Monday, September 07, 2020 05:00PM / By NBCC with Editorial Inputs from Proshare Content / Header Image Credit: Proshare Ecographics
Few people get to see the rewards of powerful interventions in the boardroom during their lifetime, not because they could not be bothered about their performance but because the period from conception to brainstorming and norming and eventually strategic implementation is fairly lengthy that they get lost in the grind of corporate transitions and retirements. For boardroom guru, Olusegun Osunkeye, CON, a retired Managing Director of Nestle Nigeria Plc, and the only indigenous CEO of the Nigerian company to date, conception to execution has been a story of mission accomplished.
Getting A Hold of Vision
Indeed, writing the story of the success of Nestle Nigeria without the name Olusegun Osunkeye would be like writing the story of Microsoft without Bill Gates. Osunkeye has shown brilliance and vision in the corporate boardroom, especially as CEO of Nestle Nigeria. Before the turn of the millennium, Osunkeye leaned into a vision of Nestle that depended heavily on backward integration for its inputs thereby reducing dependence on foreign exchange and the potential challenges of fiscal policies that could hurt supply chain networks.
The consequence of Osunkeye's decision was the development of a Nestle outcropping scheme for indigenous farmers to supply maize, sorghum and soya beans in addition to the company's farm production. Realizing that Lagos had become increasingly congested and transport logistics within the metropolis had slowly become an operating nuisance in the early 2000s, Osunkeye initiated the plan to build a strategically located ultra-modern manufacturing facility at Shagamu, Ogun State. The move was a masterstroke as it freed the company's operations from bewildering logistic challenges and also fed into the newly launched backward integration strategy. The new plant plus the outcrop farming programme enabled the company to withstand subsequent global recessionary headwinds in 2008/2009 and 2016/2017 which impaired the performance of other fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs) rivals.
Osunkeye's strategic foresight played critical roles at different times of Nestle Nigeria's navigation through Nigeria's choppy business and fiscal waters. The boardroom for Osunkeye has been a place for suave negotiation, clever deal-brokering and powerful battles for insight over hindsight.
The Making of A Champion
Born on September 7, 1940, Chief Osunkeye's path to being a corporate champion and boardroom maven started in 1954 when he was admitted to King's College, Lagos. He left King's College in 1958 and started his professional Accountancy training with Messrs Akintola Williams and Co. in 1959. Two years later, he attended the Nigeria College of Arts, Science and Technology, Ibadan. He also attended the famous College of Commerce, Wednesbury, Staffordshire, England. In 1965, where he qualified as a Chartered Accountant and worked briefly in the United Kingdom with a leading firm of Chartered Accountants. He later returned to Nigeria in 1967 and worked for UAC Nigeria. That was the beginning of a very successful career in corporate Nigeria that culminated in his retirement as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nestle Nigeria Plc.
Chief Osunkeye has a long list of honours, which are a genuine acknowledgement of his contributions to society. He holds a Doctor of Science Degree in Agriculture, (Honoris Causa), from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, UNAAB. He is an honorary Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (FNIPR), an honorary Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (FNIFST). Distinguished Merit Awardee of the University of Ibadan Department of Crop Protection and Environmental Biology, Outstanding Volunteer Awardee from FATE Foundation for voluntary work as Instructor, Consultant and Mentor to Nigerian youths seeking, through the Foundation, to alleviate poverty and create wealth, and also ICAN Merit Awardee from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria for outstanding contribution to the Accountancy profession.
The Dean of Boardroom Doyens
By dint of hard work, integrity and eminent ethical values, Osunkeye has become a pathfinder and beacon to many boardroom executives who want to be successful in business and service to humanity. Osunkeye is the current Chairman of the Board of Directors of Omnibus Business Solutions Limited and Pilot Securities. He has also served as the Chairman of Nestle Nigeria Plc, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Nigeria Plc, Lafarge Africa Plc, FTN Cocoa Processors Plc, the International Chamber of Commerce Nigeria Chapter and Home & You Limited.
The former Chairman of Nestle Nigeria Plc is a stickler for excellence and is a three-time recipient of the National Honours Awards, CON, OFR and OON, "for his outstanding virtues and in recognition of his significant contributions, through the private sector, to the industrial, commercial and agricultural development of the country."
Osunkeye's boardroom experience, candour and rigorous insistent on the highest standards of corporate governance cut him out in a class beyond the ordinary. He wreaks professionalism and has high marks for compliance and stability even though some may say he has a lower threshold for dominance even though he retains high influence. He is a bespoke boardroom craftsman with a clear sense of vision and purpose and a deep understanding of the mechanics of squeezing performance.
The Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) celebrates its highly esteemed Patron- Chief Olusegun Osunkeye, CON, as he turns 80 today. The Chamber is grateful for the life that he has lived, and the tremendous milestones achieved over the years. NBCC celebrates and honours a prominent son of Nigeria, a captain of industry and a quintessential boardroom veteran.
As Osunkeye marches gallantly into the rarefied age of boardroom wisdom, technical knowledge and corporate understanding reserved for octogenarians, the Chamber salutes an African entrepreneur, leader, statesman, and global citizen as a business mentor.
The chamber sends 80 Hearty Cheers to an Icon!
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