Thursday, July 19, 2018

How did the first half pass by so quickly? Where did all that time go?


A few months ago, I stood before a roomful of my classmates to tell my story. I talked about growing up in Nigeria, influences that shaped my choices, and what I hoped to achieve. Preparing the talk was difficult, but I had help from friends who were skilled at telling stories. I was exhausted but thrilled at the end of the session. Telling that story was so far out of my comfort zone that I could barely believe I had done it.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Which of these Harpic 'adverts' do you think is more effective?

Image source: https://ogefash.reviews/2018/01/19/avert-review-harpic-toilet-cleaner-just-too-terrific-but/
**1**

Imagine a young woman in her early thirties. It is a Saturday morning and she is home with her family. Her husband is making breakfast and she is roughhousing with her child. Her phone rings, and it is her mother-in-law (MIL) on the other end. MIL is sorry for the short notice, but she has missed them and is visiting today.

She gets off the phone and springs into action. She and her husband dash around the house straightening out the rug and putting toys away. And then she remembers the ghastly stains in the guest toilet. Damn!

She dashes into the toilet with a box of detergent and half-empties it into the toilet bowl. She flushes after minutes of scrubbing but the stains remain, seeming to mock her. Her husband pokes his head into the toilet long enough to hand her a bottle of Harpic. She repeats the same motions as before, with a different result this time. Her toilet is sparkling white!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

On Konga’s Queer Dual-CEO Structure


“Effective from May 1st, Yudala will now operate under the name KONGA, with dual CEOs in the persons of Nick Imudia who will be in charge of online among others and Prince Nnamdi Ekeh who will be responsible for offline.” Nairametrics.

According to that Nairametrics article, Konga and Yudala have been merged into a single entity effective May 1 and will operate with dual CEOs. Mr. Imudia will lead “online” and Prince Ekeh will lead “offline”.

I understand why Konga might prefer the dual-CEO structure. Prince Ekeh built Yudala and established offline coverage that remains critical in Nigeria. Surely it must be difficult to envision a scenario in the merged company where he is not in charge or running a significant portion of the business.

On the other hand, the opportunity to generate more value by combining Konga’s online brand and know-how with Yudala’s offline coverage was one of the biggest reasons for this merger. I believe those synergies will be best realized if both entities are fully integrated into one company and with one person responsible for setting and executing strategy. The company needs to have one set of objectives and integrated systems, and I think having two CEOs for “online” and “offline” makes this less likely to work smoothly.

For clarity, I am not saying the dual-CEO structure will fail. Many companies have pulled it off successfully and Mr. Imudia and Prince Ekeh may be able to. I am a big fan of business and e-commerce in Nigeria, and I hope they can make this work.

Cheers, to Konga!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Life Lately: On Dangote, P1 Updates, and A Blast from the Past


I have made peace with a few things. One is that I will not write frequently this year. Another is that many of my posts - when I manage to write - will be about INSEAD. One way to put a positive spin on this is that most people who know me want to read about how I am engaging with this year...

I tried really hard two days ago to write about Dangote Cement, and how interesting it is that their revenue went up 30% in Nigeria despite selling 16% less cement in 2017 (at some of the highest profit margins in the world). But - as is so often the case, I could not rationalize spending all that time writing about Dangote given all the other things I had to do: cases to read, cover letters to write, assignments to turn in, CVs to update for the umpteenth time, career next steps to think about, alumni to reach out to, etc etc. It is an endless list, to be honest...

All hail the king!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Life Lately - What I've Been Up To...

Perpetual state of mind - LOOOOL
I made sixteen posts on this blog last year. That was the lowest number in the nine years since I started the blog. I did a lot of writing last year though, especially essays applying to b-school and to multiple scholarships…

I thought I would write more this year, but I now know that will not happen. For one, the reality of a one-year MBA is proving to be very different from the idea of one. All the blogs I read and the many alumni I spoke to told me this would be an intense year, but I still managed to underestimate the intensity. Between classes, tutorials, pre-read, cases, and group work from Monday to Saturday – your life outside INSEAD starts to disappear.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2018: Embracing Love & Following Dreams

#TheKBWedding was easily my favorite day in 2017

One night in July, my mentor sat across a table from me and listened as I said I would not go to INSEAD if I did not get a €50,000 scholarship. I talked about how expensive it was, and how the Naira’s devaluation had affected my plans. She let me finish, then told me she thought I would get the scholarship, discussed alternative financing approaches if I did not get it, and told me she thought I should follow that dream.

