July 9, 2011

I hawked soap, tomatoes – Igwe, Oil & Gas magnate

Prince Chris Odinaka Igwe, Group Managing Director, Mainland Oil & Gas Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of Chrisnak Group, according to him had tasted good things of life and as well poverty at a very early stage and discovered that the latter was a killer disease everybody should plan to escape.

In this interaction with Saturday Vanguard Rising On The Job, Igwe related how he rose on his job, he hawked bathing soap, tin tomatoes before he became a general manager of a company.

Igwe said he started business with N10,000, but today, he is not the only one reaping the reward of diligence and hard work, but 500 employees are receiving salaries every month end.

Let’s hear him.

*Igwe: I cherish hard work

My name is Prince Chris Odinaka Igwe. I’m an entrepreneur from Abia state. Before that I started life on a very rough note because I was a teenager when my father died and there was nobody to help me for my education.

That situation ushered me into street hawking as a teenager when I got somebody to live with in Owerri. So for me to move on in life I started hawking bathing soap, tin tomatoes on the streets of for my guidance.

That I did until I secured employment in a company as a salesman. While on that employment I was diligent and hard working. When the management of that company saw that I was meeting my targets, they started promoting me and I was rising on the job because they considered I was adding value to set goals. May it interest you to know that I later became the General Manager of that company.

During that period of working I was studying to improve myself because I realised the importance of education, I hold a National Diploma from Federal Polytechnic, Oko on Business Administration and Management.

I want to tell you that those challenges didn’t weigh me down, but it motivated in life to work harder even as a salesman then and now because I have tasted good side of life when my father was alive, thereafter poverty ravaged and I discovered that there is nothing good in poverty.

I could still recollect those days when I and my friends were hawking on the streets of Owerri, and it came to a time that some of them became ill and because there was no money for treatment eventually they died.

I remember a time I was down with malaria parasite and typhoid and the chemist man requested N1 naira to buy some drugs to treat me, I tell you it was difficult to get it. The truth is that my father was not poor but immediately he died, my expectations turned contrary, and l things became too difficult.

In the midst of all that challenges I vowed in my life not to be poor and today God is helping me to grow in spite the trial times even the ones we encounter on the business.

Basically, two things are involved when you want to rise on the job. You must be able to present a certificate you can defend at the work place through your performance. Another one is skill acquisition.

That enables you to add value to company’s set goals and objective. Both of them attract promotion. But in this company we pay on two basis, your certificate and skills based on the above mentioned conditions.

As a Managing Director I’m always happy with hard work and I don’t hesitate in rewarding hard work, efficiency a lot. I do that based on the value you have added to the growth of the company.

In our group, people must work hard before they get to the next level. For instance, in my accounts department, the person heading it is not ICAN qualified or Ph.D, but he is hard working and he can deliver.

So, in as much as we appreciate certificate, we reward diligence, excellence and that makes an employee to rise anywhere you work. People should strive to acquire skills on the job and outside the job, it takes one to levels he or she never expected. Moreover, skills make you build confidence.

Therefore, I make bold to advise employees and youths who want to rise on the job and in life generally that there is no short cut to life. ‘Life is in faces and men are in sizes’.

For you to make it, it is good you experience the downward aspect of it. When you know your size then you begin to plan how to rise in life. This was my experience of life when I started this company with N10,000 (Ten Thousand naira only) in 1992. Today, the company is paying 500 workers.

I was down the lane, but what you are seeing today was planned from there. The point I’m making is that hard work and faith in God will give you all you want in life.

Even now I can say I have arrived, I still working to be greater even though it’s not something you get on a platter of gold, your wishes alone are not enough, it’s something you work out.

As M/D, I go to work as early as possible. Sometimes sign off the attendance register, trying to work out those things that would aid me to grow higher.

As a matter fact, my vision is to employ five thousand Nigerians that would feed from my establishment, then I can say we have done well in supporting the country.

But I can’t achieve that by sitting down and wishing. I have to go extra miles. What level are you in life, there is much more room for improvement and growth. Make a choice.