Dr Ernest Azudialu-Obiejesi: Placing Premium on Human Capital

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Chiemelie Ezeobi, who recently visited the Nestoil Tower in the heart of Lagos, writes that the premium placed on his workforce by the Founder and Executive Chairman of the group, Dr Ernest Azudialu-Obiejesi, has become pivotal to the growth and productivity of the organisation

One of the major challenges that face each sector in Nigeria’s budding economy is the prevalence of brain drain. It is on record that some of the best brains the nation boasts of are often seen in the Diaspora where they excel in different fields.

But the same cannot be said for the Nestoil Group. The company takes pride in hiring the best to boost the potentials of the company. Little wonder most of its executive are the best in their respective fields, some of who worked abroad in technical and tough sectors before they were incorporated into the day-to-day workings of the group.

The key is human capital development. This the group said has increased its employee performance, capabilities and resources, resulting to the pivotal growth and productivity of the company. Firm believers that the people that make an organisation run are an asset to be invested in, the Nestoil Tower, houses an efficient crop of executives and workers, who are support systems for Nestoil Founder and Executive Chairman, Dr Ernest Azudialu-Obiejesi.

In a recent chat with the Group Head of Corporate Communications, Osagie Ogunbor, these crop of executives were the crux of the discussion. While highlighting the gains the company has made over the years, he posited that the vision of the Nestoil group has been carried out effectively by these crop of executives who directly manage the day-to-day affairs of the company.

From Chukwueloka O. Umeh, PhD, who is a research scientists to Obinna Ufudo, the corporate management professional; Jo Osojie, a financial services expert; Lynda Madu, corporate services asset; and Nnaji Igwe, corporate governance; Nnenna Obiejesi, administrative powerhouse; Tunji Olanipekun, business leader; Chuka Chukwudebelu; operations planner; Andy Njoku-Obi, civil engineer; Chiemezie Ejinima, capital articulator; Chichi Emenike, cutting edge skills; Eberechukwu Oji, long scale experience and Ifeanyi Ezuka, operations aficionado, the list is endless.

Serial Entrepreneur: Dr. Ernest Azudialu-Obiejesi

Dr. Ernest Azudialu-Obiejesi is the Executive Chairman of the Nestoil Group which he founded in 1991. He superintended the steady growth of Nestoil into the foremost indigenous Engineering Procurement Construction and Commissioning (EPCC) Company in West Africa.

A serial entrepreneur, Azudialu-Obiejesi has about 13 different companies under his belt of which Nestoil is the flagship. Companies in the group provide services ranging from Fabrication and Dredging to Pipeline construction, Civil works, Horizontal Directional Drilling, Exploration and Production and Power.

Azudialu-Obiejesi holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and an MBA from the University of Benin. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Business Administration by the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 2009 as well as another Honourary Doctorate Degree in Science and Engineering from the Chukwemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Awka. Ernest Azudialu-Obiejesi is an Honorary Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers and is an alumnus of the Harvard Business School.

Azudialu-Obiejesi is proud of how much Nestoil has evolved over the years despite daunting challenges. He is particularly proud of Nestoil’s successful completion of the Alternative Evacuation system for the NPDC/Neconde Joint Venture on OML 42. Through Alternative Evacuation, Nestoil Successfully devised a three-way separator which processes wet crude into dry export grade crude and evacuates for export thereby bypassing the pipelines that are susceptible to shut downs and vandalism. Alternative evacuation is the latest testament to Nestoil’s growing reputation as an innovative company that constantly seeks proprietary ways of working in difficult terrains.

Research Guru: Chukwueloka O. Umeh

Prior to joining Nestoil, Chukwueloka O. Umeh, PhD, was a research scientist working at General Electric’s Global Research Center in Niskayuna, New York, where he was responsible for the research and development of several technologies used to increase efficiency and reduce emissions in land-based and aviation gas turbine engines.

Before he left GE to join Nestoil, Dr. Umeh was responsible for the design and manufacture of the combustion systems on several commercial and military aircraft engines. He holds several engineering degrees including a PhD in Aeronautical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York.

He has five US Patents and over 14 technical publications in technologies related to improving efficiency and reducing emissions of aviation and land-based gas turbine engines. Apart from being the lead executive on some of Nestoil’s major pipeline projects like the OB3 Gas pipeline, Umeh also manages the group’s aviation and power business.

