leap. Solicit relations that match your goals. If at first you don’t succeed, keep on trying. Networking is not for the faint hearted.
· All contacts and networkers are not equal even in Alumni Associations. Identify and cultivate ‘power contacts’ with big and wide connections that will give your career and job a lift. By their appearance and ‘fruits’ you can know these power contacts.
· Learn to use your email to network; we are in an online world. It is a good platform to start conversations and start real relationships. Real business relationships thrive on reciprocal emailing. Keep the emails short, simple and (at least initially) less about your needs and more about common issues like engineering and the alumni association. Use interesting emails to get connected and stay connected!
· In addition to emailing, use social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn
to stay in touch, remain visible, and comment on issues of interest to both parties. Do some homework and gather valuable facts about those you want to network. This will unearth relevant information for robust emailing and other forms of communication.
· Besides online communication, arrange for offline face to face interactions with your contacts especially during meetings, social events, seminars, and lectures hosted by the alumni association. These will enrich and deepen the networking process and results. You will then be better known and better served. Be a good conversationalist beyond telling jokes or spreading rumours and gossips.
· Patiently develop relations with time. It is unrealistic to meet a contact today and expect his best for you today or tomorrow; like good wine, good relations get better with time. The patient dog still eats the fattest bone.
· Charity and volunteer job via alumni activities are good opportunities to impress and get the attention of network contacts. People observe and are attracted to those who put service and their ‘calling’ above pecuniary considerations. The payoff comes from rich social networks.
· Networking language whether written or oral, online or offline should be positive, warm, tactful, diplomatic, and soft. Blunt and harsh communication attracts harsher feedbacks and stifles networking. Mind your words and tone.
· We are engineers and should network scientifically: keep a personal record of contacts and monitor all networking efforts, record names, where contact was made, the circumstances of the meeting and a summary of conversations, impact of contact, promises, appointments, referrals, etc
· Regularly evaluate network relationships in terms of your goals to know when to get more and when to terminate or change a relationship that doesn’t exchange value.
· Do you have presentable and ‘well finished’ contact cards? It is bad business etiquette to receive a call card from someone and give an excuse in return.
· Thank contacts for help and never take them or their assistance for granted. Acknowledge and appreciate your networks for their efforts and results.
What to avoid in networking
It is unprofessional and demeaning to pester contacts for everything and turn into an engineer-beggar or beggar-engineer. Akin to this is a very important caution: do not request for a favour in the first email or conversation. Project your heart first, not your hands. Set the network rolling by calling, writing or tweeting ‘just to say hi!’.
Never turn what should be a give and take relationship to get and get. It is wrong to self-centredly inundate others with requests of favour after favour that never get returned. Many people don’t like this; they want a network of caring humans, not of people who reach out to them only when they want something. The logic is this: keep in touch through friendly and interesting emails and blog posts so that you won’t feel awkward when you make requests.
Focus first on creating value in relationships and the alumni association in order to reap long term returns. Ignore and don’t be obsessed with the low hanging first fruits of short term, fast riches and favours built on a sandy foundation. Deferred gratification is best gratification.
Unfortunately, it is not everybody that has access to good network events or platforms or even possess the networking skills required to take advantage of such events and platforms. The Alumni Association is an inexpensive and highly beneficial way of meeting this critical need of her members. Most of the activities of the Association including meetings, lectures, events, e.t.c. are networking opportunities. Even the membership register is a huge database that can be accessed as required for good purposes. Thus, in meeting the needs of its members, the Association must create these platforms and opportunities regularly.
The University of Colombia Alumni Association holds “The Virtual Networking Hour”, which is “A Series of monthly, hour-long events designed to connect students and Alumni with old fellow Alumni professionals interested in finding collaborators, building a professional network, sharing resources, exchanging career tips and so much more”. Held online, it provides a good networking opportunity for the members. There are various other examples of how the Alumni Association can benefit the members through Networking. For instance, in line with the findings of the Business Management Consultants, the NAPA Group, meeting this critical need will encourage members to be active and it will also enhance the raising of funds for the activities of the Association.
Professionalism is defined by the Business dictionary as the “Level of Excellence or competence that is expected of a professional”. A professional is defined by the same dictionary as “A person who has achieved an acclaimed level of proficiency in a calling or trade”.
Alternatively, a professional is a person formally certified by a professional body (e.g. COREN) of belonging to a specific profession by virtue of having completed a required course of studies and/or practice, and whose competence can usually be measured against an established set of standards.
