Bina Idonije is the Senior Counsel, Labour & Employment at General Electric (GE) Africa, the global conglomerate with businesses in the manufacturing, infrastructure and services sector. Ifeoluwa Ogunbufunmi caught up with her in Lagos.
“It’s funny how, when I started out in Human Resources (HR) at Proctor & Gamble – a role I occupied for more than six years, I was so unsure if HR was the right career path for me, considering all the “trouble” I went through to qualify as a lawyer – but interestingly, it was my HR career that prepared me for every role I have had in Legal so far, at GE Africa,” says Idonije.
Idonije’s primary role is to partner with various GE businesses, and manage and navigate employment risks across nearly 20 African countries. In recent times, she has also been providing employment law support to GE’s businesses in the United Kingdom.
“My work involves providing legal advice across the full range of labour and employment issues, including employment litigation; mergers, acquisitions and divestitures; employee discipline, grievances and termination; restructuring, outsourcing; equal opportunities and other employment related issues.”
She graduated from Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma (Edo State) and obtained a Masters in Innovation, Technology and the Law from the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom.
On the impact of the pandemic on her work she says, “I have had to stay on top of Covid-19-related rules and regulations for the various countries that I support, particularly as it impacts employment issues. Our various businesses look to me for guidance on how best to compliantly navigate the current climate from an employment law perspective. I have had to ensure I stay plugged-in, doing tons of research, participating in relevant webinars etc. Our external law firms have been an incredible source of up-to-date information as well and I have found their partnership quite invaluable at this time.”
In these critical times, Idonije offers some practical advice to lawyers who have been laid-off or been affected by pay cuts.
“First I would say, try to accept what’s happened. Clarity cannot emanate from an angry mind. Next, if you still have a job (whether furloughed or impacted by pay reduction), you should consider that there are others who have lost their jobs, and find some solace in that. If your job allows, you may want to consider finding part time work or a ‘side hustle’ to augment the pay shortfall.”
“For those who’ve been laid off, it’s always a good idea - if you can manage it, to take some time to reflect and re-purpose your career path before you launch out again. Update your resume, work on a compelling cover letter, network with industry contacts and recruiters, find ways to make yourself and skills visible to the right people. Lastly, be financially prudent – trim your spending habits to reflect your new income status, and put some money away in savings.”
Her work at GE Africa gives Idonije the opportunity to see the difference she makes and the value she contributes by providing sound legal advice and partnerships that help business leaders overcome very tricky challenges.
In her downtime, she enjoys writing and is currently working on a novel.
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