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Thank you to the 1646 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions! I hope reading 7 Questions with

Olusegun Ogidan

helps you in your leadership.

Olusegun Ogidan

Olusegun Ogidan

Name: Olusegun Ogidan

Title: Managing Director/CEO


Dr Steve Olusegun OGIDAN, member of the National Institute, Nigeria (mni) is a self-motivated and hardworking development planner, with experience in Business Development, Strategy, Microfinance management, Agriculture Value Chain Research, as well as human resources development. He is a microfinance development trainer and strategist, with core competence and experience in business strategy, value chain development and rural development. He was educated Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria, Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria, University of Lagos, Nigeria and Trinity College Malanga, Spain. He was also trained in the NEGEV Institute of Strategy, Beer Sheva, and the Galilee International Management Institute, Israel.
He attended the Vaikuth Mehta National Institute for Cooperative and Rural Development in Pune, India. He also attended prestigious Business Schools for his executive education: These included the Harvard Business School, the Wharton Business School of University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia Business School, New York Others are the Boulder Institute of Microfinance, Turin, Italy and the School of African Microfinance, Mombasa, Kenya. Before his consulting business, Dr Ogidan was a microfinance practitioner as Head of Strategy and later Regional Manager for the former Peoples Bank of Nigeria and later Bank of Agriculture (BoA).
He is an accredited Trainer by Centre for Management Development (CMD) Nigeria, International Labour Organization, ITC/ILO, Turin, Italy, delivering Making Microfinance Work MMW I & II, Center for Microfinance Leadership of the Women’s World Banking, New York, delivering Microfinance Management Development Programme, and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank as a Business Edge Trainer. Dr Ogidan was a team member of FGN/European Union team on the Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Reform (WSSSR) programme. He was a consultant to the World Health Organization on Banking for Health.
He was also training consultant to PrOpCom (Promoting Pro-poor Opportunities in Commodity and Service Markets) and International Fertilizer Development Corporation, IFDC. He was the Team Leader for unprecedented three terms for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd FGN/IFAD-RUFIN Supervision Missions for Nigeria between 2010 and 2013. He was a consultant to the UNDP and the Central Bank of Nigeria on Microfinance Development Strategy. He was part of the team that designed the Microfinance Certification Programme, MCP for the CBN and CIBN.
He is a Microfinance Training Service Provider (MTSP) and also a post-examination monitor to the Central Bank of Nigeria. He was a Management Strategy Consultant and Trainer to the Nigerian Railway Corporation. He was Strategy Consultant to the Central Bank of Liberia on Financial Inclusion, 2011-2012. He was the Coordinator and Team member of the ITC/ILO International Experts Team that developed Training Curriculum and Manuals on Access to Finance for Workers and Trade Unions in Africa 2010- 2013.
He was trained and certified by the Asian Development Bank Institute/Tokyo Development Learning Centre as a microfinance master trainer. In partnership with Making Cents International, Dr Ogidan has been certified to deliver the Youth-Inclusive Financial Services, YFS another product to deepen the outreach of Microfinance in developing countries. He has also been appointed as a Local Service Support LSS Provider and Trainer for the German Donor Agency, Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst (EED) and Bread for the World (BfdW) currently training its 22 Partner Organisations in Nigeria.
He was the BDS/ Grant Specialist on the World Bank MSME Rice Value Chain Project as well as the Kaduna State Coordinator of the World Bank State-Level Private Sector Policy And Institutional-Mapping (SPPIM) project implemented by Nathan Associates, UK. He was a DFID national consultant on developing lending policies and loan recovery strategies and training curriculum for Microfinance Banks in Kaduna State under the Growth and Employment in States (GEMS 3) Nigeria Project. He led the team that carried our rapid market assessment and research for the establishment of Microcred Nigeria, 2009 to 2013.
Dr Ogidan was the regional consultant for African Development Bank (AfDB) Microfinance Evaluation Mission to Liberia in November 2013. A Commonwealth Scholar at the National Institute Pune, India, 1994, a MASHAV (Government of Israel) Scholar at the NEGEV Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development (NISPED), Beer Sheva, Israel 2006 and a MasterCard Foundation Scholar at the School of African Microfinance, Kenya, 2008.
He is Faculty Member and Strategy Expert-in-Residence of Pan Atlantic University, Enterprise Development Centre as well as Centre for Microfinance Leadership, New York and the School of African Microfinance, Kenya. He is also a faculty member at the West African Institute of Finance and Economic Management, an Institute of the West African Monetary Union of ECOWAS. He is a consultant to the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) on project management and agricultural finance.
He is a training and MSME Consultant to the Development Bank of Southern Africa, DBSA and the Association of the African Development Institutions, AADFI. Dr Ogidan has worked as a Consultant to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations in Angola and Mozambique in deeping Blended Finance, de-risking and Risk Sharing for agricultural Lending. He led the Team that designed and launched the Togo Incentives Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending, (MIFA-TIRSAL) in 2018.