One of the key challenges of young engineers is the ability to quickly move from a mere graduate to a certified professional. They require training, employment, mentorship and even coaching. Since excellence and competence have no limits, the activities listed above are lifelong.
Professional associations, like the Unilag Faculty of Engineering Alumni Association, are structured, positioned, and primed to professionalize its members. They help budding professionals to ethically walk the walk and work the work. Past and present officials of alumni associations and other experienced members mentor and counsel new comers on professionalism. Our engineering mentors share their wisdom with others and impart interpersonal, networking, political skills, and other challenging skills. A young engineer may decide to have multiple advisors or mentors for different aspects of his career.
Mentoring and counselling for professionalism by Alumni Associations can be in one or more of the following areas:
i. A professional appearance. At work, during meetings with clients and even in social functions, engineers are advised to dress and appear in a manner that will lift the image of our noble profession. No engineer should dress in a way that will make people mistake him (or her) for a hippy. For example nose rings and ear rings for male engineers or very large ones for female engineers are against our engineering ethics. The point is that we should look and smell well to attract respect and projects.
ii. Demeanour. An engineer who always appears unorganized and harassed is not yet a professional. A professional engineer should look professional, have a confident mien to give clients and subordinates confidence, calmness even in a tense situation and humility to attract help and support.
iii. Develop self introduction and conversation starters. The answer to what do you do at work is not a recitation of your titles and position but an explanation of the benefits you can offer to the other party. Be a good listener and conversationalist to be a professional. Good listening habits can be cultivated by appropriately listening to alumni lectures and speeches without unprofessional distractions.
iv. Build expertise through academic and professional study and certifications and a regular updating of technical, human relations and conceptual skills. Our NSE seminars, lectures and journals, are available for all and sundry. The ability to use this expertise for the public good is what differentiates a professional from a scammer.
v. Apart from having the right expertise, professionals should have the right tools. Showing up for meetings and presentations without some essential tools is unprofessional. Be prepared, with your tools.
vi. Develop Emotional Intelligence, an ability to exercise good judgement and discretion, control one’s emotion, and meet the emotional needs of others through effective listening, empathy, anger control, tongue control etc. Be polite, courteous and good mannered to all, no matter their status and your feelings.
vii. Professionalism is usually built with ethical bricks of honesty, transparency, and integrity. Without these elements a supposed professional is charlatan or a quack. The engineering code of ethics should be weaved into your practice.
viii. Honour commitments and promises to bosses, clients, etc. If rare events beyond our control threaten our commitments, all stakeholders should be informed. Be loyal to your organization and profession.
ix. Be accountable and responsible for errors and mistakes and take steps to correct them. Only a non professional blames others for his mistakes or tries to explain them away.
x. Be an effective time manager and organizer to be in control. An engineer who arrives at work or presentations late or who forgets an important work material or has to empty his brief case on the floor to find his tool is disorganized, unorganized and needs a lot of mentoring and coaching.
xi. Love your job and profession. A true professional cherishes the profession and work. He or she is not in the ministry of grumbling, complaining and fault finding. A thorough-bred professional has a positive professional attitude that sows professional work and harvests professional satisfaction, self motivation, and optimism.
The Alumni Association is one of the platforms on which all of the above can be achieved at minimal cost. Networking activities create room for employment. Other programs such as lectures, trainings and partnerships with the faculty create opportunities for members to become professionals. Again, I challenge the Association to create these events so that members can benefit and be encouraged to commit themselves to the Association in kind and in cash.
OTHER BENEFITS OF ALUMNI ASSOCIATIONS
While the stated aims and objectives focus on what the Association can do for the faculty, it is critical at this juncture to recognise that the Association benefits the members and can do a lot to improve their lot. Some of the identified benefits for members of Alumni Associations are as below:
1. Networking (Already discussed above)
2. Professionalism (Already discussed above).
3. Discount Benefits: Given the huge numbers of members of Alumni Associations, you can benefit from giving discounts on hotels, air travel, dues of professional Associations as well as in faculty or University organised events and facilities. The same discounts are possible on health insurance, life insurance, cars, school fees, etc.
4. Access to University and Faculty Facilities: Access to and the use of University facilities at discounted rates are some of the benefits of being alumni.
