From Poor Backgrounds to High Level NGO Work: An Interview with Dr Felicia Moh

Dr Felicia Moh is the Country Representative for Discovery Channel Global Education Partnership, an international NGO with presence in sixteen countries in three continents. In this interview, she lets Ngcareer’s Ifeanyi Igbokwe into how she came from a poor background, how she got the coveted position of a country rep for Discovery channel’s NGO and how any fresh graduate that wants to work with her can get employed into the firm. Enjoy it.

Ngcareers: Thanks for speaking to us Ma, Can you tell us who you are?

Dr Moh: I’m Dr Felicia Moh.

Ngcareers: I know you have acquired a whole lot of degrees, what and what are they?

Dr Moh: I actually moved up through the ranks, I have an NCE in English/History, a Bachelor’s degree in English Education, a masters’ and doctorate degree in English and Literary studies.
I am a qualified teacher and trainer.

Ngcareers: What influenced and informed your choice of university and course?

Dr Moh: I had wanted to be a lawyer. I actually wrote Jamb but didn’t get to see the result. It wasn’t like today where you have access to internet and information. So I sat for the entrance exams for Alvan Ikoku College of Education and it went through, so I went for it. It wasn’t my original plan. But I later discovered that my talent is in training and teaching.

Ngcareers: Did you ever study abroad?

Dr Moh: No I am fully home grown.

Ngcareers: Which position do you currently hold and where?

Dr. MohDr Moh: Currently I am the Country Representative for Discovery Channel Global Educational Partnership. I run and manage the projects for Nigeria. It is basically an educational intervention program. It is an international NGO founded and funded by Discovery Channel

Ngcareers: How did you eventually find yourself in this position?

Dr Moh: It is a story of luck, and being in the right place at the right time. I was working with the British Council when I stumbled on an advert in one of the National dailies I saw from the requirements that I am qualified to apply and I did. I later on discovered that for that position nearly one thousand people applied. I went for the interview. Later I was called on for a second part of the interview. It was there that I learnt that we have been narrowed down to three and eventually I was made an offer. You see this goes contrary to the popular belief of young people that you can’t get a job if you don’t know anyone. I didn’t know anybody, neither did anyone recommend me. Moreover, it was the first time I would hear of the organization.

Ngcareers: What and who inspires you?

Dr Moh: As a person, I admire people, take some things from them but I am most comfortable in my skin. In different fields, I find people who inspire me. I am an academic. I love Theodora Akachi Ezeigbo. She was a lecturer in the University of Lagos. In her passion for her work I like Dora Akunyili. For creativity, I admire Buchi Emecheta. The other day I was privileged to be on the same flight with Bola Kuforiji- Olubi. I’m inspired by people who push for excellence. I am inspired by women who break into male- dominated fields. I am also inspired by people who contribute to the society. My grandmother inspired me so much. She was self-sufficient in an environment where women had no name.

Ngcareers: Would you say she is the one person who has influenced you most?

Dr Moh: I would say yes. I admire her determination. People come and go, so it is a bit hard to point to one single influence.

Ngcareers: What’s the worst decision you ever took?

Dr Moh: It may sound funny, but it is my carelessness with Mathematics. I gave up on it too early and I still am paying the price till today.

Ngcareers: What’s the best day of your life so far?

Dr Moh: I’m a very spiritual person. It is the moment I built a personal relationship with God. Things about God which I couldn’t relate to normal life came alive in my heart. It was the day I discovered God. Other happy days include the day I got married, the day the babies started arriving. But the day I gave my life to Jesus still stands out.

Ngcareers: You are a grandma now. How do you strike a balance between your busy schedule and being there for the family?

Dr Moh: My grandchild doesn’t stay with me though I wish she did!. It is exciting and very fulfilling. When you value something, you create time for it. I value family above my job.

Ngcareers: If there was anything you could have changed about your life from ten years back, what will it be?

Dr Moh: I can’t think of one now but I would have gone back to reverse my apathy for Mathematics. I have changed jobs in the last ten years and I don’t have any regrets.

Ngcareers: Tell us about your childhood

Dr Moh: I was a child under five during the civil war. I don’t remember much. I was left with my grandma when the war broke out. She took care of me during the war; a time when women threw away their biological children. I was later told of how she would put me in a basin, cover the basin with wrapper and run with the basin on her head during those perilous times. Concerning school, I think I joined out of curiosity. I accompanied my siblings to school. While there, they enrolled me. It was later I learnt that I am brilliant.

Yes we were poor, but everybody was poor after the Biafran civil war. As a child in those days, it didn’t matter. I was very small when I passed common entrance exam into secondary school compared with other fully grown women who enrolled alongside me. I was a child brought up in a resource-poor environment and I think it helped shape my passion for academic work. Education acts as a leveler. It is the platform on which a child from resource poor environment can step up to stand shoulder to shoulder with rich kids. This is why it pains me when I see children from very humble backgrounds being denied access to good quality education. It shaped my passion because it is what brought me to where I am.

Ngcareers: How do you cope with workplace stress?

Dr Moh: Actually my industry has its own type of stress; you can’t compare it with being a banker. Being a country rep, I manage stakeholder-donor relationships and that entails frequent travelling. It can often be stressful especially when you consider how unsafe the aviation industry has become, but I think I’m fine.

Ngcareers: What would you describe as the most difficult experience you have encountered and how were you able to go through with it?

Dr Moh: It has to do with someone I recommended for hire who wanted my job. He was supposed to be my assistant. I think he thought he doesn’t deserve to have a female boss and tried to take over. Being that communications with the head office is mainly by calls and e-mails with a few occasional visits, it was hard for them to determine who was lying and who was saying the truth. There were times I considered resigning, but I held on. Eventually his own inefficiency drove him out. He wouldn’t take instructions from me. He was getting into blunders and because he was fighting me, I let them be until he got himself fired.

Ngcareers: Amazing. What would you advice the youth who wants to be employed in Discovery Channel’s NGO?

Dr Moh: To be quite frank with you, the international NGO field has a way with hiring. Many times, because they get funding from donors, we don’t go for fresh inexperienced people. Because the donor wants to see results and the pot of fund often runs dry, so there is no time for training, so we hire people who would hit the ground running. What young people can do to get in is to volunteer for work. By the time they do that for a couple of months, they would have had the prerequisite experience necessary. That way they would stand a very high chance of getting employed once the opportunity presents itself.

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