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News & Events : Africa Business : The African that...
The African that Heads a College in Europe
  Sunday, September 16, 2007   - The News

The African that heads a college in Europe

This extensive interview was published by the African Bulletin. It is about a Nigerian who founded and runs his own institution in the Netherlands--The International College of Commerce. I am pride to present the article as published in the African Bulletin.

The writer goes:

It takes great dedication and discipline for an African to successful complete a high level of education in the Netherlands or any country in Europe for that matter. It is even a greater accomplishment and something of awe when you find an African who not only successful complete a tedious studies at a doctorate level but runs a highly promising college of repute.

In our continued quest to fish out Africans in our midst that are beating the odds to make good of themselves and show to other fellow Africans that hard work and dedication to a good cause does give satisfaction and pay good dividends, we found Dr. Paul Oviawe, the founder and current Principal of the International College of Commerce based in the Netherlands. Please read below our chat with this man of excellence:

The African Bulletin: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Paul Oviawe: I come from a humble beginning; born and nurtured in Warri, Delta state of Nigeria into a traditional catholic large family of 11 children. I am happily married and blessed with three children. I have lived in the Netherlands now for approximately ten years.

TAB: How long have you been in business and what attracted you to the business of education?

Oviawe: I became an Educationist by circumstance and with a bit of good luck. After my primary education in Warri, with no money and motivation from my parents to continue, I was advised to look for a vocational training as a wrist watch repair apprentice. On my fourth week on the job, an old school mate visited and told me his father had asked him to visit a special exam entrance for Chief Awolowo’s then UPE-universal primary scheme (Free Education) and asked if I could escort him there. I did and was persuaded by the organizers to sit for the exams which I did and passed. My entire study life has been in Education & Management, Teachers Training college TC2, College of Education, and when I moved to the Netherlands; International Management B.A, International Strategic HRM, M.A and Doctorate in Education, EdD. This accidental love and passion to muscle all the knowledge I could envisage was the single motivator and attraction to the business of sharing/transferring knowledge that we call Education.

TAB: Is any specialized training required to start running an institution such as International College of Commerce (ICC)?

Oviawe: As a private School Principal, a huge part of my job is leading the teaching staff and students; dealing with student welfare issues and implementing student-driven programmes and policies that are aligned to the education curriculum. A typical working day involves enquiries from students, proposed students, teachers and also focusing on the bigger picture such as building the culture of the school, developing educational policies and working with the staff to bring about positive outcomes in learning. Being the school principal means you are the public profile of the school. As an African Academia, my role is constantly broadening with tasks that don't specifically relate to education such as counselling, conferences, debates & symposiums etc.

The specialised training is simply gaining academic knowledge of the Principles and Practices of Education; a serious passion in the business of teaching and learning, a good team of Academics to work together and finally you also need leadership skills which will include "Time management, Perseverance and Interpersonal skills.’ Running a school is not a one-man show!

TAB: Were you involved in any other business activities before starting ICC?

Oviawe: After my Masters programme in 2002, I ventured into management consulting, Afrimerchant Consulting International. The idea was good and I was getting few jobs from some government establishments and private organizations, but with shark-effect created by the growth of the Nigerian-epidemic financial crime popularly known as 419, ‘advance fee fraud’ the problem of trust on Nigerian identity driven businesses made it impossible to function. So the idea was sunk after one year of operation. To this day certainly the spill-offs from this International financial crimes are heavily weighing on most, if not all Nigerian-driven genuine ideas and intentions.

TAB: Who are your students?

Oviawe: The International College of Commerce is the only group accredited provider of the worldwide professional studies in accounting and marketing in continental Europe. In ICC we recognize the commercial needs of today’s multinational businesses through constant in-company training of staff and students. Our target students/workers are those working with multinational companies. A student who studied in Ghana can conclude in the Netherlands or vice versa. Self employed persons have a bigger advantage with our studies especially now that most businesses have a multinational element.

ICC studies are very professional and demands that students have a first university degree. However due to some setbacks with the African students communities (problems with their earlier gained education), ICC Consulting has developed two new A LEVEL packages in Business Accounting or Marketing Management. It’s an intensive three months preparatory/finishing course which is offered part-time. The course will create a cue and balance bridging the gaps for participants intending to undertake further studies or embark on self employment/employment. Apart from England, the ICC Netherlands is the only place you can get these professional education, that’s why we regularly hosts students from Germany, the Benelux and Spain.

TAB: What makes your college stand out?

Oviawe: We have a continental character with ICC in Asia, Australia and Europe - The Netherlands and expect to grow into South America - Argentina and Africa - Nigeria/Ghana shortly. Students can take lectures and exams in any of our facilities worldwide.

Convenience: Largely out of hours, weekend taught and revision courses as well as Customized study packages; Quality: Full exam focused syllabus coverage from start to finish incorporating all the latest changes. Class sizes are limited to guarantee high pass rates and Experienced and qualified tutors; Support: Direct e-mail and telephone access to tutors to ensure ongoing study-support as well as round the clock support-line during the final days before examinations; Interactivity: Exchange country’s business perspectives with students from various European countries. Exchange company experiences with accounting and marketing students from different multinational companies like Cisco Systems, Siemens, Unilever, Adidas, Shell, Mitsubishi Corporation, UPC, General Electric and KPMG.


TAB: What are the goals of ICC in the next five years?

Oviawe: Our mission is to deliver professional education and training to every locality, therefore setting up ICC in various continents and making new world class entrepreneurs and managers are of primary concern to us.

TAB: If you were not in the education business, what kind of business would you be in?

Oviawe: Working for the Red Cross in the Niger-Delta area of Nigeria.

TAB: Does your business support community initiatives and projects?

Oviawe: ICC does support community initiatives and developments. For instance we offer scholarship programmes to the less opportune but motivated Africans who wishes to study, internship programmes, voluntary work programmes and development projects in Education.

TAB: What are your activities outside work?

Oviawe: I am a home-body; I love living at home with the family.

TAB: Any advice for people of ethnic minority interested in going into business?

Oviawe: Doing Business in the Netherlands can be compared to going to a War for Independence; the odds are 200% against your natural identity. The fight can be seen as between the major Dutch institutions and the individual business (5 Elephants against 1 Pig) - the chances are almost non-existent.

But as Africans we do believe in miracles and sometimes wonders do happen. To create a wonder you have to apply the Japanese management principle known as Jujitsu (carefully watching your opponents’ weaknesses & be ever tactical). With Good luck you will create a Porcupine effect (difficult to predict) and if you can get together a Good management Team that must include some dedicated Dutch, that will give birth to Exceptions.

You and your business will be perceived as a rare occurrence by the COUNTRY CLUB and in most occasions will be left to survive as a Case for Study. If by a miracle you get to this level of operation, it’s safe to advise that the Entrepreneur can leave the future of the business to FATE in the hands of friendly heavenly forces.

You must acknowledge the reality that Dutch integration process doesn’t extend to helping the business idea or the entrepreneur in to financial freedom but rather it nervously helps identify as to what extent & scope the idea or individual can manoeuvre before the intervention of the COUNTRY CLUB.

On the other hand, if your interest is in a local (indigenous) business to settle your small indigenous community need, you will meet no serious difficulties from the COUNTRY-CLUB.
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