5. Leadership Training: Alumni membership provides opportunities for leadership trainings.
6. A valuable chance of giving back to your alma mater and collaborating with your peers in self-fulfilling, purposeful activities.
CASE STUDY 1 – STANFORD UNIVERSITY, USA
Stanford University is a prominent university that was opened in 1885 in Stanford, California. It is one of the world’s best universities with a student enrolment of 16, 437 students and 2,180 members of faculty. It was built as a befitting memorial to the memory of Leland Jr. who was lost to typhoid in 1884. His father, former California Governor, Leland Stanford and his wife deeded to it a large fortune that included the 8,180 Acre Palo Alto stock farm that became the campus. Thus, Leland Stanford Junior University opened on October 1, 1891. The Stanford Alumni Association (SAA) was founded in 1892 by the University’s first graduates. It is No.1 on the list of TOP 50 Alumni Networks (www.bestcollegevalues.com). 36.68% of the Alumni hold Management positions and The Alumni contribute 34% of the University’s funding. SAA offers its members access to vast alumni directory, has a good number of career related events and programs, and a number of clubs and regional chapters to keep graduates connected with their alma mater wherever they are. The benefits of being an Alumnus of Stanford University are as follows:
a) Travel & Recreation
i. $50 discount off the annual prices of CLEAR – a prestigious airport security facilitation convenience service.
ii. Discounted Hotel rates anywhere in the world.
iii. Left ticket discounts at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows.
iv. No non-member fees on Travel/Study trips.
v. Budget and Avis Car rental discounts.
vi. Exclusive access to Stanford Siera Camp.
b) On Campus Opportunities
i. Playing privilege at the Stanford Golf Course.
ii. Pool & Gym Discount.
iii. 10% off select products at the Stanford Bookstore, Live Performance and Registration for Reunion Homecomings.
iv. Free Access to Hoover Power & Stanford Libraries.
v. Discounted tickets for most Stanford Athletic Games and on the wine program.
c) Career & Education
i. Access to online database of searchable publications.
ii. Discount on Kaplan Test Prep Services, Worldview Stanford Courses, Select Stanford Executive education, Stanford Continuing Studies courses.
iii. Complimentary 30 – minutes Career coaching consultation.
d) Financial & Consumer Services
i. Benefits of Stanford Federal Credit Union Home Loans & Audit Loans.
ii. Student Loan Refinancing from SoFi (Social Finance, Inc. California, United States)
The membership of SAA is in the following categories:
b. Recent Graduate
c. Current student
d. Affiliate for Non-Alumni
e. Friend of Stanford
Payments are accepted on Lifetime, Lifetime Instalment and Annual basis.
CASE STUDY 2 – OLD STUDENTS ASSOCIATION, METHODIST HIGH SCHOOL, ILESA (OSAMETHSI)
In 2004, my Alma Mater, Methodist High School, Ilesa was at a quandary as the 50th Founders Day celebration due to hold in 2006 drew near without an Old Student’s Association to drive it. The Old Students’ Association which celebrated her 25th Anniversary in 1981 with such pomp and pageantry that the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo attended, had somehow collapsed.
One of my classmates and I reviewed the situation and decided to take up the responsibility of rejuvenating the Old Students’ body. We did this successfully and we had a fairly successful 50th Anniversary Celebrations. I was later appointed as the National President of the Old Students’ body in 2006.
The years between 2006 and 2014 were spent on mobilising all Old Students across the world. During this period we donated a computer laboratory, chairs, tables, generator, a new gatehouse, a deep well and other sundry items. We also renovated one block of 5 classrooms and the Principal’s office.
In 2015, the story of the Old Students’ Association of Methodist High School, Ilesa took a sharp turn on three fronts namely:
i. Intervention in the Infrastructure of the school among other areas.
ii. Interpersonal Relationship amongst Old students.
iii. Networking opportunities within sets and across sets.
At this moment some of our “Big boys and girls” had become part of the Old Students’ body. I speak of Vice-Chancellors, Property Magnates, CEO’s of various organisations including a Bank, Professors, top Military and Custom Officers, top Police officers, Lecturers, Engineers, Medical Doctors, Financial gurus, Astronomers and so on.
Interestingly, as we marched towards the celebration of the schools 60th anniversary which was due in 2016, this pool of eminent and successful personalities suddenly became available for all of us to tap into, as well as contribute into.
