So I came to Ghana with high hopes. I hold a Masters Degree which had got me a respectable job as a Case Manager at a prosecutions office but the prequisite qualification for that job was a couple of GCSE’s and if you didn’t have GCSE English, you could just as easily take a test and well the pains of getting a degree plus a masters, plus a law degree on top wouldn’t be really worth my while.
The second reason was that I get restless, I had stupid management, in fact it offends me when you have a boss who thinks that he/she should be listened to because he/she is the boss but the argument they are trying to put across is baseless and without reason. For this reason I loved Mark, we fought and yes there were times when I wanted to walk out but with every instruction he gave he gave good reason to back it up, the 18 months I worked with him, Gav and Ashby was the best. Then they moved me to another department IPAD, where I had Pam who was nice but I just didn’t get her and Parmjit, a woman who lived for her work yet had no common sense. Some people are in certain positions because they kiss arse, others because management wants to palm them off to be another departments problem while giving the employee a sense of empowerment. Parmi was sent to manage IPAD for both of those reasons. Not sure what she did really but she sure did kiss arse and she sure did go running to the head of department a lot. But mine is not to judge the motives of others, but I believe God put me in that department to give me the motivation to leave as I was starting to get to comfortable. And I did leave, not one to do things by halves, I left the country….
My first job in Ghana was with MTN. It wasn’t the ideal job but I was happy to have got something in Ghana but more importantly I was very naiive and the person who interviewed me saw that he got a “Jonny Just Come” and used it to his advantage. So I came in as a coordinator in the procurement department. It was very strange at first, nobody talked to me what I found out later is that they thought I was a spy, when I found out that, that was the issue I played up to the myth. I would make up secret meetings that I had to go to, (I would be on the balcony having a sneaky fag), I would have to leave for an external meeting (went home), I had to go downstairs and speak to the boss (I would be in Randy Randolph’s office chatting, but that was before I knew he was so randy).
The party came to an end when we got a new general manager. Evelyn Sam, the best manager I have had to date, she has also been like a mentor, a mum and a sister to me (I am sure she would prefer the sister). A lovely woman but not to be underestimated she didn’t take any crap. At the same time she showed the rest of the team that I was not a spy and it actually became a fun place to work. Of course it wasn’t all rosy, there were the haters. You see there were a certain group of guys and a certain group of guys and they rotated partners, here was me who the guys looked at as “fresh meat” and the girls thought was competition, but I really wasn’t interested in joining that circle. Nonetheless, they hated, and they did until the day I left. I probably would have joined the circle if I wasn’t known as that ‘harsh talking’ British girl. As I said, stupidity offends me and since hitting 30, I have not been backwards in coming forwards. On my first day at MTN I was told by an uptight HR girl (never been a fan of HR to date) that they hadn’t done my documentation and ‘would I mind not getting paid’, all I said was ‘would you’, in 30 seconds it was around the office that I had spoken so harshly to this poor diva.
I remember while I was there I complained a lot about the “mean girls”, and the companhy, but in hindsight it wasn’t all that bad. I loved the guys in the procurement department, there was no bitchiness, no rivalry, once I was in the office I would laugh from morning until it was time to leave in the evening. But I was bored. I am not the kind of person who can sit around doing nothing plus I am highly ambitious and watching people who are not fit for person boss me around bores me to tears, so when the opportunity came up as a Category Manager at Nestle Central and West Africa in charge of Dairy for 23 countries, I took it, sounds impressive, sounded impressive…..now 18 months later, I wish I stayed my arse where I am. The way it works is that I report to the Demand and Supply Manager but I also have a dotted line relationship with the Business Manager for my Category and the marketing people within that Category. So I have in essence two teams. Two kings. Lots of confusion.
Don’t get me wrong, the job is challenging, I wanted a challenge and I got it, but the people. That’s where it goes downhill. At first my boss was Suzanne, from Senegal she is a nice person, I wasn’t pally, pally with her as I was with Evelyn but she was fair and always good to me. I was able to make my own decisions and she didn’t get too heavily involved in my work unless I asked her to i.e. she didnt’ interfere, she let me make my own mistakes but was always there for advice. Even when I would fire some very emotional (although truthful) emails, she didn’t once make me feel like I was some high school first time jobber.
Then it all changed. Suzanne was promoted and the team coordinator who was pretty silent and my friend up until that point became Head of Demand and Supply. They say politics is a dirty game but that’s an understatement. Thibaut T. Tchilado, was the Demand and Supply Planning (DSP) Manager for Cameroon, he had been on a job swap with Francis Quashie who was the team coordinator so that they could get Regional and country experience respectively. As team coordinator we were level pegging, but as the boss it was a whole other ball game.
As a newbie already now I relied on TT a lot to show me the ropes and the other ladies in the team (Irene the ring leader, I will talk her matter in a bit) were quite jealous and voiced their opinions regularly. In an effort to thwart this TT did a total 180 and didn’t help at all. When I went to him for advice, it was a bother, as a result problems which could have been handled blew into big issues. It didn’t help that my Business Manager was very difficult. Octavio Menesez, he was difficult but at the same time I loved him to bits, I kind of understood where he was coming from although I think that he smoked the whacky backy a bit too much which made him a bit paranoid. He and his boss, the head of the region for whatever reason didn’t get on well and even though Menesez was hitting all targets there was a mess right in the middle called Cerevita (a cereal we manufature). There was high stocks in some countries and out of stock in others, and that had now been his reputation. For whatever reason every Category Demand and Supply planner he had been a thorn in his side for whatever reason, so any time there was a supply issue he felt that it was a direct hit at him. Unfortunately for me I came in at its hiatus and bullets were flying.
Anyway it got so bad at one point, things were going wrong and no ally, the Supply Chain Manager got to hear of all the problems. Now if it was Suzanne I know she would sit him down and break down the situation but TT, said nothing. Then came back and told me that he doesn’t know what I am doing even the Supply Chain Manager was asking if I was still on probation as he felt that it should be extended. What was even more of a cheek is that I was running around clearing up a mess that he created in Cameroon I came to meet it.
To make matters worse I had to share a office with three ladies who would be well placed in the Macbeth play. Enyonam, Safiatou and Irene, it was a constant struggle because these three talked a lot and listened not much, and unfortunately I did not master the art of ‘playing the game’ or ‘pampering your ego’, so we clashed (luckily Enyonam left to be the DSP Manger for Nestle Ghana and Safiatou went back to her native Guinea although I did warm to her in the end).
One thing about my office, they focus on the negative, it is like they are waiting for you to fall before saying ‘ooh I told you so’ on the rare occasion that they do pass on praise it is so false and condescending that you would rather they didn’t bother. A problem I have up to date, but learning to live with it.
Fortunately for me, God always seems to step in at exactly the right time, because deep down Octavio did quite like me (we bonded over a mutual respect for fags and booze..LOL), so we managed to sort out all the crap that I came to meet, how was it done….teamwork. One of the benefits of working in two teams, I absolutely adore my Category team, they get me through the day, DSP that’s a bit hit and miss. Very funny though, I am always berated in my team for not following processes (they are very big on processes and best practises here), however in a team with 7 categories, mine was the only one to hit all of its targets….go figure. My issue is and will always be, think about the people, build a better relationship in the team and problems will be minimal but they continue to discuss processes and best practise’s and I continue to do my own thing (I am not going to conform when it doesn’t yield results or add value). We continue to clash, I seek refuge with my team. It’s all good.
But I digress small. Eventually TT got home sick and it was good as I was getting sick of him. Now I knew things were not going to get that much better when the newly appointed boss and his second in comand….but didn’t think it would get any worse.