Blog: Albert Abbou

Albert Abbou is this week's guest blogger. A young intellectual property attorney and native Michigander Albert will be writing about how his personal experiences led him into the law, his Chaldean roots, and why he chooses to make Ann Arbor his home.

Albert Abbou - Post 1: My First Real Lesson in Life

As I look back on the past ten years of my life and reflect on where I was and what I was thinking, I cannot help but to be amazed as to how vastly different my professional career has materialized in comparison to my original expectations. Admittedly, I am relatively young and therefore a bit naïve with respect to certain aspects of life, as I have yet to endure many instances which lead one to appreciate the notion that nothing ever turns out as expected. 

I am the type of person that has a plan for everything, and generally speaking, once I set a plan in motion, rarely do I fall astray from it. As such, I find it rather astonishing that I have taken up law, as a legal career was one path that I absolutely never planned for. Growing up, I always imagined that I would follow the footsteps of my father and become a doctor. All changed after taking my first biology class.

Nevertheless, as I entered my freshmen year of college, I was of the belief that I knew exactly what I would be doing upon graduation. In particular, I assumed that I was going to enter the "family business," so to speak. A few of my uncles own a very successful international engineering firm based out of Nigeria, with satellite offices located in various countries, including England and the United States. My uncles began the company from scratch over 30 years ago, and have since seen it grow from a fairly small industrial firm limited to local projects to a globally-minded company conducting business all across the world. In light of my uncles’ accomplishments, they have always yearned for the company to stay in the family. As one of my uncles put it, they wanted their sons and nephews to "carry the flag." 

Not many of my relatives, however, were very eager to take on the role as future leaders of the company, as the job required frequent visits to Nigeria for extended periods of time (e.g., three to six months). While I never found the idea of working in Nigeria particularly appealing, I was more than willing to accept this responsibility. After all, I witnessed this company transform each of my uncles into very affluent individuals, and based on previous internships that I had conducted in a satellite office of theirs in West Bloomfield, Michigan, I found the business very intriguing. Accordingly, all I had to do was acquire a degree in engineering, and I was "in."

With that backdrop in mind, I foolishly ignored all career fairs during my four years in college, and never applied for a single engineering position. In fact, I was so confident that I was going to work for my uncles, I never even created a resume. 

Needless to say, things didn’t turn out as expected. It’s not that my uncles did not want me working for them. On the contrary, my uncles sincerely wanted to bring me on board. Unfortunately, circumstances had dramatically changed. By the time I graduated college, the United States was so entangled in Iraq that the primary focus of my uncles’ business had shifted there. In other words, rather than having to spend prolonged periods of time in Nigeria, I would have to do so in Iraq. This was not exactly an exciting prospect.   

Don’t get me wrong, at one point in my life I would have loved for nothing more than to have the opportunity to live and work in Iraq, as Iraq is the native land of my family and relatives. Yet with the numerous attacks and casualties being constantly reported, I simply did not have it in me to take on a position in such an unstable environment. While I clearly believed that I was making the correct decision, it had never occurred to me that I literally had no alternatives. So after four years of college, essentially the only valuable lesson that I learned was to "always expect the unexpected." 

Pretty pathetic, I know.

Tomorrow: Now what?