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How Bill Gates changed my vision of life – Charles Nwodo Jr.


Charles Nwodo, the Executive Chairman of XL Africa Group and founder of Centre for Entrepreneurship Knowledge Exchange, has had no business with American billionaire Bill Gates but the one-time richest man in the world changed his view of life and the world. Not in terms of riches or how to be stupendously rich but in service to humanity.

Charles Nwodo Jr. has made good his life having made substantial wealth as a banker and an entrepreneur but according to him, at a point in his life, he felt there was a vacuum and that vacuum became filled with some sorts of purpose when Bill Gates came into the picture.

“It is easy to get lost from being successful in a third world country. You see yourself soaring above a lot of people and then you begin to feel invincible. All my life, I have worked in high-pressure environments and I have been driven by profits, profit margins, market share and so on.,” she said in an interview.

“Then, I saw Bill Gates. He came to Nigeria to visit some of the North Central States about his Polio Campaign. He was wearing a tee-shirt and khaki shorts and moving from one village to another. I kept wondering, “what is it that motivates people?”. There must be something else that motivates people apart from profit because he was rich already. How was he finding these things interesting? I started researching. This brought me to the Not-For-Profit sector. From Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to all the other foundations. It was exciting for me to see a sector where no one was considering profits or market share. So my question was, “what drives you?”

“So, I went to the University of Geneva to study Development Policies and Practices. This was an eye-opening experience for me. It was an opportunity for me to see the world differently and to unlearn some of my biases and traditions, especially as regards human rights, women rights and the active roles they play in the advancement of the society. It helped me interrogate beliefs, cultures, history and all of that,” he added.

According to Nwodo Jr., when he returned from Geneva having been armed with ample knowledge of Development Policies and Practices he set up the Knowledge Exchange Program which has become the CSR platform for XL Africa Group.

“The Knowledge Exchange Center provides a three-prong program. We created the GAP Network to provide employability skills for young graduates and get them ready for the labour market. I am excited to announce that we have a 100% success rate, this means that by the end of the course, all our students have job placements,” he said

“The second leg of our program is the Career Workshop. Here, we bring students, employers of labour, government agencies and international organizations to brainstorm on the future of work, the workplace, the skill sets needed, the government’s role and many other things.

“The third leg is Direct Advocacy, where we interface with government agencies, lawmakers and all other stakeholders connected to the planning and developments of curricula.
When I hear the stories of our participants, and how the course of their lives has changed, I understand the drive, the passion and what keeps people fulfilled other than profit,” he added.

Charles Nwodo was born October 9, 1962 at a place called Nsukka in Enugu State. But he is originally from a town called Ukehe in Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area of Enugu State.

He started his primary education at Saint Peter’s Primary School, Ukehe in 1970; after the Civil War. Shortly after he started his primary education, his father was rehabilitated into the Nigerian Civil Service, and so his family had to move to Nsukka, hence his primary education was transferred to Central School, Nsukka. Even though he started primary education in 1970, he finished in 1974.

His secondary school was College of Immaculate Conception, Enugu from ‘74 to ‘79. He was admitted into the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1980 where he studied Civil Engineering and graduated in 1985. In 1988, he went back to school and got his MBA.

After his MBA, he trained as a Stock Broker and qualified as a Dealing Clerk of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. He practiced stockbroking for some years at a company called M&M Securities, who were dealing members of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, he did that till 1997.

His many awards for excellence and service include Distinguished service award by Rotary International;The Nigerian Economic Summit Group appreciation award; The portfolio of Management by New York Institute of Finance; Member, Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers; Member, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria; Member, Association of Currency Affairs IACA; Nigeria LNG Ltd Production division safety award to XL Africa Group and Nigeria Economic Summit appreciation award to XL Management Services Ltd.

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