Cute, dynamic and handsome, Femi Adeniran is sure an embodiment of a cosmopolitan career personality of sterling qualities. The show-stopping-dapper who hails from one of the notable ruling houses in Oshogbo, Osun State has had quite a commendable track records criss-crossing between the corporate world and politics. The quiet and intelligent public relations connoisseur who rarely entertains the klieglight’s bug succumbed to pressure when he obliged News Editor, Faith Irabor into his very private life to speak on his forays and experiences as a banker, politician and Telecoms expert. You would enjoy the interesting chats.
How best can we describe Femi Adeniran?
Well, how do I start to answer that question? Often times people try to define themselves from the angle of what they do for a living, family background, religion etc. In my own case, I try to run as much as possible from defining myself from the angle of my career so I would simply say first and foremost, that I am a Nigerian, a committed one for that matter with keen interest in the Nigerian conversation and the course of the ordinary man. This same commitment reflects in everything that I do, be it my career or my personal life.
And what’s that course?
A course that ensures there are opportunities for the ordinary Nigerian. One that says regardless of social divide, you can aspire to become whatever you desire provided you set your mind at it and continuously seek inspiration towards achieving it. I am also an unapologetic optimist and my optimism is the main foundation for anything I have been able to achieve over the years.
Nice but can you quickly run us through your journey as a Public Relations expert?
Well, I didn’t start out doing Public Relations, I actually studied accounting and at some point my entire focus was to become a certified professional accountant. Of course I was very well encouraged by my dad who himself was a Fellow of the Institute of Town Planning. However, providence and the fact that I had always, in my private thoughts wanted to become a banker led me to GT Bank. Back then bankers were the symbols of prosperity in the society. I remember joining Guaranty Trust Bank seventeen years ago like any young and naive Nigerian eager to earn his wages and gain independence from parents. My late dad though wanted me to become an accountant and all of the places he took my CV to especially his friends, the Akintola Williams, the Olusola Adekanolas who’re his kinsmen are running flourishing accounting firms. This almost caused a rift between us. I wanted banking because, as far as I was concerned back then bankers were the best-dressed people. I wanted to wear a tie and nice suits. …hahahhahahhaha…This led to my walking the entire Adeola Odeku Street, dropping my CV in so many banks and then someday I came across GuarantyTrust Bank, I gave it a shot and got the job. I remember being told to wait to see one of the officers in Human Resources and I was kept waiting for quite long so I decided to spend my waiting time reading a copy of the previous day’s Guardian Newspapers which I brought along. Somewhere along the line, I encountered Aig Imokhuede who was passing by and he stopped to ask me some questions about the headline story I was reading. The next thing, he instructed that I should be taken upstairs to be attended to as I had been waiting for too long and everything else happened so quickly. It didn’t take me long to realize that the bank was very ambitious, as a matter of fact the ambition of the founders trickled down to everybody that was involved in the project and we had people ahead of us that kept pushing and reminding us that if we were focused we were on the path to make history. For most of us, that was all we needed to know.
Interesting, but somewhere along the line we heard of your rather shocking exit to Wema Bank?
Well part of what I learnt in GTBank was that, at every point in time anywhere you find yourself, you are actually on a journey. It is never a destination so let’s take it that my sojourn in GTBank was a journey where I was able to lay a good foundation. I continued my journey at Wema Bank and that’s it.
But a lot of people attributed it to the death of Mr. Tayo Aderinokun, a man believed to be your mentor or was it just a coincidence?
No no no, I would want to correct that and maybe not speak too much about Tayo’s demise because a lot of us are still in grief. The late Tayo Aderinokun was a great leader and mentor to a lot of us. There is absolutely nobody that passed through the bank and some still there as I speak today that would not appreciate the legacy and brilliance of Tayo Aderinokun and Fola Adeola. We will continue to pray that God grants Tayo’s soul eternal rest. Like I said, life is a journey with milestones, I might have left two, three, four years before the time I did or years after the time I did or still be there by now.
