The GE Reports Africa blog has launched a new series known as “A Day in the Life Of” which profiles GE SSA’s unsung heroes, highlighting their contribution at GE.
This week, we profile Nnenna Anthonia Olorunfemi. As the Lead Contract Performance Manager at GE Power and Water at the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas plant (NLNG), Nnenna will tell you if she’s going to have a good day, or a bad day, by analysing the “flare stack” at the plant. She understands the impact GE gas turbines have in the LNG compression trains and the power generations units. “If I look up and the flare is small, then I know all our equipment is in perfect working condition and it will be a good day. If there is a lot of flare, then I know that one or more pieces of GE equipment are having trouble and I must prepare for a long, busy day ahead,” she said. She swears by this method.
Nnenna said that working in a male-dominated industry has not been easy, but perseverance, hard work and the pursuit of knowledge has paid off. Coming from a strict patriarchal home, Nnenna grew up in Nsukka, a small town which is also the site of the University of Nigeria in Enugu State. She completed both her primary and secondary education there, and went on to study zoology at the university, graduating with honours.
When Nnenna was a child, she wanted to pursue a career in finance, but her strict father wanted her to become a doctor and encouraged her to stick to the sciences, so she ended studying zoology. After graduating, Nnenna got married and found herself living in Bonny Island, but she realised that this wasn’t the path she had imagined for herself. She wanted to pursue a career in management sciences and shared this goal with her neighbour, who told her about GE and advised her to apply for job at the company. Nnenna applied, was interviewed and was successful, and this is where her journey with GE began.
In 2012, she was appointed as a contract performance manager associate at GE and in 2013, she was promoted to her current role. A normal day for Olorunfemi starts at 6am with a morning prayer, followed by preparations for work and getting her daughter ready for school. On her way to work, she always thinks ahead about what challenges she might be dealing with on that day.
Nnenna’s day-to-day tasks involve managing both the planned and unplanned maintenance of GE-covered equipment. Managing the plant involves planning for outages as well as ensuring that all the necessary resources to get the job done are available. “As a Contractual Service Agreement (CSA) contract manager, the finance is important. Therefore, I am responsible for billing and collection for the contact,” said Olorunfemi.
“All the things I do in my role is to ensure that we execute tasks flawlessly on site to ensure on-time invoicing and cash collection. Usually in the morning, the team on site will gather together for a meeting to share and discuss site-related issues and get business updates from the site director. “The main objective for us is mitigate any risk that will jeopardise the availability and reliability of the plant because we make money when the customer makes money. It is a win-win relationship, a partnership that makes GE and the customer co-creators of value.”
She goes home at about 6pm to prepare dinner for her family and then, she helps her daughter with her homework. Before her day ends, she usually checks social media to get updates on what is happening in her industry globally and to catch up on current affairs with her friends.
“By the time one comes into the GE CSA business, you learn that it all works differently from other business models. Learning and understanding the business comes from hands-on experience and from the various classroom and online training provided by GE. Though classroom training provides one with basic principles which act as a good foundation, you soon realise that there are actual situations that you will find yourself in where you need to apply hands-on knowledge that you would have learned from practical situations.”
When Nnenna joined GE, she had an opportunity to go on internal training programmes and one of them was the Foundation of Leadership - a course that takes you through leadership at GE and how GE operates while instilling practical leadership skills. As Olorunfemi progressed, she enrolled in job-specific training for Contract Performance Certification that focused on Contract, Finance, and Outage management as well as technical, health, safety and environmental, commercial and sales elements.
“I have also had ‘on-the-job’ training, working under a senior corporate performance manager who was both a coach and a mentor. I also attended conferences and learned from colleagues,” said Nnenna. Luckily, she was nominated to be part of the RISE programme, a corporate run leadership development programme targeting high-performing, high potential senior leaders. Over the course of the year-long programme, RISE participants engage in developmental experiences including: Individual Development Planning, Global HR Coaching, Classroom and Virtual Learning Sessions, and Networking with Senior Leadership and Peers across GE businesses.
GE has been instrumental in Nnenna’s career growth, instilling the value of education in her. “One should always continue to learn and grow.” With the support of her manager and family, she obtained an MBA from the University of Liverpool UK, which increased her business management acumen, which she needed to manage the finance of a high-value contract such as NLNG.
Nnenna added that one should never underestimate the power of networking as this has far-reaching implications. “Be curious, ask questions and listen to feedback as this attribute will help you navigate the complex and unpredictable business environment that we now face.’’