Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu is a Nigerian economist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is the chairman of Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa, Transcorp and founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation.
How you start is important
According to Elumelu, who also doubles as the Chairman of the United Bank for Africa Plc, young professionals need to start out right in a well-structured environment.
He explains, “It helps to cultivate discipline which is directly correlated with your productivity and ability to produce results. The best organisations for young people are those who recruit objectively and transparently (not based on who you know or who put in a phone call), train and capacitize young professionals, place round pegs in round holes, i.e. deploy talent to where it is best suited, give people access to the right tools to execute their tasks, keep them challenged, measure and appraise staff fairly, and finally, reward and commend results and sanction failures. Any organisation that follows this merit-driven chain will give you a great career start.”
Work on yourself constantly
Nigerian billionaire encourages young professionals to always work on themselves, constantly striving to be the best version of themselves.
“The best-spent money is that which is spent on your self-improvement,” he says. “… Your generation has unhindered access to quality information, much more than those before you, so you should take advantage of it and develop yourself. Read, learn, feed your intellect, and strive to expand the horizons of your mind. Learning is a long-term investment, and it never stops rewarding.”
Dreams are good
For the successful banker, dreams are great as long as you are ready to put in the work to see them come true. He stresses the need for dreams to be backed with a lot of hard work.
In his words, “Your aspirations and yearnings are normal… It’s okay to want more. But you must remember that you must deserve more to desire more. You must put in the hours, the long nights, the sacrifice, and the diligence. While it is okay to yearn for more, you must work hard enough to earn the promotion, the pay rise, the title change, the salary increases etc.”
Leaving the county isn’t necessarily the solution
Acknowledging the popular desire to seek greener elsewhere, Elumelu encourages young people to change their perspective. Rather than focusing on only the economic challenges, he charges this set of people to also look at the endless opportunities in Nigeria.
In his words, “You don’t have to check out, to travel out of the country to become successful. I hear of many young people travelling abroad as a way to escape the economic challenges. What I often say to them is that yes, challenges are real on the continent, but so are the opportunities… but never forget that there are immense opportunities available to you right here on the continent. If someone like me, from an ordinary background, could make it, what makes you think you can’t?”