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Meeting with Jim Ovia

Meeting with Jim Ovia
February 24
20:00 2021

BY ERHUMU BAYAGBON

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For confidentiality reasons, I am unable to disclose the real name of the good friend who met with Jim Ovia some years back in 2003 for a job interview. He had completed a long interview process with Zenith Bank and he was among the fortunate few that had been penciled down to meet with the big boss and founder of the bank.

It was a Saturday morning and this young man, after a brief wait, was ushered into the expansive office of Ovia, the then managing director of the bank. The young man was almost done with his NYSC (National Youth Service Corp), a compulsory one-year service Nigerian graduates under age 30 are required to undertake, and he was really hopeful that he would land the juicy bank job.

A major reason for his optimism was premised on the notion that most fresh graduates who could scale all the hurdles up to the point of meeting the managing director are as good as getting the job.

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So, as the young man walked into the office that bright Saturday morning, he was hopeful although very tense. When he raised his head, his eyes met those of Ovia and his heartbeats began to literally choke him. But Ovia was calm and friendly and his welcoming smile made matters a bit bearable for my good friend.

My friend said the interview was smooth and easy and Ovia did not ask any question that he wasn’t prepared for. He said he felt good with a personal conviction that he had aced the interview.

However, as he stood up to leave the office, Ovia smiled at him and bade him farewell; he walked straight to the exit door and before he finally left the office, he looked back and his eyes met with Ovia’s who had his gaze fixed on my friend.

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Long story short, my good friend did not get the job.

When the human resources department of the bank later called him to inform him that he wasn’t selected, my good friend was shocked to paralysis. He wondered why he did not get the job after he had scaled through a difficult aptitude test and series of interviews. And what is more, he even had a good chat with the boss.

I asked him what he thought could be the reason why he wasn’t selected. He had a crazy theory. When I asked him to explain. He said he didn’t get the job because he looked back. “I shouldn’t have looked back — I should just have opened the door and walked out without looking back as if I was looking for another validation after a good interview.”

Till this day, I still don’t understand my good friend’s explanation but whatever you do guys, do not look back. You can never win a car race with your eyes permanently fixed on the rearview mirror.

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