Corporate Management Professional: Obinna Ufudo

The Founder of Nestoil, Dr Ernest Azudialu-Obiejesi is able to take his hands off the day-to-day management of Nestoil because of personalities like Obinna Ufudo who is Executive Director, Operations. Obinna has seen it all in the corporate world. He was the Group President/Chief Executive of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp) from 2011 to 2014, where he led the turn-around and repositioning of the company, increasing enterprise value of the business during his tenure. Prior to that, he was Executive Director at Heirs Holdings Limited and had also held senior management positions in the banking industry.

Ufudo is a financial services and corporate management professional with over two decade’s post-graduate experience. He has held senior level positions in Trading, Investments, General Management and Financial Advisory capacities across multiple industries. Ufudo holds a Master of Science degree in International Securities, Investment & Banking from the University of Reading, UK.

He also holds an Executive Master in Business degree from the IESE Business School, University of Navarra, Barcelona Spain. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.

Financial Services Expert: Jo Osojie

Jo Osoje believes the ability of a company to manage its risks is pivotal to its success or otherwise. As astute Banker and Financial Services expert, Jo Osoje is the Chief Risk Officer of the Nestoil Group. He has about twenty-eight years work experience which spans Banking and Finance, Risk Management, Quality Assurance, Civil Construction and Engineering within and outside Nigeria.

Osoje was the Head of Risk, Corporate & Investment Bank (CIBD) and Deputy Group Chief Risk Officer at Access Bank Plc. where he developed annual credit portfolio plans and presented them to various rating agency analysts leading to successful ratings upgrade by S&P, Fitch, Moody’s & Agusto.

Osoje holds a first degree in Civil Engineering, an MBA and a Master of Management (IT). He is a Senior Member of the Risk Management Association of Nigeria and an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria. He currently serves as the Group Chief Risk Officer Nestoil Limited. His strength is in his versatility which may have caught the eye of Dr Ernest Azudialu-Obiejesi. Despite being recently appointed to manage the group’s Exploration and Production business, Osoje continues to oversee the Risk Management function of the group.

Corporate Services Asset: Lynda Madu

Lynda Madu was head hunted by Nestoil to manage its Corporate Services function as an Associate Director. Prior to joining Nestoil, she worked with KPMG (formerly Andersen) as a Management Consultant.

Madu later joined MainOne Cable Company where she was responsible for Corporate Development and the internal operations of the company at all its locations.

Madu’s experience spans Business Strategy Development and Implementation; Organisational Design; Business Process Design and Improvement as well as Human Resource Transformation. Madu holds a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from the Federal University of Technology, Owerri. She has a Global Executive MBA from IE Business School, Spain. Lynda is also a Project Management Professional (PMP), Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR).

Corporate Governance: Nnaji Igwe

Every organisation needs stable, dependable and loyal people like Nnaji Igwe. He is one of the longest serving employees in the group having joined the parent company Obijackson Group long before Nestoil emerged.

He was then the Company Secretary and Legal Adviser. During a period of over 15 years, he managed and coordinated the role of legal adviser with that of managing the board meetings of all the companies within the group as Company Secretary.

He also superintended the then growing relationship with numerous financial institutions and handled the group’s loan portfolio and has served in various capacities within the group including managing its huge supply chain, shipment, procurement and logistics team. He is currently an Associate Director and Chief of Staff. He is also a Trustee of the Obijackson Foundation.

Barrister Nnaji holds an LLB from the University of Nigeria and was called to the Nigerian Bar in December 1989. He is a passionate advocate of effective corporate governance. He is a Member of the Nigerian Bar Association.

Administrative Powerhouse: Nnenna Obiejesi

Nnenna Obiejesi serves as Group Executive Director in charge of Administration. Trained in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and The London School of Economics, Obiejesi holds a Master’s Degree (LLM) in International Business Law.

She has 30 years of local and international experience in legal matters as well as Business Planning and Development. After her call to the Nigerian bar, she worked with Messrs Chike Chigbue & Co. [SAN] and Ike Obiora & Co [Legal Practitioners] where she practiced forensic advocacy under experienced and versatile principals.

She is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators of The United Kingdom, and a Member of The Nigerian Bar Association. Mrs Nnenna Obiejesi who is an advocate for youth empowerment, is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Obijackson Foundation.

Business Leader: Tunji Olanipekun

Tunji Olanipekun, PhD, is a business leader with a prolific wealth of experience in Finance, Financial Services, Oil & Gas, Accounting and Tax Management with over 27years of post-qualification experience as a banking professional, Chartered Accountant, and a Chartered Tax expert. Tunji Olanipekun has a First-Class Degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Lagos and a Master’s Degree in Corporate Governance from Leeds Metropolitan University (UK) and a Ph.D. in Business Administration.

