TIN: You always talk about creating value. How do you become the kind of person who sees opportunities and creates value?
PAT: You’ve got to develop the determination and resolve to take advantage of opportunities and add value to your society.
Two young men were discharged from the Japanese Navy in 1945. They were so short of money that between them they couldn’t raise $500. Nevertheless, they were determined to start a company which they agreed would set out to change the image of Japan by producing high-quality products.
They decided that the essence of their lives would be to change the image of Japan. Akio Morita and Maseru Ibuka went on to found SONY! Today when you see SONY Products, you see quality. It’s just all about looking hard and looking carefully for where and how you can add value.
TIN: You do so many things. How do you get to do them all? People say you need to be focused to succeed.
PAT: Yes. The thing is that all I do is teach. A lot of things have just sprung up that I provide information that is useable. I do a lot, but the core is teaching. In order to teach well, I’ve got to get into a number of areas.
A clear example of that subject is this: About some years ago, two companies, one called GTE, and the other called NEC, were at turning points in their business lives. GTE decided to focus on a single product, so it sold all its divisions: semiconductors and so on.
NEC decided that the future belonged to the convergence of various strips of Technology-telecommunications, computing and broadcasting.
So, NEC began to acquire companies in semiconductors and so on. GTE became a narrow telecommunications company. NEC built its computer arm, telecommunications arm and a portfolio of competencies were built which all came together in convergence and that was Information communication technology. NEC became the champion of the new age.
So, what we need to talk about is not an individual skill of activities. I determined a portfolio of competencies that resulted in one achievement or competitive innovation, with teaching and marketing of ideas as my core interests and venturing as a kind of incubator of my ideas. I found out that I am really focused once I find champions to run with ideas I incubate.
Because of the things I know, various people invite me to join their boards to help determine their course. Bu my core is sstill information. It’s true that over-diversification can get you into trouble, but if done wisely with a focus, it can pay off.
Honda produces cars, motorcycles and so on, yet it sticks basically to engines. As an engine company, Honda can have diversified use of engines. But that is not to say that when you streamline your business activities and focus on something, you can’t get great results. Of course, you can. It’s basically, ‘different strokes for different folks’. But whatever the case, focus is vital. Even when you greatly diversify, focus on a core that holds everything together.
TIN: Quite a number of people look up to you as their role model. Who are your own role models?
PAT: There are a lot of people I look up to as role models. One of my great role models used to work a glass door away from me. He’s Dr. Christopher Kolade. He is somebody I have very high regard for.
I am also a very good admirer of Dr. Michael Omolayole. Also, in terms of how he applies his great intellect. I am a great admirer of Dr. Pius Okigbo. The wonderful thing is that I have had the privilege of interacting very closely with all these people. Knowing them very closely reinforced these views I have had of them.
Also, in line with role models, it didn’t seem extraordinary that I was a special adviser at a young age. It didn’t seem out of the way. I had gone to graduate school in the States and when I was in graduate school, I picked up a role model.
There was an American called David Stalkman. He was at that time a 33-year-old man and a budget adviser to the Reagan cabinet that had just come in. I thought at the time, ’’That’s something I’d like to do ‘’. I wanted to become a budget adviser a an age younger than the time David Stalkman became budget adviser to President Reagan.
TIN: Can you tell us about your family?
PAT: My wife is an orthodontist Consultant. She’s a lecturer at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos. We have five beautiful children, Isioma, Patrick, Samuel Anthony(I call him Samtee) Nonye and Claire) We do things together as a close-knit family.
Being a visionary or being entrepreneurial is not always about doing something entirely new. It is about bringing something of value to the marketplace and society at large.
If we convert the time we spend analyzing how much money we can make to thinking about how we can render real service, money will eventually follow and we’ll be better for it.
It’s not enough to go out scouting for great ideas. We must be alive to our environment; our antennae must always be up and alert when we make this a lifestyle, Coming up with ideas and taking advantage of opportunities won’t be a problem
We must also be ready to make rapid mental progression. We must learn to be thinkers and doers. That’s what PAT UTOMI has been able to do. Today, he is a respectable Nigerian who continually strives to create value. Pat is one of Nigeria’s true patriots and a proud Nigerian brand, who at the tender age of his life and even now, is already leaving a legacy for up-coming generations of Nigerians.
Conclusion of the Interview.