The GE Reports Africa blog is launching an exciting new series known as “A Day in the Life Of”. This series of profiles gives us the opportunity to cast the spotlight on GE SSA’s unsung heroes, the employees who quietly go about contributing in meaningful ways to make GE the great multinational company that it is.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. This is the adage that ultimately secured Daniel Oluseye Komolafe a job at GE Nigeria where it took him a few tries before eventually hired on the GE Commercial Leadership Programme (CLP) in 2014. “You have to persevere and be proactive in your career and learning. You have to get out there and find opportunities if you want to succeed,” said Komolafe (28), who is now a Commercial Manager in GE’s Lagos office, covering Gas Power Systems (GPS) in SSA.
“As cliché as it sounds, I have always wanted to work at GE. I was strongly influenced by the legacy of the founder, Thomas Edison and I suppose it’s also because I wanted to be an inventor when I was younger. I think I was influenced by several episodes of Dexter’s Laboratory,” said Komolafe because Dexter’s Laboratory is a comic science fiction animated television series about a boy inventor.
Influenced by his parents who had studied abroad, Komolafe believed in the benefits of being exposed to different cultures and therefore studied for his bachelor’s degree in engineering at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom and a master’s degree in power systems engineering at the University College London. I believe that studying abroad definitely broadens your horizons and that’s also why I appreciate the opportunities GE provides to further my education with teams in different countries.”
For two years, Komolafe was part of GE’s CLP, which involves two years of intense learning in different regions. “I was fortunate to have been on a leadership development programme. My rotations included six-month assignments in Dubai and New York, and a 12-month assignment in France. During this time, I made very good connections with people across the globe and they are always willing to help, so even though you’re based in Nigeria, you have access to a network of people all around the world.”
Top Image: Daniel Komolafe at the GE Commercial Leadership Programme Summit in 2014.
Image above: Daniel at his desk at the GE Lagos office. Credit: Courtesy GE
As a commercial manager, Komolafe does a little bit of everything. He prepares proposals and contracts for customers, ensuring that the information being disseminated is accurate and free of risk and his engineering background helps him cope with the technical challenges of the job. “It’s an interesting job. I get to learn a lot of different things. I’ve become more of a jack of all trades.”
A day in Komolafe’s life starts at about 6.30am with some light exercise before getting ready for work. His days are unpredictable and could involve impromptu meetings, conference calls and such. Sometimes, contract negotiations keep him at work until midnight, but he’s happy to do what’s needed to close the deal. Komolafe tries to balance life and work, and when he does finish work at 5pm, he usually goes for a run across the famous Ikoyi Bridge in Lagos four times a week. He then prepares his dinner and does a little reading before the day comes to an end. He added that “extra-curricular activities” happen on the weekend.
“Some days, we do have to deal with highly complex challenges and the key for me is always to remain calm and take proactive steps to solve problems I encounter. Recently, I had the challenge of dealing with a customer who wanted a technical feature that had been discontinued and was no longer supported on a particular piece of equipment. It took quite some doing as I had to pitch to very senior people and experts in the company to add that technical feature and I’m glad we eventually accomplished what the customer wanted because we would have lost a multi-million-dollar contract if we didn’t accommodate the request.”
Komolafe has learned more about his job through hands-on experience. “Most of the knowledge and competency comes from developing an attitude of curiosity and learning from those around you. This is a continuous learning process. Some days, I have to reach out to people outside of Africa to get support. GE is a big company with very smart and experienced people. Being able to reach out and get the support you need is incredibly helpful.”
“I think that’s one of the major reasons people are clamouring to be hired by GE, because the company supports your professional and personal development. The company pays for your training and your assignments abroad, and that shows how committed they are to employee development.”
When asked about advice he would like to give young people, he said: “You need to follow your passion. If you do something you really like, it makes the tough days a little easier. Find opportunities where you can practice the skills you’d like to acquire and put yourself out there. Take proactive steps to get the knowledge you need and identify the job you want. I think curiosity is very important and it has been my key to success.”