The Managing Director of Kresta Laurel Limited, Dideolu Falobi, is driven by the guiding principles and philosophies of diligence, equity, fairness and Justice. Shaped by Christian values, Falobi, whose firm specialises in elevators, escalators and cranes, wants to leave the world better than he found it. And so, his happiest moments revolve around time spent with family and his kinsmen in Ilesha, Osun State, doing community development activities. As a child, he admired Shaka Zulu, but recent stories and movies have however tempered his admiration for him. Today his admiration is local. Falobi shares his career trajectory, business life, growing up moments, and how his wife has had an enduring impact on him with Adedayo Adejobi
Take us into your growing up?
I am from Iwoye- Ijesa, but I grew up in Ilesa. Growing up was normal. I had a strict but loving father, who never spared the rod whenever he seemed it expedient.
What key values have shaped you?
Christian values, discipline and love for all.
What kind of a child were you?
A normal child, very playful, which I believe was a result of the fact that my mum was in school most of my primary school days. This had its effect as my teacher dad taught out of town and as such, always came in circa 5pm. So my routine was come back from school, lunch, do assignments and football or any other game that caught my fancy
Were you quiet or most times in trouble?
I was never quiet but never got into trouble too as my dad was clear about my limits and the consequences of going beyond my limit were clear and dire.
What fond child memories do you hold unto strongly growing up in Ilesa?
The days of looking for crabs in the neighbourhood swamps, playing street football, teaching my mates Arithmetic and later, Mathematics, as well as going to church every morning, seven days a week. I must admit that I hated the church part at the beginning but had to endure it and eventually liked it as I began to take leadership roles in church at an early age.
What were your best and worst subjects in of secondary school?
My best was Maths. Worst was Biology.
Share something silly you did while growing up, that made your parents laugh and/or scold you?
Most silly, I cannot really remember. However, I knew that playing football on Sundays was sure to earn me a good beating from my no-nonsense dad.
At what point in life did you decide on a career path and what influenced same?
I guess it evolved early as I recollect that I was always fascinated by electrics.
What informed your choice of study in the university?
Love for electrics.
Do you have any regrets about your eventual choice of study?
No, though if it were today, I might have settled for something talent-driven like Theatre Arts, Mass Communication or Law, which I later realised, were my natural forte.
Relieve memories as a student at the University.
University was fun for me as I took part in almost everything apart from clubbing and partying- student unionism, football, chasing girls, community and old school activities as well as academics.
Talk me through your career path?
So far, I thank God as I have been privileged to work with great minds. I am a certified Engineer. I graduated from the University of Lagos in 1987 and started my career as a Design and Supervision Engineer between 1987 and 1989 and later became a Junior Partner between 1992-1996 with Edison Group and Partners, a foremost power engineering consultancy firm. In these capacities, I was involved in several rural electrification projects.
I was also the Marketing Manager of H.F. Schroeder (W.A.) Limited and Pioneer Project Manager of Kresta Laurel Limited between 1989 and 1992. In these companies, I was directly responsible for the Lift and Crane Departments where I executed several Lift and Crane Installation Projects nationwide. As a speaker and social commentator, I have delivered lectures on industrialisation, design of elevators and escalators, youth empowerment, investment in Nigeria and safety among several other topics at various fora, locally and internationally.
On the community development front, as the Bobajiro of Ilesa, I have been the National President of the Old Students’ Association of Methodist High School, Ilesa, since 2005. I am also the Founder and President of Ijesaland Development Foundation as well as the Chairman of Osun State Scrabble Association and Iwoye-Ijesa Development Committee. I am happily married with children.
Share the experience on your first job?
My first job was interesting from day one. It was as Consulting Engineer with Engr. Akin Taiwo of blessed memory’s Edison Group and Partners. It was my NYSC year and he only accepted to take me when I offered to work without pay for the early part of my service.
What was your first pay cheque?
As a Corps member, I was earning N200 apart from NYSC allowance. My first pay as an Engineer was N700 per month with the same Edison Group and Partners, a lot of money in 1988.
