• Thursday, June 20, 2024
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World-class professionals who made real impact in 2022 (Part 1)

World-class professionals who made real impact in 2022 (Part 1)

There comes a time in every man’s life when the desire to do something more meaningful, and more impactful comes upon the person. The current work the person does no longer excites or brings out the best in the person. For Kunle Adewole, a doctorate degree (PhD) holder in Business Administration, who is presently the managing director/CEO of Osogbo, Osun State-based LivingTrust Mortgage Plc, the turning point was in 2018. In an interview, he says, “I left Sterling Bank in 2018 to complete my studies at INSEAD Business School (in Singapore). I got exposed to the principles of Social Entrepreneurship. The Indian cases were particularly interesting. Driven by the interest, I, therefore, enrolled on a course on Social Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies at Harvard University (USA). When I returned to Nigeria, I got a couple of job offers, but the zeal was no longer there (to continue in routine commercial banking). I knew I had to assume a role that would position me for something more impactful and fulfilling.”

As Adewole was making plans, so also was CitiTrust Group, which is a social impact ethical investor, and which in 2019, invested in Omoluabi Mortgage Bank, owned by Osun State. There was a meeting of minds, an agreement of purpose between CitiTrust board and Adewole. He was appointed managing director in May 2020. Since then, LivingTrust, under his leadership, has grown in leaps and bounds both in operations and revenue. When you give to a man the works he loves to do, he excels in it. Adewole talks about his vision for the bank, “My vision is to take the bank to a level where the housing needs of most Nigerians are met. With the support of our development partners, we are on course in our quest of solving this huge social problem. Inculcating strong ESG principles, we have, in collaboration with our partners, delivered over 1,000 housing units since May 2020 when I assumed office. We have also disbursed loans to 600 MSMEs. We are presently working with World Bank and the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company on micro mortgage lending. The proposed solution has the potential to make millions of Nigerians with verifiable sources of income become homeowners.”

It has often been said, and rightly so too, by learned policy analysts that Nigeria, and indeed other struggling black African economies, do not need many foreigners or expatiates to develop their economies. They need a thousand or more Adewoles that will be brought into key sectors of the economy such as transportation, housing, and electricity and in a few decades, re-engineer these black African economies. Nigeria, will truly then be a success story like Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea. Nigeria has the men, the technocrats, but lack the leaders with vision from Abuja to the 36 states, who will like Pharaoh in the Bible, search for the Josephs and entrust them with strategic assignment/work to transform their nations.
When knowledge–loving Adewole assumed office, he met lot of challenges. “the bank was 100% owned by Osun state government. The civil service mentality was highly ingrained in the people (staff) bank. Numbers were not a dominant KPI. We inherited a bank with 96% cost-to-income ratio. This means for every N100 earned, N96 was going into expenses, leaving only N4 as return to shareholders. Our first tasks was to change the orientation of the people and instil corporate discipline. We embarked on a culture change initiative to adopt a Market Facing Advocacy Culture. Luckily, in a matter of months, orientation has taken a 360-degree turn around, and our people were ready to face the market.”

Leading the re-energized LivingTrust Staff, both Adewole and staff grew the bank’s balance sheet by 300 percent and profit before tax by 1,400 per cent as at December 2021. Under his leadership, the bank won national and international awards for it sterling results. Perusing his profile, one discovers that Adewole loves self-improvement. He is unashamed about it. “I love acquiring knowledge. I believe one should always find time for whatever one values. My quest for knowledge acquisition has seen me veer from core science to the fields of finances, law, aviation economics, and business administration with a focus on strategic management.” He is also very passionate about developing or building the next generation of corporate leaders. In pursuit of this, he is an adjunct faculty/ lecturer at the Metropolitan School of Business Management, United Kingdom as well as Pristine Business School, Nigeria.

A thoroughbred banking professional, Dr Adekunle Adewole has over 24 years of experience, cutting across retail, commercial, and corporate banking among others. He holds a Bachelor`s degree in Technology and 3 master`s degrees in Business Administration. He has attended numerous executive courses in prestigious schools such as INSEAD, Harvard, and Lagos Business School. He started his banking career at Omega Bank in 1998. As part of its corporate expansion, LivingTrust Mortgage Bank plc plans to scale up it social impact as of 2023 by recapitalizing to the tune of N11 billion.
On the leadership, he enthusiastically declares, “I roll (up) my sleeves and get my hands dirty in leading my people. I believe life gives to you what you sow in it.” Looking and planning ahead, Adewole says that in spite of Nigeria’s economic recession, “At LivingTrust, we are not just surviving, we are thriving despite economic headwinds. At sub 45% cost to income ratio, we are one of the (mortgage bank) industry`s leaders in converting challenges to opportunities at the least cost.”