MeetOlayemi Anyanechi,a remarkable business personality who vividly made a noteworthy contribution in the vast sphere of business compliance. She has been recognized as a leading Corporate & Financial as well as Energy & Infrastructure Lawyer in Nigeria by IFLR1000, Legal 500, and Chambers & Partners since 2006, and is internationally commended for her “exceptional service delivery” (Legal 500, 2015), as “one of the very few astute commercial lawyers who asks what is the economic objective the transaction seeks to accomplish” (IFLR1000, 2014), and as “very smart, and intellectually creative if you need to find a solution and sort things out” (IFLR1000, 2013). She is known as a mission-driven leader who partners with senior executives and government officials to deliver performance and stakeholder value. Being a detail-oriented professional with an impressive track record, she advises on sophisticated local and international commercial transactions.
Olayemi began her career at the then MBC International Bank Limited, from where she left to study and obtained a Master’s degree in corporate and commercial law at Wolfson College, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom. She went to Cambridge as a Chevening Scholar and whilst there, became a Pegasus Scholar of the Inner Temple. Upon return to Nigeria, she joined the law firm of Olaniwun Ajayi and left to become the General Counsel of the Sahara Energy Group of companies. She joined Templars as a Partner in 2006 where she headed the Banking & Finance Practice. After more than two decades of experience in advising various organizations and multinational companies on a range of local and cross-border transactions, Olayemi founded Sefton Fross in 2013. She currently serves as a Managing Partner of this leading full-service law firm in Nigeria. Her company advises on corporate and commercial law with main expertise in banking and finance, capital markets, oil and gas, mergers, and acquisition. Despite its smaller size, the firm ranks in the same league as the largest law firms because it handles the same transactions. Under her leadership, Sefton Fross has won several notable awards and recommendations including Business Day’s “Top 100 Fastest-Growing SMEs in Nigeria” in 2018; “Energy Team of the Year” and “Oil and Gas Team of the Year” by ESQ Legal Awards in 2014 & 2015 respectively, IFLR 1000, Chambers Global and Legal500. “Our Quality defines us,” says Olayemi. “And we like to tell people that we’re not aspiring to be the biggest law firm.” Unlike many other large corporations, the company believes in offering quality and comprehends the value for money. She continues, “Thus,I will say that our motto and what drives us is quality services bespoke to the needs of the client.”
“What drives our success is the personal touch and the absolute dedication we have to a client, because, we're not driven by money.”
Leading with Integrity
The company was founded on the principle of providing clients with righteousness. Most large law firms are unable to provide a personalized experience to their clients, Sefton Fross on the other hand creates bespoke plans for each client. The company offers a unique combination of decisive thinking and hardworking legal professionals. “We have a 360-degree view; thus, we think we are ahead,” she mentions. The company has received many reviews and testimonials from its clients; “they’ll tell you that we see things that nobody else has seen,” she proudly highlights. “What drives our success is the personal touch and the absolute dedication we have to a client, because, we’re not driven by money.”
Olayemi is a firm believer in working with integrity and admires everyone who exemplifies professionalism, both personally and professionally. She says, “Integrity is number one on my mark, I value integrity.” She likes to work with trustworthy people. “So, I’m very trusting because I just think, oh, ideally, people should keep their promises,” she says. She states that while integrity is difficult to find in people, it can be found if one looks for it. “I like fairness. I like people to be fair,” she mentions. “I don’t believe in taking advantage of people. I believe, for instance, if you get somebody to work for you, say a laborer, they deserve their pay. I like to keep our promise to give people their just wages.” She gets things done by being persistent. “When I get to that step, I’ll take another one, I want to have a line of sight to my goal, I want to see all the steps it takes me to get there,” she states. “When I identify those steps, I can check them off my agenda. Next, I’ll put all the tools I need together to achieve it because I don’t want to get off the way and then realize that I left something behind, so maybe I’m a bit of a planner, I’m a bit of a structured person, I like to put structures in place to make sure everything comes together.”
A Creatively-driven Future
Olayemi believes creative thinking is a must for any organization to prevail as a business. The adoption of creative ideas and subsequent incorporation of them into the company’s processes exemplifies its innovativeness. She admires people’s creativity and always encourages people to feel free to share their opinion. She recognizes the progress made by various companies in terms of technological implementation, but she identifies that these advancements are costly. Currently, the biggest challenge for the industry would be to automate and commoditize purely professional aspects. She shares, “We have a lot of commoditized resources, I use a lot of them, I find it makes the work easy.” The Nigerian legal markets are a bit saturated, thus there are a lot of lawyers in the market. “How will those lawyers compete favorably?” she adds. “The next few years will tell the men from the boys, only a handful of law firms will be able to thrive in the market the way we’re going. But that may then lead to lots of mergers or acquisitions.”
Amidst COVID-19, the company partnered with various other organizations and tool providers to continue its business processes. As the pandemic started, the virtual presence took over customary physical offices. Thus, giving the company an advantage of working remotely than requiring a physical presence in the office. She says, “I think as a firm, we will continue to work half remotely and physically as well, I think we all have realized that’s possible.” Furthermore, she plans to enhance the company’s technology and technological infrastructure so that people can continue to work remotely in a safe and secure environment. She says, “We’ll look at training for staff so you can get a lot of more competence across the board in our service offerings.” Olayemi will also be working to strengthen her team. “Culture is very important in an organization,” she adds. “So, we’ve been trying to get some people that are on board with the culture.” She plans on hiring people who can assist the company to sustain and continue to serve its clients with the same level of quality, dedication, and efficiency.
To give back to their community, Olayemi will continue focusing on assisting students who have potential but are falling behind due to financial issues. She and her team have demonstrated their compassion by assisting these financially disadvantaged children. Sefton Fross will also focus their efforts next year on assisting young children in a bid to overcome poverty.