The Challenges of Project Management Students in FUTA – Interview with Oluwaseyi Sodola

FUTA

In this new interview series titled “The Challenges of Project Management Students in Nigeria,” I will be interviewing project management graduates and students on the challenges they faced or are facing in their own higher institutions in Nigeria, respectively, and their own solutions and suggestions to solving such challenges. My first interview in this new series was with Anidiobi Eric Ejiofor, a recent project management technology (PMT) graduate from FUTO (Federal University of Technology Owerri).

Now, I will be sharing with you my second interview and it’s with a recent PMT graduate from FUTA (Federal University of Technology Akure). His name is Oluwaseyi Sodola.

Oluwaseyi is the Young Crew Leader of the Oluwaseyi-SodolaProject Managers Development Association of Nigeria (PMDAN) which is the member association of the IPMA (International Project Management Association) in Nigeria. He’s also the Project Director of HACEY’s Health Initiative in Akure, Ondo State, where he supervises the design, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and reporting activities of the organisation’s project in the areas of HIV/AIDS and environmental protection/climate change.

Now, here’s my interview with Sodola:

JERRY: Thank you Sodola for dedicating your time to granting this interview with me.

OLUWASEYI: Thank you so much Jerry Ihejirika for this opportunity to be able to voice out my thoughts and concerns on the challenges of project management students in Nigeria.

JERRY: When did you decide that you want to pursue a bachelors degree programme in project management?

OLUWASEYI: It’s quite unfortunate that during my primary and secondary schools period there was no awareness of what project management is either as a course or career. My decision to study Project Management Technology was a blessing in disguise because I was a passionate fan of medicine and surgery but my O’Level never gave me the opportunity to study the aspired course. During my ultimate search of the course I could study in the university, without having a credit pass in Chemistry, I came across more than 30 availiable courses, and for the first time I came across the course Project Management Technology at which I overlooked. Huge appreciation goes to one of my extended brothers, Mr. Leke Quadri who persuaded me to choose project management technology. This made me to venture into an extensive research about the course and the findings were an eye opener for me to the great opportunity embedded in Project Management. The research also gave me the confidence to choose and study the course and today, I am very glad I made that decision.

JERRY: What is project management technology as a course all about to you?

OLUWASEYI: According to IPMA’s International Competence Baseline 4 definition, project management is concerned with the application of methods, tools, techniques and competences to achieve goals. It is performed through processes and includes the integration of the various phases of the project life cycle. As a graduate of Project Management Technology, I will define project management as the application of knowledge, skills and ability in proffering solutions to project objectives according to clients’ request enabling highest quality, shortest time and lowest cost. And some of the courses we studied as an undergraduate in PMT are Operations Management, Human Resource Management, Material Management, Financial Management, Industrial Economics and Management.

JERRY: What were some of the challenges you faced as a project management student?

OLUWASEYI: At the time of my gaining admission into the department, project management technology was a new course in FUTA, so it was like a dumping ground to many who were not able to gain admission in the course they selected while writing JAMB. Most of my course mates never knew what the course was all about until our first semester of 300 level before they got to know how interesting the course was and its opportunities. Now as concerning the lecturers, you cannot give what you don’t have they say. The lecturers we had tried their best but I would advise and suggest that they intensify their zeal in acquiring more knowledge on project management and also the department should ensure that only certified project management lecturers are recruited. Lastly, the Project Management Technology department in FUTA is really based on operational project management which is basically more of economics, so I would suggest that at 300 level, students should be given the opportunity to choose a specified aspect or option of PM such as construction, ICT, oil and gas, etc.

JERRY: When you were in school, where and how did you source for additional materials to boost your project management knowledge?

OLUWASEYI: I hooked myself on the Internet. I sourced for information on various project management websites and blogs.

JERRY: What do you think is missing or needed to be done for our universities to produce more quality project management graduates?

OLUWASEYI: I would itemise this:

  1. The department should bring in only qualified and certified project management lecturers.
  2. The students need proper orientation about the course and its opportunities.
  3. The PMT students should be encouraged to join professional PM bodies such as the PMI, IPMA and APM.
  4. The PMT department should work towards getting the students to be certified at their fourth year in school before being a graduate.
  5. The students should be exposed to both international and local project management conferences, seminars, summits and workshops.

JERRY: As PMDAN’s Young Crew Head in Nigeria, can you tell us some of your roles and responsibilities? 

OLUWASEYI: My roles and responsibilities are summarised as follows:

  • Development of young Project Managers in Nigeria between the age range of 18 to 35 years.
  • Ensure the visibility of project management industry in Nigeria.
  • Ensure tertiary institutions studying project management are well represented in the PM Industry in Nigeria.
  • Implementing activities that would enable the functionality and visibility of effective project management in Nigeria.
  • And representing PMDAN in both the local and international PM environment.

JERRY: What are the most common questions you get from people who aspire to be project managers?

OLUWASEYI: I’m often asked questions such as what project management is all about, how can I become a project manager, what is the difference between a training certificate and certification in project management and which area of specialty in project management can you recommend for me.

JERRY: As a recent project management graduate, how are you looking forward to practising and advancing your PM career? 

OLUWASEYI: Let me use this opportunity to tell you that I would be getting certified by December 2015 on IPMA LEVEL D (Project Management Associate). As for my PM career, first I am looking forward to having a graduate internship in one of the country’s leading multinational ICT firms before my NYSC mobilization in 2016. And on the long run, I would be focusing on project management in the Automobiles industry.

JERRY: Lastly, what advice would you give to persons now who wish to study project management and to those who are already pursuing a bachelors degree programme in project management?

OLUWASEYI: Potential project management students should count themselves fortunate to have known about one of the best courses ever in the global market today. Kindly make good research about this course before you commence your studies, it would help give you an unending zeal and passion in achieving greatness in the course. And as for our current project management students, they should endeavour to join reputable project management associations like the IPMA (International Project Management Association) which is presently in FUTA and currently undergoing establishment processes in other universities offering project management technology courses in Nigeria.

Thank you, Oluwaseyi Sodola, for your time and I hope that you my dear blog reader have learnt some ideas and tips from this interview.

Do you think the PM department in various universities across the country should work towards getting their students a PM certification before graduation? And if yes, how do you suggest they go about it? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Conducting interviews with PM students, graduates and practitioners in Africa is part of the plans of the Project Management for Africa Initiative.

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