“I’m not fun!” he said with an enthusiastic look on his face. What followed was a surprised look on my face because I think he is fun! I know it is typical for people to think that there is no fun side to their lives until after being told by friends, colleagues or acquaintances of the things about them that brighten their lives and other people’s lives. But why do we have to wait to be told? This, I think happens mainly when people are engrossed in their chosen profession. In most cases, our thought pattern is affected and controlled by the nature of work we do. So, I think, this has been the case with Wole Onasanya who has always loved and been in finance related businesses. Finance was a dream he pursued and remained focused on by choice, not by chance. So, it’s okay for him to believe that he’s not fun.
Who is Wole Onasanya?
What can one really say enough about a man who has explored almost all areas finance in his life? He is someone who has navigated various roles in financial analysis, tax advisory, investment banking and insurance: because doing the same job with monotonous activities is boring to him. And now, as the CEO of Coronation Group, I would say a lot more dedicated service is required of him. Should I then be surprised if he says he is not fun?
I began working with Coronation in May 2023 and my encounters with Wole so far have been few. Occasionally, he dashes into the team’s office to do a quick scan or for other purposes, but each time he is there, he never fails to light up our office. With so much going on at Coronation recently and the official announcement of the Coronation Group taking full speed, it is expected that he would be short of time for a casual chit chat. But today, he created some time.
Not much has changed in his office since I first stepped in there. Still very serene and inviting. I felt prompted to comment immediately on his office’s simplicity and minimalist décor. His response followed, “I know what I want, and I always opt for the minimal. I don’t like a lot of colours.” While still admiring his alluring office, I was left wondering if all executives had to deliberately keep things so simple and neutral because of all the strategic thinking, and risk minimization duties they undertake. The next question came easy. “What is going on with work?” “Work is very diverse, and I do multiple things. I am still trying to staff up my team. But I am quite comfortable with the organization of things.” He replied.
Something really big
I am excited that I witnessed the transition of Coronation X to a Capital Market Holding Company which would oversee and offer consulting services to the entities within the ecosystem. This excitement made me quickly spring on him a series of questions regarding the launch. The first question was on the role and function Coronation Group would play as many people are yet to understand the role. A wide grin! And without hesitation, he said: “Coronation Group solidifies all platforms within the ecosystem. We go on to offer strategic direction to other entities within the ecosystem, develop vital partnerships, and expansion of opportunities for business footprints within and outside Nigeria.” He explained. “I must also add that I am proud to be working on this project as it has offered me the opportunity to create and build something from scratch.” He said this with a wide grin on his face.
He paused and figuring that he might have left out some vital points, he continued: “Now that we have made a public announcement of our GroupCo, our next duty is to communicate our functions to the rest of the world, so they know what we do and further fulfil all the promises that we have communicated.” Feeling so pleased about what he said, my response was simply “fantastic!”
Personal experiences & work ethics
“How has your stay so far in Coronation been?” He interjected before I could ask him the next question. Without hesitation but followed with a smile, I responded “Not bad! I would say very eventful with a lot of learning.” I meant what I said. In the short period I have spent at Coronation, I would rate my experience as sufficiently good. I know that most of the time, it is always important to look on the bright side and stay on course. Above all, there’s no need for me to deviate from my primary motivation for accepting the job, in the first place.
Suddenly realizing an important question that needed to be asked, my next question followed: “What would you say is your most important metric to use in rating an employee for best performance?” “Not one metric” he responded swiftly. I laughed, convincing myself that this was the best answer to give and realizing that he must have worked with multiple people in his career who had different approaches to delivering their jobs. To add to his response, he emphasized that it was many times a combination of multiple things but more importantly, a positive attitude to work, enthusiasm and the willingness to go the extra mile. Also, he said he had a lot of respect for employees who take feedback and work on it. I was nodding all the way because I agreed with him on all the points.
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“Do you play golf? “Yes, I do but not as frequently as I would love to.” He pointed out. There was no need asking why he doesn’t participate much in the sport. My guess: his tight schedule does not permit him. Golf can be a time-consuming sport. “But I definitely engage in other passionate activities, like volunteering, donating and spending time with my kids, of course.” I laughed as this was getting more interesting.
And just for your information, Wole Onasanya does not just love spending time with his kids, he also loves watching marvel movies and reading non-fiction books! As a follow up, I asked: “what do you love most about your kids?” I didn’t try to hide my giggles. “I appreciate them for everything. They are able to make positive decisions. They are self-sufficient, independent and free. That is one legacy I can say I have instilled in them. I have two boys.” I bet you can guess what my reply was. “awww.”
It felt good to see that there are men who love plants. I noticed four strategically and beautifully placed potted plants as I surveyed his office closely. “So, you love plants, that’s nice.” I said with a smile. “Yes, I do love plants and I nurture them as well as invite others to nurture them too. But in the end, they die a tragic death.” Because of how I looked confused at what he just said, he quickly added, “that was a metaphor” and laughed out loud. Apparently, he regards the plants as team members who he meticulously tends while also encouraging other team members to contribute in whichever way towards their growth to teach responsibility.
Something worth knowing
While still surveying his office and thinking about the next question, I noticed that his walls do not have a single stain on them. But I was not going to ask him about that: It was just something to admire, so I moved on and told him: “I have just two more questions for you.” “No problem” he replied. “Where do you see Coronation ten years from now and what is the best financial or investment advice you would give to me if I were a teenager?” “ten years from now, I see Coronation playing a substantial role in the financial sector with a strong database of clients.” He responded.
“And a good advice you have for me.” I asked again. “I would confidently say, index funds like the S & P 500, especially for those who are active in trading. And I also advise that you take your time when making decisions. You know, for example, everyone looks up to you to accumulate as many properties as you can, but no one talks about the maintenance cost which goes into preserving those properties.” I nodded in agreement.
It seems like I have come to the end of this interview, I said to myself as I stood up to leave. “Thank you so much, sir, but off the record, do you cook?” I asked out of the blue! “Yes, I do. Any other question?” “Can you recommend a good book for me?” I asked, “If you would let me do the honours. I would gladly accept. Please accept my recommendation to read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.” He said. “Thank you so much!” I screamed and I am sure other managers must have heard the sound. Laughing, I told him I was done, and thanked him again as I reached for the door. “Thank you, sir, for your time.” I said looking back. “You are welcome, and I do owe you ice cream.” He said as I walked away with a smile.
That was it. I just interviewed the winning man! He is Wole Onasanya, the much-loved CEO of Coronation Group.