In this month’s Meet a Member, Chukwudi Ononogbu, scheme interface manager, network rail, and Events Champion on the London Hub Committee, talks working on Heathrow T5, infrastructure projects in Africa, and eliminating racism in the industry
How did you get into construction and why? What else would you have done?
My journey into construction started at quite an early age, with my keen interest in the art to create – and also destroy – that awakened the ‘build and construct’ in me, which eventually led me to study civil engineering at the University of Nigeria Nsukka.
Before I graduated, my father got me a placement to work with a firm (Hapel Nigeria) on the Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene road project – and after that experience I was hooked.
Coming to the UK, I worked on projects like Heathrow Terminal 5, Crossrail, the DLR and London City Airport – to name a few – so construction has become part of my DNA. I suspect I would have gone into architecture if I hadn’t gone into construction – though both are very closely related.
What do you love about your job? Is there anything in the industry you would change?
My role appeals to me greatly because I work with an array of internal and external stakeholders, who I engage with collaboratively, while managing their expectations at the same time. That monumental feat of continuously ensuring our infrastructure is never at risk or compromised is something that excites me always.
The industry obviously has a number of things I would like to change, but one that is close to my heart is that racism MUST be stopped, by awareness, education, enlightenment, open and fair dialogue and finally proactive and sincere willingness to make changes and be that change.
Why are you actively involved with the CIOB?
I joined the CIOB because I wanted to be part of the world’s largest and most influential professional body for construction management and leadership.
After I became Chartered I enjoyed the support, engagement with like-minded professionals, the knowledge from CPDs and the impact it was making in the building industry. That led me to participate a lot more in CIOB events, and since then I have played a number of roles which gives me a lot of fulfilment and satisfaction in many ways.
What do you do in your spare time?
I like to relax and spend time with the family, play football (before the pandemic struck), volunteer with the charity Shaw Trust and read books. I do spend considerable time focusing, understanding and participating in discussions and works on infrastructure projects in Africa.