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You know the usual saying that curiosity killed the cat? Well, in this case, curiosity made leaps and put this man in his current career path. Today, we will be looking into the story of an amazing personality who like every Nigerian optimist, finds something worth doing to solve one of the myriad problems plaguing this nation. We will be delving a bit into his journey while finding a way to thread previous experiences that have led him to what he currently does.

Seni Sulyman is a young Nigerian entrepreneur and the Vice President, Global Operations at Andela. He is a trained engineer and a Harvard-trained business executive. At the young age of 13, he had the opportunity to leave the country for the US where he had most of his education. He studied Electrical Engineering at the Northwestern University and got an MBA from Harvard University.

The Beginning

While at the university, Seni started buying and selling phones majorly because he wanted to “open them up and see what was in them before selling”. This was how his journey started. With this fascination for tech and mobile phones, he had a career dream of working at Motorola to build devices for the future. This was the only way he thought he could be a part of the change technology was sure to bring to the world. From there, he started drawing designs of different phones on paper, and what they would look like or do ten to twenty years from then.

Thereafter, he was introduced to the business side of engineering during his time at the university and so his dream upgraded to developing a business sense alongside his passion for technology so as to build a tech company in the future. Fortunately, he learnt early enough that he was not very good as an engineer and so he went ahead into business. He learnt about organizations and businesses and further redefined his dream or purpose to fuse his knowledge on the intricacies of companies so he can apply his passion for tech to build a tech company. This meant he needed to seek that knowledge like it was the only thing that mattered.

Ergo, he applied for a MBA degree at Harvard University to polish his managerial skill after a career success of working for several business consulting firms and Hewlett Packard, a technology firm. Armed with the experiences he had garnered and a MBA degree from Harvard, Seni became the man sought after by top technology companies – Google, Facebook and others, but he had what he would do in mind.

Tough Decision – Blessings

Seni was faced with a plethora of questions to consider when he decided to buy a one-way ticket back to Lagos, away from the juicy job offers and the seduction of all the top tech companies could offer. “Starting from scratch, was it worth it? Did it make sense? Economic collapse and high cost of living, is this what I’ll have to live with daily?” But like every optimist, Seni found the good in the bad and sought after the diamond from the hay stack. He continuously asked what opportunities were available and he kept going for it, reaching out for it every single day until the break he wanted came.

Andela was a blessing he found when he was trying to solve the problem of lack of tech and engineering talent he recognized while working with a small airline company in Lagos. After a failed career-development magazine and mentorship programme he developed to bridge the talent gap, Andela reached out to him to hire him as the company’s head of operations.

While it may look like Seni had it all laid out for him, we must not forget that Seni chose Nigeria in spite of the juicy offers on the table. He is someone who ran with the passion for technology he had and continuously shaped his dream, fusing technology with business until the talent gap he saw is getting bridged. 


Face2face Africa

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This article was first published on 25th September 2019


Aanuoluwapo Olajide is a freelance writer who believes that words are fundamental blocks and are the force of life and death. She is a tech enthusiast, fashion designer and a lover of words.

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