Olanipekun is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (FCA) among other professional membership within and outside the country. He is presently the Managing Director of EWT, a Nestoil company engaged primarily in industrial fabrication.

Operations Planner: Chuka Chukwudebelu

Chuka Chukwudebelu joined the Nestoil Group from the General Electric Company in the United States, where he spent about 15 years in roles of steadily increasing responsibility, including Maintenance Support Manager responsible for the set up and configuration of site-specific maintenance management systems across GE’s Global O&M gas turbine fleet.

Chukwudebelu is currently responsible for guiding the day-to-day operations and long-range planning required to design, construct, procure and commission a major gas pipeline project. He has been additionally tasked with driving the profitable growth of the design engineering arm of the Nestoil Group.

He holds several degrees including a B.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, an MSc in Computer Science from Kennesaw State University, Georgia, and an MBA from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.

Civil Engineer: Andy Njoku-Obi

Andy has over 30 years cognate experience spanning Consulting, Finance, banking and dredging 20 of which were in Senior Management and Leadership positions.

He is the immediate past Managing Director of B&Q Dredging limited, a Nestoil Company and the foremost indigenous dredging company in Nigeria. He presently managing Hammakopp which is the civil engineering arm of the business.

Njoku-Obi obtained a first degree in Accountancy at the University of Nigeria. He also attended the Team Building Institute Pretoria and Sandston Business School Johannesburg (SMP) all in South Africa. He is an alumnus of the Institute of Management Development (IMD) Lausanne Switzerland.

Capital Articulator: Chiemezie Ejinima

Before joining the Nestoil Group, Chiemezie

Ejinima was senior manager in the Corporate Finance and Advisory Group of Zenith Capital – the investment banking subsidiary of Zenith Bank.

Ejinima is the immediate past Group Head of Corporate Finance in Nestoil, where he was responsible for articulating and championing the different capital raising endeavours to finance the investment and operational needs of the company and its affiliates. He has now been redeployed to the E&P arm of the business. He holds a BSc. in Accountancy from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, MSc. in Energy Finance from the University of Dundee in the UK, and is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria.

Cutting Edge Skills: Chichi Emenike

Chichi Emenike is the Head of Gas Ventures in the Group’s Exploration and Production business and has 20 years experience in the Oil and Gas spanning across the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors. She started her early career in Exxon Mobil over a 10-year period before moving to Vigeo Oil and Gas, Suntrust Oil Company and Falcon Corporation Limited.

She holds a B.Eng in Chemical Engineering from Enugu State University of Science & Technology and an MBA in Oil & Gas Management from the prestigious Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. She is a member of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN) and a certified member with the Council for The Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN). Currently, she serves on the council of the Nigerian Gas Association (NGA) as Financial Secretary.

Long Scale Experience: Eberechukwu Oji

Eberechukwu Oji has 24 years experience in the Oil and Gas sector. He is a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers and a Chattered Engineer with a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) Warwick University, UK, a Masters in Technology Petroleum Engineering, Curtin University, Australia, a Masters in Engineering (MEng) Electrical & Electronics Engineering and a Bachelors in Engineering (BEng) Electrical & Electronics Engineering,

Oji has significant experience in the Upstream and Midstream sectors in Multinationals like Shell and across different countries like Gabon, Netherlands, UK, Norway, Singapore, Australia, United States, Bangalore etc. His fields of experience cover: Field Operations, Facility Maintenance, Well Intervention, Gas plant operations, Compressor station operations amongst others.

Operations Aficionado: Ifeanyi Ezuka

Ifeanyi Ezuka joined Neconde in 2012. He has 17 years experience in the upstream oil and gas industry with various technical and senior positions. His experience spans through leadership, management, commercial, technical and operations aspects of the upstream oil and gas industry. He has led and participated extensively in Subsurface, Field Development and Production Operations activities while serving in various capacities in Schlumberger, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Afren Plc.

Ezuka holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Petroleum Engineering and Master of Science degree Petroleum & Gas Engineering from Federal University of Technology Owerri and University of Salford. He is an Alumnus of Athabasca University Business Faculty. An active SPE member and primary author to over seven SPE technical papers.

According to Ogunbor, all these tested and tried crop of executives have given the organisation the impetus to soar above its contemporaries. Not ruling out the challenges they face, Ogunbor is optimistic that they have indeed come to stay.