Arukhe… Laundering Nigeria's Image Through Academic Excellence (allAfrica.com)

“EXCELLENCE is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical, and expecting more than others think is possible.” – Ronnie Oldman
The above assertion applies to Dr. James Ohioma Arukhe, a young Nigerian, who steadily has shown like million stars in the firmament, and he making history with every academic pursuit. From his undergraduate days at the University of Benin, Edo State, Nigeria, where his outstanding academic performance earned him Chevron/NNPC Scholar in Petroleum Engineering from 1984 – 1989, his academic excellence and brilliance as well as his working career, has helped put Nigeria on world map.
Between 1992 and 1995, he came tops in his class and in the entire MBA in Business Administration programme at the University of Lagos, graduating as the best executive MBA student (Marketing Specialisation). Again, between 2007 and 2009, his unparalleled academic performance saw him finish his master’s of science (M.Sc) Chemical & Petroleum Engineering programme as summa cum laude with a 3.88/4.00 GPA (Distinction) at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
With this feat, he became the pioneer (first) graduate student at Tight Gas Engineering Research Group at the University of Calgary and teaching assistant in the Unconventional Gas Exploitation and Naturally Fractured Reservoir courses at the University. Also, the academic achievement earned him the ConocoPhillips/NSERC/AERI scholar, Alberta Advanced and Technology Graduate Scholar; thus, he became first to graduate from the group in November 2009.
Still hungry for knowledge, Arukhe pursued a doctorate degree programme in Management, with specialisation in Organisational Leadership at the University of Phoenix, coming out with a 4.0/4.0 GPA. Though, it took him almost four years to finish the course, it was well worth it, as he continually put forth all his efforts to excel both in his professional and personal life as a tenacious leader and as a responsible family man. On March 27, he will be attending his doctoral conferment ceremony at the University of Phoenix, Arizona, USA.
As a life-long learner, an educator and an engineer par excellence, who firmly believes that one’s consequences of actions are eternal, Arukhe as a globally competent professional has been accustomed to practicing ways and cultivating habits that would lead to a desirable future.
Who would think that Arukhe was destined for a greater purpose? At eight years old, he saved his family from a potential fatal car accident when he was able to stop a fast-moving car where he and his family rode as it raced down a slope, before it went into a ditch. By the time he reached 12, young Arukhe had discovered himself, and was determined to manage a global organization in the future. But that didn’t remain as a childhood dream, as he put in effort to realise this dream.
Starting off with a strong educational foundation, Arukhe was on the bill of Chevron/NNPC scholarship throughout his bachelor’s degree programme in Petroleum Engineering at University of Benin. For his brilliance and performance, he was privileged to undergo extensive training with top multinational companies as Drilling Engineer trainee at NNPC and as Petroleum Engineer trainee at Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).
Shortly after he completed his undergraduate studies, he was engaged as Junior Field Engineer/FMT Specialist at Atlas Wireline Services, where he honed his skills in tool maintenance and diagnosis of faulty equipment. He had assumed various roles with bigger responsibilities as he worked from one company to another in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria.
The biggest leap in his career was in November 2004, when he had opportunity to work at Shell Canada Limited in Calgary, Alberta, Canada as Senior Production Engineer.
Faced with more challenging role, Arukhe embraced the adversities and responsibilities that go with it, as he efficiently oversaw the full life-cycle field development from conceptual design through to the production phase, and eventually abandonment; including inflow into the well, production facilities, and to the point of sale.
For his exemplary work performance and dedication toward work, he was honoured with Shell Canada top performance award in 2004. In March 2006, he accepted yet another challenging position as Production Engineer Specialist at Petro-Canada Oil and Gas Unlimited, where he was regarded for designing deep horizontal sour gas well completions that led to him receiving the Petro-Canada Exceptional Contributor Award in the same year.
Now the Lead Petroleum Engineer at one the world’s largest oil exporter, Saudi Aramco, Arukhe plays a vital role in ensuring that all change initiatives are implemented in such a way that they meet both budget and time constraints. His futuristic and all-inclusive leadership approach has been found effective not only in overseeing projects, but also in establishing and maintaining robust relationships with colleagues, business partners, clients, and project stakeholders. His dedication and unparalleled work ethics has made him contribute significantly to good governance and critical organisation change efforts.
