This is an abridged blog of a book which I continue to write. I started writing it since 2010 when I joined a company as CEO and one of the major shareholders. It is written in chapters at a time and you will have to follow the blog to read it as it evolves.The blog takes you the reader through the valley of a thousand hills as I termed it. The journey full of surprises, tears and wonders. The journey I thought was a painful dream. A journey where I believe that today at the end of 2019, if it was not because of my faith in God Almighty, I would have fallen and broken my back and destroyed my career. Indeed, God Jehovah was my refuge. I recite Psalm 91 through out the nine years journey reminding God of His promises to us.
The Shareholder whom I was in the business was not as I thought a shareholder should be in any business. In business, a shareholder is the business-owner and can be one or more – represented by herself/himself or an entity. In my case I started of as one of the forty employee shareholders holding 80% shareholding amongst us. We had an institutional shareholder who held 20% of the business. Because we were many and some of us had different views on how the shareholders should be viewed and involved in the business. The business had been in existance for a while and the majority of the shareholders have been with the business for many years unlike me who had just started with them.
The Shareholder – gives a perspective of how I believe I was perceived and how I was treated in this business. I know some of the shareholders who would read this book will not necessarily agree with me, however I know the majority will agree with me. My story as I wrote in this book, was shared by me at many leadership conferences. I continue to use my shareholder experience as casestudy when I mentor and coach young leaders. The Shareholder gives lessons to those people who would become shareholders in business and helps to encourage them to be resilient in times of challenges.
I hope you will enjoy this blog. I invite you to comment and share your experiences too.
JUNE 2010 – THE PERSUIT
It was a winter day while working at a development financing institution as a group executive minding the business of the Bank when a call came from one of my former bank colleagues who wanted to meet with me urgently. I was surprised. He came to my office the following day and told me that him and his partner have acquired shares in a company which they believe required a new CEO to position the company onto the African continent. He then asked me if I could consider joining the company as shareholder and CEO. Indeed part of my role at the bank was on strategy development, marketing, knowledge management and policy development to support the Bank to deliver its infrastructure development financing mandate on the continent Africa South of Sahara. I told him I will require more information to reflect on this and pray about it. Indeed I received all the information I requested, did my due diligence, asked for clarification, held meetings with senior people of other similar companies, and prayed about it. I must mention this, I took two weeks leave from the Bank to pray before I could make a decision. I have since a young age trusted God Almighty in every area of my life and it was therefore critical for me to ask Him for guidance in making this life changing decision. I went to visit friends of mine who are South African pastors doing God’s work in Ireland and used the quiet time to pray for guidance. God confirmed through prayers with these pastors that I should accept the role. This was a calling from Him to make a contribution in improving the quality of life of His people on the continent. On my return from Ireland, I responded positively to the company board – accepting to join them. At the time, I had peace that God Almighty will never leave nor forsake me in that role. I knew that God prepares the called. For me, this role was indeed a calling because I knew nothing about consulting engineering except my background and experience in development financing of infrastructure on the continent.
I started work in October 2010 as CEO designate while the CEO at the time was closing his role in the business and left the business end of May 2011. I took over June 2011.
FEBRUARY 2012 – THE DISCOVERY
When God Almighty promises, His Word comes out with integrity and is irrevocable. He promised He will never leave nor forsake me. In July 2011 after taking the role as CEO, I proposed that we clarify our strategy and structure so as to be all on the same page as to where the business is going. As the leadership team, we agreed to start the business by clearly articulating who we are and what we wanted to be known as. Our strategic intend of improving the quality of life through infrastructure development lead to us agreeing that we wanted to position our business as an infrastructure development company broader than being just being an engineering company. The development our Vision 2016 strategy was presented to the board and shareholders which was approved for immediate implementation. The appointment of the leadership team was also approved by board and endorsed by the shareholders. We had executives responsible for various sectors that we were in and also corporate office executives. All of us believed that we were well positioned to deliver our continental growth mandate. I had to learn a lot at the same time about engineering in the sectors and industry we were in. I had to have a mentor to guide and handhold me to clearly understand the language used in the built and engineering business. A lot of things like strategy development and implementation, financial management, people management, corporate governance, performance management and so on I knew having worked in the public sector for many years and also for more than ten years in a development financing institution at a very senior level.
It was in around October 2011 when I asked for financial information from our Financial Director then because I had queries on the budget that I needed to understand. There the bubble burst in February 2012 after long investigations which ensued since. Ultimately it was clear that there were shareholders funds which were stolen by the then Financial Director since 2002 at least. February 2012 we approached him to explain his side and he admitted to stealing the money. We dismissed him immediately.
The story of how shareholders reacted to this will follow in the next blog…