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

At the start of this business, the biggest challenges I faced were building a strong team and professional credibility that would position the company as an industry leader- especially in Africa. To the glory of God, we achieved both milestones within the first decade of our operations. However, as the business expanded - from a single office with less than 5 staff, to over 10 offices, in 5 countries with more than 300 staff, my greatest challenge has been the perpetual need to reengineer our processes.
The objective being to ensure that we remain competitive and profitable in today’s dynamic business landscape. We also continuously aspire to lead in the frontier markets where we operate. As an entrepreneur in Africa, I expect and embrace challenges. No matter how insurmountable they seem, I see every challenge as an opportunity for me and my team to become better and build better services for our clients.
Nigeria as a frontier market, presents a myriad of opportunities for individuals bold enough to confront the unique challenges present here. Moreover, Africa as a whole is also an untapped landscape, brimming with potential due to its large population and growing market. Hence, despite the challenges, I’m always excited about our past achievements and the opportunities that lie ahead of us.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

We started in Kaduna with one office and less than 5 staff. Today we have other offices in Nigeria with about 200 project staff at the peak. Add the staff in our sister companies, and representative offices in Kenya, Sierra Leone, the Gambia and South Africa and we have close to 360 staff. The company has grown because we have remained focused on responding to the needs of the market with excellent and efficient solutions. I share the board of a microfinance Bank and own over 25 % of the Bank.
I also sit on Boards of Corporations in Kenya, Sierra Leone and South Africa. The newest addition to our flag is Angola. At a time, our delivery office was moved to London. This was before we improved on our ICT capabilities in Abuja Office. Our business model has been successful, and we thank all our strategic partners. Additionally, an important point that triggered the growth of the company was our foray into strategy development and achieving international certifications and collaborations.
In Nigeria, we started by turning our competitors to collaborators. Our International Certifications make us the best in every market where we operate. The first of these was the ‘Making Microfinance Work (MMW)’ certification from the International Labour Organization, ITC-ILO, which licensed us to provide training across Africa. Building on this foundation, we forged a partnership with the Centre for Microfinance Leadership, a division of Women's World Banking in the USA, to offer leadership development programmes in microfinance. Our efforts then led us to the School of African Microfinance in Mombasa, Kenya, where I currently hold the position of Executive Course Director.
As a country Director of ACDI-VOCA International, we are privileged to benefit form the experience of leadership of an organisation working in 133 countries in the world. Through these experiences, we have emerged as a prominent advocate for microfinance strategy in Africa, amplifying our voice in the field.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

Some days are different and could be crazy. I wake up to ask myself the first question. Where on this planet am I today?
However, below is a summary of my typical workday.
Morning Routine:
6:00 AM - Wake up. After which I study my Bible and pray. God has been my pillar and I find it helpful to do this first thing in the morning
7:00 AM - Review top priorities for the day. Set personal and professional goals.
7:30 AM - Have a healthy breakfast while chatting with family
8:00 AM - Hold a brief meeting with executive assistants to discuss the day's schedule and important updates.
8:30 AM - Engage in strategic thinking and planning for the company's long-term goals.
9:00 AM - 11:00 AM - Block off this time for uninterrupted, focused work on high-priority projects, strategic initiatives, or critical decision-making tasks.
11:00 AM - 11:30 AM - Dedicated time for checking and responding to urgent emails, addressing any pressing matters.
11:30 AM - 12:00 PM - Stay updated on industry news and publications, reading relevant articles and reports to stay informed. Lunch Break:
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM – Have a light lunch, either with colleagues or some personal downtime. Afternoon Routine:
10. 1:00 PM - Attend scheduled meetings with department heads, executives, or external stakeholders to discuss key initiatives, progress updates, and address any challenges.
2:00 PM - Collaborate with teams on important projects, providing guidance, and ensuring alignment with overall business objectives.
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM – Conduct performance reviews, analyze market trends, and assess the company's performance.
Evening Routine:
5:00 PM - Dedicate time for networking, attending industry events, or participating in professional development activities.
6:00 PM - Reflect on the day's accomplishments, identify lessons learned, and set priorities for the following day.
7:00 PM - Engage in personal activities, spend quality time with family, and relax.
11:00 PM - Disconnect from work-related activities, unwind, and prepare for a restful night's sleep.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

