Oghogho Dixon, known as O.G Dixon was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. O.G. comes with eighteen years’ oil field experience; working in various countries, supporting sundry customers, building talents and a diverse workforce. In her career, she has implemented strategies in driving profitability across various businesses, complemented by a remarkable customer service track record.
She joined GE Oil & Gas as the Central Africa Sales Director for Oil &Gas in September 2015 with over 15 years Oilfield experience. She became the SSA regional product company leader for Surface in 2016, West Africa Sales Director for BHGE in 2017 and currently the Managing Director BHGE Ghana & OFS Drilling Services SSA for Baker Hughes. She is also a mother of two, lets hear her working parent story.
Please tell us about your family and educational background
I am married with two lovely children and a graduate of the University of Benin where I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Mathematics. I grew up in a home of professionals; father, Chartered Electrical Engineer and Mother an Accountant
Now you had challenges gaining admission into University, what happened and how did that affect you?
I didn’t have a good background in physics from my secondary school and that affected my admission into University as I wanted to study medicine, coupled with cancelled exam centers while writing my J.A.M.B exams.
I ended up writing J.A.M.B three times and while writing each exams I withdrew more to myself as I saw most of my age mates gain admission into universities for their dream courses. I found it difficult to attend any occasion with my parents because I was always asked by their friends that had children who were my age mates, “what University are you in now?” Some went as far as call me J.A.M.B customer and it really made me sad.
Why did you end up studying Applied Math’s and how did you end up making a 1st class?
I ended up studying Applied Mathematics because that was the only course at that time that could grant me an admission into the university.
Getting a first class was with a lot of Grace from God and a commitment as well from me to make my parents proud for being such a source of strength during my trying times. I also loved Mathematics a lot while in primary and secondary school.
Moreover, though my course wasn’t an intentional choice I still took up the challenge and burnt the midnight oil to make a 1st class.
A lot of people don’t place value on academic excellence but for you it opened doors, please tell us about that?
When you achieve academic excellence, believe in God and honor your parents, there are lots of blessings associated with it that cannot be described.
Also, people always want to associate themselves with excellence and would want to help spread the news about you. This is how I got my job immediately after I graduated from the university.
Let’s talk some more about your upbringing and its impact on who you are today
My mother went to university at a late age; after having all her children. Her pursuit for a career while being married and having children, showed the importance of education. My father being an electrical engineer always involved me in all electrical and mechanical repairs in our home; stressing that a man or woman can do any job as long as you set your mind to it and are committed.
Awesome, no wonder you have been able to achieve so much success in a male dominated industry. Apart from your upbringing what other factors have helped you stand out?
Several things such as being visible in my organization, being focused, having no fear and being courageous, taking up challenging roles or assignments, being passionate in everything that I do, and being humble. I also have ensured I treat everyone with respect and show genuine support in the growth of others.
Now, let’s move to your family life. How are you able to align your life as a mum with work? Please share those parenting tips that have helped you?
As far as I am concerned there is really no work life balance, every day comes with its own challenges. One day you might have to focus more on work than home and vice versa. One tip that works for me is ensuring one is aligned with your family’s most important dates in a year. These are dates that the family expects you to never miss so you must adjust your calendar to be available on those dates and if for some reason you cannot make it, you need to find ways to make up for it; It’s a process of continuous negotiation with family. It’s important that you are not afraid to notify your boss of those dates and seek his or her support, because no boss would deny you such days if they know you to always over achieve on your targets and deliver exceptional results.
Another vital tip is ensuring you get adequate support at home to ensure you are light on domestic and family needs when you return home; such support includes good child care, home tutors, drivers and more. When you have these staff it’s best to ensure all their payments are done via bank transfers to ensure they have a valid means of identification. When hiring domestic staff ensure you have the same belief and also be sure to treat them like family as they will in return do same to your children.
Regarding your spouse it’s important to ensure they are supportive of your career, you must also share your plans with him also her.
My last tip is to make sure you surround yourself with positive personalities as friends; as you would definitely need them to cheer you up during challenging times.
With your job you have had to travel around a lot with your family, what were some of the challenges you have faced and how did you deal with them?
It was difficult raising a family especially when I was in the UK as child support is every expensive and they really do not work as much as those in Africa.
I spent a lot of my money to always get a good nanny to watch over my children, ensured they were in good schools, medicals were done timely and most importantly, I shared my challenges with my boss and asked for help.
Another challenge is mum guilt but I overcome it by looking at all the support system I have put in place to enable them succeed, letting my children know why I work the way I do and how the funds support their education and standard of life that they live. I also remind myself of children still doing well with working mums and dads.
I recollect all the quality times I share with them and remember the times they said, “I love you mummy”. These moments keep me going and encouraged when I experienced “mum guilt”.
Can you please share some of the challenges you faced in the work place and how have you overcome them?
One challenge has been colleagues using your gender as a reason why customers are granting you favors or giving positive remarks about you – initially it used to weigh me down but I took it as a strength later as I should celebrate my feminity if it helps me succeed since I know my job.
Another challenge was not having as much stamina as men to work on the field and in the workshop but I dealt with it by ensuring I worked out a lot and got more knowledge on how to use labor saving devices . I also made sure I was never too shy to ask for help.
I have experienced delayed promotions due to my interest in building my own career, but I always the end goal and the benefits that come with it in my kind. This has always kept me motivated to continue in my planned career path. There were also times that I was not selected for critical roles. Whenever this happened I put away pride when they felt I wasn’t ready or suitable for such roles and ensured I was also getting informal development and competency on such roles before I showed any interest. I also never asked for increase in pay associated to roles as I wanted. I learnt to started speaking up more and sharing my achievements and creative thoughts
I have also experienced various degrees of harassment or inappropriateness, but I have never tolerated it and always made it clear that I knew my rights and would report to appropriate authorities. In some cases I would make immediate corrections to personnel if I didn’t like their conduct but in a caring way and point out how I consider what they said or did as offensive; this served as some form of caution to them.
Then of course there was the challenge of men not wanting you in their team, however I tackled this by always being willing to do the job role and responsibilities required of me at any time, and with time the men always wanted me in their team.
Another major challenge was multiple assignments in various countries and having to move with family. What has helped with this is being married to a spouse who is very supportive of my career and moves, having the best child support in every country irrespective of cost, spending valuable time with family and getting more motivation from the experience .
Do you have advice for other career women, especially those who have children?
Please ensure you have the right support at home to take care of the needs of your children; this might mean having more than one maid or having family members over. You must also create time as well to catchup with your children, ensure you have mobile devices to connect with them at any time and if they are above 5yrs, they need to know how to use those devices to reach you.
No matter where you are ensure you connect with them twice a day; morning before they go to school and at night before they go to bed. Spend time to tell them about what you do in a way they can understand and why you may not be available at all times. Above all they need to know you love them and please pray with them every day.
Like it says in Proverbs 26:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
From what I know you are very much a lady, how does that ladylikeness fit into directional drilling and all the roles you have held?
I haven’t always been a lady as I had to toughen myself to work as a directional driller or field engineer; doing exactly the same things men would do on the role to gain my respect and make them interested in having me on their team. However, when I took up office roles, I also profiled myself like how an office worker should be seen and heard.
Last but not the least can you tell us how you relax and keep yourself looking great?
I would say it is just the grace of God. I make sure I take time to do things I really enjoy doing, like; cooking, dancing, chatting with my family, etc. I also keep positive friends around me. I am also particular about exercising and watching what I eat. Most importantly I make sure I go to bed happy, forgive easily and make others happy.
Thanks so much Oghogho, it has been great talking to you.