October 3, 2014, by International students
A Ghanaian Engineer in Nottingham
Nana Awere Damoah, who studied MSc Chemical Engineering at Nottingham in 2005-06 with funding from Chevening Scholarships and our Developing Solutions Scholarship scheme, recalls his studies at Nottingham and how this has boosted his career.
I joined Unilever Ghana Limited in 2000 as the Quality Audit Manager, after graduating in 1999 with a degree in Chemical Engineering and serving a statutory one year National Service. In January 2005, I moved to the Foods department as a Production manager.
Morning of 18th April 2005. Returning to the office after three days. Opened my yahoo email. Saw an email with title “Scholarship reference Number 5869”; thought it was spam. I opened it, and almost fainted! I later recounted to my wife that, had I not been in the office, I could have wept! I wonder how my staff would have taken it! Such a wonderful feeling. The University of Nottingham had offered me a Developing Solutions Joint Chevening Scholarship to study for an MSc in Chemical Engineering for 2005/2006 at The University of Nottingham. This was coming after six years of trying for scholarship!
From then on, I had to apply my production scheduling skills to plan my travel! And I did a lot of reading on what to expect in the UK, what to bring from home, what not to bring, culture changes, etcetera. Thus began my wonderful journey as a Chevening scholar to Nottingham.
I left Ghana for the UK on 17th September 2005, arriving the next day, a Sunday, at Heathrow. My first experience? I couldn’t find my friend Albert, who was to meet me at the airport! I went looking for a phone booth to call him and found out that I needed coins to make the call! In Ghana then, coins were almost insignificant.
On 20th September, I caught a bus organised by The University of Nottingham for new international students. That week was for welcoming international students and it was so helpful. During that week, what tickled me was how almost everyone said “cheers mate!” especially the bus drivers.
Adjusting to studies six years after obtaining my first degree was difficult at first. I had to re-learn most of the elementary stuff, including the beloved integration and differentiation. And the pace of studies was fast! And my class – an international class in every respect! One memorable experience was serving as a Student Assistant for the International Welcome Week in 2006, before I returning to Ghana. It was a pleasure to give back a little of what Nottingham had blessed me with.
In Nottingham, I was further equipped with technical and soft skills, increasing my versatility in confronting challenges in my work. Since returning to Ghana on 2nd October 2006, I have worked with Unilever and Nosak in Ghana, in Manufacturing, Project Management and Research & Development. Currently, I work for PZ Cussons in Nigeria as Technical Manager overseeing Quality Assurance, Safety, Health & Environment, Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) and New Product Development.
The opportunity the Chevening Scholarship gave to study in the UK changed my life and outlook, reinforced my leadership potential and challenged me to seek to achieve the best. Studying in The University of Nottingham, interacting with students from over 150 countries with different cultural backgrounds and experiences, learning their ways of life, networking, which is key to fostering global business, and becoming friends with them for life cannot be quantified. The scholarship opportunity afforded me the platform to calibrate intellect, abilities and behavior against the best in the world, and greatly enhanced my self-confidence and attitude. Finally, the Chevening Scholarship is about developing future leaders, and scholars with this kaleidoscope of exposure certainly have an advantage in global leadership. I got that boost.
Besides my professional work, I have authored four books (since 2008), contributed to two others and currently I am a weekly columnist with two online news portals in Ghana. Through these platforms, I continue to affect my society with my thoughts. Interestingly, my non-fiction writing was greatly influenced by two modules of research planning and development undertaken in Nottingham.
Back home in Ghana, I am serving as an example to the youth that Africans should go out there to acquire skills to return to the continent to build.
The University of Nottingham has a place of honour in my heart and the memories are indelible.