As my faith strengthened and waned in turn over the following months, conversations with Busola, my closest friends, and my other mentors, reinforced my belief and kept me going through the agonizing wait for the emails from the school. After I received the email communicating the scholarship, we shared many hugs, laughed excitedly, and I was reminded how fortunate I am to have such a strong support system. The people in my life have been a huge part of everything I have done so far, and will be huge enablers for what is still coming.

As a child growing up in Ibadan, I read about Janus - the ancient Roman god of beginnings, transitions, and endings. Strikingly, he was depicted as having two faces, looking both to the past and the future. As I sit here channeling my inner Janus at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, I keep thinking about two concepts: people, and dreams.

2017                                                                          2018

Friday, December 15, 2017

Thank you, Procter

April 2012 with Carole; waist size - 30
Sometime in 2010, I sat in a car with Deji Adesina as we made our way along Road One. Bordered by tall trees, Road One invites you into the Obafemi Awolowo University campus, twisting and turning through large expanses of grassland before spitting you out in front of the Student Union Building. I had asked him what it was like to work at P&G, and after talking about how awesome the company was – he said the words that have rung in my head all week.

Isé P&G o kín tán. My work never ends. If I stayed in the office all day, it would not end. I pick what is really important, and focus on that”.

As I walk into the office today, seven years later, I find that I cannot stop thinking about the many things I have not done: the tasks I did not yet get to, the projects I have not closed. It is with great effort that I put my mind to remembering other – beautiful – memories.

From 2007 to 2011, there were few things I wanted more than to work at P&G. I always wanted to start work right after university and P&G offered that. I was not sure what type of work I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to work at a company whose products or services touched everyday life and made it a little easier. I got all that and more after I joined P&G in March 2012. I always felt respected and well-paid for the work I did. I loved the culture and the many efforts the company made to support me. (I wrote the most-viewed answer on Quora to the “What is it like to work at P&G” question). My colleagues were mostly smart and good people, and I found many friends here.

Monday, November 27, 2017

How to Read in Lagos

Books open up new worlds and facilitate a semblance of time travel
For a long time, when I heard about someone’s death, I would wonder about the physical mechanism of death. How do hearts stop beating? I have long wondered what went through Abraham Lincoln’s mind as the American Civil War raged. How did he find courage to stay the course? When I get a cold, I wonder about the viruses that cause the flu and the common cold. Why are there new strains every year?

I don’t know people who can answer all these questions, so I often go searching for information. I learnt how the body shuts down by reading Sherwin Nuland’s How We Die. In Nancy Koehn’s Forged in Crisis, I found answers to my decades-old questions about Lincoln’s state of mind during the war. From a Ted-Ed video, I understood why there were different flu strains every year.

The ability to grow endlessly and apply information to change our lives is part of what makes us human. While a lot of information is available on Facebook and Twitter threads, books and long articles are arguably the most effective way to dive into new subjects. They open up new worlds, grant access to people we would not have met otherwise, and facilitate a semblance of time travel. Why then don’t more people read?

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Forfeiture of Money in Accounts without BVN is ‘almost’ Theft


The news broke recently that the Federal Government is seeking the forfeiture of balances of all accounts without BVN numbers. While the government desperately needs money, I don’t think this is right.

Many people who support this request assume all law-abiding citizens have completed their BVN registration. Therefore, accounts without BVN contain illicit funds — which were stolen from the commonwealth and should be forfeited to the state.

The base assumption above is wrong. Not all law-abiding citizens have completed their BVN registrations. Some accounts hold balances due to people who died before BVN became a thing, and whose estates have not been settled. Other accounts hold balances due to people who are alive, but cannot register their BVNs for a variety of reasons — such as the case below of an elderly citizen with Alzheimer’s. Other accounts have not had BVNs linked for issues such as change of names, errors in bio-data, etc. Therefore, not all accounts without BVNs contain illicit funds.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

How to Score 740 on the GMAT


The Graduate Management Admission Test, popularly known as the GMAT, is intended to assess analytical writing and problem-solving abilities, in addition to data sufficiency, logic, and critical reasoning skills. Most universities offering graduate management programs use it as part of their admission criteria. The total score ranges from 200 to 800 in increments of 10.

I wrote the GMAT in July 2016, and scored 740 (Q49, V42). For context, that is higher than the average score at the top 5 MBA programs. Since then, I have shared my study plan with several people, and some of them recommended I write this. Here is a quick disclaimer: This is the plan I followed; I do not guarantee it will work for you. In fact, “How I Scored 740…” is a more accurate title, but you would probably not be reading this if it had that title.

Source: The Financial Times and school websites.