Teaching Morals & Values: Yemi Akinkugbe, Chief Excellence Officer of CNX, sets a standard that his coworkers strive to match every day

“A vision for the future that embraces innovation and harnesses the talent, resources, and opportunities of Appalachia to transform our region, nation, and the world.”

This is the vision that CNX has listed on its website, and one its employees are expected to align with when they are hired. One of these employees, Olayemi “Yemi” Akinkugbe, has embraced this vision since day one.

Hired directly out of grad school, Akinkugbe was brought on as a ​​rock mechanics engineer before moving his way through the financial planning and analysis department. He then became an operations director before obtaining his current position of chief excellence officer, a title he has held since August 2019.

The journey has not been without its challenges, but Akinkugbe embraced adversity his entire life. Born in Nigeria, Akinkugbe lost his father at a young age, leaving his mother to raise him and his four siblings by herself. That did not stop her from teaching her children the values of “faith, responsibility, hard work, respect and integrity,” all of which Akinkugbe carries with him every single day.

Akinkugbe’s mom also pushed her family to be the best they could be, and they all pursued college largely due to her love and support.

“Truth be told, the journey was never easy (and still isn’t),” Akinkugbe said. “I am a first-generation immigrant and to see how far I have come in the company is a testament to the team around me.”

Akinkugbe has always appreciated the support and encouragement of others. He knows he would not be where he is today without the CNX team, and he is very appreciative of them and his time at the company.

“Seventeen years clearly says a lot – that’s a good bit of my adult life – so I have to be enjoying it,” Akinkugbe said. “The best and the most gratifying time of that entire period has been working with and learning from my team and peers and being coached by three selfless bosses and mentors along the way. They made me the best I can be today.”

A 158-year-old natural gas development, production, and midstream company, CNX is “rooted in tangible, impactful and local efforts and investments that improve the livelihood of our community and the regional economy.” The company produces low cost, low carbon emission natural gas that supports the economy by bringing back manufacturing to the Appalachian region.

CNX is committed to ensuring that manufacturing jobs stay firmly rooted and growing in America. They leverage low-cost natural gas and make it a point to hire people with an “unrivaled” work ethic. They want to catalyze the innovation of the future, and they are doing so by hiring like-minded people – people who are committed to improving the communities where they live and work

When they can get people on board who have this mentality, it goes a long way in helping them succeed in their mission and continue to exhibit corporate leadership. 

This success can be attributed to CNX’s people, including Akinkugbe, as he is a person in a leadership role who people look up to and treats others well. He remembers where he started and is dedicated to helping the company grow and improving outcomes for his colleagues.  

“I strongly believe everyone who has worked with me knows that I am always approachable, easy to relate with, I listen (a skill that I have worked hard through my career to improve), but above all, that I care about the success of the team – always,” Akinkugbe said.

He has had a lot of success in his career and has always challenged himself. From running the corporation’s capital allocation program during its most critical strategic transition to helping CNX develop profitable programs while minimizing risk, much can be said about Akinkugbe’s work ethic and contributions to the company. 

But among his most important character-defining traits is his ability to admit when he is uncertain about something – because he’s always willing to take a step back and the time needed to figure out what he needs to learn to set things right.  

“I’m not afraid to say, ‘I don’t know,’ but to apply myself and learn fast,” Akinkugbe said. “I engage and I work very hard – this has been a value instilled in me at an early age by my mother, watching her work ethic and commitment to put five children through college and three through western post-graduate degrees.”

Now, Akinkugbe has a wife and five children of his own, in whom he is instilling these same values. Akinkugbe is widely respected for the path he’s taken, the talents he brings to his profession, and the people he inspires. Talk about coming full circle. 

Creating a Culture of Care

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