By Nume Ekeghe
The Managing Director and Chief Executive of Sterling Bank, Mr. Abubakar Sulieman has said there is an urgent need for Nigeria to develop institutional role models for younger professionals to emulate in view of the dynamic environment in which they operate.
Speaking at the second edition of the Sterling Leadership Series (SLS), Suleiman said the management of Sterling Bank resolved early in the life of the bank to articulate the direction they wanted the bank to follow and took steps to ensure that people could understand and take the vision to the next level.
“When we embarked on this journey as a bank, there were hardly any institutional role models who managers could call upon when they needed to make business decisions. “Consequently, we had to set uncommon goals for ourselves to successfully navigate the uncharted waters of the Nigerian economy,” he said.
The Chief Executive Officer, Unilever Nigeria, Yaw Nsarkoh, who was the guest speaker at the event themed “Nigeria: The Chaotic Advantage,” listed strategies that business leaders should adopt to deal with the challenges and opportunities of operating in a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) environment.
Nsarkoh said the first thing business leaders should do in a VUCA environment was to face the reality of the environment and map out ways to deal with it.
According to him, by facing the reality, they would be able to build resilient models that can cope with shocks and thrive in highly volatile circumstances.
He said companies should build organisations that are equipped to interpret the risks surrounding them.
They should also design backup plans and possible changes in the short term such as having multiple vendors for a particular service.
So, when shocks surface, they can easily move from one supplier to the other or spread their needs among several suppliers.
Nsarkoh, said the economic cycle and evaluation criteria of what is right in a volatile business environment must be viewed through a long-term lens and planning cycles should be shorter because things could change every month or every quarter.
He said companies should review, change and review but evaluation of economic benefits must be done with a longer-term horizon in mind.
He explained that in any environment, volatile or not, there is always a cultural conversation within which brands must express themselves.
He added that “in times of adversity, people develop a certain sense of humour about things such as poor infrastructure and their implication on services. So, brands seeking to serve people purposefully must immerse themselves in that environment and speak their language.”