Passionate about education, his desire to impart knowledge as well motivate others has been fulfilled through working as an Adjunct Faculty at Baker College since 2013. Unlike other academics, what really distinguish Arukhe are not only his professional and academic achievements, but his work-life balance concept — managing career and his personal life, from which he gets much inspiration.
As a volunteer of United Way and Rotary International, Arukhe selflessly provides support to help families and individuals reach their full potential and improve the quality of life. Not only is he a supportive husband of his wife, Inese and a doting father to his three sons, he also finds fulfillment in serving the needy and providing shelter for them.
Indeed, Dr. James Ohioma Arukhe is an epitome of a successful professional who knows the ways toward the realization of his dreams and aspirations, as he fulfills his passion to end world poverty by creating equal opportunity for the less-privileged people in the society.
According to him global business leaders need to possess critical skills in cross-cultural relations and become mindful of the cultures of their diverse employees to ensure successful business arrangements.
“Differences play important roles in the culture and operation of organizations. To operate successfully and adapt to changes, leaders need to examine the challenges cultural diversity presents. Leaders can harness the interplay among various cultures, people, and economic activities for synergistic benefits. Therefore, business leaders’ views or their cultural awareness in relationship to employees and, customers’ cultural values, beliefs, etc. could affect the success or failure of managerial decisions,” he said.
On a personal note, Arukhe says, “Since 2003 I have lived both in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. I grew up in Benin, Lagos, and Port Harcourt, Nigeria, and spent many years working in Calgary, Canada. I still consider Port Harcourt as a beautiful city to work and dwell in after having had the chance to visit and travel several segments of the globe.”
“Our home is in Calgary, Canada where we often spend our Christmas. I have had the opportunity to travel to nearly 40 countries. Returning from some of these trips last year, I bought a guitar and a violin and occasionally practice during my spare time with my boys as they play the piano. I will add a saxophone to the collection when next I travel,” he added, beaming with smile.
Asked what he thinks of Nigeria, Arukhe said, “Anyone who doubts that Nigeria is blessed, should consider either the quality of the Nigerian human capital excelling in every sphere of life, especially in the diaspora or their works (contribution to knowledge) in the form of publications.”
He noted that with good leadership and an enabling environment, this nation can benefit directly or indirectly from the technical/managerial know-how, expertise, and international experience of her citizens, who presently offer their services to a global community.
According to him, a cursory look at most societies reveals that leaders do influence the ethical framework within which the citizens interact. “It is true that the nation’s most prominent men determine the values of that nation. For that reason, the ethical theories of leaders influence citizens through their establishment of governance within the moral communities they lead.”
“Leaders will cast a shadow if they fail to make reasonable attempts to prevent abuse, shoulder the blame, or hold others to higher standards than they are willing to follow. Leaders provide a good platform for increasing the nation’s social capital and lessening ethical failures,” he added.
He continues, “When leaders provide their vision, for example, they lay out concisely and clearly what their dreams about the company or nation are and what they require the company or nation to become. Thus, visioning is the first step to ensuring that the governed passionately buys into the leaders’ dreams before formulating strategies and tactics to fulfill the vision.”
On a broader note, he says, “National transformation often has a longer strategic component term, although many seem to anticipate quick fixes to change processes within developing countries. Impatience, instant gratification, and microwave-oven mind sets seem appropriate words to describe attitudes in contemporary business times regarding change efforts.
“A culture of wanting things quickly correlates to short-term workplace thinking and wanting immediate fixes. Executives serious about overcoming barriers to system success such as cultural, skill, group, strategy, structural, and reward barriers should take the time necessary through training to build the relationships necessary for sustainable change.
“No drive-through strategies are effective in decision-making efforts to change a nation as they are in a fast-food outlet. Today’s Nigeria would require long-range perspectives for change processes to mature or gain clarity. It’s never too late to be right. With the right choices, Nigerian leaders can redeem the lost time and stand tall with Nigeria in the comity of nations.”