Eyitayo OGUNMOLA, Managing Partner of PM Hub, with Mission to Improve the Competence of Young Africans

Eyitayo Ogunmola is the Managing Partner of PM Hub LLC. A human development enthusiast and one with the mission to develop smart employees and top entrepreneurs exactly how Africa needs them.

Eyitayo leads a social venture incorporated in the United States, Nigeria and Mali – providing human capital development to improve both the corporate competence and business capacities of young people. His company is creating a critical mass of highly skilled and job ready young professionals through the Human Capital Development Centres (HCD Centres), of his company with presence in 4 states in Nigeria, 2 West African countries and 15 tertiary institutions. His company also runs a VC Lab which focuses on business incubation, micro financing and venture mentorship.

Eyitayo is a firm believer insales means business’ hence encourages startups to appreciate how to sell effectively which is the only way the company can be financially healthy. He is also a mentor of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program, TEEP.

In this edition of Business Leaders interview, you get to know more about Eyitayo, their services, vision for Africa and how you are part of the transformation process in Africa.

Kindly tell Africa about yourself and what PM Hub has achieved?

Eyitayo Ogunmola is my name. I am a social entrepreneur with vast interests. I have interest in human capital development, venture creation, venture capital partnership and international development. A simple way to place this is to say, I want to improve the competence of young people to be smart employees and entrepreneurs – developing smart platforms that will help young people create businesses and develop partnership with investors.

PM Hub started in 2012. At the beginning, we were not too clear but we understood the change we wanted to create. PM Hub is focused on human capital development and ventures creation. We have explored the first mission of the organization, expanded operations to 4 states in Nigeria, explored presence in 15 tertiary institutions, engaged about 3,200 undergraduates in our 105 hours workforce development program. We have worked with 9 corporate organizations and developed team training programmes for them. We are working behind the scene on our venture creation mission. Although we have 4 startups that we are supporting at the moment, we are running this gently and quietly.

What would you say has inspired you despite the challenging environment?

Sincerely, it’s challenging everywhere in the world. Come to think of it, it’s even better in Nigeria. I don’t want to get into that debate. But you need to have the balls. You need to be harder than the ‘challenging’ environment, you can’t play equilibrium. I take courage from some of my mentors, my friends and some senior entrepreneurs. When I listen to their stories, I gain deep inspiration. In my room, I have what I call the vision board. It’s a place I draw inspiration. I have more than 300 pictures of great guys there.

Most of them are common people. Like, Owolabi Tobi Isaiah, Raquel Jacobs, Tony Elumelu and the likes. I look into their eyes and I see reasons to keep fighting hard. In addition, the good stories of the people that we have worked with and, been able to improve is an encouragement to keep pushing ends. For example, the story of Praise Adeyemo, one of our best students from Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, is simply inspirational!

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What is your vision for PM Hub, as you are undergoing a corporate re-branding, do you want to hint us on that?

Yes, PM Hub like everything must subject itself to change. Brand experts call it re-branding, some lean professionals call it business process adjustment. Whatever you call it, we are changing and our organisational focus is adjusting. We are creating a core that is centered around 3 major business objectives; human capital development and that entails both workforce development and institutional support using modular trainings; we are also focusing on venture creation and venture capital partnership. We are talking to some partners as we are starting a VC lab. And finally we are also working on our management consulting core.

We want to continue developing the competence of young people in Nigeria (and some other developing economies) for the labor market and the enterprise space. Making them better employees and entrepreneurs. And we also want to start working with our entrepreneurs to create jobs. Interestingly, we are also gaining some global realities. We are making strides that I am proud of.

Eyitayo, why is the development of the human capital of young Africans of priority to you?

There are two critical things that are fundamentally important to me, actually. I am passionate about improving the critical mass of young professionals that we have in emerging economies like Nigeria and also improve the quality of very young entrepreneurs. I will tell you why I emphasize ‘very young.’ Sincerely, a country cannot grow beyond the quality of its human capital because it is at its core – we must understand that every other resources are subject to the management by human capital. Our universities are churning out half baked workforce, and the employers really want us to change this.

At PM Hub, are working with students in universities to develop them for job opportunities and the labor market. This engagement takes an average of 2 years. That is why we created the Human Capital Development Centre, HCD Centre, a subsidiary of our company. We are also providing support to the young entrepreneurs; helping them create new ventures and walking them through the business creation phase, and ultimately connecting them to microfinance. The reason I emphasize ‘very young’ is because in this fast shrinking world, we must create rooms for entrepreneurs to come in early, fail and grow fast.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the business space?

