Industry Focused capacity Buildings: As AWPEN launched Town and Gown mentoring North West,

APWEN President Engr Funlola Ojelade


The President of the Association Of Professional Women Engineers Of Nigeria (APWEN), Engr. Funmilola Ojelade welcomed everyone to the second edition of the Town and Gown mentoring session for young engineers aimed at building their employability skill, making them fit for the industry. She mentioned that although the primary target for the program were young female engineers, for gender diversity and since the event is held virtually, the meeting has however removed all geopolitical and national borders as young engineers within Nigeria and some from India were in attendance. She mentioned that the program is held quarterly and the maiden edition was held in June for the South-West zone. She explained that Town and Gown connects young engineers with multinational companies that engage engineering personnel, these companies will enlighten participants on what it takes to get employed in their organisation; the required skills expected from them; class of degree employable and other necessary information needed to help them advance professionally. The companies represented will receive the APWEN Mentor-Partner badge for their role in partnering with APWEN.

She stated that after the keynote speech, young engineers will be placed in groups based on the industry of interest they filled in the Google form sent to them. She then invited the Distinguished Guest Of Honour, the Executive Governor Of Nasarawa State, Engr. Abdullahi Sule FNSC to declare the floor open.
In his five minutes speech, the Governor expressed how honoured he felt to be invited for the event to represent the governors in the North-Central zone and hopes that the next governor to be so invited in the future will be a female engineer. He commended APWEN for providing the platform for young engineers and encouraged them to make the best of the opportunity. He recalled that he was a Group Managing Director of Dangote Sugar Refinery and one of his duties was to refer young engineers to the Dangote Academy where they get trained and prepared for the job, he therefore encouraged APWEN to consider partnering with Dangote. He mentioned that his career started from Technical College Bukuru (a school for the male gender only) and proceeded to the Indiana University, Terre Haute, Indiana where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Technology and a Master’s Degree in Industrial Technology. According to him “studying abroad was a completely different ball game as the best engineering students were females, I am proud to be back in Nigeria in the same location where I studied and thought at a time that engineering was a field for the male gender only. I am proud to be a part of history declaring the floor open for the program.”

After his speech, Sue Brown, a Council Member of Worley Foundation, Australia in her opening remarks stated that Worley foundation is the largest engineering and project delivery firm in the world with over 50,000 engineers globally and hundreds of workers in Nigeria, offering exciting opportunities to engineers and project managers to work all over the world. She stated that she is a female engineer of approximately 20 years and over 30 years ago her mother was not supportive when she chose to study engineering as she thought it was not a course for the female gender. She studied Chemical Engineering in Melbourne and most of her friends were male. In her closing remark, she said to the young female engineers “have confidence in yourself, choosing engineering is a smart decision, take calculated risks and be flexible and adaptable”

The Managing Director of DeltaAfrik, Engr. Akinkunmi Odumakinde (FNSE), ably represented by Abimbola Onaolapo, Head Of Planning And Strategy, DeltaAfrik in his remarks, advised young engineers on three available options they have. In his words he said “the first option open to you is to give up but please don’t!! The second is the trial-and-error approach but it is not the best, the third option you have is to look for mentors, connect with the contacts you make in this conference. As women, do not give up based on the challenges ahead it is not an option, there is a place for you, be your best you have all it takes go and fly and make us proud.”
The keynote address was delivered by Myles O’Connor, the General Manager of Worley Academy, Saudi Arabia.
Myles in the introductory part of his lecture mentioned that he wanted to be a Vet but pursued a Degree in Mechanical Engineering in UK. His career led to development as he loves learning development and building development. Compared to being an Engineer, he said these three things have something in common with being a Vet, which are discovering and diagnosing problems, creating solutions to solving the problems. His job is to train customers to help understand engineering more so that they can work with them. In his speech he mentioned that the world is changing very fast and Engineering is becoming commoditized with artificial intelligence in vogue. He continued by giving three answers to the question “what would I really want to know if I was a young female engineer?”
1. How to find a job
2. How to get that job
3. How to stay in control.

He introduced Ray Dalio who started a company in 1975 at 26 years of age and in 10 years he got $5 million and is now worth $18 billion and the 69th richest person in USA, in his book titled PRINCIPLES, Ray Dalio said, “for most of my life I hardly had any money and I still find tremendous benefits from triangulating with the smartest people I could get to speak with. It was doing this that got me the success in what I do which got me the money”
Number one thing to success is NETWORKING (finding the best people to help), he further explained that young engineers will learn faster than others when they network as 85% of jobs are filled via networking. He advised young engineers to apply only for a job where they have networked with someone. He explained further the moods and types of networking and how to combine both. He gave the following tips to networking, “you cannot network with everyone focus on deep relationship”, “focus on what’s in it for them not you”, “until you are successfully networking, you can never get an interview for a job or promotion quotation”, “Don’t wait for the perfect job, get any job and start networking”.
He clarified that most people think that hiring managers are looking for skills, experience, qualifications and capabilities but good companies hire ATTITUDE not SKILLS. He explained that companies can trade skills but you are in charge of your attitude. He advised that young engineers should be hungry to learn, able to motivate themselves and motivate a team, be natural friendly and open, be optimistic, proactive and loyal as these are the attitudes companies look out for.
He faulted the popular statement that “money does not buy happiness”, by saying that “Much money buys happiness” and with confidence and less stress young engineers will do better at work. He concluded by giving what he called the Golden Rules to Financial Independence which are:
1. Save 10% of your salary
2. Don’t spend more than the 90% left
3. Have a bit of fun
4. Never buy on credit
5. When you have a pot of money (from your savings), put it to use.
6. Don’t spend a cent of it till you retire.

A Breakout session followed where the participants were directed to different groups depending on the industry of their choice and questions and answers followed. The companies that attended to each participant and the industry they represent were:
Construction Kaiser – Building and Construction
Cadworks – Design and Additive Manufacturing
Nigerian Bottling Company – Manufacturing and FMCG
Chevron Nigerian Limited – Oil and Gas
DeltaAfrik Engineering – Oil and Gas
Guinness Nigeria – Manufacturing
Tranos- Engineering and Manufacturing.

The event was closed with the National Anthem and further questions and enquiries were directed to the APWEN official email:


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