Dr. Adesina Adegunle is an Ibadan based businessman and the President, Ibadan Polo Club. He has outstanding leadership skills that is worthy of emulation and that has come bear on his life as a businessman and a leader. He has seen it all in business and academic worlds. He recently bagged PhD in Management-Leadership and Organizational Change from Walden University, U.S.A. He is a Director at Safari Books and Chairman, Princeton Health Limited, Deguard Security, Generation Next and many other businesses.
No wonder it wasn’t surprising to those who know what Adegunle represents when he was reelected for second term, as Ibadan Polo Club’s President. He believes so much in capacity building and people know him to a great philanthropist with a simple lifestyle; accommodating but highly disciplined.
In this exclusive interview with City People’s DARE ADENIRAN, Dr. Sina Adegunle talks extensively on how he has, along his team, changed the face of Ibadan Polo Club within a very short period of time, having carved out their vision for the club immediately they came on board. How the Exco under his leadership has been able to put in place a practical structure to prepare the club for the challenges ahead, as well as many other interesting issues. Enjoy the excerpts.
Share with us how has the experience been and how have you been managing the affairs of Ibadan Polo club in the past years as President?
There is nothing so special about Polo Club presidency. You know once you are a manager you are a manager. All you need to do when call on for a duty is to put in your best to do what is best for any organization, for anything you find yourself doing.
That is on the premise which I took up the challenge of being a president. But initially, I didn’t ever think I will have time to do it because I was preoccupied with so many things, but at a point of being asked to…., because we believed Polo Club needed somebody to shake the situation and I took it like a challenge. And with the support of my members, the elders in the club, we were able to do the few things we could get done. Because you can’t do it on yourself, you have to leverage on the people, you have to leverage on the support of your people. In any organization is the people that matters most; no matter how intellectual you are, no matter how gifted you are, no matter how rich you are, without the support of your people there is nothing you can do.
When we took off, as the executive committee, we find out that there are some things that needed to be done and immediately we charged ourselves into it and we were able to do it.
But it is not possible without the people like I mentioned earlier and it is not possible to do anything without the executives. And talking about executives, you are just one of the Excos as the President, so you can’t just put your own ideas, your own mind and view on the rest of the executives. We have about 10, 11 executives. So, you are just one but eleven, it has to be collective decisions, that is the way to run an organization. Otherwise you have issues or something paramount to you that you believe that, I need to get this done.
There is politics everywhere, you can politicize among your members and they can see the reasons but not that you are lording it on them; you can only seek their support. If at the end of the day they said no, there is nothing you can do, that is one thing. Then the other thing is you know we need to move away from the orthodox way of doing things to a proper way. Because Polo Club has been running for so many years and we find ourselves to be there; “I have been a member for over 20 years.” We have to start seeing that we have proper records, we have proper database, and we have things that people coming behind us will look up to.
The way we run our meetings has to be changed, which we did. We don’t have to waste much time on unnecessary things; some things that are less important. We parallel with whoever the executive is while president takes care of administrative thing, then we get it done like that. So, we make everybody to be important, we make every Exco member to be manager of whatever is handling. It is just a matter of reporting to us and taking it in and we challenge everybody. Everybody has to be self-sustained and so far, so good we are getting somewhere.
But there some other things we can’t really get our hands on right now because problems that we have now are long term problems; like rebuilding the club house. Projects like that has to do with a proper planning even beyond whoever president is. We are working on that too, but it is not something we can say can be done in another one year, two years but we know we can get there. In the past, Polo Club used to enjoy supports from major organizations but things have changed now.
The economic problem in our environment has made most of these companies to slow down on whatever the support they are given. So the last two, three years, has been so difficult to run our program the way it supposed to be. So we have to think out of the box. We have to think of other things that we can do.
What are these things the Exco under your leadership is looking to improve on the finance and running of the club?
It is what we have done. Before, an organization can just give us a lump sum and we run our tournaments and we get the club branded by products, branded by presence and everything but we are not seeing that again. So, we have to resolve into seeking support directly from individuals; small scale level organizations, we get their products, we went to the extent of doing what we called ‘raffle’. They gave us their products and we run through those products and we asked people to buy raffle. That brings the attention of many people because they know that what we are doing is genuine. In the first year, we did it, Qatar Airline gave us about four tickets; two business and two economy tickets and people won it.
We did the same thing last year; people like the owner of Jogor Event Centre gave us their Hall for raffle, so many organizations gave of us things that we raffled out. And that is what we have been doing and that brings a lot of attention. In some areas where we suppose to pay money for some services, some people are giving us those services free of charge or at a half rate and that gave us a level of not actually looking into paying money.
Getting support and drinks because everything cannot be money and we have to bring it down as much as possible to cut down our cost of even running a tournament. Because tournament is a main thing for the Polo Club, every Polo Club has to have the NPA Tournaments, which gives you the assurance of being a Polo Club. You have to belong to an association and you have to run the tournament. Not forgetting the fact that we are running the tournaments on behalf of Nigeria Polo Association not really Ibadan, it is just that it’s taking place in Ibadan. And we have to find money to do it; we use to spend a lot of money.
All these efforts of yours that you’ve mentioned must be part of strategies you have adopted in running the club, which must have also responsible for your re-election as president?