Let me provide further details of the phenomenal achievements that were recorded under the three sub-headings listed earlier.
a. Intervention in School Infrastructure
i. In January 2016, we re-commissioned a total of about 40 classrooms which we completely refurbished at a cost of about N70million.
ii. In 2017, an Olympic Standard Basketball Court was commissioned and handed over to the school by 1977 set in commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of their graduation.
iii. As I speak, an E-Library, an Astronomical Observatory and Laboratory, set of Ultra modern toilets and a table tennis hall donated by Old Students/sets are under construction while our Physics and Chemistry Laboratories are being refurbished.
iv. We paid the salary of security-men and sponsored Inter-house Sports Competitions in addition to setting up, and supporting different school clubs such as Man-O-War, Sports club, Drama club and so on.
v. Last week, the 1985 set gave monetary awards to 42 brilliant students.
vi. The teachers have also received all sorts of support and motivation including training sponsored.
b. Interpersonal Relationship Among Old Students
The celebration of the 60th Anniversary was a REUNION as various old students who had not seen each other for over 40-50 years met. Meanwhile, communication within sets had started over a year earlier via the use of different social media platform.
Since then, I have been inundated with various testimonies of complete turn-around of lives through support by mates. Businesses have been provided while families of those who were dead were supported in various ways. A particular set actually took over the payment of school fees for the children of one of them who had died before the Reunion. They further established the wife in business. There were a lot of other testimonies of serious interpersonal support based on the Reunion the Old Students Association afforded.
c. Networking Opportunities within Sets and across Sets
The amount of networking opportunity that the Old Students Association has generated can only be imagined. Given the pool of personalities available to the Old Students Association of our institution that started producing graduands in 1961, it has been phenomenal. Our platform has been dubbed the life-saving platform and more people join daily.
Our regular meetings in Lagos and Ibadan, Annual Reunion Programmes, Dinners and Lectures have been platforms for networking and they have been utilised maximally.
On a personal note, my role as the President of the Old Students Association since 2006 has earned me various awards and recognitions from my mates, old students, Osun State Principals, the school itself, my Community and even the state government. I list some of them below:
i) Plaque of Appreciation by the Old Students Association for providing Quality, Excellent and Superlative Leadership that inspires us into Action” – 2016
ii) Recognition Award by National Association of Osun State Students for “Contributions to the development of the Society” – 2016.
iii) Federation of Ijesa Students Union’s FISU Awards – 2016.
iv) All Nigerian Confederation of the Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPPS), Osun State Branch Merit Award for “Contribution to the educational development in the State of Osun” – 2014.
v) Chairmanship of Osun State Scrabble Association – 2017.
vi) Installation as Bobajiro of Ilesa by Owa Obokun of Ijesaland, Oba (Dr.) Gabriel Adekunle Aromolaran II, CFR – 2017.
vii) Reunion with my mates and access to over 10,000 products of my alma mater spread across various sectors of the economy.
Thus, being part of an old Student Association or an Alumni is a complete win-win situation for all stake-holders.
It is my hope that the UNILAG Faculty of Engineering Association will in no distant time become a reference point in how Alumni Associations serve as tools for networking and professionalism and ultimately count towards enhancing the ability of the nation to enjoy the full benefits of democracy through people-oriented leadership.
Great Engineers, ladies and gentlemen. An opportunity such as this can, and should be maximized. There are several issues on the front burner in Nigeria today. It is extremely important that we do not fail to use every opportunity to interrogate some of these scorching issues. Hence, I crave your indulgence to digress into my thoughts on nation building by sharing excerpts from one of the lectures that I delivered recently as follows.
A. RANDOM MUSINGS
In February, 2016 I wrote a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari. Titled “In Our Best Interest”. The letter advised Mr. President to focus his attention on Forex generating ventures as a matter of urgency. My advice was that we should focus on Agriculture, Industrialization and Gas Exploitation as quick fixes that could help to jumpstart our economy. The electronic copy of the letter can be found on http://ikengachronicles.com/in-our-best-interest-open-lett…/
On September 1, 2016, I wrote another letter. This time, it was directed at the Vice President. I said there, and I quote, “I received a letter from one of Nigeria’s Banks this morning whereby they offered my company US Dollar on 6, 7, 8 and 9 month “FORWARD” basis at N357.05, N362.40, N367.74 and N373.08 to the dollar respectively. Given the fact that the closing rate as at yesterday, August 31, 2016 was N316 = $1, I find such an offer curious and definitely capable of undermining the valiant efforts of the Nigeria government to stabilize the Naira. It presupposes that the future of the Naira is bleak and will not encourage investors to bring the much-needed hard currency into Nigeria”.
