The Nigerian Career Habit And Its Practical Danger

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In my dealings with other professionals, local and foreign, I notice one common distinguishing habit Nigerian professionals have as they grow their career.

It is not uncommon to find a 65 year old US computer geek and programmer. A lot of technical books out there are written by professionals above the age of 50. Foreign professionals.

To be fair to us, we are not the book writing type, we don't have a robust publishing industry that seeks out experts and pay them upfront with lots of editing support like the developed countries have. The ones among us who end up writing technical books have to be our publisher, hire editor and pay for it all from our pocket.

The habit I want to point out is the one of killing our technical expertise as we progress in our career. One statement I hear our 50 and 60 year old professionals say is, "I used to know how to that technical stuff, but now I just let someone else do it." They used to know how to analyse data. They used to know how to program. They used to know how to conduct a research. They used to know how to do financial modelling. They used to know how to do the technical bit of project management. They used to even write technical documents.

Now? They've moved on.

In the Microsoft MVP technical community, a select community of the best technical folks according to Microsoft's standard, there are very many very old people. Just in the Excel group, there are people my father's age group who are writing out VBA codes and doing full-time technical consulting. A couple of them are even the ones writing the books young professionals buy. There are people who have used and consulted with every single version of Excel, since it came out in 1985. And in the core programming groups, you'll find people who are older than Bill Gates and have had to learn new programming languages every few years.

Last month, I came across an article on Quora about a 65 year old man who got a programming job offer from Google. He was that good and on the modern languages that didn't exist for the first 50 years of his life. Google searched him out and gave him a job offer.

In Nigeria, you wouldn't find a 50 year old man making his full-time leaving writing computer programs. And not just computer programming, you wouldn't find him doing any technical job full-time except if he were a technician or school cert holder. No high flying Nigerian professional sticks to technical roles full-time for long. They can't wait to let someone else do the technical bit and they manage the person. They will even hire a technical team leader and be his manager rather than directly manage the technical team.

The danger in it is that we don't have technical masters to look up to for long. No lifelong expert in the technical fields. 


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