Mr Akin Olawore is the CEO of Akin Olawore & Co (AOC), a firm of Chartered Surveyors with over 25 years track record in providing dedicated knowledge based services. He has been practicing since 1982 (before graduation). He is a man of vast knowledge, a great coach and a good listener.
Read below the interview he had with one of our correspondents, Rianat Sanni.
NREH: What influenced your decision to study estate management?
MR OLAWORE: Good question. I love adventure. I found out it’s a profession that can connect environment with people; you meet people and allows your brain to run wild.
NREH: Do you have a business coach and who are your mentors?
MR OLAWORE: I don’t have a business coach. I try a lot of things on my own and I read wide because I know this business I am into is not limited. I read everything, everywhere and every time.
While growing up, I read a lot of Hardley Chase novels and I saw a lot of them playing out as I was growing up. I can only say that I have people that I respect and probably see one or two things that they do that I like, and then I watch and discuss with them. Not some kind of organised mentoring.
NREH: Kindly Share the highlights of your most challenging career life with us and what you would do differently given the same opportunity.
MR OLAWORE: Everyday has its own challenge and each challenge throws up opportunities for unique solutions. What you consider a challenge today becomes a work opportunity tomorrow.
There are some wrong decisions that I would have taken especially in terms of how you want a business to grow. You probably would have a major challenge in understanding the needs of the people around you i.e the difference between their own need and what you assumed as their need and in the process, you start building castles around those assumptions and find out they are false. Atimes, you have to start afresh.
What I would do differently is sit down and allow God to speak to the both of us so that I can have the mind of the person I want to do business with and he/she would turn out to be what I expected.
NREH: Do you have any other business interest apart from the real estate related ones?
MR OLAWORE: There is no business that is not real estate related. Take automobile for example, you can’t just say you are into automobile; you have to partner with other people.
You just have to look around you and find everything that is connected to real estate. Real estate is not just about housing. Agriculture and road is also real estate. I have interest in security though.
NREH: What do you say about the millennial professional in the workplace and how is it managing them?
MR OLAWORE: Every generation is unique because of their background and how they grew up. I love millennials because they think wide. All you need to do is give them direction and allow them to explore.
NREH: How do you manage to do that sir?
MR OLAWORE: You don’t cut their wings. You encourage them, give them freedom and allow them operate in their own world. But don’t give them too much freedom so that they don’t misuse it. Look at areas that would allow them to grow and let them explore it.
NREH: How can estate surveyors help our society?
MR OLAWORE: Like I said earlier, everything around us is all about real estate. When you talk about management of people, management of space and management of assets, you need to know their purposes. You don’t pay for something you don’t get value from. You need to know if that property is fit for commercial, residential or just for relaxation. That’s what a surveyor will do for you.
Harnessing all of these, you keep the circle going and let them keep paying for the values while money flows in. So to develop a property, you need a surveyor to help you decide on what to develop. They are in the best position to tell you what value you can get from a particular area.
If you notice, you spend more time at the office than at home, you might not necessarily need more water but electricity, so you need to ask yourself if the area can provide that for you. You might decide to get a penthouse if you enjoy sightseeing and it helps you to relax. That might add more value to you as a commercial than residential. It all boils down to what suits you and the amount you can afford.
NREH: With operations across countries and continents as a professional and knowing that you belong to a number of organisations, societies and associations, how do you manage your time and share yourself among these many demanding endeavours?
MR OLAWORE: It’s a matter of managing your time. Keeping what you can actually do and doing those that are actually important. I mean out of my busy schedule, I am here with you.
Passion also matters, it pushes you and you need to keep asking for wisdom and understanding. It helps to solve problems easily instead of running around.
Planning also matters a lot. It helps you to solve one problem at a time. Eventually, it all boils down to getting wisdom
NREH: What is the future of the Nigerian professional and firms considering the influx of bigger foreign firms who are perceived to be better trained and positioned?
MR OLAWORE: In terms of better trained, I will rather say better exposed. You get exposed as much as the depth of your market.
When the market you are operating is not deep enough, you cannot see beyond its bottom. Most of the opportunities are there and you have to make money from these opportunities.
Investors need numbers to give themselves confidence. I have to agree with you that there is and there would be influx. The future is bright; we just have to play our cards very well. One of the ways to play our cards is to get exposed to what those guys are exposed to. Enhance your skills; develop yourself and capacity so you stop thinking as an individual.
Secondly, we should seek more partnership. When you work with 4 or 5 strong individuals, you become stronger together. You have different competences and specializations which help you weather the storm
Finally, in partnership, there will be transfer of skills and transfer of knowledge because the people who are coming are the gurus in their environment. Even if you decide to poach trained people, you will still have to work with the locals. You will still need the professionals we are talking about. So it’s better to partner with those that know how to play the game.
NREH: How do you relax?
MR OLAWORE: I am currently relaxing with Rianat now in an interview *laughs*. I see every change in environment as an opportunity to relax. When you are not in your natural habitat, you might not have enough time to relax. I try as hard as possible to go home early.
NREH: Thanks for you time sir!