Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Kehinde Blackson
How could you describe your career path in a few words?
I will say my career path can be described by these 3 words: pioneering, challenging, leadership and versatile.
Pioneering as I have been faced with numerous situations in all my roles where I have to forerun the processes from the scratch, by designing, developing, training, developing systems thereby exhibiting my creative abilities. Pioneering has put me in positions where I would have to go through the rigor of learning the applicability of my functional areas in the new field/industries I found myself. Challenging as I have to take up roles that are in new or different terrain which I will just have to develop skills in, I therefore drool over the requirements and deliverables, burying myself to understand the rudiments which eventually pays off during the subsequent phases of the assignment and easily deliver on the deliverables.
Leadership as each of my roles in my career path presents to me a pedestal where much is required of me to develop the processes for my functional area and as well train/lead people to implement. With no functional leader, I have to lead and rely on my expertise to develop and deliver.
Versatile as my roles have been in different fields and industries and as such, I have to adapt into those roles swiftly. I remember when I was moving from manufacturing into the oil and gas industry, one of the operational leaders told me, a filled cup cannot take more content, as such, I have to unlearn some things to create space to accommodate new learnings. Furthermore, I have to adapt my expertise into different scenarios at work which makes engineering interesting. My role also requires me to cross-function across other business areas in an organization. This has given me the versatility that helps bring out the best in me.
What was your most challenging experience and it has changed your mindset?
My most challenging experience was getting a job after graduation. I was an active student in school with everything going smoothly, however, the difficulty in securing a job after school was unimagined. I have to brace up, pushing through the several years without employment. However, I learnt through this experience what the real-life challenges are and what life will throw at one throughout adulthood. I learnt that I could dream of becoming anything and nothing is impossible to phantom in the dreamland hemisphere, as such, it was important for me to have a stretched mindset, and no limitation. I also learnt that I have to appreciate what I have at the present, identify what is working for me and be grateful for that while I dream of whatever I wish to become. I therefore started developing skills and experience in what was working for me then, I became so involved that I started finding joy in it and afterwards got many recommendations. Thereafter, I was unbothered by the joblessness as I started seeing great possibilities in what was working for me. This has helped me in different roles in my career for me to appreciate what I have and what is currently working for me, strive to be best at it, improve my skills around the area, improvise and develop solutions in seemingly impossible situations. This mindset and disposition has therefore open doors of opportunities for me in several places.
When you get surprised by unusual or uncertain context, what do you think?
I believe uncertain contexts are an avenue to showcase my ingenuity in a newly found opportunity. Unusual contexts are opportunities and one of the challenges I appreciate when it comes my way. I have been exposed to work scope in deep waters, covering FPSOs, pipelines and several underwater structures to other spheres where work scope covers complex infrastructure constructions in large cities to driving management systems in several organizations, including multinationals in multisite locations. These are unusual context are motivating, rare, momentary opportunities that present themselves in uncomplimentary manner that could be missed if not harnessed with the right mindset.
What’s the most important key success factor for you based on your experience?
Most important success factor in my humble opinion is skill acquisition. Never stop learning and developing your skills. One of my mantras is that one should be overqualified for his/her current role, that is, after getting to the new role, acquire more skills that are more than what is required for the new role. This way such a person becomes invaluable and always ready for the next opportunity, it keeps one afloat in the midst of prevailing challenges that may be faced. Skill acquisition is varied and multifaceted, for it to be a key success factor, it has to be a balanced skill acquisition. Balanced skill acquisition considers leadership skills, communication skills, interpersonal, team-spirited, management skills while one is developing professionally in their respective functional area (technical skills). This will reduce doubt about one’s competency and vis-à-vis offer confidence in one ability. It may make some rigorous selection process less stringent for one, however, it involves one to be self-driven in his/her closet, tenacious to pull through the difficult times in achieving the set targets for each skill acquisition milestone. The benefits afterwards however outweigh the rigor as confidence is built and success is assured.