He walks tall with authority, commanding enormous respect as he churns out instructions in that business cockpit. Mohammed Hayatu-Deen is a household name for his rare magic wand to re-oxygenate a dying business to full life of robust and sound health.
“As a chairman, there is an enormous amount of value you can bring to the board and to the company on account of the many relationships that you have nurtured over the years, which you can bring to bear to capitalize on opportunities and also overcome threats that the company is facing. Above all, the chairman is supposed to be a very good cheerleader, so that when your people are down, you can lift their spirits, and when they are up, you can multiply their strengths many times over.”
In 1992, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen was saddled with the uphill task of transforming the then moribund Federal Savings Bank (FSB), based on his track record as a business technocrat who has traversed several companies with notable accomplishments.
But those who understood the state of the FSB at that time, knew Mohammed was about to pick up a hard job due to the insolvency of the entity he was about inheriting. But in no time, his experience in raising the bank from the dusty carpet of oblivion to the graceful height of recognition in the finance sector, made him the first Nigeria Bank managing director to turn around a sick and dying financial institution. The fruit of his labour, Federal Savings Bank International, was a new, viable and successful commercial bank that listed on the stock exchange.
Digging into Mohammed’s background is an expose to a beginning that was already pointing to an enviable business carrier. An economics graduate of Ahmadu Bello University, he has a corporate backstory as a Group Managing Director of the Northern Nigeria Development Corporation (NNDC), prior to his FSB reengineering. The NNDC was a diversified investment and holding monolith with investment in 145 companies. It was incorporated in 1956, owned by the Northern region and was subsequently passed into the hands of the northern states after the dissolution of the region in 1966.
Recounting his experience, he said: “By the time I rose to the position of Group Managing Director of NNDC, with 145 companies under my supervision, I had been on about 25 boards of the company. The companies where I had been chairman are too numerous to remember them all. Fact is that I have sat on over 45 boards. I cannot totally remember where and when I had been a chairman,” Mohammed said.
More to his feathers is the fact that he is one of the forces behind the Nigerian Economic Summit and at one time member and chairman of the Technical Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation (TCPC). He is currently Vice Chairman and CEO of Alpine Investment Services Limited and he also serves as a Director on the board of Seven Up and PZ Cussons.
“Being the chairman does not give you a license to ride roughshod over people. The board is a collegiate system of leadership. One of your key duties as the chair is to distil everything that people are saying, filter and summarise. To do that, you need to listen very well.
“You also need to be a man of integrity. Integrity means acting on what you say you would do, as opposed to being ethical which has to do with morality. A good chairman has to be both ethical as well as demonstrate the fine quality of leadership by way of integrity.