I guard my reputation fiercely -Oluwatoyin Sanni, CEO, United Capital Plc
Reputation is everything to Mrs. Oluwatoyin Sanni. She never involves herself in anything she doesn’t believe is part of her mission in life. This gives her the drive, commitment and willingness to sacrifice and enables her to keep doing her job without regrets.
Looking back, some of the mistakes she made on her way to the top include trusting people too soon, taking people at face value and not demanding for what she clearly deserved. But today, she has evolved into a confident, competent and fulfilled woman despite them all.
As the Group Chief Executive Officer of the United Capital Plc and the President of the Association of Investment Advisers & Portfolio Managers, leadership to her means the right blend of vision and influence. It means the ability to inspire, motivate, guide and effectively move people from a current position to a desired and worthwhile destination.
Source of business acumen
I attribute my business acumen to a combination of sources. First, my heavenly Father who is the source of all wisdom. Second, my late mother who was a serial entrepreneur and irrepressible survivor inspired me. Third, my late father who was a role model when it comes to financial discipline, ethics and governance taught me some of the things I know today. Fourth, the wealth of experience gained from my rich and extensive working career.
Not one to be intimidated
I don’t recall ever being intimidated by male colleagues on the job. The only case I can remember was when I was the target of an attempted blackmail by a male colleague who felt threatened by my rising profile. However, his allegations were largely ignored as my principled nature and work ethic were transparent to all. Today, the person is a friend who has come to acknowledge that my achievements are merited.
Greatest fear in life
One of the greatest fears I have in business and life generally is loss of reputation. I guard my reputation fiercely.
For women who want to be successful
I recommend diligence, professionalism, continuous development and a willingness to work much harder than their male colleagues. I have found this is important as female candidates are often overlooked for senior positions until they distinguish themselves in an indisputable way.
What it means to be at the top
I can attest to the loneliness at the top, not because you don’t have friends, but because you have limited time to socialise, and secondly because people often withhold candid feedback from you.
Many do not have confidence to disagree openly with you or share their concerns about your decisions, bad news from areas of the business or negative feedback with you.
It can get lonely, but I try my best to put colleagues at ease, operate an open-door policy and encourage free speech at work. I address the issue of limited time for social activities by socialising remotely (via social media) and by socialising with my immediate family, work colleagues and church members.
My husband and children are my best friends and gist partners.