FD William Olotu focuses on training both mind and body

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In the realm of finance, where numbers often hold the key to success, William Olotu, finance director at Abercrombie & Kent in Tanzania, has not only mastered the intricacies of balance sheets but has also found an unexpected passion in the discipline of karate.

In the realm of finance, where numbers often hold the key to success, William Olotu, finance director at Abercrombie & Kent in Tanzania, has not only mastered the intricacies of balance sheets but has also found an unexpected passion in the discipline of karate.

Born in Tanzania, William's academic journey initially pointed towards a medical career.

“I actually did biology when I was studying for my A levels. However, I didn't manage to go into my preferred university, so I went with my second option, which was a bachelor’s degree in business with a focus on accounting,” he explains.

After completing his studies, William landed his first role at Tanzania Cigarette Company (TCC), a subsidiary of Japan Tobacco International (JTI), where he spent three years before joining Diageo Serengeti Breweries for a few months.

However, William’s contribution at TCC was sorely missed and he was soon courted to return - in a more senior position.

“The structure at TCC is a bit different to most other companies. For example, factory finance does not report to the CFO and there are what is called dotted lines, like a matrix reporting structure. So, I was in financial control and in charge of factory finances and reporting to the manufacturing director and also reporting to the group factory CFO,” he explains.

Versatility and leadership

William counts becoming the head of factory finance at the age of 28 this as one of his career highlights.

After spending about three years in the role, William was ready for the next challenge, a CFO role, covering Tanzania and Rwanda, at global fertiliser giant Yara International. This gave William the opportunity to showcase his versatility, as he navigated the intricate financial landscape of a new industry.

“After about two years, Kenya was also incorporated into my portfolio,” he says.

This period provided William with his second career highlight. With this admirable experience under his belt, William again ventured into a new industry when he took on the finance leadership role at prominent tourism company Abercrombie & Kent (A&K) Tanzania, which is a subsidiary of Abercrombie & Kent Group.

A&K was established in 1962 and operates across seven continents.

“I have a good team. We have monthly reviews and discussions, and we also look at P & L and balance sheet as a team. We set realistic targets and I manage to delegate very well,” he says.

Discipline, resilience, commitment

 

Amidst financial negotiations and business development plans, William manages to balance the demands of his professional life with an unexpected passion: karate.

“I did Shotokan classes for five years. When I started, I was quite chubby and joined group evening classes in Dar es Salaam. The others in the class had been there for years and I could not even do the quad exercises easily. So, I retreated for about six months but then I returned and spoke to the instructor about private lessons,” William says.

That conversation resulted in one-on-one morning karate lessons.

“It was difficult. I would go to the dojo (the Japanese term for a martial arts gym) and carry my work clothes, shoes, everything. Then after lessons, I would change there and go directly to the office. I am now a brown belt and preparing for my first dan black belt exam,” he adds.

This personal endeavour in the martial arts is testament to William’s core personality traits of discipline, resilience and commitment, which also serve him well in the world of finance.

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