At GE Gas Power, the team is focused on producing cleaner, more accessible energy that people can depend on while also powering growth and prosperity.
But, he admits, the last year has been tough and, like every business, the power sector has been grappling with the impact.
“When the pandemic hit, there was an increase in internal stakeholder engagements and the volume of advice sought by the teams to ensure we stayed protected within the provisions of our contracts,” he says.
“The business had to pivot to meet current needs. The best management technique for me has been focusing on what I can control within the system as laws, policies and companies observe the pandemic and make decisions impacting the business outlook.
“We have had to work from home, keep up with performance tracks, ensure our contracts are properly negotiated, our business is functioning and complying with regulations and ensure we are physically and emotionally safe.”
What this means is that good communication has been imperative.
“Being a Nigerian that also speaks French (a very distinguishing factor that has helped me take advantage of rare opportunities) and based in a French-speaking culture, I have come to appreciate the impact of culture on communication. What may be important to you, may be different for the other person. In an increasingly diverse and inclusive environment, I have learnt to be more receiver-sensitive than speaker-focused,” he says.
Another lesson his “in-house teachers” have driven home is the importance of translating legalese into the language of the listener.
“So, there is a different way to communicate with external counsel, the commercial team, the sales team, and executive business leaders. The lawyer must be a polyglot in this respect.”
Honing his leadership skills and being given the opportunity to take up leadership roles has been a major part of Uwede-Meshack’s career at GE. He started with the company’s Early Career Development Programme, a graduate entry and training initiative. A year later, he secured a full-time role as a Junior Counsel with the company’s Global Growth Organisation business in the Lagos office. This is a shared service for the Transportation, Oil & Gas, Power and Healthcare businesses of the company.
Okezi’s interest in pursuing an in-house legal career was born during his days in the School of Law and Security Studies at Babcock University, where he graduated first class.
“My first internship was at Citibank in 2012 where I was in the legal department. I admired the culture and nature of work they did. I later interned with other law firms mainly specialising in different areas of corporate law practice.
In 2015, he was called to the Nigerian Bar.
“I applied for the opportunity at GE because the job description looked a lot like me (a young lawyer who could speak French).”
When he got the offer, he moved.
“Working in-house with such global exposure has been a constant learning experience with daily challenges that helps me grow and contribute greatly to the success of the company and putting electricity on the grid in Africa.
Thanks to my teachers and mentors, I have grown a lot especially in knowing how to balance my legal mind with business realities.”
In his downtime, he enjoys spending time with family, travelling and writing. He has also authored two books: Diary of an Ibadan Lawyer and Dear Young Man.
To join Africa Legal's mailing list please click here
Copyright : Re-publication of this article is authorised only in the following circumstances; the writer and Africa Legal are both recognised as the author and the website address www.africa-legal.com and original article link are back linked. A bio for the writer can be provided on request.