Alumnus Profile: Kemal Okudo

September 8, 2009  |  STUDENTS & ALUMNI

 Imagine this for a moment – you leave your highly successful job, you move yourself and your family of four children to another country, and you liquidate some of your assets to live – all to go to a graduate school.

That is what 2009 IWP valedictorian Kemal Okudo did – and for him, it was worth it:  “Attending IWP has been the most significant and transformative personal and professional experience I have had to date.”

Indeed, Mr. Okudo has been very successful in all of his academic and professional endeavors.   After obtaining a B.A. in Philosophy from Obafemi Awolowo University (Nigeria); he earned his MBA from the IESE Business School at the University of Navarra (Spain) – one of the top three business schools in Europe.

He went on to be a successful banker for several years, and, among his other positions, he served as Director of Logistics and Security at V-mobile, Nigeria’s second largest telephone company, which, when he left it in August of 2007, had 13 million subscribers.  His position entailed moving personnel, equipment, and commercial supplies across the country at an optimal cost and in a secure manner. This was particularly vital in Nigeria, which has many so environmental risks. Kemal designed his company’s logistics and security system from scratch.

Okudo became a Certified Protection Professional of the American Society of Industrial Security Intl. (ASIS) – the highest professional security qualification in the world.  He is also a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Industrial Security.

Despite his self-described “fulfilling job,” Kemal “knew there was something I was missing.” The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, had a tremendous impact on him:

"They gave me insight on just how dark the soul of some people can be.  They made me realize that men and women of good will must stand up, or evil will triumph… At that point, for me, success on the corporate or individual level did not matter anymore.  I had an inner urge to answer a higher calling to serve decent civilization and humanity as a whole on a higher level."

Later, at an ASIS conference in Orlando, Kemal heard a speech by former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell, and was impressed by the fact that he integrated political affairs with military, economic, and cultural factors. Kemal then knew that he wanted to go into the field of national security.

He was referred to several institutions of higher learning by his friends in the security business, and was accepted by all those to which he applied.  But when he looked at the IWP website, “I was supremely excited… I wanted to do all that was necessary for admission into this great institution.”

Okudo wound down his work at V-mobile, and came to IWP in fall of 2007.

Members of the IWP faculty were delighted to have a student like Okudo.  They found that his personal experience and excellent intellectual abilities contributed to the classroom experience.  IWP President John Lenczowski remarks:

"Kemal was not only our most outstanding student in the Class of 2009, but he is a person of outstanding character.  He has made a long journey in his life to come to study in America with the ambition of becoming an American.  This country will be all the better if Kemal can become one of its citizens."

Meanwhile, Okudo was impressed by the quality of IWP’s faculty, as well as the professors’ rich professional experience and academic qualifications.  He found that they not only easily integrated theory and practice in class, but did so with an overwhelming humility and accessibility.  Okudo observes, “They are there for the students, and they lead by example.”

Kemal also liked the small size of the classes; the rich foundation on the Western moral tradition, particularly the emphasis on prudence; and the focus on the truth.  Instead of promoting “lofty, romantic ideas about humanity,” the curriculum exposed the students to the reality of “what humans have done, and are capable of doing.”

After studying at the Institute, Okudo feels that:

"The world is at my feet… There is nothing I cannot do now with my IWP education.  Because of what I learned about the world, I see wider opportunities than younger people who have not been exposed to everything I have.  I could be an author, a lecturer, a consultant, a commentator on national security, I could get into national security or risk consulting, I could teach to impart this knowledge, and I could provide serious thought about what’s going on in various parts of the world.  I couldn’t say this two years ago, and now I can hold my own in any conversation with anyone."

Looking to the future, Okudo says, “I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I have been equipped with analytical skills and unique insights that money cannot buy, and no one can take away from me.”

Update: Kemal has joined an integrated security/risk consulting firm, Paladin 7. From this platform, Kemal makes available to our government his sophisticated knowledge of social, political, economic, cultural, and security dynamics in Nigeria, the Gulf of Guinea, and the continent of Africa as a whole.