I was born on 6 January 1964, in Sagamu, Ogun State, Nigeria. As the oldest of six children, I think that even at that young age I felt a special sense of responsibility for my younger siblings. This can be attributed, to a large degree, to the values my father instilled in me from a very young age. I like to imagine that this sense of responsibility–of protectiveness– has influenced my leadership style as an adult. My parents were also a huge inspiration growing up. They taught my siblings and me to work hard, to stay focused, and to always do the right thing.
Sometimes, when I’m mentoring a younger member of the firm, I can almost hear my father in my own voice.
My career started in 1993 at KPMG Peat Marwick, Ani Ogunde & Co. I spent eight years there, learning, growing and fanning the flames of my passion for the tax practice. I joined KPMG Professional Services in 2002, and despite missing a promotion I had my heart set on in 2004, stuck it out. It all paid off when, in 2010 I joined Deloitte as a tax partner in 2010.
Joining Deloitte felt like a homecoming for me.
It’s humbling and incredible to think that from those early beginnings, I have now been entrusted with the role of CEO, Deloitte Nigeria and West Africa Regional Leader.
Nigeria will always be my spiritual homeland, but there are tangible challenges facing the region that I think all business and political leaders should be cognisant of as we work hard to build the region and empower its people. Poverty, a lack of infrastructure, and unemployment amongst the massive youth population… these are all well documented obstacles standing in the way of West Africa reaching her full potential.
Less frequently in the news however, are the actions of determined, entrepreneurial West Africans and the foreign investors who believe in them and in the region. The fact is that the region has been experience growth in its Gross Domestic Product since 2000, and Nigeria currently boasts the biggest economy on the continent.
There has been a massive drive towards investing in infrastructure and encouraging the public-private partnerships that provide the foundations for these projects. Governments have introduced free, or heavily subsidised, education in most states of the region to counter low literacy levels and the ‘brain drain’ experienced when skilled professionals leave for ‘greener pastures’. What we are also seeing is a return of many to the region because of the promise and potential of the region in addition to their desire to contribute meaningful to its success. There are more initiatives and projects underway all the time, from rural development programmes to the activities of ECOWAS.
I could proudly list these programmes all day and still not have touched the surface of all the good work that is happening in West Africa.
But importantly, I want to use this post as an opportunity to pledge my commitment, to continuing the firm’s unrelenting work in West Africa. As a proud West African, and a dedicated Deloitte representative, no one knows better the responsibilities I now carry on my shoulders.
Deloitte in West Africa has a proud legacy. Deloitte Nigeria’s founder Mr. Akintola Williams, was the first African to qualify as a chartered accountant, and all of us at Deloitte are proud that we are a truly African firm – from our operations and structure to our ability to service clients seamless across the continent.
My core focus areas while upholding the mantle of CEO will be to provide a source of skill-developing employment for the massive unemployed youth population of West Africa. I want to do what I can to assist Deloitte to develop our skills capacity by leveraging its network. The firm has a number of staff and alumni serving on the faculty of many professional bodies in the region, and I believe these could be tapped to improve the reach and capability of the firm.
Furthermore, I want to see how Deloitte can continue to assist in the formulation of public policy, ensure legal and regulatory compliance, and promote business operations in the region. I believe that there is a lot of opportunity abound to sensitise the public regarding the new developments in different industries, and the potential that exists as these industries evolve.
I know that a lot of leaders talk about wanting to leave a legacy with their actions, and I definitely want to make an impact while I have the opportunity to do so. But I’m not interested in a shiny plaque with my name on it, or having my name spoken deferentially by employees in the halls.
What matters to me during my tenure is doing whatever I can to support and assist this region, my region, my home.
I look forward to what the future brings, and promise you that I will do everything in my power to make Deloitte and all its stakeholders proud.
Read more on Fatai’s appointment here