By Babajide Komolafe
HE began his career at the then Cooperative Bank. With hard work, he progressed to become a chartered accountant, chartered banker and chartered corporate secretary. He also rose to becomethe acting General Manager of the bank, before he retired after 23 years of meritorious service. Today, he is an accomplished entrepreneur and investor, uplifting humanity with his philanthropy. He is Dr. Ayoola Oba Otudeko CFR, the widely celebrated Chairman of Honeywell Group of Companies and a recipient of Vanguard 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award.
Born August 18, 1943, Dr. Otudeko is an astute and highly successful investor and entrepreneur and renowned for being in the Forbes’ list of Africa’s 50 richest people, ranking number 33 with a net worth of $575 million as of November 2013. He is married to Mrs. Adebisi Aderonke Otudeko. Their union is blessed with children and grandchildren.
Education and Professional Qualifications:
Oba Otudeko studied Accountancy at the Leeds College of Commerce, Leeds, Yorkshire, United Kingdom. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers (FCIB), Fellow of the Institute of Chartered & Corporate Accountants (with Honours) (FCCA), Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (FCA) and Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (FCIS).He has also attended executive management training programmes at International Institute for Management Development (IMD), Lausanne, Switzerland; Harvard Business School, Boston, U.S.A; and then Arthur D. Little School of Management, U.S.A.
To give life to the entrepreneurship gene yearning for expression in his blood, Oba Otudeko in 1972, established the Honeywell Group. His aim was to use the company to bless humanity and thereby sweeten human life, hence the name Honeywell. The company had a humble beginning, operating a trading concern, importing and marketing commodities such as baking yeast, evaporated milk, stock fish, glass and steel rods, among others. Today, the Honeywell Group has evolved into a diversified enterprise with businesses, comprising 10 subsidiaries across major sectors of the Nigeria economy, namely: foods and agro-allied; real estate, infrastructure, energy and services. Through additional portfolio investments, the Group is also a significant provider of capital to other sectors of the Nigerian economy including financial services, telecommunications and security management. The Honeywell Group expresses itself through 10 operating companies namely: Honeywell Flour Mills Plc, HOGL Energy Limited, Pivot Engineering Company Limited, UragaReal Estate, Anchorage Leisures and Pavilion Technology Limited. Others are Broadview Engineering, Hudson Power Limited, Uraga Power Solutions Limited and Honeywell Energy Resources International Limited. Through these companies, the Honeywell Group employs over 5,000 Nigerians and contributes to human and social capacity development in Nigeria through diverse platforms. These include the Honeywell Excellence Programme, which provides a platform for young, brilliant Nigerian graduates of tertiary institutions to hone their business management skills by providing them with a comprehensive and robust training in business management principles, over a 12-month period.
Giving Back to Society:
In his quest to give back to the society and contribute to human capacity development in the country, Dr. Oba Otudeko in 2003 established the Oba Otudeko Foundation. Notable contributions of the Foundation include institution of a Central Administration Building for the Olabisi Onabanjo University; donation of the Honeywell Auditorium to Lagos Business School (Pan-Atlantic University); donation of an Administrative Block to All Saints’ College, Edun Village, Ibadan; donation of a Students’ Cafeteria to Bells University of Technology, Ota, Ogun State; endowment of the Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies of the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State.He also donates to religious and other worthy social courses.
A Corporate Titan:
In addition to the Honeywell Group, Oba Otudeko has used his entrepreneurship skills to contribute to the growth of many corporate organisations where he has served as chairman or director. He is also currently the Group Chairman of FBN Holdings Plc, the parent company of First Bank of Nigeria Limited. He was at various times, chairman, First Bank of Nigeria Limited; FBN Bank (UK) Limited; Airtel Nigeria and Fan Milk of Nigeria Plc. Between September 2006 and August 2009, he was the 16th President and Chairman of Council of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. From 1990 to 1997, Otudeko served on the boards of Central Bank of Nigeria; Guinness Nigeria Plc, from 1999 to 2003; British American Tobacco Ltd, from 2001 to 2004 and Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, headquartered in Lome, Togo from 2002 to 2010.
Bilateral Trade Promotion:
Oba Otudeko also served as chairman of the Nigerian-South African Chamber of Commerce (NSACC) and aimed to facilitate investment flows into Nigeria. During his tenure as the NSACC Chairman, the volume of Nigeria-South Africa bilateral trade grew significantly from $16.5 million in 1999 to $2.9 billion in 2010. He was also on the Board of the NEPAD Business Group – Nigeria. He was Chairman of the Business Support Group (BSG) for delivery of the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan (NIIMP).
In 2013, he was also appointed the chairman of the Digital Africa Conference Exhibition in Abuja, Nigeria.
In recognition of his achievements as an entrepreneur and corporate leader, Oba Otudeko has received several national and international awards. In 2016, he emerged winner of the African Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of the Year award at the Africa CEOs’ Forum, in Abidjan. The previous year, 2015, Otudeko was voted Leadership Newspaper Business Person of the Year. Earlier in 2009, Otudeko was conferred with Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the ThisDay Awards, while Silverbird Television conferred on him, the Extraordinary Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.
Furthermore, in recognition of his contributions to the nation’s economic growth, Otudeko was awarded the following national honours: Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR) in 2011, Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) in 2002 and the Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) in 2000.
Other recognitions include Honorary Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye; Honorary Doctor of Science in Banking and Finance from Crescent University, Abeokuta, Ogun State; Honorary Doctorate Degree from Baze University, Abuja; and Honorary Doctorate Degree from Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo Town, Oyo State; Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the second time at theThisDay Awards in 2012and Ernst & Young (EL) Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.