Biz Interview: Adenekan Adewumni, Lead Business Coach and Managing Partner of Standard Keep Services, Nigeria

Africa Business Communities brings this interview with professional coaching and training expert from Nigeria, ‘Nekan Adewunmi.

Please introduce yourself to us – your company and your position there.

I am ‘Nekan Adewunmi and I work for Standards Keep Services – a professional coaching organisation whose focus is developing Quality People that drive quality processes to deliver business effectiveness & quality service at the workplace. I currently function as the Lead Business Coach and Managing Partner.

In what countries do you operate?

Strictly speaking, we are a global organisation, because we are capable of delivering all of our services online. But currently we have operations in Nigeria and Ghana.

Who do you service as a company – the public, private or government sector?

We are currently focused on the private and public sectors, and hope to grow quickly to begin to catch the right attention for government sector patronage.

What are the major challenges to operating in the African market today?

Our services are basically intellectual. But the African continent is not exactly the most intellectual in the world. Ordinarily, that should generate some great market potentials, but unfortunately that is not the scenario we are currently experiencing. I once encountered an HR Manager who did not have an idea of what Business Coaching was about. That speaks of some level of mental laziness or poor knowledgeability, I should say.   

Secondly, I should say ours is the world’s capital of Nepotism. Maybe it is our version of what the western world calls networking.

Thirdly, when recession hits, personnel coaching/training/learning and development budgets in most organisations are the first to be axed.

As a player in this market, can you proffer a possible solution to these challenges?

As business coaches or any other learning/knowledge-building professionals, we need to intensify our advocacy. We need to help the public see the need to engage coaching/training services. Yes we should command the right price, and possess the right capacity to deliver on our promises but most importantly, showcase our results – raise the roof, if you like, we should!

Perhaps some more networking can go a long way. Also, and most importantly, we need to let business decision makers appreciate that economic recession throws up more personnel management issues than a time of prosperity.

A time of recession is actually a time to refocus your workforce for the rough road ahead. How do you motivate staff, when their colleagues have just been down-sized or right-sized? How do keep peak performance in the midst of obvious job insecurity and distrust? How do you prop up quality service delivery when remuneration is being slashed? Simple answer: Coaching!

What remarkable advancement has your industry made in recent years that you find most outstanding?

I would say the introduction of analytics software into the Nigerian Learning & Development industry has been revolutionary. The utilization of the internet to carry out online and real-time interface with coachees is another remarkable advancement.

What change(s) would you like to see in your industry that would make your job easier?

Definitely, a little less Nepotism and more objectivity in assessing the quality and suitability of coaching programmes by organisations.

Overall, how would you say the African market performed in 2012?

A couple of African countries are recording remarkable economic growth based on the indices being published. That is great news for Rwandans, Angolans, South Africans, etc. But how much of these would be sustained over the next two or three election cycles? I am not convinced democracy is working for the average African on the street. Perhaps people like me are idealists. So why not! But are we Africans truly/traditionally democratic? We appear to have a more autocratic/monarchical mindset if you ask me. A lot of us are not open-minded enough to properly operate democratic states.

Crisis in the Maghreb, Coups d’état recurring in the West, Rebels in the Congo, Terrorism in Northern Nigeria, Mali, Niger, Chad, Somalia and spills-over to Kenya. How much economic development can we achieve in the midst of this chaos and poverty?

No doubt, the African market has enormous potentials – yes, but that is already over-stated. We see a lot of foreign direct investment coming into the continent increasingly – that on the face of it is great for us. But what I see is: the more foreign capital and enterprise exploring and exploiting the market, the worse the people are for it.

I am a Nigerian resident in Nigeria, so I would speak particularly about her. Nigeria has a population of about 167 million people, of which about 100 million are poor, living on less than $2 a day. It is believed that only 1% of the Nigeria’s population control over 70% of the nation’s wealth – leaving a middle-income class size of just over 60 million people – who are locked in a never-ending battle of trying to escape poverty. By any stretch of imagination, that is an enormous market to take advantage of. The critical question is: how much of this potential translates to money in the hands of Nigerians? There is so much more work to be done to reduce poverty and unemployment.

Perhaps, there is no more room for local interest and protection in a globalized market and the average African remains unrepentantly denied access to the good things of life! It is very clear to me that there is an urgent need for the services of Leadership Coaches in most presidential palaces on the continent.

Any predictions for the market, and particularly in your industry, for the rest of 2013? Would you, if you had the choice, invest more carefully or more boldly?

I am strongly of the conviction that the outlook is positive for business coaching in the year 2013. Our organisation is planning to organise a couple of publicity forums, to sensitize the business community about the importance and affordability of professional coaching services especially at a time of global recession.

What is the latest from your company? Anything we should look forward to?

We have just recently concluded work on putting our full suite of services online. At the SKS Business Coaching Clinic: we can deliver our 1-year coaching courses (which have a life-long impact) in Customer-, Quality- and Team Mgt, Service Culture, Profitability, Marketing, Leadership and Succession issues completely online. We run a truly e-office.

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