The world has never been destitute of great men, they only become known and renowned when providence throws them up in the right places and the right time.
The Nigerian insurance industry has been quite lucky to have some shining lights, among them, Mr.Oye Hassan-Odukale, the son of one of Nigeria’s self-made icon and leading multipreneur, Late Sir Hassan-Odukale, founder of Leadway Assurance Company Limited. The annals of the insurance industry is not complete without the positive narration of the proverbial “mustard seed” of founding an insurance agency, more so coming from a “remote sower”, who was at the time a Tailor in Kaduna, Northern Nigeria. Going by the saying that a man of ideas is like a mad man until his ideas become a reality, Late Sir Odukale through dint of hard work, noble spirit, integrity and sound emotional intelligence braved the odds to build what has today become a haven for survival of several solid professionals from all backgrounds and disciplines working with the company.
It is quite interesting that Oye could have been a spoilt brat, but he obviously must have cooperated with the early strict discipline and tutorship foisted on him by his father to take in all the knowledge and educational requirement needed to excel brilliantly in life and even surpass the feats of his iconic father. This definitely became a reality as he horned his skill in insurance and the financial world, learning the ropes at early stages even outside his father’s business. Armed with the required professional and business certification in the best institutions in the world, among them, University of Houston, USA, where he obtained a Masters Degree in Business Administration, Oye, as he is often called by friends and industry people, was just tailor-fit for the headship of the company in 1994 as Managing Director, even before the demise of Pa Odukale. Though quite young and debonair, Oye knew what he wanted and went for it. Aside from providing effective leadership for Leadway to become one of the most preferred underwriting companies in Nigeria and a business model for integrity and speed of insurance service delivery, the effective running of the company gave the impetus for its adventurism into other professions and businesses where it has significant interest like Pensions, Investment, Banking and other financial advisory services. He held the coveted position of Chairman of FBN Bank, UK Ltd, wholly owned subsidiary of First Bank of Nigeria Plc. It is on record that Oye saw the business and fortunes of Leadway grow from a small regional company into one of Nigeria’s foremost insurance companies, attaining the number one position in terms of Gross Premium Income and Balance Sheet size. One of the testimonials of the solidness of the company under Oye is the company’s hard- to-ignore office complexes in Iponri, Surulere in the heart of Lagos. Leadway was undoubtedly one of the companies in the industry to have such an admirable feat in the market. It is on record that Oye made a great mark on the insurance industry’s leadership for so many years. Representing the emerging bloc of young and upwardly mobile professionals about two and half decades ago, Oye joined the Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA) with a vibrant and fresh ideas to change the insurance game from conservatism to pragmatic market operations. He rose steadily through the Council positions of the Association, combining youthful freshness of ideas with the likes of Mr.Fola Daniel, Emmanuel Oyetoyan, TunjiOgunkanmi, Mohammed Kari, Tope Smart, et al, to give the Association a more acceptable and respectable image lift. His maturity and professional sagacity later paved the way for him to become the Chairman of the Association, during which he brought a lot of dynamism to the Association, entrenching it as one of the most- to- belong Association by any worthy underwriter in the market. Oye also played significant roles and gave tremendous support to the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN), the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB) and Institute of Loss Adjusters, among others. His towering image and outreach to all segments of the insurance industry attracted to him considerable respect across the board. It is believed that behind the stoic visage of the six-footer Oye lies a heart of humility and empathy that often belies his looks. His staff and those close to him would bear witness to the extent to which you could draw from Oye’srich “emotional bank account”, if only you could break through the façade. Little wonder he was awarded the 2018 Human Resources Champion of the Year by People Magazine, among several other titles in his kitty, including the highly prized national honour of Member of the Federal Republic (MFR), bagged many years ago.
Today, it is obvious that the status and influence of Oye surpasses that of the insurance industry. He is also a leading light in the banking sector and international financial advisory. Although he is stepping aside as MD for his younger brother, Tunde Hassan Odukale, the change in baton was not just based on the sentiments of patrimony, but that of objectivity, due to his successor’s rich pedigree as a financial experts and longtime key member of the success team of Leadway. As a member of the Royal Society of Mathematics, the Institute of Actuaries and that of the Institute of Directors, coupled with his position as Board Member of several blue chip companies, Tunde is just tailor-fit to continue the success path of Leadway in the nation’s insurance and financial ecosystem.
Although the industry would miss Oye’s role as alter ego of Leadway, the cheering news is that the company stands today as one of the ideal specimen of succession planning and how businesses should survive their promoters, nay in a turbulent clime like ours. For Oye, there is definitely no amount of accolades showered on his person and leadership that would be an overstatement. We all should just wish him a happy and rewarding retirement.
Tope Adaramola works with Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers
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