You might be so right by saying that but like I said, don’t let me pride myself. It is the people around us. For example, I have a very good Exco and all of us in the team work so well, to the level that everybody at the Polo Club believed that you guys have to run again. Not only me, it’s a team they brought back. They brought us back the first year and they brought us back the second year. In the first year I actually made a plea for them to make me president, I got some people to work with. But the second year the team was brought back. So it is not really my strategy, it’s a collective efforts of the Exco.
Because the last two, three years have not been a favorable year for anybody economically, things have been so down for most people, things have been so down for a lot of organizations. But then we are still been able to juggle around it and find a proper way of maintaining the balance for us.
Coming from your own kind of background as a businessman, how difficult or easy was it for you adjusting to the dictates of your new responsibilities as Polo Club President?
Like I said it, is not a big deal for me because of my background. ‘’I am a manager, I have PhD in Management. Managing is just like a pure thing to me’’. You don’t really need to be an engineer to manage an engineering firm. I can confront anybody to say that. You don’t need to be a doctor to manage a clinic. What you are doing is managing, what you are doing is management. Because you can get people to do all those things; it is just you, your person that really matters. People see you as disciplined, people see some core values in you, people see your person and they believe in your person, that is what really matters. And then it goes beyond what people see in you, it is the development that you have given yourself; how have you brought yourself to this place?
Right now, I manage more than six companies and I don’t leave my desk to do anything, technologies, everything. Then the system you have set up because organization runs on system, not on personality. Organization runs on system, on control and once those things are there you are as good as anything. But once you don’t take your time to set up a system, to set up the controls, you can’t run any organization, no matter how fantastic you are.
That is what most people don’t actually know; most people believe that they have the capacity to manage, without knowing that they don’t even have the capacity to manage. You don’t need to lift a hand before you manage, people are around you. Some people will say how can I trust these people? You have to trust. How did you trust yourself? You have to trust people. How do you trust people? You have to build peoples’ capacity. You have to let them know what it is to do. Look, a Manager or whoever has an organization has what we call the vision. And you know at the beginning of setting up your organization, you set up those visions. When you go everywhere you will see ‘Mission Statement’ or something like that.
Life has actually gone past that, you were setting up those vision statement as the time when you were setting up those companies and you are asking people to, at 10, 12, 20 years later to go through the same thing. No. that is not the way an organization is being run now! You have a guided vision statement, but organization is being run now based on collaboration of the employees, based on the fact that those employees believe that this is where this organization is going, this where it should go and they measure themselves up, to see that it will take all of us to that place.
Sir, tell us briefly what the present Exco of the Ibadan Polo Club under your leadership has done so far and your plans to sustain these achievements?
‘’We did a general maintenance of the club because I heard people saying oh! ‘’Thank you Exco, you guys have changed the face of the club from this to that’’, we have done that. We make sure that we run all the programs we suppose to run. We make sure that we participate in all tournaments that we suppose to participate in. We make sure that as little as IBDC doesn’t disturb us. We make sure that the club is legally registered, which has not been so for a very long time, we have registered the club. So we have a constituted trustee for the club right now, which has not been the case. Everything concerning the law of the land we try as much as possible to make sure that we don’t do something unlawful. And the environments have been kept clean, though we still have a lot of challenges. There is no organization that doesn’t have their challenges, as simple as what I have just stated you might be like, what is the big deal? But we know really that the big deal is in doing all those things
At what point in time of your life did you start playing Polo game?
Surprisingly, I am not a Polo player. The club has different levels of members; we have the Polo players and the social members, I am a social member. We have honorary members too but sometimes you have the Polo players being President. But in some few years, we have had non Polo member as Presidents, so I happened to be in that category. But the main thing is that we have special interest in the club, we want to make sure that our children, other people can participate in the Polo Club. “Some people have brought Polo Club to this level, some people have brought the game to a level, and we should not see the game dying.’’ That is like the vision that we have. So whether you are a Polo player or you are not a Polo player, once you are a member of Polo club you don’t see the game dying. And mind you, let me tell you that the game is not for just anybody, so it has to come from interest because it is highly cost implied. If you are a Polo player you can’t have less than four, five horses. Because each game you are playing you either playing what we called shocker, about five or seven shockers in a game and those horses cannot play more than seven minutes, which is
“Some people have brought Polo Club to this level, some people have brought the game to a level, and we should not see the game dying.’’ That is like the vision that we have. So whether you are a Polo player or you are not a Polo player, once you are a member of Polo club you don’t see the game dying. And mind you, let me tell you that the game is not for just anybody, so it has to come from interest because it is highly cost implied.
If you are a Polo player you can’t have less than four, five horses. Because each game you are playing you either playing what we called shocker, about five or seven shockers in a game and those horses cannot play more than seven minutes, which is like a shocker. Because you have to go and change and bring another horse, so you see it is not something anybody can just do. Probably that is why we are not having a larger number of memberships. But that is not the reason why we didn’t play because by the time we were joining Polo Club, maybe it was quite late for somebody like me to start riding and the rest.
What would you say really inspired you to join Polo Club then?
Number one, to socialize, to build up networks and I find it so convenient to relate to the game. Like I said it is a game of the kings, it is not just anybody on the ground. Network comes from there and I can say yes, I want to relate with this level of people. ‘’I could have joined Recreation Club, I could have joined Golf Club but Polo is just what I love and today I don’t think I have any regret.’’