Dr. Jude Nnanna: Inspiring confidence in young people
Dr. Jude Nnanna, the Founder of GLAD Foundation and Managing Director/CEO of Jude Elswitch Limited could be described as an example of resilience, absolute doggedness and patience. Against all odds, he rose from a humble background to the peak of his career with a rare combination of diligence, rugged determination and professional expertise. Dr. Nnanna, as a vibrant and dynamic business leader has contributed immensely to the development of the engineering industry in Nigeria and founded GLAD foundation to inspire and empower young people to be useful members of the society. In this exclusive interview with NnamdiNwokolo, he spoke on the motive for setting up the foundation and sundry issues.
I WAS disqualified for lack of job experience at the first job interview I attended. The white man told me they had work to do and their office is not a training school. I replied him that if every organization rejects me for lack of experience, where will I get the experience from. He then gave me the opportunity with a condition that he’ll not pay me which I accepted. I used the first six months to gather all the experience I needed. I gathered a lot of practical teaching materials, and then, I read a story of a man that crossed a sea on a rafter and it was so difficult, but when he got to the other side, he became successful and started building a bridge across the sea. People were asking why he’s doing that, he responded that there are lots of people who are better than him on the other side, so he doesn’t want them to suffer the same fate. The idea is to make it easier for people that when they pass out of school, they will not have the same ugly experience I had. What I have in mind on my first job experience was to gather as many experiences as possible that will enable me to be on my own and contribute to the society. Eventually, I didn’t work for more than 2 years before I set up Jude Elswitch Limited.
What’s GLAD foundation all about?
GLAD is an acronym for “Giving Little Assistance Daily”. The idea behind the foundation is to equip young people for the modern day work-place, business opportunities, and sharpen their entrepreneurship skills. It’s been a passion for me that at any given time and opportunity, I use it to lend a hand to somebody especially the youths. Little things we do are very important as they go a long way in inspiring confidence in someone. I believe that when one youth is taken off the street, you’ve succeeded in removing one potential terrorist, armed robber or militant and the bullet could hit anybody. The foundation will be officially unveiled on the 26th day of September 2015 and youth empowerment and skill acquisition will be introduced into it. The idea is to share ideas with them to make them become better persons in the society
How do you intend to deal with the challenge of funding?
The major challenge is that many people will misconstrue your intentions because there are many fraudsters around. They always think that if they step in and do something, you may take the credit or even use it for your selfish interests. To get funding is equally a challenge, but I know that when people of goodwill see the train moving, they will have no option than to lend a helping hand. We’ll start with the little we can sustain because the best way to begin is to begin. As time goes on, we can reach out to multinationals and government agencies to intervene.
I saw the opening of my workshop as an avenue to help students on Industrial Training to have a practical knowledge of what they learnt. The idea is to make it easier for people that when they pass out of school, they will not have the same ugly experience I had. At a point SURE P approached us to absorb many of their trainees, although it was politicized and no money was paid to us, we absorbed them and gave them stipends. The overall initiative is to make sure that when they come out with good heads, they’ll as well turn out into good hands. When I set up, I didn’t do it for profits rather it was meant to inspire young graduates. Most people that pass through this company leave here with greater value. For example, one guy who worked with us but is now with MTN confessed that it was a Belgian man that advised him to go and work for Jude Elswitch Limited. He came, he saw and he didn’t regret it because he’s doing very well.
The unveiling of the foundation coincides with your birthday, are you fulfilled?
I’m not fulfilled at all. The birthday is the celebration of God’s faithfulness, looking at where I am coming from and where I believe He is taking me to. I’m not fulfilled because I’ve not utilized the various talents that I possess. I still strive for excellence and fulfillment. Success to me is not measured in terms of the wealth you possess, but the impact you made on the life of people. Looking at what people regard as success, they may not know the goals you’ve set for yourself and when you see the goal you set for yourself and you are far from it you will not be feeling as successful as people believe you are. I have a lot to do for myself, the society and for posterity sake.
On the unique factors that stand your organisation out:
There is a personal thing attached to the brand. The passion to impact on our clients stands us out. We try to develop a relationship with our clients; we have a continuing relationship with them. We make our clients develop trust and have faith in our offering. Jude Elswitch Limited is a quality-driven company registered in Nigeria to carry out excellent services to clients in engineering fields. We have successfully completed and delivered many challenging projects, and thus the skills, competence, experience of management and staff have been recognized and commended by many of our clients. Our management consists of accomplished Mechanical/Electrical engineering professionals and administrators, with direct knowledge of industry, extensive research experience and unique administrative skills.
Advice for young people:
Look inwards and start with what you have. Sincerely speaking, as long as you have the eagerness to do something and there’s nothing for you to do, nature will start bringing things you’ll do. For example, one of the youths I mentor will come down early in the morning and wash people’s cars in his neighbourhood. A bank executive whose car was among the ones he washed was wondering who must have washed his car. He asked around and nobody was able to tell him who did it, on several occasions, he’d find his car washed without knowing who is responsible. One day, he came down around 5am and his car has been washed, he looked around and he saw somebody washing another car, he approached him and the guy accepted responsibility. The young guy told the man that it’s been his routine to wake up at 3am to study while in school, now that he has left school, he decided to volunteer the time and wash people’s cars. The man was impressed and took him to his office and gave him automatic employment. When you show willingness to do something, nature will automatically bring something for you to do.
What are the critical factors for Business success in Nigeria?
Passion is vital to the success of every enterprise. You also need to have an in-depth knowledge of the type of business you want to do. You can equally attend business schools to brush up your knowledge about the global business environment. Critical success factors are both internal and external, because to operate a business you need a lot of perseverance, resilience and determination because of the many high priority issues. Leadership especially, must be focused, visionary and passionate about achieving excellence. The quality of human resource is also a key competitive advantage and for us, we only engage the best people and I’m blessed to be supported by an excellent team.