Things may not be what it used to be but as long as you are good in your profession, you can still be successful- Kunle Adebajo

Engr. Kunle Adebajo FNISructE, MNSE, is a structural engineer. He is the CEO of Arup Nigeria a consulting engineering firm. He has a particular passion for training and for developing the standards in our industry. Engr. Kunle served as the president of the Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers and the chairman of NSE Ikeja Branch simultaneously. He spoke NSE PH team on challenges facing Young Engineers of today.

NSE PH: Sir, what can you tell us about the challenges young engineers are facing?
Engr. Kunle: Well I think there are challenges to the whole new generation, this generation that is coming up now really has the major challenges. The Country is not what it is used to be, the economy is not what it used to be and therefore in this competitive time where there is large numbers and it seems to be fewer available opportunities for growth.

The educational system seems to have lost lot of its shine. So really when you look at it all, everything looks gloomy but I think there is hope. It is just that you need to search for how that hope can be exploited. One of the things I always tell the younger engineers now is that, whilst things may not be what it used to be but as long as you can be good in your profession, as long as you can aim for the height and make a difference, you can still be successful. For the fore fathers of engineering; soon after they graduated from the university, success came their ways but now it is not like that.

Graduation is just the start. It is like getting a passport and you are not yet on the plane. You still need to get your visa, buy your ticket and fly. So getting a qualification now is just a bare start.

The young engineers need to now chart his course; they need to go against all the odds, against lots of challenges and those challenges are quite significant but with determination, good training and good mentorship the young engineer can still make it and I think one of the biggest advantages that a young engineer has now is that technology is on their side. In our days, you have to actually make effort sometimes to get information.

Right now, as long as you are interested in getting information, you can get it either on the internet, by sending messages, speak within a few seconds on Skype or by sending an e-mail. I can get information from Australia concerning a project that was done there and I can use it here. So technology is very useful and for those who do not follow along will be left behind. Another thing about our own engineering challenge is that the days when it was just ok to do calculations and do technical work and then be good has gone. Software has replaced a lot of that.

Now you need different kind of skills, we need what we call soft-skills, you need to be able to communicate, you need to able to right reports, you need to be able to get your message across, you need to be able to negotiate, you need to be able to understand and articulate things fast, so unlike those days where you will be inside your office, just doing your calculations up till midnight, now you have to go out there and explain to a clients exactly what your design is all about and so the clients also expects a lot more from the engineers. There is a big change but it does not mean that young engineers cannot surmount those challenges. They just have to redirect their focus and skills.

Before an engineer does not need to talk but now if you cannot talk you are not going to be successful. Before an engineer probably did not even need to be smart in dressing, now he needs to understand that his image is also important. Before an engineer did not need to think about business, entrepreneurship, balance sheet and all that but now all that are important if not you will be left behind.

NSE PH: Thank you very much sir. What advice do you have for the young engineers when they meet the senior engineers?
Engr. Kunle: Well let me even just say what advice I will give the young engineers? The biggest advice is they should not settle for anything less than the best. They should not allow these challenges to hold them down. You can be the best but you have to work at it, so do everything possible.


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