By Bukola Ogunsina
A Nigerian, Tom Ilube, has emerged the United Kingdom’s most powerful black man.
Ilube, who’s also a British citizen, was unveiled as the most powerful black man in the country by Powerlist, a publication which selects 100 of the most powerful people of African and African Caribbean heritage.
Powerlist explained that competitors were judged on their “ability to change lives and alter events, as demonstrated over a protracted period of time and in a positive manner.”
An independent panel of judges led by Dame Linda Dobbs, a former high court judge, and Michael Eboda, a publisher, recommended him, after which he was announced.
Ilube, 53, who was born in Isleworth, west London, to a Nigerian father, schooled at the University of Benin, Edo State, where he bagged a B.Sc Physics. He later obtained an MBA at Cass Business School in London.
After graduation, several efforts to get a job all ended in frustration. He applied and was rejected for a graduate trainee scheme at McDonald’s “for not being good enough”.
But he didn’t give up. He sent applications to every company starting with the letter A and was turned down again and again, so he started working through the Bs and ended up working for British Airways as a programmer. He later worked at the London Stock Exchange in the 1980s, where he was one of few black professionals. He was able to work his way to the top.
Ilube is renowned for his outstanding work in education. He founded Hammersmith Academy, which opened in September 2011 and has gone on to become one of the UK’s most innovative technology schools.
A philanthropist, he set up African Gifted Foundation, to help transform the lives of hundreds of children on the continent.
Earlier this year, he opened the African Science Academy (ASA), Africa’s first girls-only science and technology school, based in Ghana, with young women scientists attending from Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Sierra Leone and Uganda.
Though a fee-paying school, ASA provides scholarships for students with financial needs.
The academy which is driving Africa’s development by inspiring and unleashing the next generation of gifted scientists and engineers, aims to admit over 200 students a year.
Commenting on the institution, he said: “I am convinced that we have brilliant young women in African who have the potential to be tomorrow’s world class scientists and engineers.
“Launching the African Science Academy is the highlight of all my work in education over the past decade. I am convinced that we have brilliant young women in African who have the potential to be tomorrow’s world class scientists and engineers.”
Ilube, who has established several successful technology companies, has a vast experience. He served as the chief executive officer of Crossword Cybersecurity Plc and served as its chairman of the board until September 1, 2016.
He was the managing director at Callcredit Limited and Consumer Markets at Callcredit Information Group Limited. He also founded Garlik Ltd. and served as its chief executive officer. Ilube co-founded Lost Wax in 1996 and served as its chief executive officer, where he took an active role in the business development. He served as chief information officer of Egg plc. Ilube has over 25 years of commercial systems delivery experience with a range of blue chip organizations, including Goldman Sachs, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, London Stock Exchange, British Airways and Cap Gemini. He served as Overall programme manager for the initial launch of Egg financial services. He is a highly regarded board level adviser and inspirational speaker on e-commerce issues and technology trends. He currently serves as a director of Crossword Cybersecurity Plc and Callcredit Limited.
On his latest recognition, he said: “I’m incredibly proud of all of our Powerlistees this year and over the past 10 years in which we’ve published the magazine. Tom isn’t a household name, but quietly behind the scenes, he has had an incredible effect on the lives of so many people across the world.”