Public opinions on social media are often too spontaneous and unscrupulous to hold unto. Like I often say ‘if you want to know the man, work up to him!’ So, we walked up to the man whose bodyguards have been accused of beating up road users on his account, and who was recently made famous by a blogger who falsely described him as the man who ordered private helicopter during traffic on Ore-Benin expressway. But that is a story for another day. This Interview is simply to know who is this man. what are his belives? And this is what he has to say:
1. Could you please tell us who you are and what you do?
My name is Julian Osula. I am an Entrepreneur. I have interest in various businesses mainly jewels. I own Julain luxuries.
2. Please share with us a brief history of your growing up and your education?
I went to Eghosa Primary School, Benin, Edo State, and later Eghosa Grammar School for a term. Then I moved to Barlborugh Hall School, Chesterfield. Then I went to Mount St Mary’s College Chesterfield where I did my A level. I came back to Nigeria in 1984 and studied law at the University of Benin and graduated in 1988 with LLB Honours, then proceeded to Nigerian Law School in 1989 for my BL. But I never practised. I had other things in mind. I went to the banking industry therefrom. I worked briefly there (2years). I served with First City Merchant Bank (Now called First City Monument Bank), from there I joined Alpha Merchant Bank which is now defunct. It was a bank to be in those days. I left in 1992 to start my own business which is specialized printing. I printed for a lot of banks and companies like Texaco, and a lot of companies. I printed currency wrappers for First Inland Bank and Access Bank.
3. Sir, tell us, at what stage in your youth did you truly first realize what you want to become or where you are going?
Ahh. That was in my 2nd year at the University. I love good things and would often skim through magazines and was inspired. I knew I had to sit up and I married early which made me even more focused. I got married at 26.
4. Did you have any Mentor(s) at the time?
Ehm, that’s a good one. I had someone I look up to in the fashion world, his name is Augustine. He exposed me to a lot of things going on around the world.
5. What were your greatest challenges at that stage?
My only challenge then was really, how to achieve my dreams. I knew I love good things and I had to get them. I realized that the only way to get that done was to be self-employed. I had to make out my own way.
6. How did you overcome those challenges?
Well, working at the bank and being good at what I do made me knew a few colleagues high up the rank. So, after careful thought, I went to them and told them I was leaving to start my own business. I asked for investment and because they believed in me, they invested in my business and that was it for me. I knew I had to make the money work for me and I had people’s trust.
7. Honestly, do you think an Entrepreneur in Nigeria, can still make it from our present economy and societal challenges bearing in mind the dearth of funding?
I believe it is possible. There are some people out there, Retired Generals, Politicians, Investors, etc who don’t know what to do with their money and have no mind or creative knowledge for business. Take the risk. I believe for every need, there is a match out there, that is a supplier. It is tough I know, but as Robert Schuller would say ‘Tough times don’t last, tough people, do.’ Any creative and innovative Entrepreneur out there can still make it. It could be a new business, it could be an improvement of an existing business. It may take time, but it will come through.
8. How do you manage work and family at the same time?
Sometimes I work from home. I have a good stuff-up library. I have almost everything there. Working from home sometimes, helps keeps me close to family. And when I am out, I try to get back on or before 8-9 pm. I encourage holiday and communication and would speak to my wife about 4times a day. I also call my children every day. Please share, what are the 3 most vital lessons you have gathered in this journey so far? Wow. I have learnt that honesty and hard work pays. Prayers and having a good heart also help. When you have a good heart, God always reaches out to you. And finally, be who you are. Live your dreams and do not be afraid to take risk.
9. What is your take on this – Can one be a true Christian and yet become a successful businessman/woman in Nigeria?
It is possible. In the sense that you do not cheat. You see, the line between profit and greed is very very thin. Are you with me? It is almost difficult to draw the line. Having a business comes with a cost and the bottom line for every business is to survive. Your level of profit margin is key. You remember UTC stores, Leventis Motors and Stores, Moloney Supermarket, etc, where are they now? Now we have the Park N Shops, Spar, etc. Sustainability is key. If your profit margin is not much, there will be no resources to withstand the days of storm. But if you have a good profit margin over the years, you can put aside something for the rainy days or the days market is slow. So Yes, you can be a good Christian and a good businessman as you do not need to be fraudulent, or engage in 419 practices, or murder anyone or any of those evil things. I try to be a good Christian. I do not kill, nor defraud anyone, but I don’t compromise on my profit margins! I know some persons who tried to call talk me into cultism, etc, but I refuse and held my ground as a Christian I am trying to be, and look where I am today. I am still surviving. I just do not compromise on my profit margins.
10. Finally, any parting word/word(s) of advice to young professionals out there?
Well, be yourself. Work hard, no short cuts. Sometimes hard work and success also brings enmity and contempt, but be sincere and let God direct you. Be creative and have time for God’s work and family. If you have a good wife and Children, it helps because you will look forward to home and not bar parlours.
Thank you, Sir, for your time and honest response.
(Interview, an excerpt from Vinum Magazine, 1st edition, SSPJ)