‘Nigerian employers are more interested in age, marriage status rather than expertise’
Ngozi Madueke-Dozie is an experienced professional in the Technology, Mobile and Entertainment eco- system. Prior to joining IFLIX as General Manager for West Africa, she served as the Consulting Country Manager and Business Development Director at Viacom, Nigeria. She also served as the Growth and Partnerships Manager for West and Central Africa for Facebook. In addition, Ngozi has worked as the Geo-Marketing Manager at MTN Nigeria and the Chief Partnerships Officer at Iroko TV. Over the years, Ngozi has gained a wealth of experience in International consulting, in-depth knowledge and exposure to the Media, Telecommunications, Technology and Mobile industries across Africa. She holds a BSc in Management Information Systems and Decision Science as well as an MSc in Systems Engineering and Engineering Management. She tells TOBI AWODIPE about age and status discrimination in the country, being the Go, Girl Woman and her struggles in career choices.
You were the Go, Girl! Woman for this month. Tell us what this was about and how it made you feel?
Go, Girl! is a woman empowerment platform that showcases women in different careers and levels and encouraging them to share their stories as well. I am honoured to be the first woman showcased on this platform, as I am always looking forward to hearing other women’s stories never realising that anyone would be particularly interested in hearing mine.
Tell us about your career journey so far?
OK, so I will skip the baby-sitting and telemarketing jobs (although I must say they both built my tolerance and perseverance). However, my first real job was with Sprint as a Network Engineer and then Databasics as a Requirements, Analysis and Design Consultant before I moved back to Nigeria and worked for Interconnect, MTN, Facebook and Viacom before my current job here at Iflix. My roles have spanned the gamut from Organisational Design and Development to Country/General Manager.
You’re in the I.T field, which is male dominated. How do you manage this experience?
To be honest, I find there is more age and status discrimination in Nigeria than gender. I find it interesting the preoccupation with your age rather than your level of expertise. I also find that one’s marital status and perhaps whether or not you have children are also meters used to determine how much respect you are accorded. It’s like there are only two categories for women, ‘small girl’ or ‘big woman’ (according to your marital status and if you have kids or not) and so I created a third for myself; ‘qualified professional,’ and I strive to make sure I live up to that in every interaction.
How are/would you encourage younger women and girls to venture into this field?
I am a mother of girls and I am raising them to pursue whatever passions they desire and not let their gender determine their careers or interest. I was raised this way, my older sister and I studied technology and engineering and my younger sister is a medical doctor. I do not adjust for gender when it comes to the capacity and capability of ones’ brain and passion and so I would say to young women to not let the world or society limit your ambition or worse, pigeonhole you to a particular career path simply because you are female.
Tell us how you cope with challenges and the burden of expectation?
One of my favourite sayings is, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” It is a blessing and responsibility to pay it forward and so I do not consider it a burden. As for expectations being a challenge, what is life without challenges? It gives one something to strive for and a sense of accomplishment when achieved.
Apart from sharing each other’s stories, what affirmative action or impacts is this having on women?
I think sharing each other’s stories is actually impactful in and of itself. It reminds you that nobody has all the answers; it frees you to accept your imperfect self and reorients one’s perspective to always approach each situation as a learning opportunity.
How do you strike the perfect work-life balance?
Ha! Is there such a thing? It is always going to be a struggle, I have come to accept and embrace the fact that I will drop a ball or two every now and again, but my work and my life are both important and so the juggling continues.
Who and what motivates or inspires you to keep going?
That’s easy, my daughters, Chizoma and Kelenna. I am fascinated that with absolutely no qualifications whatsoever, God saw it fit to give me these two human beings to be responsible for emotionally, physically, financially and spiritually. Typically you do not get a job unless you have some kind of experience or qualification and so I find the blessing of being a mother to be such a vote of confidence and this inspires me everyday to be the best version of myself as that is the only way I can fulfill this responsibility successfully.
What would you tell women out there struggling with life and career choices?
To be honest, I struggled as well. I always dreaded the question “what are you passionate about?” I am passionate about running, traveling and going to the beach, but I am still yet to find anyone that will pay me to do any of those things and so perhaps I was being asked the wrong question. Instead I ask myself the following, “What are you good at”? What are your strengths? What makes you stand out? When I started answering those questions, I found it easier to navigate the types of roles and careers I was most suited for and would excel in. Besides, the world is constantly changing; the industry I work in now simply didn’t exist 15 years ago and so re-evaluating your career path every so often is also necessary to remain relevant in our rapidly changing world.