Learn to absorb a lot of knowledge. There is really no limitation for an entrepreneur that can absorb a lot of valuable information. Be voracious, read and read. Read and read! That is the message. I read an average of 4 books per month and trust me, there are entrepreneurs that read an average of 8 books per month. Knowledge is never outdated. I watch an average of 10 videos on business entrepreneurship per day. I do that every day.

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I stay consistent in my space, absorbing valuable information around me. I do not ever want to stay outdated. Be ready to stomach the fierceness of the competition. If there is something I am certain of, it’s that the competition will get stronger. Only the strong will be able to survive this competitiveness.

Finally, never work solo. Learn to leverage on others.

What is your projection on Africa in the next 5 years?

I will share my projections for the next 5 years to 10 years with you. One, technology will soon disrupt the way businesses are done. It has started but in 5 years, you won’t survive without it. If there is no piece of technology in your business, think twice. In 10 years time, most models would have changed. You can trust that N.G.O.s would have faded and for-profit models for social interventions will be popular.

You can trust that there will be solutions competing for few capital investments and only innovation will sell. I do not see much change in the public space, so most of my desired change will come from the private sector. I also see great competition with the influx of foreign investors into the Nigerian market. These are tough times and competition will shape the next decades.

How will you describe an ideal graduate of PM Hub and how do you expect them to face the enterprise world thereof?

Let me say, as an ideal graduate of our HCD Centre, because you don’t graduate from PM Hub, it’s a community and a company. Our engagement strategy is more than the 1 month training that we run; it’s the community that we are creating. Although, an undergraduate passes through our one month learning series in project management, lean entrepreneurship, basic corporate leadership and the mentorship academy.

What we did was to first develop an industry led training pedagogy, and training methodology based on the needs of top employers and we created a job market driven curriculum in the subjects mentioned. Finally, at the end of the training, our students get their first professional mentorship which often span about 2 years. The interesting and most exciting thing is, we are launching our HCD Community in all the schools as a community of students who have passed through our program.

Africa has the highest number of aged policy makers. It has been asserted amidst various quarters that, for Africa to develop and keep pace with other continents of the world, it must evolve into a youth-led continent. Being a business leadership coach, how true is this assertion?

I do not agree completely with youth led government. And please, understand that I am emphatic with ‘completely.’ Let’s get out of the entitlement paradigm. We shouldn’t be given leadership because we are young, but because we are competent. And that is my argument. First, we have a lot of problems in the world and in Africa. And being young doesn’t necessarily qualify you as smart and patriotic. The first challenge is that we have not done enough to transfer governance and political leadership knowledge to the younger generation. So, the chances are high that we will repeat this phase if young leaders do not immerse themselves through deep study and reflections.

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Trust me, there is a lot going on in the world right now and it is going to take smart leadership to help Africa sail through this time. And let’s think about this, ‘how do you create policies to scale economies up when you do not even understand how the game is played.’ So, I recommend that we play in our spaces and with time, we’d separate the leaders from the amateurs.

On a final note, it is true that Africa has enormous human resources in its population. China and India are huge today due largely to the fact that they were able to tap into this potential. How do you think Africa can do same and protect its weak through poverty alleviation initiatives?

Well, do you want my honest opinion. One, I think international grant should be cut off. Oh really? Now I imagine that look on your face. I really think we should, but that is on a more debative mood. This is what I think we should start doing. Aside the resources of oil, gold, etc., Africa has smart youthful population. We need leadership that can inspire young people, technical education and technology disruption. I think we need everyone, and not just the leadership of government institutions, to think how to engage young people and move the largest population through entrepreneurs especially in agriculture and technology.

Read more about Eyitayo Ogunmola.

Eyitayo is a 2014 Carrington fellow of the United States Consulate, Lagos, a 2015 associate fellow of Nigeria Leadership Initiative, a 2015 YALI tech camper in Pretoria South Africa, a 2015 social innovator program fellow of Leap Africa, and a 2015 Atlas Corps fellow (a one-year professional development fellowship supported by the department of states and White House).

Eyitayo ogunmola is a versatile facilitator of Project Management and was appointed as a visiting trainer with Chartered Institute of Project Management in 2013. He was also employed as the head of Project management with the College of Supply Chain and Material Warehousing in July 2014. In 2014, he provided program evaluation expertise on a Commonwealth sponsored project.

Eyitayo was awarded for human capital development among youths by The Crans Montana Forum, an International Organization based in Switzerland and he is also a Project Steering Committee Member of Students Economic Forum.

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