Raising the Bar in Quality Service Delivery

pat-una-copy---CopyUna and Associates made history recently as the pioneer and only NIS ISO 901: 2008 certified Estate Surveying and Valuation firm in Nigeria. This bears testimony to their vision, persistence and focus to dare where others dread. For the past sixteen years, the firm has provided exceptional and qualitative services in all key sectors of the economy and offers professional expertise that covers Asset Valuation for Capital market and Consortium Financing Transactions. ESV Patrick Una, the Chief Executive officer of the firm is an accomplished technocrat and a Certified Professional Manager with vast industry experience spanning three decades. Pat is an Alumnus of the Lagos Business School Owner Manager Programme (OMP1) and holds a Masters in Business Administration, specializing in Technology Management. He has attended Managerial and Leadership courses in leading institutions and a Fellow of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers; Board member, Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria; Member, Nigerian Institute of Management (Chartered) and Institute of Directors. He spoke on the Focus of a CEO in this interview with Nnamdi Nwokolo.

HOW do you feel as the pioneer and the only NIS ISO 9001:2008 certified Estate Surveying and Valuation firm in Nigeria?

I am humbled as a person and I am also proud for the award because the feat bears testament to our corporate vision, perseverance and focus to dare where others hesitate. This significant milestone marks the beginning of internationalization of our system and process to enhance global competitiveness and compliance with global best practices. It is novel as it has never happened in the history of our professional practice in Nigeria.

I feel fulfilled and most importantly I give glory to God because without Him we can achieve nothing. I’ll continue to give God the glory for where we are today because it takes His grace to think strategically, stay focused, and be committed. Impact of ISO certification to your operations: ISO certification would help us meet global standards in professional practice. It has greatly enhanced our efficiency and improved our processes.

This has helped us tremendously in our quest for internationalization. It is important to note that getting certified means that Una and Associates was benchmarked against global best practices and found to have a robust quality Management System. It is a clear sign that we are committed to providing superior quality services with the aim of achieving customer satisfaction. What we have done essentially is to raise the bar in quality service delivery.

For our stakeholders and the regulators, they‘ll have more confidence in us because we have a good framework for corporate governance. Our vision is to be the preferred real estate firm most admired for its exceptional service while our mission is to consistently provide unique and high quality service to meet our customers’ expectation; when you align that with our quality policy and objective you see us providing excellent service to meet international standards. We’ve trained six system auditors that will ensure that the quality management system is sustained and continual improvement in service delivery. “We assure our clients that we may not be the biggest but we will be the most committed to their success”.

Most entrepreneurs find it difficult to build to last, what can be done to guard against this?

Let me take you to some of my thought on building organizations. Two books have really influenced me, ‘Good to Great’by Jim Collins, his research showed that great companies have greater purpose and bigger vision beyond making money and being No 1 in the market. Unfortunately, most Nigerian entrepreneurs fall into the trap of just making money rather than building for a purpose much bigger than them. For us, we’ll make money while building lives. Thank God we are 16years now; we took time to get a tenacious team because we are determined to build an all-round quality organization. I want to create a great place to work. I have also been inspired by the book written by Sheik Mohammed Ibn Rashid AlMaktoum, in his book “My Vision”: Challenges in the Race for Excellence, “he said most people talk, we do things, they plan, we achieve; they hesitate we move ahead……..” We have put systems and processes in place to enable this organization run seamlessly without micro managing people.

We have also started continuous training for our team. We have a strategic plan for talent management to develop our people within the leadership pipeline model that will make delegation of authority very easy. On the role of mentoring in business success: Talent management encompasses mentoring, coaching and training as it helps employees to understand their roles because the system, process and structures that have been put in place must be run by people. At the point of leaving school, leadership is not taught in the university, you need to mentor, coach and train people as they are the pivot of any organization. Human capital development is key to a successful organization. We now have an HR manger in house to equip the employees for the challenges ahead.

Assessment of the Industry: The industry is growing in leaps and bounds but the major challenge of the industry is the proliferation of small firms. Everybody wants to open an office and sometimes they lack the leadership and managerial skills to run an organization successfully. I believe in specialization, we should be able to have very big firms with core areas of specialization. Our core competence is in the area of assets/plant and machinery valuation, where we have the capacity and expertise. .

My brief stint in the banking sector made me to appreciate the importance of corporate structures and business discipline which have affected our culture here. The ISO certification has reinforced our vision, mission and primary objective to ensure business sustainability, continuity because investors are interested in working with service providers that have the ability to meet customer, statutory and regulatory requirements. In the next Five years: Success is succeeding in succession.

We’ll keep on adding value. We are an adaptive organization that is willing to make changes; an organization that understands the dynamics of change, so, we are ready to learn. We’ll continue to develop people within the leadership hierarchy, like pepsi cola said “we put people in good jobs before they are ready” Already, we are engaging our employee through talent management to get people who are ready to drive this oraganisation. Employee engagement is vital to the success of any organization; we give ownership of work to our employee and delegate authority not just tasks. We have successfully changed the mentality of our work force by our creed“ do the impossible, think different”.

Driving force: My inspiration has always been the word of God. This I hold unto because it inspires me for direction For me, everything I am and everything I’ll ever become, yesterday, today and tomorrow , I believe I am specially blessed. I believe I do carry an unusual grace that drives what I do. Professional practice is not all about material acquisition, you must have passion for professionalism and excellence. It was a strategic decision because we are in a globalised world. The market has changed and competition has also changed. So industry players need to change before competition changes them. For us, we need to be globally competitive and embrace international best practices.

What can government do differently to enhance the growth of the Housing industry?

Government should not leave the housing challenge to the private sector. They should create an enabling environment for long term funding with one digit interest rate to enable the private sector access funds to compliment government efforts. There has to be intervention for this critical sector by the government. What the present government is doing is to go back and put governance in place structures. The essence of system, structures and processes is to keep things on track so that the country can flourish. For me, I see hope for the nation because the President is doing things systematically.

I implore Nigerians that at every level of their influence, they should stop being indisciplined. When there’s a disciplined culture in any society, the society flourishes. Advice to professionals: For the young professionals, they should learn the ropes. It is not the qualification that makes you a good professional; it is on the job training and experience. I always admonish young ones to be focused, be patient and work hard. My sincere advice to upcoming professionals is to believe they can do and achieve whatever they set their minds to do. They should not forget that if there are no difficulties, there will be no success. The importance of learning for personal development cannot be overemphasized because there is no limit as to what one can learn. Above all, the grace of God is what will sustain them.

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