It takes an education

September 3, 2013

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Raised in Southwest Nigeria, West Africa, Olatunde Olatona understands that access to education is a challenge for many, especially in developing countries. He left his family at age 11 to advance his education, and after years of hard work, self-motivation, diligence, and a government scholarship, earned a bachelor ’s degree in mechanical engineering with high honors from the University of Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria.

In 2006, Olatunde began working on a master ’s degree in project management from UW-Platteville, completing his capstone project and graduating in 2011. There were surprises along the way.  Like discovering how small efforts can greatly impact others’ lives.

As Product Development Manager-Well Integrity for Schlumberger, an international oil and gas company with headquarters in Paris and Houston, Olatunde recognized that increasing complexities surrounding the business of oil and gas exploration and production require project management skills.

After earning his Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential in 2005, he began working on a master’s degree. Online learning provided Olatunde the flexibility to tailor his learning and meet changing professional demands. “The job provided me a workshop to demonstrate and put all the things I learned online to practical use. It was not abstract, it was a reality.”

Through Olatunde’s long-term involvement with Action Missionaire Interafricane (AMI), a Christian Missionary organization operating in Mali, West Africa, he was aware of the need for a high school facility in Farakala, a remote town in Southeast Mali. Guided by faith and a commitment to help others, Olatunde chose a capstone project that aligned with his passion in life: Christian charity work. “It was really involved and I really enjoyed it because I was able to make a difference in line with what I love to do.”

Olatunde was later selected as a finalist for the 2011 Kerzner Award. “Just being in the top five is amazing when you consider the small size of his team and budget. The project managers who win this award typically work on very large projects with budgets and teams that dwarf the resources at Olatunde’s disposal. Even more impressive is that his project was outside his normal work in support of charity,” Scott said.

The capstone project underscored that a small effort can make a big difference. Olatunde plans to continue working on charitable projects. “If everyone in the world would show a little bit more concern and focus on the needs of the less privileged, this world will be a far better place than anyone can ever imagine. Go out and find people to bless. There are a lot of things you can do. Go out and look; and you’ll find life more richly rewarding.”

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