Home away from home
We laugh about GSK being like an extended family but two weeks ago the GSK family in Nigeria really rolled out the red carpet for the PULSE volunteers.
This was actually a continuation of support from the in-country team: before we left our home countries the Managing Director for Nigeria (Lekan Asuni) hosted a call to discuss what to expect when living in Nigeria, he then generously visited us all in Abuja to meet us, our NGOs and understand the work we are doing, the Abuja based GSK district manager has taken us out for dinner and to top it off Lekan arranged for us to travel to Lagos for 2 days to visit the two GSK sites.
There are 7 of us volunteering across 3 NGOs in Abuja. We met at the airport early on Thursday morning for the first flight out to Lagos. We were then picked up and shuttled (with an armed escort) to the Ilupeju office about 45minutes from the airport (only 8km but with infamous Lagos traffic). The armed escort was new to all of us, a novelty at first but by the end of the two days the incessant honking to move people out of our way, which sounded like a very loud duck, had given us all headaches!
Arriving at the office was a bizarre sense of coming home, the familiarity to other GSK offices I have visited was striking, a real credit to the GSK culture. We met Lekan again and the Head of consumer healthcare for Nigeria. We discussed the strategies for GSK in Nigeria and most importantly how we are to achieve the impressive growth planned. GSK has a good reputation as a high quality brand, we have shown our commitment to the country by remaining through the multiple changes in power between military and democratic rule. The next steps are to review the cost of products (as for a lot of people it is either they buy a loaf of bread for their family or medicine) and increase coverage across the country.
We then travelled to the Agbara manufacturing site a couple of hours away. Here we were warmly met by previous PULSE volunteers and were introduced to the Site Leadership team. We were taken on a great tour of the facility, both the drinks lines and the OTC areas, meeting a lot of the staff along the way. Everyone was so friendly and excited to meet us and hear what we are all doing in our respective roles.
The next day we had a morning of sightseeing in Lagos, before heading back to the Ilpueju office to meet the teams that work there and say our goodbyes and thank yous to Lekan and Chinenye, who did a fantastic job organising us!
Ose, Dalu, Naa gode!!
(Thank you in: Yoroba, Igbo & Hausa; the three native Nigerian languages)