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Nigerian Bar Association Annual General Conference 2017

07 September 2017

Asked to speak on the prestigious opening panel at the NBA2017 in Lagos, I was both honored and somewhat perturbed when I realized that the 10,000 delegates number promised was not a decimal point out. The event was frankly extraordinary as a feat of logistics and content. From the buzzing of the keke's on the way to the Landmark and the exotic eloquence of Konyin Ajayi's opening preface to the program, the event was vibrant, challenging informative and entertaining. 4 things stand out to me.

The Vice President, a leading lawyer, opened proceedings with a calm and clear enunciation of progress made and promises to come. He declared the mess has cleared and new foundations for growth are in place, with simplification and transparency at the forefront, and diversification led by the private sector a priority. We hope he succeeds.

My panel led by Herbert Wigwe, opened by Ram Charan and with myself, Jide Zeitlin and Alake Olakunle in discussions, focused on opportunities in Nigeria and across Africa, with calls for less plans and more delivery of real results, greater alignment with international market standards to encourage inward investment, wider intra African trade and all in the context of there being optimism for opportunities to come. I stuck to my guns on the need for the market to deal with the 3 C's of currency, corruption and certainty! Success has to come from a combination of public and private collaborations.

The "360 you" discussion led by Adeoye Adefulu and with Zain Asher delivering an inspirational personal roadmap, highlighted the local importance of outward personal branding but made clear the universal truth that no brand works if it is not authentic and genuinely represents your basic values and talent. Nothing beats delivering a quality and timely service with integrity and hard work. As Zain said "Success comes when opportunity meets preparation. Be a good person from the inside out. It's not all about the outside".

Finally I was heavily outnumbered in the Leading Womens' discussion; a passionate and coherent cry for greater diversity, respect and opportunity for all in the profession from the whole panel. Ram Charan opened proceedings with a plea to learn the rules and get a level playing field. His first 3 rules of business: 

 1.   Learn the language of business  
   a) Where does the cash come from and where does it go?

   b) What is the gross margin?

   c) What is the return on investment?

 2.  Always work as a team – everyone has their own skills and talents


Sadly those who needed to hear this session the most, were not there. Next year I hope we will all meet in the main arena!

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