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Thriving across industries: Bukky Awoyemi’s story

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Raised in Nigeria, Bukola (Bukky) Awoyemi moved back to the U.S. in search of new opportunities. After completing his MBA, in 2020 he joined BASF's Diverse Leaders Program. Today, he’s the Instrumentation, Electrical and Controls (IEC) Manager at the company’s largest Verbund site in the country, in Geismar, Louisiana. 

Bukola (Bukky) Awoyemi’s path began far away from the manufacturing industry. Born in the United States, he moved to Nigeria at the age of two and returned to the U.S. to pursue his college studies in electrical engineering at Florida State University.

He joined BASF's Diverse Leaders Program (DLP) after completing his MBA at the Georgia Institute of Technology and began his journey into the industry.

A whole new world

Coming from a completely different background and professional experiences, Bukky took a leap and moved to a new city, to start a new job in a new industry. And to make it even more challenging, this change took place at the height of the pandemic, in June of 2020, when masks were mandatory, and interactions were limited.

I moved from a bigger city, Atlanta, Georgia, to a smaller town, Geismar, Louisiana, where I had no family or friends. I had to leave my family behind because it was in between school years, and my daughter was advancing into 3rd grade. There was no point in making a move. I commuted back and forth every two weeks, for a year. It was probably the second biggest challenge I've experienced in my life, after moving by myself from Nigeria to the United States at 17, leaving everything and everyone I knew miles away,” he explains.

The power of connection

Connecting with people is never easy, but for Bukky, it became even more trying due to COVID. He had to work hard to create a network and feel a part of BASF. He connected with Geismar HR to learn of ways to get involved at the site and in the community.  He also joined the African American Employee Group (AAEG), where he found like-minded professionals, with similar experiences and backgrounds, and built real relationships. In an effort to give back and support the group that embraced him, he took on the role of North America Membership Co-chair. “If you want people to include you in the team, you have to do the same,” he remarks.  

Employee resource groups (ERGs) such as the AAEG are key, Bukky explains, “because they help build a sense of belonging, but also, they provide BASF with an avenue to identify the demographic of the employees, supply the tools they need to develop, and help that pool of talent grow inside the organization.”

Bukky recognizes the positive effects BASF’s DLP program and other initiatives and policies have had on the workforce, including the brand-new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Steering Team created within the Manufacturing Community Steering Committee (MCSC), BASF’s leadership team for manufacturing in North America. “I believe BASF is making significant progress. Our senior leaders are engaged and in full support of DEI efforts,” he states.

He’s also an active member of the community, mentoring high school seniors through the Baton Rouge Youth Coalition (BRYC) and as an advisory board member of the Walls Project, a non-profit organization that works to break through and tear down the societal walls that discourage or prevent people from living safe, healthy, and prosperous lives.

Becoming a mighty oak

Despite the initial setbacks, Bukky was able to rise to the challenge and thrive.  He currently leads a team of 12 people as the IEC Manager for the Chemical Intermediates business. 

Today, he’s responsible for maintaining and supporting the production assets of Intermediates in Geismar, making sure it runs smoothly and that safety procedures are in place at all times. In Bukky’s own words, “I believe I'm responsible for my own safety, and the safety of my team. I have to make sure that I constantly instill the mindset that we are looking out for each other and are not compromising safety for any reason. I want everyone to come into the work environment and feel that they are going to go back home the same way, safely and healthy.”

The job came with its fair share of challenges, both in terms of operations and leadership, specifically, furthering his team’s personal and professional development, and instilling self-confidence and autonomy, while also thinking strategically about the areas that require improvement and how to best support operations in Geismar as a whole.

Since I started at BASF, I have been fortunate enough to work for and with leaders and mentors that care about their people. They’ve challenged me to grow, provided guidance, resources and given me opportunities for development.
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Bukky Awoyemi

Recently, he was also selected to be a facilitator for the MCSC, where he will be in contact and learn from top senior executives in the organization, and “work to solve problems and push key topics that are critical to advancing BASF as a leading employer in North America and bring a different perspective to those conversations when needed.” 

Even though he experienced real struggles in his almost three years in the company, Bukky knows he made the right decision and values the place he is in today. This was the change he was looking for and he is grateful that it came his way. 

“I believe I made the right decision moving into this environment because I enjoy the idea of seeing things happen in real time. I enjoy the fast-paced environment. I enjoy the fact that you can see the fruits of your labor right away. What makes me tick, what gets me excited is the opportunity to make a difference, consider and dissect problems and find an answer,” he reflects.


Published on May 17, 2023, by Mariana Licio.

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