Abiola Adediran: ‘A woman is a powerful vessel through whom another human with a destiny to fulfill is birthed.’

Abiola Adediran is a Family Business Advisor and one of Nigeria’s finest corporate finance and business strategy experts with over 15-years work experience. She is a keynote speaker, author, trainer and mentor, whose work and impact over the years have been instrumental in driving key transformation across different sectors in Nigeria. 

With her vast experience in business auditing, financial management, corporate valuation, and investment management, Abiola is regarded as an innovative change leader with sterling results that stand as a model in the industry. 

She was, until her recent transition to full-time consulting, the Group Chief Financial Officer of a leading, family-owned investment management group in Africa with investments in financial services, oil & gas, real estate, venture capital/venture building focused largely on fintech, and private equity. She also supported in setting up and running a Family Office which served the interests of the families represented. Prior to her last role, she was a Manager at KPMG Professional Services, a leading (Big 4) global consulting firm, where she delivered remarkable performance to all her clients and promoted the image of the Firm. 

She is the co-founder of Genea Family Office, an independent boutique multi-family office delivering innovative wealth management and family advisory services to family businesses to preserve their wealth and legacy. She is also the managing consultant of Midridge International, a pan-African strategy consulting and financial advisory firm that supports and facilitates the growth of businesses across Africa.

Read our Q&A with Her and be inspired.

What does being a woman mean to you?
Being a woman means that you are a co-creator with God to fulfill man’s divine agenda of dominion on earth. A woman is a powerful vessel through whom another human with a destiny to fulfill is birthed. As a man with a womb, it means that a woman has a unique assignment of birthing, be it a child, an idea, even a nation! At the heart of every transformation agenda whether at the family, the institutional or national level is a visionary woman who brings the agenda to life. Women are really that powerful!

You’re regarded as one of Nigeria’s leading authorities on family business advisory, corporate finance, and business strategy. How did your path to becoming a superb leader and strategist begin?
My journey began from my undergraduate days in the University when I realized that what I wanted to do was to solve problems and create transformational solutions for corporate organizations.
Even though I had a science background, I decided to pursue management sciences and, in the process, became a Chartered Accountant even before I left the University. I started my career in investment banking and later went into consulting before I came back into investment management again, this time as Group Chief Financial Officer of Coronation Group where I had oversight of multiple businesses and was instrumental in growing them into sustainable businesses. During this time, I was also involved in setting up and managing a single-family office that managed the assets and the affairs of the promoters of the businesses. My work in the last fifteen years has focused on delivering cutting-edge strategic transformation for businesses and creating sustainable impact and returns for all stakeholders. I now run an independent, boutique multi-family office – Genea Family Office – which provides innovative advisory services to wealthy families and enterprises, helping them to build lasting legacies and preserve their wealth for multi-generations.

What actions do you think business leaders can take to create a more equitable workforce, based on your experience?
Business leaders can advance equity in the workplace by giving every member of their workforce the access (opportunity to contribute), enablement (tools and trainings), and advancement (a rewarding career path) they need to succeed—and to offer the diverse experience that helps them to serve the customers well and help the organization grow. Business leaders should not just pay lip service to issues of equity and fairness but set standards that promote it and publicly demonstrate their commitment through their actions. It should be reflected in how the employees are engaged from onboarding to exit.

What method do you typically use to tackle problems that come up in your professional engagements?
I believe most problems are at least 80% lack of clarity. In my experience, I find that if I have clarity on a particular problem, it takes less time to solve it. Problem-solving is one of my core skills because I was trained to cut through complexities and my mantra is that nothing is impossible. My approach is to define the problem and dissect it from all angles because some problems are actually opportunities in disguise. Then, I brainstorm multiple possible solutions through design thinking. Most times, it’s not about finding the most complex problems to solve, but about finding common needs within the organization and in the real world and coming up with solutions that fit those needs while keeping your eye on the big picture.
I also engage in rapid execution once I have come up with a set of strong, data-driven ideas with input from other experts too. I don’t try to be perfect and I’m not afraid to be nimble and course-correct or iterate as I implement the ideas. As I implement, I track, measure progress, and make changes where necessary.

Over 10,000 entrepreneurs and employees have been trained in capacity building by you. What is one common factor you’ve discovered that prevents a young person from achieving their professional goals and how would you advise them to work through it?
I have encountered a lot of young people during most of our capacity development programs and one common factor that I’ve discovered that prevents a young person from achieving their professional goals is the lack of focus and excellence mindset.
Many of them are distracted by what their peers are doing and they want to become rich overnight without putting in the work to build mastery of their craft and expertise. Doing mediocre work, just putting in the barest minimum, and asking for a large pay is now the order of the day. My advice is that every young person should stay focused and put in the work to build their expertise. You only attract value to the degree of value that you can deliver. Everything else will fall in place when you gain mastery of your craft and become a go-to expert in your field.

What skills would you recommend other women develop to help them advance in their careers?
Women need to develop their leadership skills and the confidence to project their abilities. A lot of women second-guess themselves and discount their achievements. More women need to own their success and step up to more challenges with courage.

If you have one piece of advice for a 17-year-old Abiola, what would it be?
One piece of advice I’ll give my younger self is: Live in the moment. As a self-driven woman, I was always obsessed with my goals and all the things that I wanted to achieve. I plan a lot and set timelines for practically everything. While this might be good on one hand, there were times I was hyper-focused on what I hadn’t done or wasn’t doing yet, and I missed out on what was right in front of me.
But there’s so much good right now, so it’s ok to long for something else, but don’t forget the good that’s right in front of you.

What would you like to be remembered for?
I would like to be remembered for the lives I impacted and how much of an inspiration I was to many people that they were motivated and empowered to become better versions of themselves. I would also like to be remembered for the institutions I built which outlived me and continue to give value to the society after I’ve gone and those that I supported to create lasting legacies.

More about Her

As an experienced Finance Expert and Business Strategist, she consults for leading organisations and high growth start-ups across Africa, where she is known to deliver bottom-line growth, unlock unmatched value, and foster enhanced long-term success for stakeholders. She has trained over 10,000 entrepreneurs and employees of companies with keen focus on capacity building for human capital development.

Abiola Adediran is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, a certified Management Consultant, a PRINCE2-certified Project Manager from APMG International, UK and she holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School, Heriot-Watt University, Scotland.

Abiola currently sits on the board of growing start-ups as well as serves as a mentor to various leading entrepreneurship organisations in Nigeria like the FATE Foundation, Awesome Treasures Foundation, Women in Management and Business (WIMBIZ), Women in Africa (WIA), She Leads Africa, amongst others.

She has been featured on various popular media platforms like South Africa’s StartupAfrica Magazine, She Leads Africa (SLA) platform, and other local newspapers Like BusinessDay, ThisDay etc. in Nigeria.

She has been listed as one of Nigeria’s 100 Most Inspiring Women by Leading Ladies Africa and recognized as one of the top 100 career women in Nigeria by the 9to5 chick platform.

She was recently admitted into the Forbes Business Council where she is collaborating with global leaders and contributing to the development of businesses and economies around the world.

She is a passionate visionary with a deep commitment to redefine and make a positive difference on the African continent and beyond by leading innovative change, and creating enduring legacies for the next generation. With an impact that speaks volumes in the lives of those she has impacted, Abiola is an amazing African shaping the continent for greater good with her expertise and inspiring story.  She is happily married with two adorable children

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