The Executive Chairman of XL Africa Group and founder of Centre for Entrepreneurship Knowledge Exchange, Charles Nwodo Jr. has revealed what drives him as an entrepreneur and a philanthropist after having built his own empire of business. His XL Africa Group has not only a stronghold in Nigeria but also tentacles in other African countries including the United States of America.
Albeit, his whole life was dotted with working in high-pressure environments and driven by profits, profit margins, market share and so on, his purpose as an entrepreneur is a sharp contrast.
“It may sound simple but really and truly there is a purpose to entrepreneurship. If you can find that purpose, this would motivate you to wake up in the morning, and keep the appointments, meetings and all of that because it is more than just you. To be a successful entrepreneur requires something more than what the Nigerian school system prepares you for. The Nigerian school system is designed to just get you certificated.
“I think of myself as a vessel of value creation. I see myself as some part of the transformative impact for the people around me. In XL Africa, we have over 6000 members of staff and every day I wake up think about these people and how my actions directly affect them. I think about their lives, challenges, ambitions, aspirations and how I can help them. How can the company be more relevant in their lives and how can they make they become better off because of the company? These are the things that drive me as an entrepreneur,” he said in a interview.
“Find your purpose. Finding your purpose in whatever sector that you play in is what keeps you focused. It keeps your eye on the prize. Always remember that you are a vessel of value-creation, know that and let it keep you grounded. Nothing can take the place of determination, hardwork and grit,” he advised.
Charles Nwodo has an extensive career in Stockbroking, Investment and Commercial Banking. He Chairs over XL Africa Group, a successful company that operates fully-owned subsidiaries in Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the USA.
His vision for the Centre for Entrepreneurship Knowledge Exchange is to be the foremost Organisation equipping young people across Africa with leadership, entrepreneurial and employability skills to take charge in every sphere of life as tomorrow’s leaders.
Charles Nwodo was born October 9, 1962 at a place called Nsukka in Enugu State. But he is originally from a town called Ukehe in Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area of Enugu State.
He started his primary education at Saint Peter’s Primary School, Ukehe in 1970; after the Civil War. Shortly after he started his primary education, his father was rehabilitated into the Nigerian Civil Service, and so his family had to move to Nsukka, hence his primary education was transferred to Central School, Nsukka. Even though he started primary education in 1970, he finished in 1974.
His secondary school was College of Immaculate Conception, Enugu from ‘74 to ‘79. He was admitted into the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1980 where he studied Civil Engineering and graduated in 1985. In 1988, he went back to school and got his MBA.
After his MBA, he trained as a Stock Broker and qualified as a Dealing Clerk of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. He practiced stockbroking for some years at a company called M&M Securities, who were dealing members of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, he did that till 1997.
In 1997, a friend of his who he had met in Sokoto during his NYSC, Mr Tony Elemelu, invited him to join his team at Standard Trust Bank. So in 1997, he joined the then Crystal Bank of Africa, which became Standard Trust Bank and later United Bank for Africa.
He worked in the banking industry from 1997 to 2003. He left the bank in 2003 to start XL Africa Group.
His many awards for excellence and service include Distinguished service award by Rotary International;The Nigerian Economic Summit Group appreciation award; The portfolio of Management by New York Institute of Finance; Member, Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers; Member, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria; Member, Association of Currency Affairs IACA; Nigeria LNG Ltd Production division safety award to XL Africa Group and Nigeria Economic Summit appreciation award to XL Management Services Ltd.