Editor’s note: Bolaji Ojo, one of three founders of EPSNews, has left our parent company, AspenCore Media. Junko Yoshida, our new global editor-in-chief, bids him farewell on our behalf.
Bolaji Ojo, our fearless group publisher at AspenCore Media (of which EE Times is part), has decided to resign. I won’t lie. I am profoundly sad to see him go.
He has been a great boss from whom I’ve learned a ton. He is a straight shooter, never hesitant to ask the toughest question in the room — point blank. He has been an editors’ editor, a defender who always had our back. Most important, he’s the most principled journalist I know — he aspires beyond fact in search of the truth.
Above all, Bola was my co-conspirator on the many new projects we launched at AspenCore in the last few years. Among these were a series of Special Projects, EE Times’ Weekly Briefing podcast, the Silicon 100 (a list of 100 startups to watch, curated by Peter Clarke and to be launched this weekend) and the AspenCore-Guide-to Book projects (“Sensors in Automotive” will become available early September).
EE Times has had ups and downs, including some editorial layoffs in North America last summer. That was a real blow, but Bola — unbeknownst to most of us — had quietly hired some talented editors in Europe — Nitin Dahad, Sally Ward-Foxton, Maurizio Di Paolo Emilio and Anne-Francoise Pele. His foresight saved EE Times.
Unmatched enthusiasm, intellect and passion
Bola faced every challenge and seized every opportunity with unmatched enthusiasm, intellect and passion. He regularly conceived, defined and drove new “projects” for the editorial team to pursue. He inspired us to dive in. He knew of fear of trying something new. We’ve all tried to keep up with Bola.
When he asked me to become a global co-editor-in-chief two years ago, I accepted the offer only reluctantly. I’d done a tour of duty as the editor in chief of EE Times, and I remained uninterested in becoming a member of “the management team.”
More than once in my EE Times career, I was asked to accept a demotion or a lateral move because new management looked at me and were not impressed. One boss said I lack “gravitas.” After all, I’m just a five-foot Asian girl, with no PhD, who loves to write. Who would take me seriously?
On the other hand, I’ve always enjoyed proving wrong those who take me lightly. Bola and I share one annoying trait: we are persistent. When industry observers, who frequently forecast the demise of the trade press, declared that “EE Times Is Dead (Again),” we made it our mission to debunk the canard. Burning the phone lines between Bern, Switzerland, and Madison, Wisconsin, via WhatsApp, Bola and I spend countless nights and weekends arguing (yes, we bicker), plotting, firefighting and launching projects. None of this overtime struck us as onerous. After the debate, we always shared a moment of epiphany, that we had figured out and agreed on what we both really wanted to do.
Are we always successful? Not quite. But if there’s another trade publication that has been as creative and as tenacious as we’ve been, I haven’t heard of it.
To make a long story short, I agreed to work with Bolaji because Bolaji asked me. But I had one condition: I hate conference calls. He had to cover those circular firing squads for me. He said he would and kept his promise.
I am proud to say that Bola is my friend.
I take the word “friend” seriously. You can measure true friends with three tests. They come to your funerals. They visit you in the hospital. They show up on moving day, ready to roll up their sleeves and schlep boxes.
I’ve seen Bola pass all three tests. When one of our production managers’ parent passed away, Bola drove all the way from Pennsylvania (where he then lived) to Long Island.
The same rules apply to a newsroom. Picture yourself on deadline day. We’re down to the wire and we still have a dozen pages to proof.
Mind you, proofing copies is way below Bola’s pay grade. But in a pinch, he asks for a section and dives into the tedium proofreading. He once told me, “Junko, I am quite good at this. I don’t mind doing it at all.” Think of carrying a couch up three flights of stairs on moving day.
Many of our editors have aging parents. My mom is in Japan. Bola didn’t fly to Japan, but we talked every day while my mother remained gravely ill — unable to speak, unable to move. He always started his conversation with, “How’s your Mom?”
I remember a phone call from Bola about his father’s passing. I was just getting off a bus in Chigasaki where my mother lives. I stood beside the road for 20 minutes as he talked about his last conversations with his father. He sent me a picture of father and son. I couldn’t attend the funeral (which, in Nigeria, goes on for a year), but I felt honored because Bola made me feel as though I’d known his father for a long time.
Visiting a friend in the hospital is awkward. You often don’t know what’s wrong or how bad it is. You prepare for the worst. You want to respect your friend’s choices about his own health.
I felt as though I was visiting Bola at a hospital the day he broke the news that he was resigning. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know how to cure him. It brought tears to my eyes.
I know. There is no crying in journalism.
Bola likes to say, “I know where I came from.” He knows who he is, he is comfortable with doing what he likes to do. He has never lied to me, and always spoke without a shred of pretense. Yes, he’s a little scary.
We must embrace the new normal — AspenCore Media without Bolaji Ojo. But the good news is that I have our new group publisher Martin Chatterton’s word that he will follow Bola’s example in defending his editorial team.
Meanwhile, for a very selfish reason, I’m glad Bola isn’t disappearing into the Alps. He’s the best business analyst EE Times has ever had, the rare reporter who reads every page in those sedative quarterly financial reports. He can decipher and make sense of the numbers, after which his diagnosis of a company’s heath is incisive and readable. Besides a weekly column, he will write a series of “Under the Hood” stories about corporations and businesses in the electronics industry.
As he sheds his top sergeant duties, my educated guess is that we’ll be better serving our readers — letting Bola be Bola.
Bola remains only a phone call away. I know he’ll answer when I call, start out with “Good morning, Junko. How are you?” and ask about my mom.