Immersed in a strong belief in changing the odds for the benefit of humanity through innovation, diligence, and hard work, Folorunso Aliu has made name for himself as a quintessential CEO whose enterprising acumen sets him miles ahead of his contemporaries. It is no gainsaying that this contributed to his rise from the bottom of the ladder as an intern many years ago to becoming the Group Managing Director of Telnet (Nigeria) Limited; the parent company for iTECO (Nigeria) Limited and Softworks Limited.
In the course of his career at Telnet, the Obafemi Awolowo University graduate of Computer Engineering was involved in the building of some of the earliest networks, e-security and network optimization rollout for financial institutions in Nigeria from the ground up.
In 2003, he served as the Head of Network Support and subsequently became the National Coordinator of Network Support in 2005 for iTECO, where he successfully grew the revenue and annuity income of the company from a small enterprise into a multimillion-dollar going-concern.
In 2007, he became the Managing Director of iTECO and later Group Project Director for Strategic Projects. During this period, he also doubled as the director responsible for the Northern Nigeria region of Telnet Group’s operations before his eventual rise to the top, where he oversees the entire operations of the company, while also offering leadership.
As one of the firms at the vanguard of ICT development in Nigeria, the Telnet Group has continued to deliver giant strides in the InfoTech space in its 36 years of existence. Given its position as a pioneer in the provision of FinTech solutions, the company has impacted Nigerians by making it possible to conduct financial transactions seamlessly, taking away the challenges peculiar with the banking sector two decades ago.
According to the CEO, Telnet is all about making life better for the average Nigerian which is why the company has continued to be at the forefront of relevance in its 36 years of existence. “A number of company started with us, but they have been confined to history. Some of the solutions we developed in the past have taken this country forward and changed the landscape tremendously. A lot of young people don’t know what it means to cash a cheque at a bank 20 years ago. Some don’t even know what a cheque looks like because most transactions are now done online.
“We birthed the first FinTech entity in Nigeria. In the area of mobile payment, we are happy to say that we birthed what is today, the largest mobile money operator in Nigeria. We have made changes beyond money-making; we affect people’s lives positively and that is what we are all about”, he said.
Speaking further, Aliu explained that ICT deployment in Nigeria is at an appreciable level given the fact that ICT deployment has become predominant in certain areas which has positioned us above some advanced nations.
“We may not be where we want to be, and the truth is that we are far from where we should be. To be candid, some advanced nations are not close to what we have achieved in terms of mobile payment. Even in terms of telephony, we have gone far ahead of some countries because they are still making use of landlines in those countries, but because we didn’t have enough landlines, we leapfrogged to GSM migration and we have been able to achieve a lot as a result of this”, he said.
He, however, stressed that the country would only get to where it ought to be in terms of ICT deployment when those in positions of authority in both public and private organizations begin to operate from the perspective of getting service delivered to the people. “People want to be served; especially, when something of value is taken from them. If we change our orientation towards service delivery, adopting technology will be so quick because we have the human capacity to deliver”, he added.
A Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants (FIMC), Aliu is no doubt an authority to reckon with both locally and internationally in the InfoTech space. His resourcefulness at getting results has been evident in the operations of the company since he came on board, with notable awards and recognitions coming the way of the Telnet Group. His leadership skills have also endeared him to young professionals who look up to him for mentorship.
With the goal of penetrating every sector of the economy through innovative solutions, the MBA graduate of the Lagos Business School explained that the company aims to be at the core of productivity in every public and private organization.
“The strategy is not just to add value, but to be the core partner in every industry. Currently, we are developing solutions that will make organizations tick. We are not playing on the fringes anymore. The goal is to be the core partner of any organization. In the area of governance, we want to be at the core of what makes government tick in delivering service to Nigerians. As we speak now, service culture in Nigeria is still very low, so we want to be the catalyst that will bring about a Nigeria where people demand service and the government delivers to the people. This also applies to the private sector, we want to bring innovation to manufacturing, oil and gas, power, healthcare, agriculture, and SMEs”, he informed.