For those who have closely followed his steady and fulfilling career in business, Dr. Ala Ibanibo is a role model worthy of emulation. He is considered to be a multi-dimensional achiever because he has spread his tentacles and tenaciously weathered so many storms in his business life to reach the top echelon reserved for those who have found true fulfillment in their endeavours.
Born in Ogoloma in Okirika LGA, Rivers State in October 12, 1958, he had his primary education at Ogoloma in Okirika LGA, secondary Education through 5 year teacher Training course which he completed in three years. Thereafter, he sat for and passed GCE O and A levels. Later he proceeded to a specialized private Tertiary institution to study Mining Technology and Management and has thereafter attended several specialized courses and garnered diverse academic qualifications including OMP 8, Lagos Business School. Specialized Mini-MBA from CWC School of Oil and Gas, Houston Texas as well as the General Mgt. Programme of the prestigious Harvard Business School, Boston. U.S.A. He was capped with a Hon. Doctorate Degree in Bus. Mgt. of the PRILGRIMS CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY of Burlington, South Carolina, U.S.A in 2010.
Determined to make judicious use of knowledge acquired as a miner, he delved into an area which had never been exploited. Through hard work and dint of luck, he is today a reference point in the field of mining and supply of Barites to oil companies, a success story which began as far back as 1990.
According to him, “After graduating from Mining School I was opportune to become one of the 1st Nigerians to be involved in the Mining and Supply of Barites to the Nigerian Oil Industry back in 1990, when this solid mineral was first found in commercial quantities in Nigerian around the North Central Zone. Thereafter, one thing leads to another and in 1994, along with a few friends; we incorporated Geo-fluids Ltd as a Solid Mineral pulverizing venture initially. This we did for a few years up to 2000. We later re-appraised, redefined and enlarged our vision into full blown oil field services. Naturally, as the Chief Promoter and vision carrier, my friends entrusted the management of the venture at inception to me. I have by the grace of God remained the CEO ever-since.
Dr. Ibanibo’s success story in his chosen endeavour did not come on a platter of gold as he had to weather a lot of storms to stay afloat. He still remembers that when he begun it was a case of untested waters which presented very high risk but the drive for success was the propeller. “All the challenges of Venturing into “untested waters” huge risks and all, e.g extremely low capital to fully drive the vision. Inadequate Technical knowledge and the dynamics of the oil and gas business in Nigerian including the Politics of US dollars and Naira. Prejudices of the oil industry resulting in rejection of our services by the oil 10C’s for over 5 years after start-up.
As earlier stated, his success story has made him an authority that must be taken very seriously by upcoming business Executives who want to succeed. He is of the firm belief that when businessmen succeed, a lot of benefits are garnered for the good of the everyone in the society. “Winning in Business is great, because when companies win, people thrive and grow; more jobs and opportunities are created for everyone. People feel upbeat about the future, they have resources to send their kids to college, obtain better health care, buy vacation homes and secure a comfortable retirement and winning affords them opportunity to give back to Society in hugely important ways beyond just paying taxes…winning lifts everyone it touches. It makes the world a better place”.
Loosing is the direct opposite. Thus Nigerian business must ‘work for’ and not ‘wish for’ winning “my recipe for this is:’ Win’ clean and by the rules. No short cuts. Short cuts are not sustainable channels and do not last; Create your distinct road map and not a copy-cat as it is typical in Nigeria. We are a harvest of opportunity; define your vision clearly and hold tenaciously to it. Craft it in a way to eliminate ambiguities, so from day one you know your destination; drive your vision with passion; invest in your people through education, Training etc. They are your most valuable capital and asset. Geo-fluids people are generally passionate about their job because they feel belong; educate yourself, seek knowledge.
Do not presume you know it all”.
The CEO of Geo-Fluids Groups believes unflinchingly that business thrives mostly when there is a clear cut mission statement which is not allowed to weaver in the face of unfavourable business climate. He attributes the success story of Geo Fluids Group to well articulated mission statement and core values.
“Our mission and values have a reasonable harmonious fusion over the last 13 years and this has helped us to stabilize the structural framework we require to drive our brand into a prosperous future. We are very proud of the Geo-fluids brand name which we hope to soon internationalize”.
Dr. Ibanibo believes that for a Chief Executive Officer of a business conglomerate to succeed, he or she must be willing to learn and also invest trust in his subordinates. “Every CEO must be knowledgeable or at least be willing to learn. Do not take the opposition for granted, speaking purely from the perspective of a manager in oil and gas. It may not be same for all sectors but it is my belief that to a large extends CEO’s generally face similar challenges. Invest trust in your people and involved them until they prove otherwise. Without this you could have a huge disconnect between a company’s internal Frame and the drivers of the vision. There is always one vision carrier but several drivers. You do not give your car to a driver you do not trust do you? Once you give him the car then, you got to trust and rely on his judgment and skill in maneuvering the car and passengers to desired destination. But here we tend to generally employ the driver, give him the keys but still hold on tight to the steering.
The CEO of Geo-Fluids Group unveiled the turning point for his group to be the day our professional competence was recognized with a big contract by a major player in the oil business. “My best moment was the day nearly 12 years ago when Geo-fluids was awarded the first major contract by one of the oil majors. It was a turning point. Since then we have been steadily climbing up and growing organically.”
Dr. Ibanibo therefore believes that Nigerian businessmen will succeed only if they eradicate the idea of doing it alone. “Part of the reason we have all sorts of miniature service organizations in Nigeria which cannot create any meaningful impact both nationally and globally is the tendency to “run my little show”. We should learn from the recent consolidation of the banking sector and its ripple effects. Today, we have Mega banks in Nigeria which are becoming global players. Why? A fusion of larger and diverse ideas, skills and resources. They may not be necessarily harmonious initially, matter of factly, they may be conflicting but there is strength in numbers and numbers afford you the opportunity to poly-focalize. Geo-fluids Group is driving in that direction of becoming the first Nigerian Oil and Gas Service Organization with a Global poly-focal reach. We are on the march by re-engineering our company for eventual listing on the Nigerian Stock Market and beyond.