Wednesday, 27th September 2023

Niyi Yusuf: Charting A Path Of Purposeful Leadership

By Dennis Erezi
17 September 2023   |   9:30 am
In this insightful interview, Niyi Yusuf, Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), reflects on his journey and the multifaceted roles that define his life. From his tenure at NESG to his role as a Managing Partner at Verraki Partners, Niyi shares the challenges and rewards of his diverse responsibilities. Beyond his professional life,…
Niyi Yusuf, Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG)

Niyi Yusuf, Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG)

In this insightful interview, Niyi Yusuf, Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), reflects on his journey and the multifaceted roles that define his life. From his tenure at NESG to his role as a Managing Partner at Verraki Partners, Niyi shares the challenges and rewards of his diverse responsibilities. Beyond his professional life, he offers a glimpse into his personal values, aspirations, and the profound impact of his faith. Aspiring leaders can glean wisdom from Niyi’s life hack: “Be yourself, be authentic.” Join us in exploring the remarkable path of this purpose-driven leader.

It’s almost a year into your tenure as NESG chairman. Can you take us through the journey, so far?
How time flies! It has been a fulfilling experience so far and I’m benefitting from the foundation laid by the founding fathers, leaders and members of the NESG and their selfless service, hard work and contributions to nation-building, which has led to such incredible goodwill for the NESG of which I am now a direct beneficiary.
I will say it has been four different and progressive quarters. The first quarter was more about settling down, wrapping up the outputs of the NES 28 and agreeing on our Activity Plan for the new year 2023. The second quarter was focused on planning our first-ever Presidential Dialogues session which afforded the three leading presidential candidates the opportunity to present their plans to leaders of the private sector. The third quarter was focused on working with the office of the SGF and the Presidential Transition Committee to prepare materials to facilitate the transition to the new government while the ongoing fourth quarter has been focused on planning for the 29th Nigerian Economic Summit and engaging critical stakeholders to achieve a successful summit.

What does your week look like on average?
A typical week is always a mix of activities based on the different roles that I play. As the Managing Partner of Verraki Partners (a business solution company), which is my day job, I am involved in project delivery, client management, business development and talent performance, and then community service and nation-building engagements with the NESG, WIMBIZ, Corona Schools, and Junior Achievement amongst other not-for-profits that I serve with. I also create time for my own learning and leadership development through YPO (a global network of peer CEOs and an incredible platform for ideas exchange). I engage in daily spiritual activities as an individual and in congregation with the NASFAT Society. I spend a lot of time mentoring other young professionals, startup founders and entrepreneurs. I also do physical exercise three times weekly, but I would like to create more time to be on the golf course.

Besides what everyone knows you for in relation to what you do at the NESG, who is Mr Niyi Yusuf?
Niyi Yusuf is a friendly but quiet person, God-fearing, a loyal friend, a reliable partner, a team player, a resolute problem solver, goal has driven and optimistic human being, who has been lucky to have had the opportunity to ride on the shoulders of giants and to become an accomplished professional and management consultant. A man of many parts, who play active leadership roles in the business world, his local community, and his family.

Your job appears to be a hectic one that would make a lot of people tag you as ‘too serious’. How do you unwind?
I listen to old school music every day. I go to the cinemas regularly to watch action films and I typically walk 10 kilometers alone every week as a period to reflect. Most of my weekends are routine – physical exercise in the morning followed by social engagements in the day and relaxation with the family in the evening on Saturdays while Sunday is more of spiritual activities at the NASFAT Society.
Where do you consider your best travel destination, for what purpose and who would you be with?

Niyi Yusuf NESG

Best travel destination is Mecca, for spiritual renewal and it is always with my wife.
What are your most memorable moments in life?

God has been merciful to me! My memorable moments will surely include graduating as the best student of my set in secondary school in 1985 and gaining admission to the University of Ife at age 15 to graduate as a 20-year-old in 1990. From being employed at Arthur Andersen as an experienced analyst to when I became the Country Managing Director of Accenture in Nigeria on my 40th birthday. Also, will be when I was sworn in as the 7th President of NASFAT Society, and of course, the day I was selected as the 8th Chairman of the NESG. Each graduation day for our children was memorable as well as when my son started work as a consultant with PwC in Canada.

If you could have changed anything about yourself, your environment and your country, what would it be and why?
I really wouldn’t want to change a lot about myself because everything happens for a reason and it’s my life experiences that have made me who I am today, and I have learned a lot about myself in all my successes and failures. If at all, I probably would like to be more patient with people even as I drive to achieve set goals.
For my environment, I would like to see more individual accountability for outcomes and stewardship, so we can leave things better than we met it. We pay it forward and do right for future generations.
For my country, I would like to see more righteousness, inclusion and shared prosperity so that we all can thrive and there will be fewer inequalities as it will be increasingly difficult to sleep well if your neighbour is hungry.

Your track record is quite an impressive one sir. What career would you have chosen if not your current career?
I would like to be either a teacher or a farmer. Basically, a producer, developing pupils into leaders or producing food to feed the nation.

We are aware that NESG has an upcoming summit, kindly give us an insight into what to expect from it.
The 29th Nigerian Economic Summit is scheduled for October 23 and 24 with the theme: ‘Pathways for Sustainable Economic Transformation and Inclusion’ and the NES#29 is structured around five sub-themes: Stimulating Economic Growth, Mobilising Finance for Sustainable Development, Harnessing Human Capital, Reforming Public Institutions, and Promoting National Cohesion and lnclusion. We expect cross-sectoral insights from the private sector, public sector, civil society, citizens and international community and ideas to foster sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

A lot of Niyi Yusuf wannabes will most likely be reading this interview. What is that life hack that worked for you, that you’d like to share?
Be yourself, be authentic. Strive to work in the best environment, put in extraordinary hard work to achieve extraordinary results, set for yourself high goals and do not tolerate mediocre performance even when everybody says it is okay. Get yourself good mentors, focus on the long term, do not focus too much on short-term gains and be ready to serve and help others with the knowledge and resources you have been endowed.