Over the last few weeks, we had mouth watering conversations with several guests whom we can’t wait to reveal to you. Today, we are delighted to unveil the first chat with Odion Okojie, director at Pangia Consulting. He is a very accomplished professional with a rather interesting approach of life and his career.
Stay tuned to get to know all about Odion and his work together with his contributions in the energy sector.
TT: Good morning and good evening. Welcome everyone to Renewables in Africa Chanel. We are a global clean energy champion. Here we normally bring you both African and International talent for to discover who they are and learn from them. With me is a very interesting gentleman that I will let introduce himself. I can promise you that you don’t want to miss a minute of it. So here we go. Hi Odion! How are you?
OO: Hi Tony! How are you? How are you doing?
TT: I can see the smiles. Things must be good on your side.
OO: I actually enjoy our conversations whenever we get time to have them.
TT: How has your day been so far? Busy?
OO: So far so good. All my days are actually busy. I however try so hard not to make them busier than usual. I don’t enjoy the idea of being busy and not accomplishing very much.
TT: Okay. Busy-productive.
OO: Yes. Busy-productive
TT: People in our channel pretty much enjoy us having conversations with leaders in the industry. People they don’t know about but by the time we finish the conversations they know everything about you.
OO: They are going to know everything?
TT: Everything. So, there is no secret. You will not be able to hide any more.
OO: This is interesting. Let’s go.
TT: Excellent. So, who is Odion Okojie?
OO: Oh my God. I am not so used to be on the receiving end of that question. I am used to asking that question to people and watch them fumble through. If I tell you my name that doesn’t answer who I am. If I tell you where I am from it still doesn’t answer who I am. So, I would say Odion is someone who is very eclectic and sometimes very eccentric and I enjoy learning as much as I can. I have a very curious mind set and I would say that that is they core of my being. I believe very strongly in the oneness of the entire world in the sense that everyone is the same and that we are just trying to achieve the same thing.
TT: Is it fair to say that you are some kind of an explorer?
OO: I think so.
TT: I have been reading a lot about you and to some sought of sense we come from neighboring countries. I am sure that our audience in Nigeria would love to know about your journey from Nigeria to the United States where you are at the moment. What is that journey? Did you end up in a boat while running away from a situation?
OO: I swam. Ha-ha
TT: Ha-ha. I hope people will take it as a joke because of what happened to our brothers and sisters.
OO: Obviously, its not. But you know, there’s humour in everything. I was born and raised in Nigeria. I am an Edo boy. When I was 16, I got on the plain for the first time. I came to join my family. My dad was already there. Where I call my adopted home town is Cleveland, Ohio. That’s were I went to school and studied engineering. After that I moved around. Right now, I am in Arizona.
TT: What inspired you to start working for yourself? Have you worked for other people before?
OO: Coming out of college, I never thought working for myself was a possibility. I graduated in a recession. I was one of the few people who got a job offer from where I had interned. I knew for a fact that I could not work for them. It was a factory automation company. Quite frankly it was the most boring job. I could not find the motivation to do it. I knew for a fact that I truly enjoyed working and I didn’t enjoy the fact that I was not receiving the direct benefits of where my efforts were going even if I didn’t make that much money. That’s when after spending nine years in the United States I decided to go back to Nigeria. I though maybe going back to Nigeria would be a better bet. That’s when I decided I wanted to shift from factory automation into the energy sector.
TT: It is good that we are talking about your job because one of the things that we haven’t yet actually caught up on is what is actually your job? What is that that you do exactly and on a daily basis, how does your routine look like?
OO: My job is management and consultant for utilities. My particular niche is grid modernisation. That covers all manners of sin from transformational projects, renewable energy projects to traditional projects. My day to day varies. Right now, I would say that it is more technical. It really involves communication with the DER devices in the grid and helping utilities and the current clients to find better ways to communicate with the D.E.R. devices behind the meter in the customer premises. That’s a broad generalization of what I currently do.
TT: So, what actually drives you? What are you chasing?
OO: This whole entrepreneurship journey, the whole thing that drives me is absolute freedom. I completely detested being shackled to a cubical. However, I do support when people go for that goal. What I truly support is doing what you want to do. If you want to be the person who finds comfort doing a certain project in a structured path to CEO is okay, but that wasn’t me. It is pretty much the freedom that drives me to this path. We also do need to kind of give back, make a difference one way or the other. The question now is how do I freely give back, make a difference and still sustained myself?
