Russ Lee, ’14 MA-HRIR, joined Chevron immediately after graduating from the Carlson School, and recently began a six-month rotation in Lagos, Nigeria.
Read on to find out what life is like in Lagos.
Q: Why Lagos?
A: I am in Lagos, Nigeria for six months as part of the Chevron HR Development Program (HRDP). Chevron sees value in sending all their development program members on an international rotation sometime within their first two years at the company. Other alums have rotated through Nigeria while on HRDP with Chevron. They have all done great things here, and I hope to carry on their legacy.
Q: How long have you lived in Lagos?
A: 1.5 months.
Q: What has been the most interesting experience for you so far?
A: My most interesting experience was flying on a helicopter for the first time. This one held more than 18 people and it was a smooth ride to and from an off-shore platform on the Atlantic Ocean. I spent the time looking out at the vast ocean and writing in my journal to self-reflect about my experience here, my family, and life goals.
Q: What does working in a city like Lagos entail?
A: I mainly work in Lagos at the Chevron office buildings. I recently did a two-day trip to one of our off-shore platforms. There, I was involved in supervisor engagement sessions, new leader assimilations, and other HR meetings. My next business trip will be to our Escravos gas-to-liquids plant located near the Niger Delta. I am able to learn and understand much more about our business and our workforce when I can physically be at the location. I appreciate these opportunities and try to make the most out of each experience.
Q: What a benefits and challenges have you faced?
A: We love it here. I am accompanied by my wife, Adri, and two daughters, Sophia and Grace. We live in a company expatriate neighborhood where more than a dozen different nationalities are represented. We spend time participating in community events around Lagos and car traffic can be really heavy at times.
My most difficult challenge: the main language spoken here is “Pigeon” English. At first, I struggled to understand the English words spoken by locals. One Nigerian co-worker remarked, “Russ, you really need to learn our English language here.” We both laughed. I am getting better.
Q: Were you nervous or excited to move to a new continent?
A: No matter where you live in this world, you will find differing opinions. When we first told my side of the family about moving to Nigeria, they reacted with concerns for our safety. When we told my wife’s family, their response was, “Wow! We have never been there, when can we come visit you?”
Overall, we were excited to come, but we also tried to be realistic about what to expect when we arrived because it is very different than the United States and very much still a developing country. By the time we boarded the airplane, we felt prepared for what was next, and so far so good. I hope to see more HRIR graduates join Chevron and carry-on this legacy assignment.