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|What Type Of Leader Is Konga's Founder, Sim Shagaya? by ConnectMee: 1:57pm On Jun 17|
September 2012. The presser was going on smoothly until I almost blew it.
“Considering the very high mortality rate of digital startups in Nigeria, what assurance do you have that Konga.com will be around in the next five years?” I fired my only question at Sim Shagaya, Founder and first CEO of Konga Online Shopping Mall.
The room went quiet. Accusing stares mostly from other journos were directed at me. Few looked at me in admiration. I sat unperturbed.
Sim paused a few seconds. Then very calmly answered, “Honestly, I don’t know.” Perhaps in an afterthought, he added, “We have a great team behind this project and we are ready to give it all it takes. By God’s grace, we hope to be around beyond the next five years.”
June 2015. I sat almost two hours at the ground floor office reception of SUM House, Yaba, Lagos,waiting for the last stage job interview with Sim Shagaya.
As I rode the elevator to the last floor of the four-storey building where he had his office, I silently prayed he did not recollect my face and my seemingly annoying question from the pool of journalists and brand writers he addressed at a press conference three years earlier.
Finally, I was ushered into his presence. He apologized first for keeping me waiting, adding that he has been on a Skype call all day.
“Oh, you were at Ringier!” His face suddenly lit up as he scanned a hard copy of my resume given to him by an assistant.
“So what was your biggest challenge at Ringier?”
I singled out a not so user-friendly email marketing software I had challenges with at Ringier and detailed how I struggled using it.
”So do you have any questions for me”, he asked.
”Considering the success you have built with this brand in almost three years, would you say Konga has arrived and what plans do you have for the future of the company especially within the next five years?”
The big man looked directly at me, smiled and answered. ”I foresee Konga being the engine of commerce in Africa in the next few years. We could diversify into digital media, television, you never can tell. Another thing, five years from now I may not be here. Perhaps Konga will be under a new leadership.”
”Noted sir,” I said.
The last sentence was perhaps a subtle hint at his exit strategy.
His next question jolted me. “So when are you joining us?
“In two weeks time, sir.”
The whole interview was less than three minutes. The shortest I ever had.
As I took my leave, almost halfway through the door, he suddenly said:
“Don’t burn bridges.”
I smiled and thanked him.
Pragmatic, visionary, brutally honest, fair, very considerate, hardworking, influential, a go-getter and team leader; these are the qualities I would ascribe to Sim.
Sim Shagaya was the type of leader you will love to work selflessly with and win with.
Beyond giving us erstwhile staff jobs via Konga.com, he made us see possibilities and opened up the opportunities to excel in a new and exciting industry.
For most business owners, customers come first and this often at the detriment of their staff well-being but with Sim it was different. He did not sacrifice his staff’s welfare for the customers’ naira.
The story was told of how he refused to move the company to the Island despite the fact that he lives there but rather have it situated on the Mainland where the larger percentage of his employees reside.
I know it must hurt him gravely selling off Konga, but then, it has to be done in the best interest of the organisation.
A massive thank you goes to Simdul Shagaya for inspiring millions of Nigerians in the possibility of the digital business. Onwards and to the best!
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