Have you always wanted to be an Engineer?
If you had the opportunity to lead your industry, what would you do differently?
I will work vigorously to ensure that the menace of delayed and non- payment for services stop. I will set up an advocacy group for this. I will provide free legal services for those deprived of their dues. I will push for the blacklisting of defaulting clients until they discharge their obligations. I will push for reasonable minimum wage for engineers in all fields. I will make periodic training and recertification of engineers compulsory and obligatory for the employers. I will push for full Implementation of Local Content policies in the Engineering Industry such that jobs for which Nigerian Engineers have competence will never be given to non-Nigerians. I will work with major engineering companies, federal, state and local governments to set up well equipped technical schools in every local government in Nigeria. My brother, there is a lot to do to make engineering rewarding for most engineers.
If you look down memory lane, would you say that you are a fulfilled Engineer?
The bane of Leadership in Nigeria is corruption and matters of governance are the key to your heart. Would you anytime soon be going into politics?
I cannot rule it out for two reasons. The right political environment is required for private and even public enterprise to thrive. Most of the present players make delivery of good governance look like rocket science. We need to change the mind-set and it is becoming more and more difficult to make those changes from without. Look at the role of money in politics today. It has almost become a culture that you must spend fortunes to contest and win elections. That is not who we are. How many of them spent 0.1% of what you need to spend now when they got into office in 1999. We must change this horrible mind-set that reduces us to sub-humans. We have to go in at one point or the order.
Another hydra-headed monster is the Boko Haram terrorists driven on the wheels of religion. What would be the way out?
Boko Haram is the product of mis-governance over the years. Negotiate and rehabilitate the current generation of ill-mannered youths; educate the young ones least they become worse. There are several pockets of ‘Boko Haramism’ waiting to happen in different parts of Nigeria. We are sitting on kegs of gun powder. Time to act was yesterday.
Let’s assume you want to take a back seat for instance, who would you prefer amongst the key presidential aspirants?
I am not in politics yet so I just pass. Of course I have my preferred candidate and you will probably guess right. For now, I pass.
Before marriage, did you have your fair share of women?
Hmmmm. I was a good boy by comparison but of course, I did not marry my first date.
At what point did you know she was the one for you?
From day one.
In what ways has she changed you, or vice-versa?
She taught me more patience and more street -wisdom. She is smarter than I. You can take that to the bank.
Describe her in five words.
Smart, Caring, Diligent, Shrewd and Beautiful
Away from business, what kind of a man are you at home?
Away from business is more like it. I love my home and I try to be a good father and husband. I was a bit too tough on my kids in my younger days but I am mellowing down as the kids grow older and I am learning new things about parenthood.
What is your relationship with your children?
Very good I believe notwithstanding the usual struggle for freedom.
When you see your children what do they remind you of?
A bit of myself and their mum in our younger years and the influence of “today’s world and culture”.
How often do you take time-out to treat your wife?
Regularly as time permits. We eat, dine out together; watch movies together too.
As a handsome man, how do you handle sexual advances from opposite sex?
You just said it…I handle them. I am married and it helps.
What things do you do to unwind?
Discuss politics, develop my community and spend time out with the family.
You have a good sense of fashion. What influences your dress sense. Brand names?
Honestly, I just dress up to fit the occasion. My wife manages the rest.
What famous international figure do you admire and why?
Hmmmm. I used to admire Shaka the Zulu as a young boy. Recent stories and movies have however modulated my admiration for him. Today my admiration is local.
When are your happiest and saddest moments?
My happiest are time spent with my family and on my community development activities. Worst times are when I get involved in discussions on Nigeria’s leadership crisis and how it has reduced us as human beings.
What motivates you?
Success in whatever I lay my hands on.
What/who would you consider your strongest influence (s)?
What books have you read that changed your outlook to business and life?
The Bible; it is so complete. The rest are autobiographies of successful men and women from various sectors/industries.
What are your guiding principles and philosophy of life?
Diligence, equity, fairness and justice; do unto others as you would want done unto you.
What lasting legacy would you want to be known for?
That I left the world better than I found it.