By CHARLES KUMOLU
Drawing inspirations from his father, who strove beyond limits to make him have a better life, Managing Director of DOTECON Nigeria Limited (an environmental and oil and gas firm), Dr. Nnadozie Isingunzo, rose from a humble background to the top management of Shell Petroleum. He discusses his journey from Umudike in the present day Abia State to the oil and gas sector where he distinguished himself as an authority in Environmental Sciences.
I was born to the late Elder and Deaconess Isingunzo in Ikwuano, Local Government Area, LGA, of Abia State. I am the second child in a family of four boys and a girl. As a young man, I saw my father, who was a school teacher struggling to provide good education for us. He would travel to Ibadan to mark West African School Certificate, WASC, examination papers to be able to pay our school fees. Each time he did that, he came back from Ibadan sick because of the stress of marking the papers.Whenever I asked him why he was always stressed, he told me his dream was to give us the opportunity he never had. He did not attend a university. It dawned on me that one of the things I can do to encourage him was to work hard to make Grade1 in my secondary school examination and gain admission into the university. This was the turning point when I was growing up and it drove me to become the first Ph.D. holder in my community. Immediately after my first degree in Nsukka, I took over the training of all my siblings. Today we’re graduates and with a medical doctor in our family.
Level of success
My success was God-made. He positioned mentors at every level of success I achieved,because he used them to inspire me to succeed. The first person was my father, who trained me to become a graduate. The second person was Dr. Okwuraiwe, Chief Scientific Officer at NAFDAC. He encouraged me to go for my M.Sc and helped me to obtain study leave with pay thereby making it possible for me to accomplish my M.Sc and Ph.D while my two-year study leave lasted. My third mentor was my academic supervisor, Professor C.T.I Odu, who died in 2013. Professor Odu was really the one who brought me into the environmental sciences profession. He exposed me to the oil industry and environmental studies while I was doing my Ph.D and after my graduation, I was able to scale through an aptitude test and oral interview to be employed by Shell Petroleum Development Corporation, Port Harcourt. I cannot pretend that I am a self-made man. God placed these people on my way to encourage me to work very hard to be able to achieve success.
I had many experiences that were life-changing but I will share one that I believe has great lessons for all. While working at Shell, I had two senior staffers reporting directly to me as HSE Manager. One was a white man and the other was a Nigerian. My bosses were disappointed with the white man’s reckless lifestyle in the hotel where he was accommodated. They requested me to write a report that he was not performing his job so they can disengage him based on my report. I refused and insisted that they should tell him the actual reason they were sacking him. They later sacked him and were not happy with me. This made them transfer me to another job from which I voluntarily retired in 2008. On my new job, I had no problem and I was satisfied until I retired. Since then, my colleagues have had great respect for me and always remember me as a principled man.
I learned many principles through which a man can become successful. My first principle is to do unto others what you will want them to do unto you. This attitude makes me do only the things I expect people to do to me. These include loving people irrespective of gender, ethnicity and social status. This makes me very friendly and I avoid making enemies. The second principle is having respect for others. This involves putting myself in other peoples’ shoes before making decisions or judging them. I learnt something in life that helped me a lot. That thing is the meaning of the word think. In all my relationships, I found out that communication is important. Therefore, before I respond to peoples’ actions, I think. The letter T in think stands for truth, H stands for helpful, I stands for inspiration, N stands for necessary and K stands for kindness. I always think of how I respond to and ask questions. Since I learnt this and have been applying it, my life and health have been prospering.
Life after Shell
After a successful career in Shell, I lectured briefly at Enugu State University of Science and Technology before becoming the MD/CEO of DOTECON Nigeria Limited. DOTECON is a consultancy group in Health, Safety, and Environment. As the Managing Director of DOTECON, I assisted the National Environmental Standards Regulation Agency ,NESREA, in developing the national environmental regulations and completed a waste-to-wealth demonstration project for NESREA. I championed dozens of Environmental Impact Assessments, EIA, and Environmental Audits for oil companies, telecommunication companies, agro-based industries, construction companies and energy solution companies. I also executed projects for oil companies in Nigeria and overseas. I did jobs for companies like Petrenel UK and United Nations Development Project, UNDP.
Inspiration to many young graduates
As one of the foremost bio-remediation specialists in Nigeria, I was Chairman of Nigerian Environmental Society, Lagos Island Chapter. I am a Fellow of Nigerian Environmental Society, NES. I have presented papers on environmental issues at national and international conferences. I have many publications in conference proceedings and journals. I believe God made me a pacesetter for my generation. I’m the second son in my family and I was the first to obtain a Ph.D. in my community thereby inspiring many young graduates. As a young staffer at NAFDAC, I was the first to start a Master’s degree programme and returned with a Ph.D. within two years. At SPDC, I was the first environmental staffer who had a Ph.D. Professionally, I have remained one of the foremost practising Environmental Scientists helping both public and private corporations to initiate, develop and establish environmental policies, guidelines and certification. Everything I achieved is by God’s grace and I believe it’s God’s purpose for my generation.
I started at St Silas Primary School, Old Umuahia. Subsequently,I attended Government College Umuahia and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where I obtained Bsc honours degree in Microbiology. I did my National Youth Service Corps,NYSC, scheme in Minna and worked briefly at the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration, NAFDAC, as a Food and Drug Inspector and later as Drug Analyst. I left for the University of Ibadan where I obtained MSc in Soil Science and Ph.D. in Agronomy. I joined Shell Petroleum Development Company in 1988 as Head of Pollution Prevention Department. I held positions as Head, Environmental Audit, Head Technical Support and Head Special Studies Department. I finally became Head, HSE Offshore Operations, Bonga, and Bonga Southwest Liaison Manager. I voluntarily retired in August 2008. I represented Shell on National Assembly Environmental (Oil Pollution) matters. I was also the General Secretary of Shell Branch of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association,PENGASSAN.
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