Astute Entrepreneur Making UNN Proud

Engr. Charles Nwodo Jr. Executive Chairman/CEO, XL Africa Group Limited
Engr. Charles Nwodo Jr.
Executive Chairman/CEO, XL Africa Group Limited
His success in life is no fluke but achieved by virtue of hardwork, diligence and approaching every task before him innovatively, having at the back of his mind the belief that success only comes with determination. No doubt, his success story is that which is built on integrity and honesty, in spite of his achievements he remains an embodiment of humility. Engr. Charles Nwodo Jr., the Executive Chairman/CEO of XL Africa Group is one Nigerian who has distinguished himself as a financial expert and successful entrepreneur. He has not only carved a niche for himself as a banker, he has also made name as a businessman with an enviable reputation in Nigeria and across the globe.

A proud alumnus of the University of Nigeria Nsukka, Nwodo Jr. obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the great ivory tower and he also attended the University of Lagos, Harvard Business School Boston, USA and The University of Geneva, Switzerland respectively from where he obtained additional certificates and Masters degrees. Prior to setting up XL Africa Group Limited, Nwodo Jr. was the Executive Director in charge of Corporate Services at Standard Trust Bank (now UBA Plc) where he was responsible for setting up and managing the bank’s treasury function, developing and co-coordinating the bank’s hugely successful public sector banking initiative. Mr Nwodo Jr. is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.

Innovative and goal-oriented, it is on record that during his tenure as the President of the UNN Students Union Government between 1983 and 1984, his leadership was responsible enough to maintain good relationship with the university authorities, and ensured that university properties were not destroyed or burnt down unnecessarily during demonstrations and protests while at the same time successfully transforming the Students Union into a highly radicalized and activist affiliate of the National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS). Reminiscing on his journey through his alma mata, he said thus, “at the time I sat for the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) exam in 1980, there were basically two universities in Nigeria – UNN and others and I did not want to start my education at any other university besides UNN. As a student at UNN, my experience was a mixture of fun and excitement, side by side with a rigorous and extremely competitive academic regimen. The University values and culture of excellence duly passed into me, just as I was passing through the University. It was however, not all work and study for me as I was active in extracurricular activities; starting with membership of Civil Engineering Students Association Exco, Directorship of the University Bookshop (representing the Student body), membership of University Senate Committees at various times, and finally President of the Students Union Government. The most memorable aspect of my stay at UNN would be the ‘cat and mouse’ relationships with the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Frank Ndili and others on the University establishment such as the University Chief Security Officer Mr Ejekam, the Nigeria Police authorities and the SSS teams that were embedded within the students community to spy and report on our activities.”

Sharing his experience further, the astute CEO would not forget those lecturers and classmates who had great impact on him at the UNN, some of the academics he mentioned include Prof. Odunukwe who was the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Prof. Egbuniwe who was the Head of his department and an Indian named Dr. Rao who supervised his final year project. “My classmates in the Civil Engineering class of 85 were exceedingly kind and supportive to me while my service to the Students Union lasted. I will never forget the extra effort they put into taking turns to update me and work me through various assignments and projects each time I returned to campus from the numerous NANS meetings, conventions and national assignments that frequently took me away from the campus. I will remain sincerely indebted to each one of these classmates of mine, many of who are still very close friends of mine till date. Some of them are successful businessmen and professors in various universities across the world today”, he said.

A manager of resource par excellence, giving an insight into the activities of XL Africa Group which was founded in 2003, he explained that the
company is a fully integrated diversified services business group with subsidiaries in Outsourcing, Project and Facilities Management, Oil and Gas Support Services, Courier and Logistics, Security and Protection Services as well as Cash Management Services. The company has its headoffice in Nigeria with active operational footprints across Africa through its fully owned subsidiaries in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia. “The strength of our Group rests on our well diversified services portfolio powered by a technologically enabled integrated operational platform. This model offers us outstanding agility and price competitiveness, but most of all, it provides us a diversified income structure, which in turn affords us franchise sustainability and long term corporate structural stability”, he informed.

Proffering a recipe for the development of the Nigerian economy, the disciplined investment guru who upholds integrity in his drive for excellence urged the present administration to fight corruption squarely by empowering the various anti-graft agencies. In his words, “the Nigerian economy has been constrained by mismanagement, corruption and policy inconsistencies. The path way to the revitalization of the economy is to deal decisively and structurally with corruption in the public and private sectors, and strengthen institutions that are involved in the anti-corruption campaign. The process of strengthening these institutions should include appointing competent people to head or manage these institutions. Simultaneous to these actions, the Federal Government should set in motion a deliberate effort to galvanize Nigerians to believe in a new socio-economic and cultural order defined by merit, hard work, equality before the law and enthronement of competence and integrity in all levels of national leadership. Finally, the federal government should mobilize local and foreign investments in critical sectors of the economy, in accordance with defined priorities of the current administration. These solutions will create the enabling environment to unleash the huge entrepreneurial energy of Nigerians and take advantage of the enormous favourable ratings which Nigeria currently enjoys in the global market place as an investment destination. In this way, the Government will be acting as a catalyst while the private sector will directly drive the economic revival which Nigeria so badly needs and deserves”, he stressed.

Nwodo Jr. also urged the government to invest more in the education sector in a bid to restore the lost glory of the sector. According to him, greater funding should be allocated to all activities and institutions involved in the pursuit of knowledge, such as formal education, research, teacher training, school infrastructure (classrooms, laboratories, computers, internet access), scholarship schemes, salaries and conditions of service which he explained would act concertedly to emphasize and raise the importance of education as a national investment for securing the future greatness and prosperity of Nigeria.