Adepeju Adebajo has over three decades of experience leading diverse functions including Finance and Public Affairs and Communications across various sectors- manufacturing, management consulting, the public sector and renewable energy. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Chemical Engineering from Imperial College, London and a Master’s of Engineering from the University of London. She has an MBA from Harvard Business School. Adepeju, a qualified case leader at Boston Consulting Group and a financial analyst at Citibank, both in the United Kingdom, previously headed Strategic Planning, Brand Management and Product Development at United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc. She has been Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mouka Limited, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, UTC Nigeria Plc, CEO, Cement for Nigeria at Lafarge, Managing Director at WAPCO Nigeria Plc and Managing Director, Geocycle at Lafarge Africa Plc. Adepeju served as the Commissioner for Agriculture in Ogun State until May, 2019. She is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Lumos Nigeria where she leads an innovation-driven team with a commitment to provide solar-powered solutions to 1 million Nigerian households and small businesses by 2025. In her spare time, she pursues her passion for enabling youths and businesses to create wealth and generate employment opportunities.
“I see a Nigeria where renewable energy becomes a major power alternative. Where the cost of electricity is affordable and the environment, eco-friendly. Where hindrances to product development and market penetration are no longer prevalent and trade barrier for new products is no longer a challenge. Renewable energy in Nigeria is somewhat still an under-utilised alternative source of power despite the many advantages and the potential it brings to bear”.
University. Science or Arts?
I was a science student. After my A levels, I went on to the Imperial College London where I obtained a B.sc and M.sc in Chemical Engineering.
Biggest lesson you left University with?
My time at the university showed me how big the world can be. You come across a different people from different backgrounds with deferent believes and perception, especially in a school abroad. I was able to interact with people from all over the world and share ideas. This gave me a better understanding of the world.
Your first job and the main thing you learnt while at it.
I officially started my career in investment banking and financial services as a Financial Analyst at Citibank Citigroup. As a young individual, I was quick to learn the importance of teamwork and how best to manage my time efficiently.
Two or three things you have learnt in your career that they don’t teach on MBA courses?
The first will be that success is a journey with many paths, there is no one single formula to success. No degree can teach you how to create your best life. Secondly, hiring the best talent isn’t always the answer, because skills can be taught and learnt; a good heart with integrity, honesty, and diligence on the other hand can’t be taught.
When did you leave home for good? And what’s the biggest lesson you took with you?
I left home at the age of 14 to further my education abroad. The biggest thing I took away I would say was family values. I grew up in a family where both Mother and father were very present and hands-on.
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Who is the bigger influence on you: mum or dad?
Both were in their own ways. My mum was a strong professional, parent and person in the community and this I learnt from her. While my dad was a professional turned entrepreneur and also a strong and principled person. So I was equally influenced by both.
What’s your favourite kind of music?
Gospel Music though I love Bob Marley’s music
Who are your favourite authors?
I don’t have favourite author; I tend to dip and dive
What book are you reading currently?
Malcom Gladwell’s ‘Talking to Strangers’
Who’s your best boss ever and why?
Ibikunle Amosu, the former governor of Ogun state. His leadership style is unique and very hands-on.
Any teacher you remember?
Mrs Karounmi. She was a firm yet kind person who espoused the kind of family values and culture I had at home.
How has the transition been from Concrete to Agriculture to Renewable Energy? And what experiences best prepared you for the role at Lumos?
The truth is there is a thin line between Agriculture to Renewable Energy. Agriculture is a source for renewable energies when you think of biofuel or biomass. It’s more about understanding the sector in which you play. The transition has been seamless given the similarities in the sectors. Across board, I have worked with and managed large teams on huge projects successfully over the years and these has helped me settle into my role at Lumos.
Do you think COVID-19 has permanently changed attitudes to working from home?
To a large extent yes. During this period, more organisations have seen that remote working works as many were forced to do so by the pandemic. At Lumos for instance, we had a smooth transition from being physically present to working from home. Of course, it meant more team meetings, but overall, it has had a good impact on the team.
Two things you prize the most when hiring?
One thing I always look out for is a good heart. Someone who is diligent, honest, and has integrity; these are the foundation of a winning team if you ask me. Secondly, I am moved by passion. Those who know me or have worked with me will have stories of how passionate I am both in my work and personal life. As such, I like to see the same in new hires.
Also Read: The Lunch Hour – Toyin Sanni, CEO, Emerging Africa Capital Group
Your favourite place to holiday in Nigeria. And abroad?
In Nigeria, my favourite place to holiday is Ikenna. It’s a small, a serene and beautiful town right in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Ogun State. Abroad would be La Casa Del Papa in Benin Republic.
Favourite Nigerian brand.
Any Nigerian gospel musician from Sinach to Dunsin Oyekan, to Eben.
Best use of money there is?
I believe we were put on this planet to serve a purpose, and for me it’s the betterment of humanity. It gives me joy to see money spent towards helping people thrive. When you look at the world we live in, there are so many people who lack basic amenities like food, shelter, clothing, access to power. It’s highly satisfactory supporting causes or projects that are tailored towards providing for people.
Someone you like to holiday with.
My husband and children definitely
Where do you see Nigeria in ten years?
I see a Nigeria where renewable energy becomes a major power alternative. Where the cost of electricity is affordable and the environment, eco-friendly. Where hindrances to product development and market penetration are no longer prevalent and trade barrier for new products is no longer a challenge. Renewable energy in Nigeria is somewhat still an under-utilised alternative source of power despite the many advantages and the potential it brings to bear.
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