Abdullateef Aliyu from Nigeria Receives the 2019 IEEE MGA YP Award
The MGA Young Professionals Achievement Award is designed to recognize those substantive projects or achievements of a relatively short nature (one to three years) but which have left an undeniable imprint on the fabric of IEEE Young Professionals operations.
The IEEE Region 8 Today Team had the opportunity to chat with Abdullateef Aliyu, an IEEE volunteer in Nigeria Section. He was recently given the 2019 IEEE MGA Young Professional Achievement Award. (“For outstanding contributions in organizing the first African Students and Young Professionals Congress and promoting IEEE activities in the Nigeria Section.”)
Abdullateef Aliyu has over 15 years’ experience working in the information and communication technology (ICT) /telecommunication industry. He is a specialist in providing broadband services to urban and rural areas in Nigeria and across West Africa. Aliyu heads the infrastructure roll-out and deployment department of Phase 3 Telecom W/A. In this capacity, he has successfully led the completion of several high-level projects. He holds B.Eng. in Electrical Engineering from Bayero University Kano, and a Master’s degree in Information and Communication Technology from Northern University of Malaysia. In addition to these, he is a certified project management professional (PMP) and a certified business analysis professional; alumni of the United States Telecommunication Institute (USTTI), Washington DC and member of PMI, ASQ, NSE, NIM, and COREN.
What’s more, Abdulateef is an active volunteer and a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). He was the local organizing chairperson for the 2019 IEEE PES-IAS PowerAfrica Conference, Abuja, Nigeria. Recently elected as the Secretary, IEEE Nigeria Section, Aliyu also serves as Industry Ambassador for Nigeria, member Region 8 Young Professional subcommittee and Advisor R8 Humanitarian activities Subcommittee. Other leadership positions held include Chair Membership development, Nigeria (2018 till date), Africa Lead for IEEE Day 2019 and Chair, Young Professionals AG Nigeria Section (2013-2017).
When did you start volunteering for IEEE, and what motivates you to continue?
My volunteering journey started in 2007 when I had the opportunity to connect with the leadership of IEEE Nigeria Section at the Gold Younger Members’ Network Conference (GYMN 07). It was organized by IEEE Nigeria section and IET Nigeria at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. It cost me a size-able financial sacrifice to attend the conference. Fortunately, it turned out successful, with impactful knowledge shared by experts from industry and the academia. The timing was just right for me, as I had recently completed the compulsory youth service in Nigeria for graduates and was exploring my career options. Inspired by the networking experience and the awareness of the professional benefits that IEEE had to offer, I signed up to be an active volunteer. I love serving humanity and IEEE provides the platform to serve.
You were given an award for organizing the first African students and young professionals congress. How did you feel about receiving the award? What hurdles did you face in organizing the congress (considering that it was the first of its kind) and how did you surmount them?
I am grateful to the Almighty God for his mercy upon me to be selected as one of the recipients of the MGA Young Professionals Achievement Award for 2019. I am excited and full of joy. This award is not for me alone, but to every individual that contributed to the success of the Africa Student and Young Professionals Congress. 2017 was my last year as the YP Affinity Group Chair for Nigeria after a successful first tenure as the chair. During this period, our AG won the outstanding young professionals AG in region 8.
The opportunity to host the first African YP Congress came, and I presented the proposal to host it in the beautiful city of Abuja with support of the Nigeria executive committee. We were lucky to be granted the approval and so we swiftly swung into action to deliver on the promise. I needed an effective team to work with. So, we carefully selected committed volunteers from Nigeria and other African countries who had the passion to work excellently.
One of the hurdles we had to surmount was funding. We had a huge budget and few options to raise the fund. Therefore, we reached out to many persons in my network, wrote letters to organizations and individuals, sought waivers and negotiated for discounts. Secondly, getting high profile dignitaries to attend the event did not come easy. Another hurdle was logistics; especially for the students. They travelled by buses and arrived very late at night, the day before the event started.
From your experience, what are the unique challenges faced by young professionals in Africa, and Nigeria in particular?
One of the major challenges facing young professionals in Nigeria is unemployment and this is not peculiar with Nigeria but is a global youth challenge. At this stage of life, their responsibilities are growing and they need a complementary source of income. Another challenge is that many young professionals tend to explore short-cuts to acquire income; a move which in the long run turns out to be a bad idea. Success does not come easy, but with commitment and dedication. Finally, getting the right mentor is also a challenge because mentors are like compasses that show the way. They help reshape ideas, pointing one toward the right direction.
What did you learn from the experience, and from your activities volunteering for IEEE in Nigeria so far?
IEEE has helped improve my technical, leadership and networking skills. My network has since grown over the years and is still growing.
What final remarks do you have for young professionals in Nigeria Section? And in Africa?
Before my closing remark, I will like to thank the people that nominated me for the award – John. P. Nelson (FIEEE), Prof. Olorunfemi Ojo (FIEEE) and Chief Engr. Tunde Salihu (SMIEEE). Thank you for finding me deserving of it. This, I will always cherish. For my colleagues in Nigeria and across Africa, giving back to the society pays off. When you volunteer, you acquire new skill sets and perfect the ones you already have. There may be challenges, but that should not limit you. Seek help and guidance to surmount them as these will help enhance your wealth of experience.
When assigned a task, do it diligently and to the best of your ability as there is always someone watching. Develop the passion to help the second person and be straight with your dealings. When you develop these attributes and people know you for who you are, they will always go the extra mile to help you. For every opportunity that you have to meet with people, leave a positive impression with them.