Interview

Great Companies Can Be Built in Nigeria, Not Just in Western Countries – Layer3 CEO

Managing Director and CEO, Layer3, Oyaje Idoko

One of the 2019 Top 20 CEOs in the ICT industry and the Managing Director and CEO of Layer3, Oyaje Idoko, spoke about the values of his company and why he believed that Nigeria can produce some great companies. Excerpt.

What drives Layer3 as a company?

Behind any successful organization should be those things that drive it to be successful. You might have the best infrastructure or the best services. However, if you’re not guided by certain values and, ultimately those things will lead to nothing. So, value is about people. Value is about what drives the organizations to make them do what they do.

We have carefully chosen those values. We have respect for people and respect for people now is not just about our employees, but about our customers, about our vendors, about all our stakeholders that work with us to make our businesses run. We must treat them well because we believe without our people we can’t have a successful organization.

We are in a most dynamic industry where technology changes so rapidly and we have realized that if we are not constantly improving ourselves as individuals, as a company, then, of course, we will remain obsolete.  We have been here for 14 years. It is because we have continuously improved ourselves. Leadership is also very paramount. It’s also one of our values.

Without the right leadership, you know, not just me, but across all tiers of the organization, structures within the organisation, we can’t move forward. We have to set the right examples, be disciplined, and then we also have integrity too.

We are in an environment where that trait is not common anymore. However, we hold ourselves accountable and we are expecting our customers to do the same. We want to be here for the long term and the only way that is possible is if people can hold us to our word. But first of all, we have to hold ourselves accountable. So yes, we take our values very seriously.

Is the business incorporated in Layer3?

Yes, BlackSentry. I will call it a new venture, which we invested in roughly two years ago. It’s focused purely on data analytics and cybersecurity. We carved that out to drive those two business units because of what we did see that is available in the market. It is a market where there’s so much data. However, most organizations find it difficult to utilize data to make informed decisions.

So, BlackSentry was carved out of Layer3 with a special team to help organizations and government to use data, to analyze data, and to bring our insights that can help them to make a better decision. And of course, once the data has been aggregated, they also realize there are threats.

In terms of cybersecurity, what are your views?

I think most organizations have the responsibility of putting measures in place to safeguard and secure their data and critical infrastructure.  I mean, you can liken it to the fact that looking at the physical security and the crime as an individual or as a company, you can’t say because the police are there, I’m not going to do anything to secure my environment.

So, fortunately, most companies never realize the risk and threats that exist until they have been attacked. So, it’s extremely important that people realize that the threats and risks are there. So, what do you do to militate against this and that is by putting the right measures in place?

And prevention, they say, is better than cure. So, even if we have the legislation and the policies, it can never be perfect. I mean, anybody’s desire is to prevent an attack in the first place. Because once it happened, sometimes the cost of recovery is unquantifiable. So, I will advise companies to come to terms with the fact that, yes, there is a present danger and there is a need to rise up to that by putting necessary measures in place to secure themselves.

How would Layer3 help organisations to take the steps?

Well, for Layer3 as a company, I think one of the critical things that I believe we hold very close our heart is that we are genuinely interested in working with our customers to make their business more successful. And that is very apparent in how we have run the business over the past 14 years where we hold our customers very, very close. We listen to their needs and work with them to discuss solutions to make them more comfortable in doing what they do best.

We work with some of the leaders in the technology industry across the globe to ensure that what we are offering customers the best of the breed in different areas. The results are apparent and our customers are comfortable and satisfied with what we offer. We believe it’s more about a partnership and the only way our business can continue to thrive is if our customers’ businesses to thrive. This is the only way we can continue to grow and remain an endearing company.

On the technology bit, we work closely with our customers. We consider ourselves an extension of their IT departments, and we partner in progress. We are actually one of the few companies that have cloud services right now in Nigeria. And you know, our cloud solutions can be compared with some of the best in the world currently. We have some of the most mission-critical organisations that are running our cloud services.

You have been recognised as one of the Top 20 CEOs in the ICT industry

I appreciate the gesture and recognition. However, I think, for me, what is most critical is how we can build a truly great and Nigerian company. Not just what our staff and management can be proud of, you know, come to work every day and feel happy. Also for Nigeria, it will give us a lot of joy to know that, yes a great company can be built out of this country, not just in the Western countries. So far, that’s what really drives us.

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