And again your journey took you from Wema Bank to Government, Osun State to be precise where you got an appointment as one of the senior advisers to the Governor? A lot of us felt you were diversifying
Well, I am a professional and when I was going into Government I didn’t see what the average person would normally see. I didn’t see politics; rather I saw it as part of what I must do as a professional. Professionally I saw an opportunity to manage a public sector brand and a call to serve my people. My decision was made easier by the fact that I come from one of the leading Royal families in Osogbo and I would have disappointed many if I had acted otherwise. Top of it all is the fact that I saw a great and committed leader in Governor Aregbesola and an opportunity to work with him was too good to be ignored.
But it was still a different terrain because its more time consuming, and you have to travel more aside having to attend political meetings?
It’s all part of learning, part of the sacrifices one must make in the course of giving back. Until am too old to work, I will always look for opportunities to contribute my skills towards creating value and improving quality of life, be it through private channels or public sector.
Now you are in Telecoms after serving in the Financial and Public sector, what is unique about this sector?
Honestly it is quite a privilege to have experienced diverse industries and Telecoms, is a totally different ball game. I see it as an opportunity to broaden my worldview as the industry in Nigeria is dominated by global brands. Airtel for example operates in 18 African countries with Nigeria being its biggest African Operations and it is the 4th largest telecoms company in the World. I am indeed excited about the prospects and learning opportunities.
Which will you say is the most challenging of all the sectors you’ve passed through PR wise?
I don’t really see challenges because there are strategies to adopt for success in every industry. What I usually do is to take time to observe and study what works best and then build processes around it. Once the process is accepted and approved, it becomes easy to follow for day to day delivery.
How do you have time for your family as a young man who is very busy?
Yeah I am still quite young and I believe I have the capacity to handle my schedules aside having a very hardworking and understanding wife who is ready to do the extra in the areas I am unable to cover. I think her discipline as a teacher and life coach helps her quite well. She is doing very well and I give her all the support a husband gives a good wife.
So where do you see yourself in the next five years?
Next five years….hmmmnnn....One thing that is certain is, I am going to be in Airtel for a good amount of time. I spent almost fifteen years at GTBank, so you know my antecedent. My short stay in Wema Bank was because I got a political appointment. For now, I have very clear assignments to deliver and I intend to put in a lot of energy into delivering on them.
How do you relax?
Honestly somebody asked me that question recently. I will say it depends on my mood and circumstance. What comes naturally to me is to read; I have a little library and study room at home. I can say I’m also outgoing but I have friends who think otherwise. However, my best time is that which I spend with my family.
What has life taught you?
Life has taught me that the key to success is discipline and that we must be ready to pay the price for success. Life has also taught me patience. One has to be cautious and calculated and make sustainability a critical factor in decision-making.
You are no doubt a fashionable person, what determines your mode of dressing, what does fashion means to you?
Thanks! though I think with age, I am beginning to experiment to the point of rocking Buba and Kembe as well as Agbada aside the suits and pencil trousers. Fashion to me is a way of life and my mood determines what I wear.
What won’t you be caught in fashion wise?
I don’t like loose and baggy clothes, I am also not a jeans fanatic but if I will wear it they are usually slim or what we call “pencil” cut. My dad used to call me a Briton, in his words “britico” because I dress like them.
Let’s not forget to ask you about your most fashionable items?
I have a passion for Aristocratic ensemble; my Signet ring, briefcase and my fountain pen are some of the items you would always find close by wherever I am.
Would you honour any new political appointment from your ex boss, the Governor of Osun State if he offers it in future
You see the relationship I have been able to build with Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is beyond my being a political appointee before I work with him. I certainly will always be available to contribute my quota to the success of his programmes and administration at any level of Government he decides to be because I have no doubt of his genuine intention for improving the lives of the people.
What would you want to be remembered for?
When I die?
Yes and do you have a definition for death?
Of course we are all going to die. Yes death to me is the end of the struggle and I would want to be remembered as a man who did his best.
Thanks for your time sir
Same here Faith.