what’s my story

    Early Life


 

Although I was born in Nigeria, I left the country when I was just 1yr old and spent most of my early childhood growing up in Zambia with some brief stints in Kenya and Tanzania. My father was a UK qualified barrister and had taken up an appointment as a senior legal advisor to the Zambian Government. This was the golden age of our family life with expatriate privileges and so much carefree fun and adventure and it was also during this period that I discovered Marvel Comics and the superhero. At the age of seven I was sent, together with my siblings, to boarding school in England. My older brother and I attended a prep school in Wiltshire called Prior Park where I was introduced to a broad range of disciplines, one of which was music and the violin. I took to the violin and played it right through to my late teens and up to grade eight. It was during this period that I also happened upon a fictional book in the library called Master of Kung Fu. I did not proceed to the senior secondary school in Somerset like my brother did but attended a grammar school in London called St Marylebone which, being in the city, opened up different opportunities.

I began to earnestly take up martial art studies side by side with my academic studies from the age of 11 inspired by the legendary Bruce Lee and the seventies Hong Kong cinema. I studied Wing Chun Kuen with Master Victor Kan, Muay Thai and Tae Kwon Do with Master Ken Wah and Wu style Tai Chi Chuan with Master Peter Chen I also took up the viola from the age of 13 and played it side by side with the violin for about 5 years and researched and imbibed Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do concept in every aspect of my life. After sitting and passing my GCE O and A-levels, I decide to study Mathematics at Imperial College, London University. When I left for University I decided that I had become somewhat bored of classical music and really did not want to play the violin or the viola anymore despite the fact that my school music teacher had told me in earlier years that I would end up a musician. During my undergraduate college years I started listening to Modern Jazz and Jazz Fusion and discovered artists such as Earl Klugh, Pat Metheney and Bob James, I also taught Wing Chun Kung Fu and Kick Boxing after lectures and became interested in weight training.

     
    1986 – 1995

  I graduated from Imperial in 1986 with a B.Sc in Mathematics and a diploma from the Royal College of Science. Rather than do a Masters, I decided to join Arthur Andersen to gain some practical life and work experience and to start earning some money. Despite exposure to the Audit, Tax, Insolvency and Consulting divisions, I found the work quite uninspiring and tedious and the long journeys (jobs) away from home (including the dojo and the gym,) quite unbearable. I left AA the following year to join Morgan Stanley as an associate in their derivatives division. This was my first exposure to the capital markets and to finance, as opposed to accounting, and I really enjoyed the more dynamic environment and culture and especially took to the battlefield that was the financial markets taking place on the dealing room floors. After watching Wall St, which had just come out, starring Michael Douglas, I realized that taking calculated risk was the best and quickest way for me to achieve financial independence and pursue my dreams and I decided at this point that I wanted to ‘Trade’. This would prove elusive at Morgan Stanley, which was a blue blood firm with a very competitive culture. The opportunity would present itself 4 years later at Goldman Sachs, which I joined in March of 1990. Goldman was just entering the European space and presented an amazing culture of excellence layered with humility and very effective teamwork. My outstanding performance soon after I joined caught the attention of one of the Chief dealers in the Fixed Income division and I was offered a position on the money market trading desk and later given the sole desk mandate to take proprietary positions (i.e. take outright risk) on currencies and fixed income instruments up to 2 years. Additionally, after many years of listening to guitar music, I decided to take up the guitar, first learning the steel string method, which included chords, pentatonic scales and soloing, and later, when I met Spanish guitarist Fernando Briones Villar, the classical approach, which was a major turning point in my life. I had a very successful career at Goldman Sachs executing some of the largest transactions at the firm at the time, including two one Billion US dollar trades, and was made an Executive Director in 1994 at the age of 29. During this time, I was also asked to speak regularly to new entry level MBAs from schools such as Harvard, Stanford and Wharton on the Capital Markets and how to trade them and held quite a number of stretching, relaxation and fitness classes, after markets had closed, in the in-house gym to help traders to better manage their exposures.
     
    1995 – 1999
 

I was head hunted from Goldman Sachs by the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia in 1995 to set up a Hedge Fund based out in Jeddah to trade the international capital markets on a global macro basis. This was a Greenfield start-up that involved setting up the business architecture, including the IT and Operational platforms, as well as the middle office, including Risk Management and Financial Control. The final step was to hire a team of seasoned local and international proprietary traders. With the stress of building and running a business, including managing people, the guitar became an outlet to escape, forget and express my feelings; my teacher Fernando had returned to Spain so I commenced private studies with the late Richard Hand, of the Hand/Dupre guitar duo, who I was introduced to and started visiting once a month for lessons in London. I would study with Richard for almost 14 years. Also during this period, I attended many leadership and people management training programs, workshops and seminars and ran many in-house and industry-wide capital market training courses. I also taught mixed martial arts on weekends at a local sports club. This four year period in Saudi was the most challenging of my career, I did not have the Goldman Sachs infrastructure, including tips from mentors and superiors to help support and guide me and very volatile financial markets tested my discipline and resolve, as well as my leadership and character, right to their core. It was an edifying period of immense personal, professional and spiritual growth.