Also, there are three ways of getting funds for development: One, use of your own funds. Two, Equity. Three, Loan. In my opinion, 70% of the items listed under the loan can be executed under some sort of “Equity” by getting others to design, build, manage/operate for an agreed period and finally transferring back to the Nigerian people. Loan is the easiest and most dangerous for a country like Nigeria. Let others take the risk and let the government concentrate on Education, Health and Other non-infrastructure issues.
What does the government need to do? First, restore investor’s confidence through a better body language and a better management of the Forex market. Today, the Forex market is being driven by speculation as against market forces. Speculation is keeping supply low while demand is increasing. Speculation by banks especially is keeping investment and even non-investment funds away. It must be stopped, and defaulters punished severely. Also, the nation’s managers must put on their thinking cap and begin to think out of the box. They must dig deep and stop looking at the easy ways out. We, the people must also stop playing politics with and amongst ourselves. We should begin to interrogate proposals with open minds and proffer solutions.
Prior to all of the above, I had actively engaged others on the need to take our eyes off Oil and develop other sectors. In 2007, I attended a Nigerian Investment Forum sponsored by the Commonwealth Business Council at Abuja. One of the facilitators at one of the sessions, a renowned Nigerian Economist flaunted the GDP growth rate of 6-7% on a consistent basis as an indication of the solid state of our economy. I disagreed with him. I made it clear to him that every morning I entered Ikorodu Road in Lagos at Idiroko Bus stop and then drove for 2-300m to my office at Maryland. On my way, I usually saw hundreds of able bodied Nigerians selling chin-chin, gala, biscuits and the likes on the expressway. No nation making genuine progress could have such scenario. Of course, the Economist stood his ground and I stood mine. The rest as they say is history.
My company, Kresta Laurel Limited occasionally holds public Lectures as our own contribution to the expansion of the body of knowledge in the country. In 2011, it was delivered by the then Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the topic was “INFRASTRUCTURE, INDUSTRIALISATION AND THE NIGERIAN ECONOMY”.
Personally, in pursuance of my belief that the black gold had been over-exploited and could be on the way to its usual cyclical decline, I have delivered papers at 3 different fora on the need to invest in other sectors of the economy. The first was to a Conference of Ijesas held at Houston Texas; in October 2011 where I delivered my paper titled “Industrialisation of Ijesaland”. I also delivered a paper to the Nigerian-Finnish Businessmen at Helsinki, Finland in December 2012. Finally, in July 2013, I delivered a paper on Investment in Non-oil sectors of the economy at a Nigeria Investment Forum held at the United Nations Headquarter in New York.
Four (4) years ago, I co-founded the Ijesaland Development Foundation. Our objective is to harness all resources available in Ijesaland and to Ijesas towards the rapid development of our homeland. In the first Ijesaland Development Foundation Business Summit held in Lagos in 2014, I advocated for all different ethnic nationalities to come together and develop their homeland through promotion of Agriculture and Industrialisation.
I hope I have not bored you with my random musings, I consider them germane to building a background for the main topic which in reality does not require too much time to explore. The alternatives to black gold are staring us in the face. How can we get there given the several obstacles in our path? Hence, my random musings. We must continue to engage government and each other on what needs to be done. We must also back our talk with action. In Nigeria today, everybody is an analyst and/or critic. Few are doers. WE MUST LEARN TO WALK THE TALK.
B. THE ALTERNATIVES TO BLACK GOLD (PETROLEUM)
I believe there are tangible and intangible alternatives to black gold in Nigeria. Also, there are some fundamentals that we must bear in mind before we can proceed.
Historically, oil was first discovered in commercial quality at Oloibiri in 1956. However, it did not become a major factor in our GDP until the early 70s when peace had returned to the Niger Delta and the job of exploitation started.
However, prior to the early 70s, the different regions had thrived on Agriculture which was stoutly promoted and supported by the different regional governments. In the West it was Cocoa and Kolanut, in the East, it was Rubber, Palm Oil and Food Crops. In the North, it was Groundnut, Kolanut, Cotton and Co. The Regions were built and sustained with the income from Agriculture. Farmers were gods. Agricultural Economists, Agricultural Engineers, Experts on Cooperatives etc. were in high demand. There were structures backed up by research institutes and the Economy was buoyant. The proceeds were deployed to Education, Health, Housing and the Construction of Infrastructures. Nigeria was the pride of the world and it was listed among future world powers. CORRUPTION, though existent was at a barest minimum.
