Meet An Engineer’s dream – Ibidapo Ilawole (Daddy Stone)

Daddy Stone

Daddy Stone

Ibidapo Ilawole popularly known as Daddy Stone by his many admirers is a man of many wonderful parts. He is married with a beautiful daughter. He exemplifies the word humility to a fault even when we all know the depth he possesses. His profile is a very intimidating one that most of us look up to and his ability to inspire and lead is very awesome. His meritorious career has spanned many years and took him through IT companies, a top bank in Nigeria, Econet/Vmobile Nigeria, Cingular Wireless in the United States, Ericsson Consultant for Telma in Madagascar and Mcel Mozambique.
He is any Engineer’s dream and a mentor for many young Engineers he has impacted throughout his career.
I am a testimony of his leadership and inspirational sides as he was my boss in Vmobile Nigeria where he introduced me into the Telecoms world. He did not only impact a good work culture into me but his impeccable and cultured lifestyle was a big lesson for me. He opens the floor of this series because I see in him a manager of men, talented individual and someone who through hardwork and dedication turned his life around. I am quite sure you will learn a thing or two from this gentleman. As promised – you will have the opportunity to ask him questions through a medium to be communicated soon. Happy reading!

Let us meet you sir:

My name is Ibidapo Olaniyi Ilawole or Stone as most people call me

What do you do?

I work as a Telecommunications Engineer

Educational journey from primary to Post-Secondary:

Fountain Nursery & Pry School,
Ansar-ud-deen college isolo,
C.A.C Grammar school Akure
Oyemekun Grammar school Akure
C.M.S Grammar school Lagos (A Levels)

Can you describe your Secondary school years for us?

Very interesting haven spent the early part of it in Lagos before moving to Akure and meeting new people and making new friends.
It also allowed me to have a round view of what it meant to be a day student and also a boarding student (border as it is called)
It was full of adventure fun and it actually marked a turning point in making a decision for me.

What about University?

I attended the University of Lagos Akoka and studied Electrical Engineering both at BSC and MSC levels

What lessons did you take from your Secondary and University days that is shaping your life today?

Hmmmn like I said earlier, my secondary school marked a decision making point in my life.
Failure would always come if we do not prepare, I learnt the need to prepare with a focused mind towards a target

At what point did u know that IT/Telecoms career was your choice?

Hmmmmn interesting, now let’s see. That would be around the early eighties when I started watching documentaries on Arthur C. Clarke on communication satellites. It always fascinated me to see people could talk without any visible medium

Please tell us about your first job – when, what you were doing and your first salary and what happened next?

My first job was after NYSC was at Image Technologies (Bull Computers) located at 89a Ajose Adeogun street V.I.
Was employed as a Computer Hardware Engineer and the company specifically made sure the put the title “Trainee Hardware Engineer” on our complimentary cards which we saw as not too cool so we used tipex to blur out the Trainee part.. hehe.
As regards salary .. hehe I was paid N80,000 per annum and when you are shuttling between Mile 2 and V/I it puts a big strain on your pocket (1994/95) nevertheless life still continued.
It took me to quite a number of places in Nigeria, Kaduna,Port Harcourt, Ogun state, Niger State and Ibadan in Oyo state.

It was basically working on DPX 20/IBM AIX servers and also DPS6000 minicomputers and peripherals.
I left the company after working for one year on the day of the christmas party.

How many countries have you worked in?

Just four countries so far namely Nigeria, USA,Madagascar and Mozambique.

When did you realise it is possible for Nigerians to work as expatriates outside Nigeria?

Always known that since way back but I guess the main thing is to be able to have good skills to be able to sell to the world a large.
Nigeria in terms of development is more of a late starter and there are quite a number of technologies that should have arrived in the country long ago but due to the political instability experienced over a long period of time and lack of exposure of Nigerians at that time.

Tell us about your experience consulting for the largest GSM company in the united States:

Well it was great and one thing I have found out is that people tend to localize on a particular skill set rather than try to become a Jack of all trade and not mastering any.
It affords you the opportunity to interact and also learn a lot of new technologies.
The sheer size of the networks in the United States is intimidating compared to the one box systems in various countries in Africa.
You would be really challenged and also motivated to be part of a team that appreciates your inputs and also willing to learn and share from you.

What is the greatest motivation you have that set you apart?

Well my greatest motivation Jah.
Be it as it may seem .. Jah means God to the Rastafarians. Mind you, Rasta is not a religion, on the contrary.
It is a way of life, a lot of people always have that mis-overstanding
God inspired me thru music and specifically thru reggae music.
You need to really sit down and remove all ism and skism and listen to reggae and you would appreciate that the message is so powerful and vibrant.

Can you tell us the importance of hardwork and dedication as prerequisites for success?

Hardwork!! Hmmmmn, I think it is important for human beings.
Anything in life requires dedication, perseverance and follow thru.

How did you learn so much about Unix when it was still so new in Nigeria?

Well if u say so much it depends on the aspect of Unix you are talking about.
I think everything in life is just a matter of familiarity.

Describe your journey into becoming one of the foremost GPRS Engineers in Africa:

I would say I am just a normal individual and do not see myself as described.

When people see your accomplishments and CV, they are bound to be intimidated. Can you allay their fears and tell them you are just human and advise them on steps to take?

Hey!!! like I said earlier , I am just a individual who is trying to be myself.
Confront your fears and overcome them.
Just an easy going fellow with an intrinsic mind of been myself and probably expressing myself in a very quiet manner.

What kind of degree can someone have to get into Telecommunications, especially the data world?

Well electronics or electrical or computer science/engineering not to say that with strong interest, if you studied other things and you are willing you can still make a difference.

Do you have to go to computer schools for this?

No you don’t have to go to computer Schools; experience they say is the best tutor.

Can you describe a day in your life from waking up to going to bed?

Hehee Ayobami na wa for you o!
My normal life on a daily basis, putting everything before Jah as you wake in the morning having a clear idea of what you intend doing and keeping track of the things laid out for the day.
Assessing what I did or did not accomplish at the end of the day and thanking the Most High Jah at the end of the day once again.

Tell us about your thoughts on perseverance:

Perseverance is very key for any human being. It is one of the key components that propels human beings.
The thought of it keeps dreams alive.
If there is no thought of it in you as a person, it creates a vacuum and there is no drive to move on.
Like my lecturer Dr Mowete would say
If I do not know something, I would ask from you,
If you teach me and I don’t understand, I would ask you again even if you laugh at me.
If I don’t understand again I would ask you again.
But once I master it, I would not come back to you and you would not laugh at me again.
A lot of people are afraid of people laughing at them so they never persevere.
People would laugh at you and say things but the key fact is to be guided and very focused, God willing you will reach your destination.

Some people burn bridges where they work. Any advice for them?

That is pretty simple. They are making the world a pretty smaller place for themselves.
When you burn bridges you cannot go back there.
What goes around comes around.
Life is like a beautiful ship but beware of her propellers.

Apart from your adept technical skills, what other factors contributed to your growth?

My Mother

What do you enjoy doing?

Listening to music, meeting people and clean environment

There are a lot of young people with no dreams or those limiting their potentials. What advice do you have for them?

Every human being has a purpose in life and until you discover who you are.
The discovery period varies for every human being but parental guidance plays a key role in the lives of young individuals.
Bob Marley and his music was a great impact

What is your secret?

Secret ? No secret. But if you are talking about my life so far. It’s obvious ..Jah is my strength

Final advice to young people who desire to tow your career line

Nothing is impossible with hard work, motivation and dedication and above all God’s infinite mercy and direction.
Don’t give up the fight.

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