TT: In the job that you are doing, what is it actually that makes you unique?
OO: Technical experiences have got me only so far. There is always someone who is going to know better than you. What I can say is that I looked very deeply into myself and figured out what is unique in myself and brought the blend of technical expertise working for utilities and also my management consulting expertise working for a couple of the big four companies. I have got a 360 view of looking at any problem or any project and I try to filter it down to some of my colleagues that work with me.
TT: The job you have been doing, how long have you been doing it?
OO: I have been into energy for over 10 years and the particular client for over two years.
TT: I am sure they are still very much happy otherwise they would not be contracting your services.
OO: I think I have spent too long with them to be honest. But right now, I know they need my help and I am here to serve.
TT: I wanted to ask from you, what is your perception on renewables and what do you think is the customers perspective?
OO: Tough questions.
TT: Oh, ha-ha when you have clever people in front of you, you have to make sure you deliver.
OO: I like to think of renewables in layman’s point of view. I would say let’s be careful on how we romanticise this thing. It is such a catchy word. You say renewables and you think it is all rainbows and sunshine. But it comes at a price. There are technical challenges. The most challenging aspect is customer mentality toward energy consumption. So, do customers take it seriously? In my opinion, I don’t think so. If you don’t mind allow me to elaborate on why I think so.
OO: One think that I do not like as an engineer is wasted potential. I think I picked this up from fluid dynamics course that I took one time. There are so many resources that we can tap into to have alternative sources of energy. I don’t really know the arguments of climate change. I am not a scientist in that regard. We don’t really think of where our energy comes from. The technical challenges however can be met.
TT: You answered that brilliantly. You right. For my case, I’m also saying we should romanticise things as you mentioned but we should show people how thing s can be done. Is there any particular hobby that you particularly like to do?
OO: One hobby I actually enjoy a lot is skiing. I do look forward to winters. I kind of like traversing through new terrain and mountains.
TT: How often do you go skiing?
OO: Once the winter season begins, I like to start in November and at most 20 times that season. The thing with skiing is that you never find that perfect curve and everyone is trying to get to that.
TT: You know what, the second part of this interview, we should do it on a mountain. Ha-ha.
OO: Ha-ha. We do have a snow mountain three hours away from here.
TT: We slowly and surely coming to the end of the conversation. I just wanted to ask if you have any role models.
OO: When it comes to role models, it can’t be one. The first person that comes to mind is Hannibal Bakar. He was this African General who went all the way to Italy to concur them. H erode on the back of 56 elephants across the alps. He was such a strategic thinker and innovative. The alps have pretty huge mountains but he found a way to cut through them. He also innovated when it comes to naval war fair. He changed the way we design some of our ships. And this was 200 and something BC. An ordinary guy doing extraordinary things. I like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Don’t ask me why.
TT: You are in the wrong state. You have to go to California.
OO: Yeah. I am very much inspired by him. May be finally I would say I thoroughly enjoyed Plato.
TT: I must say Arnold Schwarzenegger story is just fantastic. As a fun, you see those starts and think that everything looks beautiful but you can’t just imagine how they built their life. He was an immigrant and went all the way to become a Governor.
OO: Very inspiring.
TT: That’s Great. To ask you the final question, we had covid, that lasted for 2 years and a bit. Things have improved since though we are not out of the woods yet. All of a sudden when we finished that, we have again the Russo-Ukrainian war that has brought about tension in the world and inflation. I wanted to know as an entrepreneur, what kind of advice would you give to your younger self or a young entrepreneur going through this period and feeling a little depressed.
OO: I think the first thing that comes to my mind is Game of Thrones, where one of the characters, Little Finger says, “Chaos is a ladder”. I think there is always an opportunity in everything. Worry about the things you can control and give up the things you can’t. Case and point, I know somebody who got so upset about the Russia Ukraine war and got up and went to volunteer. During covid, that’s when I got the most clients.
TT: I think that a beautiful way to close the conversation there. That was a fascinating conversation we had there and I know we are probably going to have a chance to have the second part. It has been an honor to talk to you.
OO: Thank you very much.
TT: Like I said, brilliant interview. I am pretty much sure we are satisfied and inspired by what you have been doing so far. Thank you so much for being our guest and for your time.
OO: Thank you very much Tony, I appreciate this opportunity. Thank you, Sir.
TT: Excellent. We will stay in touch.
This interview could also be watched by clicking HERE.