6 Lessons from Tony Elumelu on Leadership…and How Heirs Holdings Group Lives by these

17th August 2017

At the recently concluded Leadership Seminar organised by the United Bank for Africa (UBA) at the Tony Elumelu Amphitheatre, UBA headquarters, the Chairman, Heirs Holdings, Tony O. Elumelu shared his success tips on leadership with the staff of the bank and Heirs Holdings Group. His speech was drawn from life lessons as an Africapitalist, having spent decades as a banker and currently, as one of Africa’s leading investors and philanthropists.
Heirs Holdings Group, a company he founded in 2010 shortly after he left UBA, continues to successfully invest in Africa’s prime sectors including oil and gas, power, hospitality, financial services, real estate and health sectors, owing to the vision of its Founder and his investment in people capable of leading the company’s vision and purpose of impacting lives and transforming the Africa continent.

The top six quotes from Tony Elumelu at the Seminar are:

  1. Leadership is a journey and it occurs at every stage.
  2. Impossibility only happens in the brain.
  3. In leadership, no knowledge gained is lost.
  4. The difference between a successful and non-successful leader is the quality of decisions you make.
  5. Leadership is first among equals. It goes with humility.
  6. People management is key. Learn how to motivate your people. Be painstaking in choosing the right people.


Tony Elumelu became the youngest bank CEO in Nigeria when at the age of 34, he led Standard Trust Bank (STB). “It was a little odd going into all those meetings with older men because the bank CEOs at that time were older than I was,” he said at the seminar.

That didn’t stop Tony from achieving milestones. STB later became one of the top banks in Nigeria in a very short time. On August 1, 2005, Elumelu made another winning streak when he led the successful merger of STB with the United Bank for Africa. This size of the merger was a first in the history of banking in Nigeria. In 2010, following a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) regulation stipulating a maximum of 10 years for any person to be CEO of any Nigerian bank, Elumelu stepped down to found Heirs Holdings, Africa’s proprietary investment firm.

Speaking about his widely acknowledged business acumen, Elumelu said: “People think Tony Elumelu is a whizz kid. They don’t know that he surrounds himself by brilliant and competent people”.

At the end of the session, the Chairman entertained questions from staff in line with his belief that knowledge is best shared than hoarded.

The UBA Leadership Summit is the one of the knowledge sharing series for the year 2017.


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