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A Brace for Youngsters: Celebrating Mr. Akin “Bee” Braithwaite

Mr Akin “Bee” Braithwaite

I am privileged to be celebrating a cerebral Boss. I must say that this is one of the excerpts of my memoir because my encounter with Mr. Akin “Bee” Braithwaite was the turning point during my stint in MTN Nigeria.

Sometimes in 2009, I was invited for an interview at the Berger Cement bus stop, Oshodi- Apapa Expressway. In order not to fall a prey of employment fraudsters, I called Solafunmi Olanrewaju, a friend that we served together in Maiduguri, Borno State who had started working in the call centre. Interestingly, the interview was rescheduled to the 3rd floor, Golden Plaza, Ikoyi. This was a mass meeting with Mr. Akin “Bee” Braithwaite, at this stage, I cannot identify anyone and their position within the organization. I guessed the major test was to know if we can converse effectively in English language. On the 1st of July 2009, I started “How May I help you” training at the Aeromaritime House, Apapa, Lagos.

I relocated from Dipeolu Street, Palmgroove to Dolphin Estatate, LSDPC, Phase IV, Adeniji Adele and I started traversing the Lagos waterways from Apapa to Lagos Motorboat Club, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi. On a Sunny afternoon around November 2009, I was heading to Apapa and I eavesdropped on someone’s call about the need to site a mast in a particular area. As we alighted from the boat in Apapa, I ran to him and the proud Okeho boy sparked a conversation with him saying– “Sir, I heard you taking about the need for a site, there are vacant plots in Okeho and Ibadan where masts can be sited.” He looked at me, trying to assess my effrontery in approaching him but he was nice in his disposition and that was the outset of a relationship with my Boss Plenipotentiary, Mr. Alexander Olusegun Babs-Jonah.

Subsequently, I frequented Alex’s office at Aromire whenever I was off duty. Within a short while, I was introduced to Pamela Emordi by Ugochukwu Ndukuba and my first assignment was to review the website of the company.  I did put my best foot forward; Alex was proud of his rookie while Pamela gladly presented my findings to her superiors. I started getting the inkling that Alex and Ugochukwu were not the typical bosses; they were Guardians sent across my career path in MTN Nigeria.

Ugochukwu Ndukuba and I

 

Then came January 20th 2010, at about 7pm, I missed the calls of Ugochukwu and Alex; they called persistently till I picked the call and the message was that I should meet with the Customer Relations Exec (shortened form of Executive) by 10am tomorrow. I was awestruck and I had no choice but to prepare for the morrow. On getting to the Exec’s office, I waited in the lobby shortly as he was in a meeting with the General Manager, Andrew Esemezie. While seated, I wrote this poem:

Put thee on!

 

Like the brave David,

Who was not scared of Goliath,

I put thee on!

 

Like Esther- the Queen,

Who migrated from slavery to royalty,

I put thee on!

 

Like Joseph- the Prime Minister,

Who rose from prison to palca,

I put thee on!

 

Like Moses who stammered,

But delivered the message,

I put thee on!

 

Like Elisha- the Prophet,

Who overtook a chariot,

I put thee on!

 

Like Peter- the disciple,

Who left fishing to fish for men,

I put thee on!

 

Like Paul- the accuser,

Who turned many to Christ,

I put thee on!

 

Like Jesus- the Saviour,

Who transformed from death to life,

I put thee on!

 

I put thee all on!

To be in my rightful position,

I put thee on!

 

12:20pm, 21st January 2010

 

That was the beginning of my fraternization with the Exec and my movement from the Online Customer Care Centre to a specialized unit called Systems and Processes under the leadership of Lanre Coker. This unit gave me wings to fly within the division. It was in the process of working with virtually all the leadership team of the division that I was advised by Madam Odunayo Sanya to start blogging- that led to the opening of my first blog which has now morphed into www.peodavies.com.

Odunayo Sanya, 2nd the the left and others during a team building exercise

There was a weekend when I traveled to Ibadan on a Saturday and without a reason I decided to return to my Lagos abode. While I was driving down, I was called either by Edward Maduagwu or Sunday Urherebrume that the CRE was in Ghana for a Group WECA meeting and I am required to send a presentation to him that night. I had no choice but to hit the road. Unfortunately, I ran into the perennial traffic between Mile 2 and the office and I was in that traffic for more than 45 minutes. I called the house to inform my family that I would not be returning home that night until Sunday morning so as to avert any disaster. I was glad that I did not lose the trust reposed in me by the leadership team.

As a co-creative like the CRE who reinvented the Ajapa folklore for children in various ways, I had the honour of writing this poem after encountering Ajapa as defined by the CRE-

Ajapa

See the creature-Ajapa,

As wise as Ajapa,

The only creature with cross-cultural tales,

Giving many tales by the bedside,

Has a wally-crackly bony back,

Slow movement,

The eyes that seems not seeing

But captures all details.

