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When The Lion Roars, The Jungle Stirs. …Lessons To Learn From Tony Elumelu’s Reunion With Former STB Staff

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When The Lion Roars, The Jungle Stirs. …Lessons To Learn From Tony Elumelu’s Reunion With Former STB Staff

When The Lion Roars, The Jungle Stirs. …Lessons To Learn From Tony Elumelu’s Reunion With Former STB Staff
January 19
06:47 2024

● UBA Chairman Shares Bond, War Stories With STB Alumnus

● Why Very Few Magnates Enjoy Similar Bond With Their Employees

By LANRE ALFRED

That Tony Elumelu embodies the grace and feral elan of the Panthera Leo, is an open secret. Like the fabled King of the Jungle, he quickens the pulse of females and commands the respect of men. When the lion roars, the jungle stirs. Thus it was hardly surprising that the former proteges and colleagues of the United Bank of Africa (UBA) Chairman honoured his invitation to a reunion several years after they worked and trained under him at the defunct Standard Trust Bank (STB). The lion roared and the jungle stirred

For Tony Elumelu, everything he imagines becomes real. Even when the odds seem stacked against him, he sources strength from the parable of the sea: that a ship sometimes has to sail against the current and not with it. Hence he beats on, vessel against the current, surging ceaselessly into the future of his dreams.

As he sets course, Elumelu, like the sea-hardened mariner, would leave no man behind. Even if caught in a storm, he’d persevere and lead his crew to a more pliant course.

Elumelu understood quite early in life, that life is hardly about finding oneself while ducking storms but all about inventing oneself through tempests and conquests.

As he invents himself, however, the Chairman of the United Bank of Africa (UBA) endeavours to lend a helping hand in uplifting generations of ambitious career men and women, who counted on him to help nurse their dreams of greatness and guide their strides, like a shiny beacon.

If you ask Elumelu, he would tell you that whoever desires to build a spacecraft wouldn’t just drum up men to forge steel, assign tasks and give orders, first, he would teach them to yearn for the vast and endless galaxy.

In Elumelu’s universe, several men and women of unrivalled verve and ambition soar to vast and unimaginable heights. This is because, by his actions, he creates a legacy that inspires others to dream and yearn to become more; under Elumelu’s guidance, there is no yearning too wild or dream too expensive to achieve. He is inwardly and outwardly an excellent leader and moulder of men.

Just recently, the strapping billionaire and Chairman of UBA hosted his protegees and colleagues from his time as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Standard Trust Bank (STB).

Disclosing this on Monday while sharing photos of the first reunion of the STB team, which he hosted, Elumelu said that the STB success story laid the groundwork for the largest financial services transaction in Africa to date, that is, the merger of STB and the UBA Group in 2005.

He said, “I reunited some of my team from Standard Trust Bank. It was our first reunion. It was an amazing get-together for the STB team. Some now work elsewhere; or have become entrepreneurs, something I love to see, and some, of course, work with Heirs Holdings or UBA Group.”

According to Elumelu, STB was born in 1997 and quickly redefined the face of banking in Nigeria. “As CEO of STB, I wanted to challenge the status quo and democratise access to banking in Nigeria – and then Africa. What was a dream, quickly became a reality. The symbol we chose – the mustard seed – the logo now of UBA, has truly born fruit,” he said.

“Achieving this was not easy! Our STB Lions and Lionesses, as we called ourselves then, worked day and night to execute that vision. These successes laid the groundwork for the largest financial services transaction in Africa to date, the merger of STB and UBA Group in 2005. That merger created a banking group that spans Africa – and the globe.

“This period not only changed the face of banking in Africa, it launched careers, changed lives and created relationships that will last a lifetime. Creating, leading, and motivating teams drives me. To see diversity become unity is so satisfying. I also learnt – to plan, to be patient, to be resilient,” recalled Elumelu.

Still narrating the experience of hosting and reuniting with his STB crew, he said, “As we discussed, shared memories, laughed, and talked about our lives, I felt such a sense of pride for the great things my people have gone on to achieve. Something was also clear, whatever we have done, we have continued to embody the spirit of Excellence, Enterprise, and Execution, which are the hallmarks of the STB legacy – we have remained lions and lionesses.

