Stella was a natural leader and in her subtle way, wielded a strong influence amongst her Colleagues. Pretty and effortlessly elegant, her allure was however way beyond her natural beauty. She was the perfect role model; imbued with a strong character, unquestionable integrity and high ideals, she was excellent on the job, highly motivated and had a lovely family. She carried herself with an air of dignity that was uncommon among her peers.
From the very first day she resumed at Martins Street, she lit up the atmosphere in the branch with her charm. In the short period she had been at the branch, she had built a strong relationship with virtually every serious Customer and most of them were disappointed when on Kunle’s redeployment, Ben was brought in to head the branch. If her expectations were dashed, she made no show of it and was rather instrumental in helping Ben settle in.
It is hard to explain, but it certainly seemed that even the elements sometimes conspired to work on her behalf. How else does one explain that on two occasions that she relieved Ben, the branch’s balance sheet grew significantly and in each occasion reverted back to the usual average level once Ben returned. This observation was made by none other than the Executive Director, in a business review when he chided Ben for having a sense of achievement when his actual performance was nothing special.
The events of this particular day, however made all the others pale into insignificance. It all started with an atypical event; Ben was late for the morning meeting. Everyone was seated in his office and waiting patiently, when he walked in with an air of resignation. Glances were exchanged, in apparent surprise at his unusual mien. By the time he opened up his mouth to speak, he had the attention of everyone in the room. “Good morning Guys, there has been a paradigm shift”, he declared with grave finality. “The bank is awash with deposits and the strategic focus has shifted from deposit liabilities to the creation of risk assets. If you came here with plans to tell me about any deposit, forget it… I don’t want to hear about it. Just go back to your desks, draw up a risk asset plan and hit the streets as we have a target to grow our risk asset by 3 billion Naira”.
His pronouncement had the desired effect as everyone was stunned… It had been a month of an aggressive deposit drive and here we were, without any explanations, being told of a completely contrasting direction midway into the month. Chuma had attempted to question the wisdom of the management in vacillating from one focus to another. However, Ben, ever the establishment man, was quick to cut him off and dramatically stated; “Guys, these people are quite cerebral… They are paid to think. They have brainstormed and concluded that this is the best line of action for the bank to take in reaction to the present realities. Your job is to execute the strategies, not to question them”.
Henry was particularly irked as he was on the verge of securing a 200 Million Naira deposit and had to discontinue discussions with the Company. As he went out with Stella that day, he had no idea how to go about meeting his portion of the risk asset target, which Ben had shared amongst them that morning. He was still lost in his thoughts when he heard Stella scream excitedly, “the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance”. Henry looked at her in amusement, wondering what could have prompted her excitement. It obviously had to do with the phone call she just received and he couldn’t wait to hear the full story. “My brother you can’t imagine what just happened o” she began, ‘With that call, I have just met my risk asset target”. Henry was to find out that the call was from the Finance Controller of one of her prospects, who, out of the blue, had requested for a meeting concerning a Loan request of Twenty million Dollars. Her next call was to Ben, to set up a meeting with the Company’s management. By the end of the week, the facility had been approved and the transaction done. Stella didn’t just meet her target but the entire target of the branch was met by virtue of that singular transaction.
That incident was to alter Henry’s life completely. He had never seen someone display such a level of consistent success and he seriously desired her kind of results. Henry made up his mind to pitch his tent with Stella… if he ever needed a mentor, here she was. “One can’t leave an ozo festival to attend a less prestigious iru agwu festival”, he reasoned. His affinity to Stella would guarantee he picks up the crumbs from her overflowing table… but he didn’t really want the crumbs. He wanted the real thing; that special elixir that elicited all that favour.
It was Henry’s first time to step into the prestigious Eko Hotels & Suites in Victoria Island. If he hadn’t planned to honour the invitation, the exclusivity of the venue was enough incentive to ensure he did. As he took his seat in the beautifully decorated hall, he marveled at the level of excellence on display at the event. He was glued to the performance of the young man on the Piano as he dexterously led his band in soft, exhilarating music.
Henry was blown away with the series of presentations at the event. He wasn’t expecting so much when Stella had invited him, to attend a program organised by a Group in her Church. He only made a mental note of the date and venue and was somewhat curious at the choice of venue. Stella was one of the Comperes and acquitted herself exceedingly well. A number of young, confident men and women that shared their life experiences, moved him to tears with their inspiring stories of victories secured through their faith. Henry wasn’t one to give in to emotions so easily and could not fathom his uncharacteristic loss of decorum.
He battled to rein in his emotions throughout the short message, delivered by the calm preacher. All he could remember was standing at the front of the hall with others and repeating after him, words that would change his life forever.
It was extraordinary… It was divine.