CEO Today - Africa Awards 2023

34 | Nigeria Please describe your career journey to date. What led you to become CEO of BUA Cement? My career took off in the cement industry over 30 years ago. I started as a trainee engineer and rose through the ranks to become the Executive Director (technical) of the now-defunct Cement Company of Northern Nigeria (CCNN). Subsequently, I served as the Managing Director of the Obu cement company LTD and later CCNN. These two companies merged in 2019 to become BUA Cement Plc which was listed in 2020. I have been the pioneer MD to date. What challenges have you faced since assuming your role in 2019? Immediately after the merger, we tried to merge critical aspects of the business model to achieve a common goal in terms of market strategy, product quality and customer satisfaction. We also streamlined our processes to ensure compliance with relevant regulations after we listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange just a few days after the merger. The support of the shareholders and the Board was tremendous and it helped, in no small way, to ensure we got all the necessary approvals in record time. How did you overcome the challenges of the merger, and how have your skills and experience been sharpened as a result? The merger was something we had planned for well in advance. We had decided that we would prioritise the welfare of our human assets, bearing in mind the huge challenges we expected to encounter as a result of going public with the new entity. We latched on to our experience with the Sokoto experiment that had been listed since it was privatised about 30 years ago. Having been part of a similar process with the then CCNN/Kalambaina merger and with the various personal and professional development plans that I underwent, the merger was not as complicated as I had expected. The Mergers and Acquisitions course I undertook at Harvard Business School helped me in the post-merger activities of the company. Overall, it was a very interesting experience. What most interests you about your role? The diversity of the everyday issues I must deal with. From solving technical problems to dealing with suppliers, customers and various organisations and institutions, the whole week is crammed with activities. What inspires you to achieve the best possible results for your clients and your team? The need to provide superior products and service. With a dealership base of over 600 customers and a presence in all regions of Nigeria, the desire not to fail our numerous stakeholders that have planned their construction activities based on the availability of our product propels me to leave no stone unturned to keep the wheels rolling. Is there a particular creed or philosophy that you follow in your work? I find that there is no substitute for hard work. One always tries to put in his best and create a conducive environment for the staff to also put in their best. If you had to give a piece of advice to a less experienced engineer or manager looking to emulate your success, what would it be? Learn to walk the tightrope. You will be faced daily with difficult decisions, and you must use all your skills and Yusuf Haliru Binju, BUA Cement Plc, 5th Floor, BUA Towers, PC 32, Churchgate Street / PO Box 70106, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria T: +231 (1) 461 0669-70 E: W:

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