Joachim Nzuzi ’20 is from the DRC, operates as the CEO at Africa Rising Consulting in Johannesburg and is the Chief Operating Officer at Realbanc Limited in Lagos. It doesn’t get more pan-African than that! With this much experience on the continent, Joachim is the ideal person to talk to about doing business in Africa.
People often say; you don’t choose your career, your career chooses you. And Joachim agrees. “I started looking after peoples assets in South-Africa, I was advising them about investment opportunities and such. And my current business partner, who would often travel to South-Africa, would come and ask me for advice about which area would be best to invest in; in terms of properties. So one thing led to another and then he asked me to come to Nigeria to help him restructure his company. I always had a passion for real-estate. And that’s really how I got into it. So, it’s not as if I chose it, it kind of like chose me more than anything.”
Realising he was growing in his career, Joachim decided that an MBA would be the perfect tool to help him take on these new responsibilities. “I started to identify some gaps and I felt that an MBA was going to give me a better perspective on how to make good managerial decisions.”
About 16 months in his MBA at ALU School of Business, Joachim has no regrets, only lessons. Here are a couple of things that he learned from his vast experience and knowledge of doing business on the continent and his time at ALUSB.
1. Be patient with the continent
Take it easy. I know people say; ‘the higher the risk, the higher the return.’ But you have to be very patient with the continent. You have to take a long-term approach when it comes to doing business in Africa. It’s not going to happen as quickly as you think, but if you stay consistent, things will turn around. There is so much great potential in Africa and I will always say to people: take your time when doing business in Africa and stick to what you know.
“You have to take a long-term approach when it comes to doing business in Africa.”
2. You have to educate yourself
“If you want to do business in Africa, there are just so many factors that you have to take into consideration. Having a local context on different fronts protects a business from risks that could result in considerable losses. I’ve invested money in the DRC and I’ve lost money. Mostly because I was not very in tune with what was going on in the country. So, if you do not know the environment, you’re going to lose money.
There are a lot of things that ALUSB has reaffirmed as far as doing business in Africa is concerned. But the one thing that I learned is to consider all factors. The old me would go into new territory without even thinking. But ALUSB has taught me the ability to look at things that other people are not looking at. My approach was very limited, but now it’s much broader.”
3. Good leadership is essential
“A lot of things have changed regarding my perception of leadership especially after learning more about the V^3 leadership model at ALUSB. So now, I think a great leader is someone who understands the needs of their people more than anything. And it’s not just about telling people what to do; it’s listening to the needs of the people and finding a way to meet that need. It’s not about you taking the people where you want to go, it’s about taking the people where they need to go. And that is the kind of leadership Africa needs right now.”
“It’s not about you taking the people where you want to go, it’s about taking the people where they need to go.”
Gloria Karambizi ’20 is s a Student Loan Manager at Kepler, a nonprofit organisation, where she assists students in getting access to loans and scholarships to pursue higher education.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with her and discovering how she balances her roles as a Manager and an MBA student while also making time for friends and family.
Gloria’s week starts with a twenty-minute drive to work at 9 a.m. She emphasises that a twenty-minute commute is a lot in a Rwandan context as there is not much traffic or the roads. Her days in the office depend on the plans of the organisation. Currently, Kepler is getting ready to enrol new students to the programme. As a result, her priority is planning in preparation for the incoming batch of new students.
Her primary focus is on creating an efficient system, given that the organisation is working on a relatively new programme. She hopes that through collaboration with different stakeholders, she can develop a replicable process within the programme that can be used in the future.
On most weekdays after work, she meets up with some of her ALUSB classmates. During those meetups, they catch up on schoolwork, keep each other accountable and act as a support system for their academics, work, and personal lives. Notably, she likes to spend Friday evenings at career events and professionals’ meetings that happen around Kigali. She considers these events a great opportunity to network and interacts with other professionals, especially those within her line of work.
“My classmates and the ALUSB community are phenomenal; I get inspired by them every day.”
Weekends are family-time for Gloria. She values spending time with her family and consequently ensures she makes time for them every week. They spend time cooking together on Saturday, go to church together on Sunday, and watch a movie afterwards.
On motivation: “I am glad that I’m doing something that is already bringing change to the continent. This motivates me to wake up because I know what I do matters and that I am helping other people.” Gloria credits her motivation to the fact that she is doing what she loves. She is driven by the desire to help people and impact peoples lives positively and works towards this every day. Gloria also genuinely likes the ALUSB MBA courses: “The Leadership Lab course has been instrumental in making leadership practical in my day-to-day activities. Through this course, I have been able to apply myself as a leader in different spaces.”