 

Here comes Ajapa,

An embodiment of knowledge,

Still ruling the animal world,

In all tales,

We celebrate Ajapa,

The long living animal!

5:12pm

11th May 2010.

 

Also, after attending one of shows organized for children during the Children’s Day celebration in 2010 at the National Theatre, Iganmu and I wrote an article titled, Trado Modern Way of telling tales on the 28th of May 2010.

Within the division, the CRE equally came up with different maxims to energize the division both internally and externally. I wrote a poem with one of his sayings, “I love MyCustomer” this was the theme for 2013 Valentine season competition-

My Love to MyCustomer

My love to MyCustomer,

Who dearly loves my network,

Who for his love ignores other network,

Whose love kept me awake all night,

What can I do but to keep your love in me?

With the growing thought of MyCustomer,

I dare not sleep until he has the best products,

Until I satisfy him with data, I cannot let go,

I am restless to delight MyCustomer,

MyCustomer runs after me in the network garden,

Just to ask for freebies,

I embrace all his excesses for love,

I give my best to you as a rose,

Just to show my love to you, MyCustomer

 

5pm, Feb 13, 2013

 

As a result of my exposure to the Customer Relations Division under the leadership of Mr. Akin “Bee” Braithwaite, I understood that the division is the heart of all the great tasks undertaken by other divisions and as a matter of fact, if any division failed MyCustomer, it was our sole responsibility of CR to correct the negative impression and retain MyCustomer. This spurred me into writing this poem-

See us in them

 

We are IS,

We generate bills for MyCustomer

 

We are HR,

We engage MyStaff.

 

We are Marketing,

We conduct surveys according to products.

 

We are Enterprise Solutions,

We support data customers.

 

We are Corporate Communications,

We say it well to MyCustomers.

 

We are Capital Group

We keep building outstanding structures.

 

We are Network Group,

We manage MyCustomers within a solid network.

 

We are Sales and Distribution,

We create Walk-In-Service-Everywhere (WISE).

 

We are Finance,

We make MyCustomers see value for his money.

 

We are Customer Ready,

We are Customer Relations.

 

10:13am, 7th October 2011.

 

I had a swell time working amongst these great men and women of repute. My name resonated amongst the movers and shakers of MTN then. At some point, I was told by some colleagues that I was wasting my talents as I was in the wrong career path. Unfortunately, I was returned to the Online Customer Care Centre in 2013 and this led me to making a career switch. Interestingly, I vented my anger on the pages of the paper as I was scheduled to work on May Day when some friends were fired, herein is the poem-

May Day

May Day of few,

Labour has flew,

From the heart of many,

Laborious slavery of our days,

Slavery inbound by folks,

Slavery outbound by Chinese and Co.,

Slavery out there even in their nations,

Second class everywhere,

Trade name does not matter,

They strive for their pockets than for others,

The assumed defenders are against the defenseless,

They sow discord and wickedness,

They close their eyes to their travails,

Making wealth of the sweat of many.

Tax authority fatter,

Tax payer slimmer,

Such a day when dignity of labour is eschewed,

When essential workers labour,

The boss chauffeur working,

The boss maid mailing.

And a few match against will.

People get sacked on that day,

People are tricked with overtime,

Where is the right of labourers?

May Day in May,

Endless annual promises about wages,

Dichotomy of labourers with same degree,

Contracts that benefit,

Contract to survive.

Is May Day fair?

Is May Day a farce?

Is May Day a fact?

 

7:34am, 2nd May 2013.

All of these aggravated my thought as I could not also switch from being a Contract Staff to a Permanent Staff after many attempts within 4 years. I had to look inward and I moved on into the Public Relations industry.  However, I have carved a niche for myself in my current career with my Customer service background as I have effectively managed my clients to the delight of the various agencies where I had worked.

In all, I celebrate Mr. Akin “Bee” Braithwaite today and always, he created an excellent team from Econet Wireless, they brought the tradition to MTN Nigeria and at his departure the team excelled in both MTN Nigeria and in their current endeavours across the globe. This is the type of quintessential leadership that our society needs to advance greatly. Mr. Akin “Bee” Braithwaite led and created great teams; he showed us the way; we all made it together; his footprints are itched upon the heart of many people. I am developing myself to be your type of extraordinaire boss that braces youngsters and gives them the ability to soar everywhere with or without him.

Olutayo Irantiola

10:26pm, 7th February 2018

 

 

 

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One comment

  1. Peter, thanks for your kind words and for being part of a responsive team that made great things happen. As long as we breathe, we have opportunities to make more great things happen.

    You Know How We Do It!

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