My only skill was swimming - I was jobless. A Nigerian man describes how he rose through the ranks to become a marine officer in Dubai.

Philips Michael, a once-unemployed Nigerian, has shared his inspiring journey to becoming a Marine officer in Dubai, UAE.


In an interview with Gulf News, Philips stated that when he arrived in Dubai in 2013, the only skill he could offer was swimming.

 The only skill I had was swimming  - Jobless Nigerian man narrates how he rose to become a marine officer in Dubai

That too was not a formal training, but just a skill he acquired on the side while growing up in Nigeria. Little did he know that it will open up a new life for him in Dubai. 10 years later, he is now marine officer with World Security, a DP World company providing in security solutions for a number of firms in UAE.


Philips grew up in a remote area where fishing, timber, and agriculture were the major occupation. His father was a timber dealer and after the school, he used to assist his father in the business. Philips belongs to the ethnic group Ijaw and is from the Arogbo clan in Ondo, the southwestern coastal state of Nigeria.


After high school, he wanted to focus on playing football. But there were financial challenges as his father was not able to shoulder all the burden himself. Philips also started taking responsibility and he wanted to leave the country in search of better chances.


It was then that his uncle Love Torulolo hooked Philips up with his friend who works in the UAE. Philips flew in to Dubai from Lagos on a two-week visit visa, with no particular intention of a long stint. It was in January 2013.


"The moment I landed, my mind changed. I said I am not going back anytime soon. It was a completely different environment here. The road networks, the metro. It was so impressive. I called my uncle back home and told him: I’d like to stay back,” he said.


Philips enquired around about the process to get a job here, exited the country, and came back on a one-month visa. He got a lot of support and advice from the community here.


"When I told them where I came from, someone asked me if I know how to swim. They said, okay make a CV for a lifeguard position. I had absolutely no idea what the job of a lifeguard was. I had no training in swimming either. I was just a natural swimmer,” Philips said.


However, he made the CV and started dropping it randomly at different places. His friends were also helping him to find a job. He got offers from three places- World Security and two other companies.


He picked up World Security because the salary offered was better and they promoted sporting activities. His trust proved to be in the right place and he never had to look for opportunity anywhere else. And World Security provided him with training and support to further his ambitions.


"When I joined as a lifeguard with zero experience, the company sent me for training at American Red Cross. I got my certificate and started on the job,” Philips said.


He started living his dream. Not long after, an internal vacancy was advertised. It was for the marine crew. He applied for it and was elected for the position Philip was then deployed and given on-the-job training by the company.


As a marine crew, his job involved protecting the lives and property in the area and safeguarding the waterways, as well as controlling and managing access and preventing any illegal activities, for different clients.


As the marine crew, we were positioned in one place, our officers are the ones who go around and patrol the area,” he said.


Philips worked as a marine crew member for about two years. As the job became interesting, he decided to take a boat driver's license. He passed it and in 2016, he became a boat driver.


"I was always ambitious and wanted to advance my career further. I did some courses, in fitness training, and fire safety to improve my chances and competency. In 2019, I became Marine Office,” Philips said.


"Everything is in the hands of God. My next aim is to use my experience back home when I go back to my home country and establish a water sports and cruise company. That is my goal,” Philips says.


"I would like to take this opportunity to appreciate Akhilesh Nair, Head of Security Operation, Word Security, and Hamda Ateeq Rashed Harem Al Dhaheri, Head of QHSE, World Security, for their leadership, support, and continuing inspiration in my job,” Philips said.


"I should also thank World Security marine operation in charge Kalfan Sultan for believing in me. At first, he was a bit skeptical about me. Still, he gave me a chance to be part of his team,” he said.


Philips has a wife and three daughters living back home in Nigeria.


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