Oil came, corruption festered, and we lost it.
We did not only concentrate on oil, we also lost those fundamentals that made us such a respectable Community. We lost our value system, we lost our sense of responsibility, we stopped working hard, we embraced corruption, we embraced laziness and all sorts of “Get rich quick” schemes.
The intangibles that we lost must be restored if we truly desire to embrace the alternatives to Black Gold. The easiest and cheapest thing to exploit was Petroleum. It only required being close to power and being able to connect with Oil Exploitation and Exploration companies in the Diaspora. No hard work, just commission agents. The Alternatives are not going to be that easy. We will need to restore our lost values if we truly desire to excel in these areas.
A few days ago, I came across the online copy of one of my presentations to Nigerian and Foreign Businessmen at Helsinki, Finland. The link is provided as below: https://www.slideshare.net/…/…/dideolu-falobi-krestal-laurel. Please go through. The answers we seek are there. Notwithstanding the above, some of the alternatives to black gold are as follows:
Entertainments/Arts (Culture, Music, Drama)
Solid Minerals mining
Gas Gathering and Distribution
ICT – Soft and Hardware
Tourism and Hospitality
THE 2019 ELECTION
The 2019 Election is an opportunity to usher in political leaders of our choice and with the right values. I have personally identified 3 major challenges namely:
This consists of Apathy to party membership, Registration for Elections and Voting on the date of Election. I have personally started a campaign to ensure that we all register to vote and also vote. We cannot continue to complain when we have opportunities to act. Most of our youths are not registered to vote. When they do, they do not vote when the day comes. Social Media criticism is useless without Affirmative action. I hereby appeal to all of us here gathered to do our best in mobilising the citizens of our dear Country to register and vote. OUR VOTE IS OUR VOICE AND OUR POWER.
Violence and/or fear of violence have combined to keep most of our best materials away from the leadership of the country while the nation continues to wallow in abject despondency due to the action and inaction of the leaders. When I started my “STOP COMPLAINING, TAKE ACTION” campaign, most of my relatives, friends and loved ones appealed to me not to get involved in politics even though they acknowledge that I would be a good material (I hope so). How long will this continue? I challenge all here present to use every means available to us to campaign against violence in our electoral system. Enforcement of peace during campaigns and rallies will open up the political space to true gentlemen and ladies.
3. HUGE COST OF ELECTIONEERING
Today, the cost of electioneering is much more than the legitimate earnings of the office holders. It is important to strongly advocate for the enforcement of the rules on the funding of elections. We cannot continue to fight corruption on a wrong pedestal. Most of our political office holders are already compromised before being elected. I challenge all of us here together to use every platform available to us advocate for the enforcement of the rules guiding the funding for election as well as disbursements.
On a final note, I crave the indulgence of this eminent gathering of engineers to share the thoughts of Ganobi Obinna, a young engineer I came across on the Lagos Branch (NSE)’s Whatsapp platform and whose submission on the state of our industry is presently receiving attention. The essence of his submission is as follows:
i. The need for reform in our Engineering Faculties.
ii. The need for COREN and NSE to show interest in Engineering students and young engineers.
iii. The need for COREN ASSEMBLIES and NSE Conferences to focus more on development of the young engineers and the profession.
iv. The need to ensure that Engineers only serve in Engineering Institutions and Companies during NYSC.
v. Return of post-graduation training/education to create parity with other professions like Medicine, Pharmacy, Law and Architecture.
vi. Enforcement of wage party with other professionals during and after NYSC.
In line with Ganobi’s prayer, his 6-page letter has been forwarded to the Body of Deans of Faculty of Engineering in our Universities, the Chairman Board of Fellows, the President of NSE. A copy has also been forwarded to the President of COREN.
Once again, I wish to thank everybody here today for your rapt attention. I thank the Faculty and the Board of Trustees of the Alumni Association for this honour. I charge all of us here today to donate generously to the funding of the Association. It will be a win-win situation in the long term.
Engr. Dideolu Falobi, FNSE, FNISafetyE
Kresta Laurel Limited
376, Ikorodu Road,