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Delivering cutting edge engineering solutions

By Nnamdi Nwokolo
10 March 2017   |   2:37 am
Upon graduation from South Bank University, London in Civil Engineering Design with Honours, I found a niche and my Lecturer in highway and transportation Engineering recommended me to Imperial College of Science and Technology....

Jimi Ajibola

Automated Geotechnics Limited is a wholly Nigerian Company that was established to provide cutting edge technology and services in the area of geotechnical, soil investigation engineering, geophysical and hydro geological surveys. The Managing Director of the Firm, Engineer. ‘Jimi Ajibola is a chartered Engineer and a core professional with specialization in Soil Mechanics and Environmental Geotechnics. The scion of Engineer. Olumuyiwa Ajibola, a past president and Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, spoke on the Focus of a CEO in this interview with Nnamdi Nwokolo

What informed your specialization in Soil Mechanics and Environmental Geotechnics?
Upon graduation from South Bank University, London in Civil Engineering Design with Honours, I found a niche and my Lecturer in highway and transportation Engineering recommended me to Imperial College of Science and Technology, London when he discovered my interest in Geotechnics. Shortly after graduation, I joined Structural and Geotechnical Engineering (SAGE) Ltd in Bath, UK and worked on several projects globally. Having worked for several companies over the years with my vast experience in the area of Geotechnics, I decided to return to Nigeria to set up the geotechnical arm of Intecon Partnership Ltd, my dad’s firm. With this platform and a clear vision of building a world class geotechnical firm in Nigeria, a decision was made in 2007, to set up the firm AUTOMATED GEOTECHNICS LTD as a subsidiary of Intecon Partnership with core specialization in the areas of Soil Mechanics and Environmental Geotechnics.

What has been the most challenging experience in running Automated Geotechnics?
The Nigerian business environment is quite challenging because you have so many issues to contend with including infrastructural challenges like power and the challenges associated with policy inconsistency of the government. For example, the average Nigerian entrepreneur needs to generate his own power, provide water, and in some cases rehabilitate the roads leading to his establishment. All of these challenges hinder to a large extent the growth pattern of any business endeavour. For us, our growth has been unprecedented as our mission is to provide technically sound engineering services on projects to ensure accuracy, effectiveness and at economic cost to the client. Bearing this in mind, there is no challenge that is insurmountable. We are actually making a great impact in the industry despite the seeming challenges.

What is your perspective on the business environment in view of the recent economic realities: The interesting part of life is that while some people are moving northwards, others are heading south. For us, it is like a good time because a lot of investors are interested in building as we are inundated with several jobs in real estate and also in agriculture. The beauty of what we do is that you cannot put any structure on the ground without doing a foundation and without a solid foundation; whatever you are putting together is like a waste. In our industry, it’s not all doom as many multinationals are coming to invest in agriculture and other areas. We are positive that the industry will be a catalyst for economic recovery.

Being in a specialized industry, how do you attract the best talents?
Interestingly, Automated Geotechnics Ltd was established in response to the dearth of competent local Geotechnical Engineering Companies equipped with modern facilities at the time. Thus, the philosophy behind its formation is to digitally “automate” its operations from the fields to the laboratory. Hence, it is equipped with such State-of-the-Art Equipment such as, 20Ton Pagani CPT Equipment; New Humboldt Automated Triaxial Testing Machine, Automated Sieve Shaker, e.t.c.

Our strategy in attracting the best talents is to target young and fresh graduates and train them to what we want them to be. The interesting part of our training is that it is practical hands on and we send our people to several short and related professional courses to institutions of higher learning globally and this is geared towards preparing and equipping them for the global challenge ahead. Automated Geotechnics Ltd boasts of highly qualified personnel, an experienced Project Management team, and highly specialized team of Engineers, Field and Laboratory personnel.

Can you share some of the outstanding projects you’ve executed?
One of the biggest projects that we did was detailed Geotechnical Investigation of Olokola LNG Project for OKLNG Ltd. It was a very difficult terrain and we broke through the terrain and opened it up. We achieved 100 percent success on the project. Others include, Soil Investigation for Chevron IPP project; Soil Investigation of Obite IPP Project for Elf Petroleum Ltd; Soil investigation & Topographical for Procter & Gamble, Agbara, Ogun State; Detailed Hydro geological Investigation of Deep-well for both Chevron IPP and OKLNG project; Detailed Soil Investigation for Lekki Free Trade Zone LFTZ; Tank Farm for SEPLAT in Oben and OBAX in Ologbo, Edo State.

The unique selling point is that, having studied and worked with multinational companies abroad, I brought my expertise and experience to bear in running the business to the same level of the multinationals in Nigeria. It is pretty difficult but we’ve been able to achieve at least 70% success working with ethics and integrity. This has gone a long way to build trust among our valued clientele. We enjoy professional and technical support from our parent company INTECON PARTNERSHIP LIMITED, a leading consultancy engineering company, offering specialty services in Front-End Engineering and Designs, Geotechnical Surveys and Soil Analysis, Environmental Impact Assessment and Project Management since 1976.

What can government do differently to stimulate entrepreneurship development?
One of the fundamental challenges of doing business in Nigeria is taxation as government at all levels come up with different forms of taxation and this to a large extent stunts the growth pattern of budding entrepreneurs. For me, I think that having being left to generate their power and provide their water etc, the government needs to give tax incentives to organizations to help them stabilize and build the economy. They need to work with the private sector to help them manage their taxes as well as encourage tax payers among them by giving them incentives and even tax holidays. They also need to identify the challenges of small business owners with a view to tackling them especially in the area of power generation. If a small business owner spends all his profits in generating power, it won’t be long before he runs out of business. The government should interface with small businesses to see how to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

What is the driving force?
Every day, we encounter diverse challenges, and the ability to overcome some of these challenges is the biggest driving force for me. It gives me great joy and strength that we are good at what we are doing. We have kept our own part, and our charges could be a little higher than others but you’ll be rest assured that you are getting value for your money. Our management team boasts of highly experienced personnel who have international exposure in offshore/onshore Geotechnical Engineering and have carried out several operations successfully in the Nigerian Oil & Gas sector. Our Management team ensures that project personnel and resources are effectively deployed to carry out the scope of work in a timely manner, and ensure that project deliverables meet all applicable standards of safety and Quality assurance.

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