Ben Akabueze gives an exclusive interview with The Spark team.The distinguished Lagos Commissioner and Pastor shares the secret behind his success and gives must-read tips for youths on how to become a successful entrepreneur.
You have achieved quite a lot in your life; could you give us a rundown of your biggest achievements?
I consider my achievements in life this far to be modest; nevertheless a few of those that stand out for me include: graduating top of my class at GCE ‘O’ Level and ‘A’ Level; graduating from university with a First Class (Honours) degree; setting up a successful Consumer Banking division at UBA Plc (including negotiating the Moneygram (money transfer) franchise); leading NAL Bank Plc through three major transitions; leading amour reform in Lagos State’s planning & Budgeting framework.
What were the pivotal moments or circumstances in your life?
My becoming a born-again Christian in 1988.
How much of a role did a mentor play in your rise to success?
I have admired and learnt from a number of successful persons but have never really been in a formal mentorship.
How old were you when you got your first job?
I was twenty-three when I started working after my national youth service.
You are an Igbo commissioner in Lagos State; how has that worked, especially given the subtle (and not-so subtle) ethnic sentiments in our country?
I don’t have a strong consciousness of ethnicity and so it hasn’t really impeded me in the discharge of my duties as Commissioner in Lagos State. In my opinion I think my appointment as Commissioner in Lags has worked well.
What does a young entrepreneur need to know in order to be successful in Lagos?
A young entrepreneur needs to understand the environment (especially the opportunities and threats), know the rules of engagement in his chosen area of endeavour as well as know the competition he faces.
How does the Lagos State budget focus on youth development?
Education, healthcare, recreation, social protection and job opportunities are among the greatest concerns of the youth; these are among the key areas of focus of the Lagos State Budget.
Does your climb to the top leave room for family time? If so how do you manage that balance and still stay successful?
Absolutely, after God my next priority is my family. I therefore make time for the family. For instance in the last twenty years we have never missed our annual family vacation. Nevertheless, I will admit that sometimes it is difficult to balance the required attention to family and work and I am thankful to have a very understanding and supportive family.
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