Uchenna Igwebuike – Diaspora Person of the Month

Mr. Uchenna Igwebuike is the Founder and CEO at Zanibal LLC with over 15 years experience designing and delivering strategic enterprise technology programs in the private and public sector. Prior to that, he was the VP of Professional Services at Mark Logic Corp where he was responsible for the delivery of customer engagements ensuring that the framework, methods and tools used to develop requirements, design and deliver solutions are consistent with proven best practices. Earlier in his career he led various practice groups with TCS America where he advised clients on technology strategy and was also a Solution Architect at i2 Technologies. Mr. Igwebuike received his M.S.C. in Electrical Engineering from University of Illinois and M.S.C in Management Science from Stanford University.

QUESTION AND ANSWER:

Q. Please take us through your background and how you got to (the country you lived in before coming back home)

A. After graduating from University of Nigeria Nsukka’s electrical engineering program, I decided to go to grad school in the United States. In the course of this quest, I ended up in Silicon Valley and started a career in the technology industry.


Q. So, the big question, why did you move Back to Nigeria for good?

A. With the advent of the Internet and its impact on how individuals and businesses could build relationships and consume/deliver knowledge &services across any geographical boundaries, it became quite clear to me that Africa’s renaissance was going to be driven by “information technology”. Improving political stability, strengthening of critical government & private institutions required for sustainable growth, the population and a commitment by Nigeria to diversify away from an economy that was based on natural resources meant that it was time to go home and be part of the “Africa Rising” story.


Q. Are there similarities between the country you moved back from and Nigeria?

A. I currently live in Lagos and this is a Mega City (Over 21M people) that is desperately trying to build the infrastructure required to support its size. Although a bit expensive, you will find good restaurants, clubs, health facilities, etc. in Lagos although you will have to contend with issues such as traffic.


Q. What are the challenges you’ve faced so far since moving back?

A. The biggest challenge so far has been getting used to the dearth of infrastructure such as reliable electricity, roads and security. Having said that, these challenges are been addressed and I have seen remarkable improvements since I got back.


Q. What were your expectations and fears when you decided to move back?

A. I knew that the opportunity was there and my biggest fear was how to adjust back into a society where you had to do almost everything for yourself.


Q. When did you move back and what have you been up to since you moved back?

A. I came back in 2009 and I have been building Zanibal Nigeria Ltd, which delivers enterprise technology services in this geography.


Q. Coming back to Nigeria, did you ever feel like you needed to readjust to life back in the country?

A. Yes, you have to be mentally prepared to deal with a lot of challenges.


Q. How do you deal with issues such as traffic, lack of basic infrastructure and the power situation?

A. These are annoying problems but sometimes their impact on your quality of life can be overstated. After a few months you will come to accept these challenges as part of the cost of living and doing business in the country. The good news is that these problems are been addressed and the progress is encouraging.


Q. If you had to do this all over again what would you do different?

A. I think that so far it has worked out quite well.


Q. Finally, what advice would you give people moving back to Nigeria from the Diaspora?

A. Try to ease back into the country and soften the landing by having a phased approach to the process. I suggest that moving the family back should be the last step and should happen only after you have established a conducive environment for them to thrive in.

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