Rogba Orimalade is an accomplished professional. He is one of those professionals who at an early age had a clear idea of what they wanted to do in life and went for it. From when he was young, he had always wanted to go into Estate Management. He was lucky he saw a role model in a respected Nigerian who had excelled in that career and he got mentored. This helped him a great deal, with the effect that today he has had an accomplished career, having practised for the past 12 years.
Presently, Rogba Orimalade is the Chairman of Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, Lagos chapter. He took over the running of the state branch last year. And since then, Lagos NIESV has become very vibrant. Its no surprise. He has many things going for him. He has age on his side. He is young. He is also very creative. He forever bubbles with a lot of creative ideas. He has always been a man of great ideas. All these qualities he has brought to bear on running of LAGOS NIESV.
So, who is Rogba Orimalade? How did he get into the Real Estate business? These and many more were the questions City People wanted answers to when we recently sat him down to talk about his life and career. He spoke to City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE. Below are excerpts of the interview.
How did you become a player in the Real Estate sector?
I studied Estate Management. It is common knowledge years back that you don’t hear people say they are reading Estate Management in the University. Many students didn’t use to go for the course. At that time, a lot of people wanted to read Law, Medicine, other stuff, but at the end of the day they could not get in. And they would tell them, but you could enter into all these other courses.
Fortunately for me, that course was what I wanted to read. I chose the word fortunately because these days a lot of people are now rushing to go and study Estate Management. Fortunately for me, I had a god father in Mr. Olatunde Adegbemile, who is the Principal Partner of Adegbemile, Aganga, Akinlosotu, formerly Fox & Co, one of the most reputed estate surveying firms in Nigeria. He happens to be my god father.
Fortunately again for me, he wasn’t just my god father, he was my very close family friend. Our families were very close and he was the former Chairman of the Registration Board for many years at NIESV. So, from a far I always saw the way he carried himself. I always saw the way he conducted himself and without even knowing what he did, I actually was a bit interested in what kind of business he was doing. Coincidentally, I just came close and found out a bit about what he was doing.
For me, before I entered the University I had always wanted to read Estate Management. Let me tell you an interesting story. I actually entered a Polytechnic to do Estate Management and I still continued doing JAMB to enter University to study Estate Management. One day, my father called me and asked me a question. He said what is wrong with you and this Estate Management that despite the fact that I am in a Polytechnic, I still want to enter the University, to do Estate Management. And I said it is a noble profession. I already had a fair idea of what it was all about. I was among the lucky ones that were fortunate to enter the University, read what I wanted to read and I have stayed the course. I have not done anything else in my life.
Also, when you study the course in the University, there is a period for IT, when you spend some months under a firm. I was also fortunate to have worked at my godfathers firm, which made me see all the old files. I was able to dirty my hands, and see how things were being done.
I was able to see things in close view. I was able to look at things again and ask myself the question: is this what I really want to do.
All in all, I will say I am a bit lucky in the sense that I had a role model, that I looked at before I entered the University. But I have to say this with all modest and all sincerity, the Estate Management is a fantastic course. There are very few courses that will take you to Architecture, Law (Law of Tort, Law of Contract) that will take you to Quantity Surveying (QS), Building Construction, all parts, like Accountancy, we studied Accountancy (First Level). We studied Cost Accounting. Its an all round course because we are Land Economists. So, there is no course like ours that will make you an round professional. And that is why right now, we say it proudly in the built environment that there is nothing like being an estate surveyor and valuer. You are an all rounder. You have a bit of knowledge of every area. That is what that training helped us to become what we are today.
That is why many people don’t understand that from you buying the land, to building the land, to managing the land, doing project management, doing facility management, to leasing, to value, everything we are involved. Our training makes us jack of all trades in the construction or built environment. So, I thank God everyday that I read it. In the words of my godfather, if being an estate surveyor and valuer, doesn’t make you rich, it would make you comfortable. You will be able to pay your bills and send your children to decent schools and you will have a good roof over your head. That is just the message I have for people who are reading this publication. It might not make you rich but it will make you very comfortable.
Tell us about your growing up years. Where were you born?
I am from Owo, but I was born in Lagos. I spent most of my years in Lagos. My secondary school was at FGC Abuja. I was in the 3rd founding set in Abuja, when Abuja was still virgin. It was an experience. We were struggling to have water, and so many things. That’s the only time I will say I carried my life outside Lagos. I went to the University of Lagos. Since then, I have worked in Lagos. I will say I am a Lagos boy, born and bred.
At the time you veered out to set up your firm, what gave you that confidence to launch out?
First of all, I have been running my firm for 12 years (that’s over a decade). Its been tough. Been on your own, waking up in the morning and not knowing where and when next you will get your daily bread is tough. But I felt, at the initial time I was going to set up, I felt the time was right. There is no time that is perfect. This is to encourage other people who are reading this report. I wasn’t married then. And at that moment in time, I had a dream of how a firm should be. I also felt that a lot of professional firms were not doing things the right way.
So, I felt that it was better for me, at the early stage of my career to be able to set out using the organic growth formular. Just set out. Start small and see how far we are able to go. Building competencies, that is not something you do overnight. So, I knew that for me to even build myself to be taken seriously by the public, or, by key clients, I have to build myself to a level that they will recognise and appreciate this. And that building yourself requires Time and it requires a number of years. So, it is better you start early, at a time when the supposed risks are limited.
I started my firm in my father’s house. I didn’t have an office. I resigned and operated from my father’s house. Yes. 3 months after, I got an office. I started very small. Nobody kicked me out where I worked. I was even going to be promoted in the next few months. But, the time was right. I knew what I wanted and I had to take that plunge. There are a lot of people that don’t have the bravery to do that.
There are a lot of people that will need small stability. The bills were still coming. They had to get married, settle their family and they have to make that decision later. The point there is, don’t just set up for setting up sake, there has to be something behind your setting up. You must have a clear cut vision of what you want to do. I knew what I wanted to do when I set up. I needed to be on my own, to buy my time, to cut my teeth, to be able to gain that experience. I felt I needed to be able to be on my own. It is easy to look back now and say 12 years, its been a rough 12 years. Its been tough. But we have weathered the storm, we are still weathering the storm.