     
    2000 – 2010

 

 

I left Saudi Arabia in 1999 and moved to the UAE where I joined the board of the Tricon Group of Companies based in Abu Dhabi as an investment advisor and became a personal business advisor to the Al Maskari family also based in Abu Dhabi.  In 2000 I returned home to Nigeria on the advice and encouragement of my mother to review possible investment opportunities before heading back to the UK and most likely the US. Her sudden and untimely death later that year marked the lowest point of my life and greatly influenced my decision to be based in Nigeria with a focus on helping to improve and develop the country as well as the continent in general. I invested and started to trade in real estate, set up Enia Advisors, an independent advisory and consulting practice, in January 2001 and commenced capacity building in the local industry. Over nine years I ran in-house training programs for the Treasury departments of several pre and post consolidation banks as well as their capital market subsidiaries, and almost all investment banks and discount houses and a number of brokerage firms. I was also a keynote and motivational speaker at the off-sites of several cutting edge boutique firms. In addition, I ran industry wide training programs in collaboration with the Money Market Association of Nigeria and wrote many articles on specialized finance and professional development for financial journals such as ‘The Treasurer’ and personal development journals such as ‘Net Worth’ and ‘Bottom Line”. Capacity building programs were not just limited to finance or finance professionals or the Nigerian industry, I ran specialized in-house and industry wide programs for Law Firms as well as Consulting Firms, and personal and professional development programs for Lagos Business School, Lagos University and Lagos State Government. From 2004, I also ran a quarterly series of programs on Derivatives with Peter Skerritt Associates in Johannesburg for many of the South African Banks headquartered there. Two significant consulting briefs during this period was setting up Lead Securities and Investments Ltd (LSI) in 2004 for the former Lead Bank, which has since been renamed Lead Capital, and setting up a Fixed Income division for Afrinvest West Africa Ltd in 2007. I joined the Board of Directors of Afrinvest the following year to help the firm through a difficult but strategically important restructuring but resigned in September 2009 and remained a senior advisor to the firm until March 2010 when I decided to retire from finance completely at the age of 45. My objective following retirement was to focus on social development by way of Speaking (both keynote and motivational), Music Performing and Teaching and Martial Art and Life Coaching and Mentoring. Although I had not taught martial art up to this point in Lagos I continued to practice and refine my own style of mixed martial arts with an emphasis on stretching and legwork. I spoke in December of that year at an MTN Senior management Retreat on ‘Creating A Personal Leadership Brand’ that was so successful, I was asked to help to imbibe the methodology and key points that I highlighted into the firm’s HR development process. With respect to guitar performing during this period, I gave my first solo guitar recital early in 2000 at the Abu Dhabi cultural centre at the request and encouragement of Dr Shaikha Al Maskari, chairperson of the Tricon group of companies and a highly respected UAE citizen. She lectured me on the importance of sharing my music and the entire experience inspired me to start running Saturday guitar classes for mainly children at the Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON) music school based in Lagos in 2001 and to give yearly guitar performances at the MUSON Agip Recital Hall from 2002 to 2006. In 2008 I attended my first international guitar festival at West Dean in England and met guitarist and composer Gary Ryan, with whom I commenced private studies in the same year at the Royal College of Music in London. I also had classes with the celebrated Czechoslovakian guitarist, Pavel Steidl. The following year I met guitarist Craig Ogden at a festival in France, who also became a private tutor, and had classes at the Cervo Guitar Festival in Italy with guitarists Matteo Mela and Lorenzo Micheli and, later again that year at West Dean in England, with Scott Tennant and William Kanengeiser of the celebrated Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (LAGQ). In October 2010 I met the world-renowned guitarist Manuel Barrueco, by chance, following his Wigmore Hall concert in London, who invited me to his master classes at the Peabody Conservatory in the US the following year.

     
    2011 – 2012

 

In February 2011 I visited Manuel Barrueco at the Peabody Conservatory in Maryland in the US and he invited me to play for him at his residence near Baltimore. He gave me sound technical playing and performance tips and advice and also introduced me to the guitarist Franco Platino for further lessons while I was in the United States. We also discussed the possibility of a collaboration project in Africa. On March 14, 2011, I spoke on Leadership at a BAT (British American Tobacco) ‘Win in West Africa’ Regional Conference for Senior and Executive Management that seated two hundred regional participants, including the Managing Director. The speech was so successful that I received a standing ovation from all in attendance, including the Managing Director. On March 27, 2011 I gave a successful recital in Johannesburg for a group of expatriate professionals for ‘Arts on Tugela’. After performing at a friend’s wedding in New Jersey, USA, in May, I was asked to both speak and play at the African Leadership Network in June where I first spoke on Leadership to a group of over 100 young African Leaders and then played a piece which I dedicated to all the great African Leaders without Title. On July 23, 2011 I gave a private recital for a group of mostly British Expatriates in Lagos at a venue called the Wine Cellar that was very well received and appreciated. The following month I performed as part of the Guitar France Festival in Bagnoles de L’Orne, Normandy under the direction of Gary Ryan and Craig Ogden. On September 15, 2011, with the help of Fusion Media, I shot my first short film entitled ‘A Dream’ which was a fusion of Oratory, Guitar and Martial Art into an inspirational story and message about the importance of pursuing one’s passions that could be shared online and make a difference in the world. In late October I was invited to perform at the Opal Club in Embankment, London, as part of its monthly Poetry in Motion series by Progressive Entertainment’s Irvin Smith. The performance and music were very well received. I performed the following month again in Joburg but this time to a different group of professionals and media specialists and also took the opportunity to prescreen ‘A Dream’. The performance and the film were a big hit with the audience and everyone loved the live musical interpretations as well as the film’s inherent message. On December 11, 2011 I gave a Spanish Guitar Recital at the Life House Cultural Centre in Lagos that had been quite well publicized beforehand.  The concert was a great success and was a wonderful, interactive evening of music. The widely read newspaper ‘This Day’ was also present and gave an excellent and very detailed three page write up on the concert the following Sunday which was a very satisfying, independent third party confirmation of what was a very successful event.

Motivational Speaker, Classical Guitarist and Martial Artist