How This Former Nigerian Accountant Built A Remarkably Successful Corporate Career
What is the ultimate key to success?
This a question that comes up in the mind of almost everyone throughout their struggles or growth through life. Unfortunately, the answer is not buried in pretty embellishments or enticing shortcuts, but instead, is engrained in the difficult things only a few people can see to go through; ranging from constantly learning to hard work, perseverance and a knack to want to solve problems for others.
For a person like Thomas Molade Okoya, these attributes best exemplified his life, and even in death, his success story remains a great inspiration for aspiring or existing African entrepreneurs to model after.
This is the success story of Thomas Molade Okoya, the former CEO of CFAO Nigeria.
Here’s how he did it.
Early Life And Education Of Molade Okoya
Molade Okoya was born in Nigeria on the 8th of June 1935. He began his primary school education at Princess School, Lagos, in 1942, before moving to Baptist Academy in 1946 where he completed his elementary and secondary education.
Molade Okoya graduated as the best student at Baptist Academy in 1956; an accomplishment that earned him the honour of being included in the prestigious Honours Board of the school. He then went on to Balham and Tooting College of Commerce in London to study accountancy between 1956 and 1959. And in 1981, he furthered his accountancy training at Columbia University in New York City.
The Start & Growth Of A Great Career
Upon completion of his studies at Balham and Tooting College in 1959, Molade Okoya was hired by CFAO—an industrial conglomerate which deals in the wholesale trade of automobiles, building materials, technical equipment, electrical equipment, and agricultural equipment—as an accountant and overtime, his years of service to the company helped him rise steadily to the director of subsidiaries and eventually to the Chairman of the conglomerate in 1987.
He also became director of Transcap Nigeria Limited, the chairman of Studio Press Nigeria Limited as well as Chairman of Niger Motors Industries Limited; all of which are subsidiaries of the CFAO conglomerate in Nigeria.
Through hard work, ingenuity and loyalty, Molade Okoya got the highest honour for a foreigner in France, the Chevalier De La Legion d’Honneur.
He was a key player in Nigeria-France business relations, especially more or less as a corporate ambassador for French companies in Nigeria.
He served as Chairman of the Franco-Nigerian Chamber of Commerce from 1989 to 1992 and served as the president of Alliance Francaise in Lagos, Nigeria, for more than 18 years.
He worked on the boards of several companies including Nigerian Motors Industries Limited, Nigerian-French Insurance Firm, Commercial Bank (Credit Lynnoias), Mambilla Farms and Franco-Nigeria Insurance Limited.
His contribution to the city of Lagos at large was very impressive. He served as a member of various committees including the Lagos City Council from 1971 to 1975 and the Lagos State Growth and Property Corporation, among others. Also, he was Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Glover Memorial Hall and Tom Jones Hall, as well as the Vice-Chairman, Lagos State Sports Council. His avidness in sports also led to him becoming the President of Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Chairman of Committee of the 3rd All-Africa Games Appeal Fund and Chairman of National Sports Growth Appeal Fund and Treasurer, Sports Trust Fund.
Molade Okoya’s Impact In Society
Molade Okoya-Thomas was a philanthropist of repute. He contributed a great deal to the construction of several mosques in Nigeria. As an ardent lover of sports, he made a significant contribution to the country’s sports growth and was the sole sponsor of the Asoju Oba Table Tennis Championships for more than 40 years, holding the record of being the first Nigerian ever to solely sponsor a sporting competition for a benchmark of 4 decades.
In 2009, he constructed and donated a modern sports hall for Lagos State University (LASU) students and staffs while he was the Chairman of the committee of the All African games in Lagos.
He was also a reputable member of the fundraising committee for the building of the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere and was honoured for it on his 75th birthday.
On 8 June 2010, Prince Ademola Adeniji-Adele, commissioner for the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Social Development, announced the decision of the Lagos State Government to name the Teslim Balogun Stadium sports hall in Lagos after him.
Sir Molade Okoya-Thomas was married to Iyaloye Olivet Abosede Okoya-Thomas, and their marriage was blessed with five children.
Sadly, on the eve of the 1st of February 2015, Okoya-Thomas died after a brief illness.
To Sum It Up
Molade Okoya-Thomas’ success story and legacy show that a person can start and rise in the ranks of a corporate organisation to achieve great success provided they can consistently add great value to the firm over the period they’re with them.
If you’re not the entirely entrepreneurial type, you could be an intrapreneur, and build a remarkably successful life like Molade Okoya did while he was alive.