It is 3:45am and my eyes have refused to enjoy the pleasure of darkness. However, my mind has been in the business of bouncing all around for succor. It is gotten to a pleasurable and memorable experience I had as an intern: an experience I had with Dr. Tunde Sodade: the managing director of Lekki world wide investment limited.
My experience in Siemens as an intern was quite expository. It was an opportunity for me to learn the business curves from an international organization that has shown itself to be dynamic and robust to change. Some of the experiences included being part of the bidding team for multi-billion dollars project, an engagement in Aso villa (the official residence of the President of Nigeria) and quite a number of business meetings. However, one particular meeting stands out for me. This was the meeting with the Lekki world wide investment along-side another company (name of company withheld).
In preparation for the meeting, we worked on the presentation, assembled the best team and proceeded to the venue of the meeting. We had done our home work and was ready to deliver a top-notch presentation that would resonate within the meeting room. After some minutes waiting for the arrival of the team from Lekki world wide investment limited, we were told Dr. Tunde Sodade and his team were around. Well, it was not difficult recognizing him, since I had noticed a plaque of him on the wall.
The meeting started with the typical style that involves the exchange of business cards; which in my opinion is not quite necessary (I believe in personal engagement before exchanging business cards), since umpteen time, these business cards end up in places we cannot remember – – Well it turned out I was the youngest on the table and the only intern: I guess that should be enough reason for me to shrink? (absolutely not). Dr. Sodade started the conversation laying a good template for the meeting. He spoke with firmness that reflects native wit, academic expertise and industrial experience. In few minutes you could tell that his calmness, logical thought and business specific insight were a true reflection of his Phd and MBA training, coupled with his consultancy experiences etc. Beyond these expressional soft skills exhibited, I was able to infer three specific things that made the man so endearing.
- Create a space for innovative and inclusive dialogue: Sodade opening presentation before our team had to make our presentation on the project at hand (name of project withheld) relaxed the environment. Making reference to how he started as an intern, made me see myself through the lens of a young man with a progressive career that might someday take on similar responsibility. His story captured my aspiration and I felt more acceptable in the team. The effect of this innovative and inclusive dialogue was not just a personal experience. I could tell from ideas and questions that bounced across the table, that people were willing to engage the nitty-gritty of the project from a supportive stand point in a more relaxing way.
- You can not get it wrong with passion: I like to think I am a good judge of one’s character (there is enough room for you to disagree with me). Dr. Sodade spoke about the project with such a great enthusiasm I rarely find. I can recall that at some point he stated: he would have love to financially commit himself to raising portion of equity sufficient for the project, if he had the financial capacity. He believed strongly that the project will be a genuine footprint the Lagos state government can bequeath to the federal government. After my visit to the project site, I must admit that I could not have agreed more.
- Always go to the room armed to the teeth: It would have been very easy for Dr. Sodade and his team to have had the meeting alone with us. But he invited a company that had a good understanding of the project and was currently working on the initial phase of the project. The company was in the right position to sieve the technical expertise we were willing to offer and how this was relevant to the project at hand; knowing fully well the challenges. At least the company lent us fine grains of skepticism we were able to munch (something you often time do not have).
Taking a cue from these, I hope that: when next you find yourself in that room, negotiating that game changing project, you will always remember that part of the winning formula are simply to create an innovative space, to be logically passionate and to be armed to the teeth.
Writer: Samuel Edet