7 Years as a Software Engineer in Saipem – Part 1

I’m actually writing this article strictly from a tech professional’s point of view and not out of any ill-will or any grievance against anyone or any organization. In fact I really enjoyed the years I spent as a Software Engineer with Saipem as I would explain in a minute. I even miss working there, I miss my friends especially Henry Ilo, Chimzi Wilson, Emmanuel Tuase and others.

The last time I made an article about my job in Saipem a few of my friends told me that I would not be necessary to say negative things about the company. I sure respected their views of course.

If you have had years of experience, you’ll understand that what makes the jobs interesting is handling challenges in a professional way. Besides, challenges are natural part of any work environment so it seems natural to me to talk about How to Cope with Challenges in the Workplace.
I published the previous article in Workers Book, which is currently being upgrades and not accessible by the public unless you are an editor with Workers Book.
Now I would begin by sharing with you what is involved in being a Software Engineer.


A Software Engineer as a Problem Solver
If you have an Engineering background, then you would be familiar with phrases like: “Solve…”, “How would you handle…”, “Find the solution…”, “Develop a system to…”. All of these means that you are always presented with a challenge and you need to work out a solution to it. The job of a Software Engineer, a Software Developer or a Computer Programmer (I discussed the difference between this three in …”) takes problem solving to another level.

Every single computer program you write, or any software you build, or any database you develop is in response to a current problem and the interesting thing is, you don’t have a single laid down way to solve all problems. You most times need to work out a solution yourself. This is the nature of the Challenges of a Software Engineer.

My First Year in Saipem
I very much enjoyed my first year in Saipem. But let me tell you how I got the placement first.
That was in early 2010, precisely, March 2010. I heard of a Web Application Developer opportunity, a position for an experienced applicant. So I applied. In a few days, I was called for an interview, a very painstaking interview that I would like to discuss in a different subtitle.


The Job Requirements

I learnt of the job requirements as the applicant would be required to be able to do the following:

  1. Create an intranet site that would be used to present data to personnel
  2. Update the site with excel report generated daily
  3. Link to existing data channels from other departments
  4. Generate daily reports from the data uploaded
  5. Carry out some analysis on the data to determine trends and progress parameters


My Job Interview With Saipem in March 2010
I reported for the interview in March 2010, on a Saturday. After gaining access to the premises, I was directed to the conference room where the interview was to hold. Then I found out that there were two of us siting in for the interview. The interview was conducted by Mr. Circumarescu Livius, a Software Developer with Saipem at the time.

The interview was a combined one, meaning that the two of us applicant were interviewed together. The other guy flew in from Lagos that morning for the same interview. He had a background with the banking industry having worked as a data officer in a bank for some years. For me, I have worked as a Web Application Developer with the Institute of Human and Natural Resources and an ICT Manager with Sonicom Consult in a State Government E-Library project. I have also been a consultant with a number of firms. So I have an edge right from the start(trust me!)
So this guy conducting the interview was holding my CV in his hands ( an intimidating 5-page CV). He unleashed on question after another, very tough and technical questions that can throw you off-balance if you are not careful. Imaging questions like:

How many users do you normally develop a database for?
How do you build your data entry forms?
What development tools do you use?
How to you incorporate reporting into your web applications


Same questions were thrown to the both of us but what amazed this guy was how articulate and fast I was in providing the answers to the questions. I even gave explanation for the answers I gave. The other guy made some effort but it was clear to him that he would not stand a chance especially as the position was for only one.

So after the interview, we left the hall wondering what the next step would be. The interviewee told me outrightly that this was “your call” an he would be going back to Lagos that day to continue on his current job. He was sure and rightly so that he could not make it through. We shook hands and he left.

In three days time, that should be on Tuesday, I receive a call from on Mr. Clement Obieromah, a personnel officer with Saipem. He told me that interview was successful and I should report to the office the next day to commence the employment process. I received this call while I was at work at CLE Engineering, an indigenous construction company, working on their intranet.
I received this call with mixed feelings and a measure of excitement though.

So this was how I started on what has become a 7 years journey with Saipem in Nigeria.

Continue to Part 2

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