I was hired via Linkedin by a foreign firm to execute some preliminary cost engineering work on construction projects.
My professional experience is in construction, engineering, estimating and project planning. I am originally from Senegal West Africa but I currently live in Atlanta Ga. My whole career was established in Atlanta Ga as I came to the U.S. after acquiring my first engineering degree (Civil) in Senegal.The opportunity to work in my country has always been a dream of mine because I felt that my country invested in my education and my upbringing, hence it is key that as a professional I get the chance to give back to my country of origin.
Senegal is booming in the construction sector, the infrastructure is improving fast: more roads, highways, bridges, housing and commercial construction are being built at a fast pace. More local and international firms should join the momentum to create a diverse and competitive pool of bidders.
Going back to work in Senegal had its challenges: the way business is done in Senegal is different from how business is done in the United States and that took some adjusting. When doing business in Senegal, it takes longer to do everything… phone calls are not returned promptly or sometimes never returned, subcontractors are not responsive, effective communication is not always implemented, technology is not very advanced, contractors are often not capable of delivering what they claim to deliver….Overall it just feels that my efficiency is greatly reduced because of the existing conditions (or the way things are done in Senegal). One thing is for sure: patience is greatly needed if one is to live in Senegal.
The intense heat, lack of air conditioning in many facilities and the hounding mosquitoes at night were my biggest “headaches”.
Despite all these challenges, a lot of work is being done and projects are being prepared (after a long effort of selecting the right partners) and executed. The most difficult part is sorting through the multitude of unproductive and inefficient aspiring partners.
Now on a more positive note: adjusting to all these challenges is rewarding because as a professional you grasp how to navigate in the local industry by building solid relationships and, little by little, you grow into a more efficient and capable team.
You get to experience your own culture, speak your native language, engage in intense debates about work and other relevant topics that affect the industry.
The exposure to engineering software in the United States greatly facilitates my work in Senegal as an engineer: I can reduce my work hours by half with the use of an estimating software, project management software and take-off software.
Another great incentive about working home: to eat the traditional food, enjoy the weather and mostly enjoy the family and friends.