“As I fondly recalled that time and that team, it’s no surprise these STB alumni have done great things, occupying significant roles and shaping the world into a better place. As a leader, it doesn’t get better than this.

“It’s been too long, and I look forward to meeting other ex-STB team members, who couldn’t make it to our first reunion. If you are an STB alumnus, I encourage you to join the ‘My STB Family.’ Let’s stay connected, foster our network and hopefully have a bigger reunion soon. Extremely proud of my STB family and I wish everyone even greater success,” he said.

The STB era was no doubt transformative and defining for Elumelu and the business of banking in Nigeria and the African continent. It would be recalled that in the wake of the STB-UBA merger, Elumelu was invited to Philadelphia in the United States (US) as a participant in the 2010 Wharton Africa Business Forum (WABF) where he contributed as a panellist on the topic “Beyond Natural Resources: The future of knowledge-based industries in Africa.”

The forum’s theme, which was organised by African MBA students in the iconic business school, was “A Blueprint for Africa: Navigating the World’s Fastest Growing Continent.”

Even back then, Elumelu delivered. His energy was intense, his intellectual vigour was enviable, pragmatic and focused on the real issues. There is no gainsaying he gave quite a performance as one of Africa’s brightest entrepreneurs and captain of industry.

Elumelu delivered the keynote, titled: “Perception and Reality – One African Entrepreneur’s Journey” whereby he traced his trajectory through hard work, discipline, and vision. His narrative highlighted how he helped revolutionise Africa’s banking industry.

As CEO of UBA, Elumelu transformed the bank from a Nigerian financial institution into a key African financial services institution. UBA is today a multinational corporation, out of Africa, with offices in France, US and UK. There is no gainsaying Elumelu’s repute as a business icon with lots of influence and experience.

A truly bold thinker, he spoke in the simplest and most candid ways highlighting how he faced and conquered every challenge on his path to becoming a bank CEO before his 34th birthday.

His audience stayed enraptured, captivated by the story of a man who had grown fast beyond his years, driven by his dreams and vision of the future.

When Standard Trust Bank was formed, Elumelu had three strategic objectives of what he wanted the bank to become within the shortest period. When the bank morphed into UBA, he reviewed his initial goals and also developed a new set of objectives. And in all cases, he realised them.

He saw opportunities where a lot of his peers saw challenges. His passion was admirable and his confidence, inspiring. Only a titan could dare to own and grow a bank in an era and banking environment dominated by behemoths like the First Bank of Nigeria, Union Bank, and the old UBA.

Through his attainment of business success and renown, the UBA chairman learnt among other valuable lessons, that society truly matters. Thus after he made the big bucks, he sought to help raise a new core of experts, business and society heroes. For instance, Heir Holdings and the Tony Elumelu Foundation are poised to help engineer social rebirth and renewal in leadership, entrepreneurship, and business management in Africa.

Elumelu endeavours to spend his fortune to better the lives of the people within his immediate and remote environment led by his belief that God gave him an enormous fortune to enable him to impact lives on the African continent positively. He would tell you that no billionaire should engage in philanthropy simply to score points or take credit, but to make people’s lives better.

While his miserly peers would always argue that the economy doesn’t work as well or grow as fast when a few prosper at the expense of a growing middle class and ladders for folks who want to get into the middle class, Elumelu seeks to enable more people to succeed.

He espouses corporate empathy and social responsibility guided by the belief that we need each other as individuals and groups to attain the completeness of corporate strategy and humanity.

Aside from his role as UBA chairman, Elumelu also chairs Transcorp Plc and Heirs Holdings. Rated the 31st richest man in Africa with a net worth of $700 million by Forbes Magazine in 2015, Elumelu stepped down as the CEO of UBA in 2010 at the age of 47.

On his watch, the bank established branches in over 20 African countries and New York, London and Paris. The bank currently has assets estimated at more than $ 19 billion. Elumelu also serves as the chairman of HEIRS Holdings, an investment company committed to improving lives and transforming Africa through long-term investments and maintains a portfolio of investments across several sectors.

The UBA chairman is a proud recipient of Nigeria’s Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR), a national honour.

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Opeyemi

Opeyemi

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