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Celebrating a publishing professional par excellence

UNIVERSITY Press PLC is one of the leading publishing firms in the country, and it wouldn’t have attained such height without a focused and goal-getting management. While the firm’s success can be attributed to the efforts of all members of staff, the contribution of the managing director, Mr Samuel Kolawole, definitely stands out.

It is as a result of this that the company virtually stood still on Saturday, June 9, to celebrate the 50th birthday of the man they all call ‘SK.’

Apart from staff members of the company, people from all walks of life also gathered at the Kakanfo Inn, Joyce B, Ibadan, Oyo State, where the activities to celebrate ‘SK’ held.

One after the other, well-wishers spoke about the qualities of Samuel Kolawole, who incidentally didn’t start his career in the publishing sector.

Kolawole had qualified as a lawyer, and even during his National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) days, he had been taking briefs, which many of his seniors could only dream of.

After his NYSC, the organisation he worked for, the Customs, Immigration and Prisons Service Board, did everything to retain him, but he decided against it, and he moved to Lagos, where he joined a law firm.

SK was learning a lot and faster too in Lagos, but also felt the law profession was not for him, and that was how he found himself in banking, at Allied Bank. His seniors in the legal profession in Lagos were definitely not happy when he was leaving for the banking industry, and they said if he ever wanted to return to legal practice, he would be fully welcomed.

After a couple of years at Allied Bank, the bank went bust, but SK was among those retained to see out the liquidation process of the bank. However, during those periods, he knew he needed a new job, and through divine direction, he found himself at the University Press Plc in 2001, as the company secretary/legal adviser, and by 2005, he was made the substantive managing director at the age of 37.

SK’s fast rise in the corporate world is what one of the well-wishers at the ceremony, Pastor Nath Adewole, of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Region Six, described as divine speed.

The event also saw the presentation of a book, Samuel Kolawole: A Life of Grace, where eminent personalities spoke about the value of a man who is now known as a goal-getter.

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In the tributes section of the book, the chairman of the University Press Plc, Dr Lalekan Are, described how SK was spotted for the position of managing director after just four years in the company.

Dr Are said within SK’s first year as managing director, he doubled the company’s turnover, same for the second year, and presently, the company now generates multi-billion naira in turnover annually.

Dr Are further described Kolawole as one of the best time managers he had worked with, and it is a great testament to his talent, professionalism and determination.

Also in her tribute, UP Plc’s executive director, publishing, Mrs Folakemi Bademosi, described Mr Kolawole as a silent disciplinarian, as well as a highly-principled person, who would openly express his displeasure when people failed to do the right thing, or fell short of his expectations.

Mrs Bademosi, while admiring SK’s courage and boldness, said even when things were going wrong, he was always optimistic.

“His dedication and determination inspire us all to be dedicated and determined,” Mrs Bademosi said.

Another publishing professional, Mr Gbenro Adegbola, said SK joined the publishing industry accidentally, and he has distinguished and proved himself from a young age in virtually every aspect, be it the Nigerian Publishers Association, Nigerian Book Fair Trust and the African Publishers Network, where he has had the privilege to lead the bodies at one time or the other.

Performances by pupils of the Victory School, Oke-Ado, Ibadan, whose proprietress is the wife of the celebrant, Mrs Peju Kolawole, brightened up the venue of the event.

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