The most recent significant leadership lesson I’ve learned is this:
“Investing in your team multiplies your productivity and impact.”
Although I learnt this lesson early on, as our organization expands, the importance of this lesson becomes clearer. Regardless of the brilliance of my ideas, their successful implementation ultimately hinges on the caliber of the team working alongside me.
Reflecting on our collective accomplishments, I am glad that I have consistently prioritized investing in the growth and development of our staff. They are the invaluable assets that have propelled us to reach extraordinary milestones and instill us with the confidence to embrace the challenges of an unpredictable future. This was why it was possible for us to manage 37 Project Monitoring, Reporting and Remediation Offices in Nigeria for over six years. At the peak, we had over 600 staff on this project.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

One book that has had a profound impact on my leadership so far is “How Toyota Became #1: Leadership Lessons from the World's Greatest Car Company” by David Magee
Some of the leadership lessons I gleaned from that book include:
- Toyota's philosophy of continuous improvement (making small, incremental improvements in all aspects of business to achieve long-term excellence), which has been instrumental to its success.
We subscribe to this approach both internally and when executing project for our clients. For instance, internally, we ensure that staff are recruited not just for their skills but also for their passion for learning and improvement. This has helped us attract top talent who appreciate the wealth of knowledge available within the team and strive for excellence in their roles.
- Toyota places great importance on showing its employees that they are respected and valued. In my organization and all its affiliates, we ensue that staff have creative control, a conducive working environment, competitive remuneration, succession planning, and the opportunity to build successful careers within the organization. These efforts amongst others help our staff see that they are valued, and their efforts are the reason for our organization’s success.
- Long-Term Thinking: Long-term thinking (the Toyota way) has helped me build an organization with a resilient organizational culture, foster trust with our stakeholders and lay a firm foundation for sustainable growth, despite economic uncertainties.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

There are four important ways we build leadership capacity within our organization:
1. Fostering a Mindset of Continuous Improvement: Staff are encouraged to challenge the status quo and seek out opportunities for improvement, both for our organization and for our clients. This mindset helps staff to build leadership skills that empower them to stay adaptable, innovative, and responsive to evolving business needs.
2. Long-Term Perspective: We recognize that leadership development is a continuous process that requires patience and investment. Hence, we prioritize developing leaders who can contribute to the company's long-term success.
3. On-the-Job Learning: We believe in learning through hands-on experience. This provides many opportunities for employees to gain practical knowledge and skills as they work on real-world projects and face diverse challenges. It also allows potential leaders to develop a deep understanding of the business and its operations.
4. Focus on Core Values: We endeavor to instill our core values of integrity, excellence, client-centricity and continuous learning. These values serve as guiding principles for decision-making and behavior, shaping the leadership culture within our organization.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

One meaningful story I love to share is one that highlights the importance of the work I and my team do. One night, a Board Chairman called me and requested that I help train his management team urgently because they had all decided to resign. When we conducted our mandatory institutional assessment before the proposed training, we discovered something surprising—the Board Chairman himself was the reason for the unhealthy work culture that made his management team want to drop the ball. This is why I always tell my mentees: When you pray for a good job, also pray for a good work environment that will not lead you into depression.
I like sharing that story because it highlights how the work, we do helps organizations and institutions overcome the challenges hindering them from achieving their own corporate goals. Hence, every time I address my team, stories like these are one way I remind us all that our work matters. The results we get for our clients are the proof we need to keep doing great work, despite the challenges. Another story is the challenge we have with regulators at a time. Because some competitors did not know our business model, they got envious. Writing frivolous petitions insinuating that our corporate governance structure was not strong. We are grateful to God that we came out better and stronger. Be it in Data Capture and Identity Management for governments or Agricultural Value Chain Development or even Development Finance, our organisation is the loudest voice in Africa.

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