“I now see myself as a leader.”
Finding work-life balance: Gloria credits her work-ethic as the foundation of her being able to balance the different roles and responsibilities in her life. She keeps a 9 to 5 policy which gives her room to spend time with family, friends and work for school. “It’s not an easy process, but it is one that gets easier with time and patience.”
On teamwork at ALUSB: “You have to plan accordingly, and you should do this earlier on,” Gloria advises. To have efficient group work, team members must plan early on the dynamics of their team. Through early planning, Gloria has been able to work efficiently within a pan-African team.
Advice to prospective students: “Students should ensure they stay up to date with course content and assignments to avoid a build-up of workload.” She also highlights her classmates as one of the critical assets one will gain in the rigorous MBA programme. “Your classmates will be your family.” she declares.
ALU School of Business prides itself in being able to enlist African business titans as Guest Faculty. A great example of this is Steve Okeyo, currently operating as the Managing Director of Mobile Devices at Telkom Kenya.
Steve earned an extensive track record in Sales, Operations, Management, and Strategy through experiences in roles such as Director for Regional Sales and Operations at Safaricom, Director for Sales Force Effectiveness at Lafarge, Commercial Director for the Bamburi and Hima Cement Companies and more. We are honoured to have had him share his experiences with our ALUSB MBA students and now, with you.
Watch the interview below to learn more about Steve’s experience a Guest Lecturer at ALUSB, his vision for Africa and his advice for rising business leaders!
His impressions of ALUSB MBA students
I like the fact that students come from different countries.
“I like the fact that students come from different countries. If I draw examples or case studies from the different countries, more often than not there will be a student from that country in class. And they can understand what I’m talking about because maybe they saw something happening in those years in certain industries and they didn’t understand exactly what happened and we are able to have those conversations.”
On the future of Africa
The African consumer is very young, and is growing.
“The future lies in Africa doing more business with itself. Look, Africa has the youngest population in the world. More than half of the population in Africa are young, below the age of 30. That depends from country to country, but the message is the same: that the African consumer is very young, and is growing. So everyone is going to come to Africa to want to sell us something. So if we can start selling to each other, we will benefit. So that alone tells you that this is the place to be.”
Advice for rising leaders entering the “C-suite”
You are good enough.
“All the experiences that they’ve ever had. However small, in however small operations or small countries. These experiences do count. And when you put them together, they become very powerful. Another thing is to make sure that you have a mentor or a coach because everybody needs help. When you go into new experiences like that, you need to be chatting with people who have been there before. (…) So be open to learning and you’ll just be fine. But do not be afraid. We have waited this long for you to reach where you are going to reach and you are good enough. So just believe in yourself.”
Steve Okeyo’s full video interview below:
MBA student Mutsa Kajese 20′ believes that leadership is a lifestyle that is continuously practised and improved. He is the founder of Ubuntu Lab, a personal growth hub and the author of “30 days of Transformation: A Guide to your Authentic Self”.
We’ve summarised some highlights from Mutsa’s interview below. Scroll down to view his full video interview.
What does leadership mean to you?
…we certainly need more leadership on the continent.
“Leadership is not something that you can learn, per se. It is more than that. It is living to the very core of your being, understanding that it’s not about you. You notice that one core component of leadership is that you always have to serve the other; and empathy is also a very big component of that as well. That is what I think leadership is and we certainly need more of it on the continent”.
On striving for work-life balance.
I have to allow things to flow into each other, as opposed to being very strict.
“I believe in work-life integration…I make sure I have dedicated time. I am a father, I am a husband as well, so I have to allow things to flow into each other, as opposed to being very strict and saying okay, at this time I need to do this, and I need to play with my daughter for thirty minutes and if I go thirty-one minutes, it’s over. Life doesn’t happen like that”.
On 30 Days of Transformation: A guide to your authentic self:
It is a tool kit for you to elevate yourself; to level up so you can start contributing to a better world.
“It’s just a guideline, not necessarily set in stone, but a guideline for you to elevate yourself to the next level of your life. It doesn’t matter whether you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, whether you are a student, whether you are an undergrad or post-grad, parent, recently married or going through anything – or not going through anything. It is a tool kit for you to elevate yourself; to level up so you can start contributing to a better world”.
Watch Mutsa’s full interview below: