OLATUNDE IMMANUEL ’20 IS A REGIONAL SALES DIRECTOR FOR WEST AFRICA AT IDEMIA, AN AUGMENTED IDENTITY COMPANY SPECIALIZING IN SECURITY AND IDENTITY SOLUTIONS.
We had a chance to have a chat with Olatunde and discuss how he combines his different roles: father, regional sales director, and ALUSB MBA student.
Being the Regional Sales Director for West Africa, a lot of Olatunde’s week is spent traveling between his most established markets: Nigeria and Ghana. “Usually, I’m traveling every two weeks. When traveling, I usually leave Lagos on Wednesday morning and try to be back on Saturday morning. Last week, I was in Accra, where we have a lot of customers in the telecommunications industry like Vodafone, MTN, Airtel and Tigo. I meet with them and try to understand what their needs and strategies are in terms of what volume of sim cards they want quarterly and what other technology solutions they are planning to deploy.”
His schedule is very flexible, even when he’s working from home. But there is one thing that remains a constant: school runs. “We have two boys and a girl and when I’m not traveling, I always pick up the kids from school. When we get home, I sit with them and make sure they do their assignments while I do my office work.”
And after the family has gone to bed and it’s quiet, it’s time for Olatunde to do some ALUSB MBA work. His decision to pursue an MBA was mostly career driven. “I wanted to move up in my career and I thought having an MBA programme would provide me with the right tools to realize this.” And Olatunde was right. When he started his MBA journey at ALUSB, he got promoted from Regional Sales Manager to Senior Director. His new goal? Vice President for the whole of Africa. “For me to be able to reach that goal, it’s important for me to understand the African market. I thought an MBA program would allow me to build contacts across the entire continent, not just in West Africa. That is one of the main reasons that I chose the ALU School of Business, because of its pan-African uniqueness. We have good business schools here in Nigeria but they are kind of localized. And I didn’t want to do an MBA in Europe, for example, because the core of my job is in Africa, so I wanted an MBA that I could utilize in the future as I develop myself further on the continent.”
“It’s easier to go on a journey with a group of people than to work alone.”
When asked about the highlight of his ALUSB MBA journey so far, Olatunde is quick to bring up his classmates. “ I have phenomenal classmates. It’s easier to go on a journey with a group of people than to work alone. My job requires a lot of traveling so having awesome classmates that check up on me and let me know when an assignment is due is very nice. We understand one another and encourage each other. That’s the way we roll!” Even though Olatunde receives a lot of motivation from his classmates, he’s mostly self-motivated.
On doing business in Africa: I have traveled across Africa and I have noticed a few things. One of the things that I think is an issue on the African continent is knowledge of the market sector. I work in the telecommunications and banking sectors, that’s why I wake up to read the news first thing in the morning. I understand my sector and government policies surrounding it, do research and subscribe to journals that I read daily. It would save your life!
Secondly, I think that the networks are also key. The deals I have been able to achieve, are a result of knowing people. Our customers need to know that you’re valuable enough for them to be able to trust you.
Thirdly, when you do business in Africa; give your word, own the promise, deliver and overdeliver.”
Delivered in partnership with INSEAD, one of the world’s leading and largest graduate business schools, Strategic Leadership in Africa is a brand new executive education programme for African executives, that integrates global insights into strategy, leadership and team-building with deep knowledge, experience and research on the challenges and opportunities of doing business in Africa.
We sat down with ALU School of Business (ALUSB) Vice Dean Catherine Duggan, who led the Strategic Leadership in Africa (SLA) programme development from the ALUSB side, to tell us more about this world-class initiative
What sets Strategic Leadership in Africa apart?
“The best of both worlds”
“One thing that’s unique about this SLA programme is that it will integrate INSEAD’s offerings as one of the global leaders in executive education with ALUSB’s deep expertise in Africa. Participants will get the best of both worlds: global perspective from one of the top business schools in the world, together with Africa context, focus, and experience from an innovative, truly pan-African business school.
I’m especially excited about this programme because it is the product of a true partnership between the ALUSB and INSEAD faculty and staff. From the beginning we agreed that we wanted something developed specifically for the African market, rather than something that was bolted together from pieces of programmes designed for other markets.
As a result, I think participants will find that SLA is a learning experience that is integrated, practical, and relevant to the challenges (and opportunities) that they are facing right now in African markets. It will also give them a chance to think about where African markets fit into the global economy and how they can best position themselves and their organisations for what we like to call the African Century”.
Who is Strategic Leadership in Africa for?
“Senior managers and decision-makers”
“One of the most exciting things about SLA is that it is really designed for people who are helping their organisations to thrive in the rapidly-growing (and rapidly-changing!) pan-regional and pan-African market. I think that the ideal participant in this programme is, first and foremost, a person who is thinking about this common set of challenges, rather than a person with a specific CV.
We’ve found that this type of executive education programme is perfect for people who have recently been placed in a position to guide and grow their organisations across borders or in particularly challenging environments. People in these positions have often recently moved from leading a functional area into the senior leadership team and now need to be able to think strategically at very high levels, lead across organisational areas, and develop a deep understanding of the context of doing business in one or more countries on the continent. A programme like this is also excellent for people who are expecting to make such a transition into senior leadership.”
We’re looking for participants who have already had significant professional success and who can bring and share their insights and experience. The dynamic and participant-focused nature of the programme, combined with an accomplished and diverse group of participants, really allows us to leverage the insights of the group itself and makes for a much richer and more practical learning experience than a more traditional lecture format.
One of the best things about any programme is the networks and relationships it helps to create. SLA will bring together a group of some of the most exciting leaders from across the continent, all of whom are looking to expand their networks and meet people facing similar issues across Africa.
As a result, this programme is also perfect for people who have already gotten an MBA elsewhere, or who are now too senior to consider an MBA degree. Rather than delving into the functional, technical skills of an MBA, this programme will focus on the issues of leadership and high-level strategic thinking that become more and more important at the highest rungs of business”.
Please describe the Strategic Leadership in Africa curriculum.
“An integrated, problem-focused curriculum”
“SLA offers an integrated curriculum with four angles: Understanding Strategic Challenges in Africa, Building High-Performing Teams in Diverse Environments, Understanding the Context of Doing Business in Africa and Developing Leadership Skills for a Changing World.
The curriculum is designed to be as practical and relevant as possible, even as we talk about cutting-edge theories and approaches to handling business challenges. One of the ways we’ve done that is by creating a programme in which the elements are integrated, much as they are in the real world, rather than divided into separate “courses.”
Both the INSEAD and ALUSB faculty teaching in the programme are committed to a problem-based approach. In some sessions this will mean exploring real-world cases faced by organisations in Africa; in others it will involve working through the actual challenges that the participants are facing. In every opportunity the programme will provide tools and analytical techniques to help manage both the challenges at hand and the ones participants may face in the future.
Even the logistics of the programme are designed to be as practical as possible while adding value for participants. It combines two in-person modules in Kigali, Rwanda (each approximately 4 days long), with an online “intermodular” period during which participants will work through some of the challenges they are facing in a systematic way. They will also be eligible to take selected online courses (at no additional cost) to review or develop key skills”.
Strategic Leadership in Africa launches in February 2020. Please click here to find out more about this exciting new programme!
The ALU School of Business (ALUSB) is delighted to announce a partnership with The Africa List – a platform that brings together high performing business leaders in some of Africa’s most dynamic markets.
This partnership brings together two pan-African organisations, committed to supporting the development of business leaders and entrepreneurs to help drive the continent forward.
Throughout 2019, ALUSB will provide learning and development workshops in the countries The Africa List works in – Ethiopia, DRC, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia – and a four-day leadership retreat for a select group of The Africa List members at the end of the year. We’re very excited to start working with The Africa List’s members and to share our innovative teaching methods, including our signature African case studies.
The Africa List network is made up of business leaders drawn from the most influential companies operating in each country. The firms included vary in size; from growing start-ups to established family firms and multinationals.
The Africa List chose to work with ALUSB because of the opportunity to work with a like-minded organisation that has a strong record of developing some of the most exciting business people on the continent. “We are delighted to be working with ALUSB,” said Julie Benoist, Interim Head of Network for The Africa List. “Their focus on tailoring learning to the specific context and challenges our members face will help them take their careers even further, and help them build lasting businesses that can drive the continent forward.”
Our first workshop with The Africa List will take place on Tuesday 18 June in Lusaka, Zambia.
Motlatsi Mkalala ’19 is a South African, an Area Manager at Standard Bank, and a rule breaker. We had the pleasure of sitting down with this maverick to discuss his decision to pursue an MBA at ALUSB and his thoughts on taking non-conforming leadership decisions.
“I’m a person who does not conform; I don’t follow rules, I recreate them.”
Here are some interesting excerpts from Motlatsi’s interview, you can find the full video
Although Motlatsi was thinking about applying to a business school for a long time, he had become a bit anti-MBA over time: “I thought everybody was getting an MBA and that it was losing its value.”
But the Pan-African programme at ALUSB made him reconsider: “When I heard about ALUSB, I got excited because it was a Pan-African MBA and the first of its kind. I thought the MBA would give me a greater understanding of the issues and challenges the continent has and a context of where I would want to go next.”
ON LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
is at the heart of ALUSB’s vision and is a constant presence throughout the MBA programme. We adhere to a unique V^3 model
, which uses a mixture of Virtue, Value and Vision,
to develop well-rounded leaders. Not only do we craft their leadership through top-quality content and coaching, but the students also learn to lead
through on-the-job practices and experimental activities.
When asked about the leadership development programme
at ALUSB, there’s one thing that immediately comes to Motlatsi’s mind: “We learned how to be bold and take bold decisions
. And you start to reflect and think: do I take bold decisions in how I run the business? Or am I always comfortable because I’m scared to be the one that stands out? That has challenged how I influence the team or my boss to take a different stance.”
Watch Motlatsi’s full interview below:
Three years ago, Yves Iradukunda ’19 started at MASS Design Group in Kigali, Rwanda as the East-African operations manager. Now, he’s the senior director of operations and mainly works on bringing in new talent, kickstarting new projects and managing relationships with MASS’s different partners.
With responsibilities that are constantly evolving and expanding, Yves still managed to complete his MBA journey at ALUSB without jeopardising his responsibilities at work.
We talked to Yves about his time at ALUSB and the 4 elements that determined his academic and professional success throughout the MBA programme.
1. Knowing your “why”
Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or an established leader, identifying the meaning behind your decisions is essential for a purpose-driven and significant journey.
Yves’ reasoning for pursuing an MBA was twofold. Not only did he want to take advantage of the general management training that a Business School provides, but he specifically wanted to expand his knowledge on entrepreneurship and leadership.
“Ideally an MBA was going to allow me to understand my previous experiences through different lenses. I really wanted to know what it meant to inspire; not just the people that I work with, but also the broader society, through the work that we do.”
Knowing his “why” and identifying his goals kept Yves focused and intentional during the ALUSB programme.
2. Choosing the right fit
Even though it is an essential building block, knowing your “why” is not the only thing that will keep you motivated. It is equally important to find an institution that suits you academically and personally. Yves found his match in the Pan-African centred programme at ALUSB.
“There are so many untapped opportunities on the continent and ALUSB’s focus on the African context made the school really attractive and unique. I am now able to tap into a vast network of professionals that are operating in different markets and expand my understanding beyond my own experience. If you’re really interested in increasing your knowledge and expertise on the continent, this MBA is the right programme for you.”
3. Being intentional
In the course of the last 15 months, Yves’ responsibilities at MASS Design Group have both changed and increased in terms of expectations. But despite the added pressure, Yves found a way to stay on top of his schoolwork.
“You have to be very intentional. There have been many weeks where it was a struggle to dedicate the needed time to my course material, but that means that the weekends are for catching up. So if the week has been hectic, be intentional in the weekend and really make time to study.”
4. Having a strong support system.
Having a support system is imperative when embarking on any journey, especially a challenging one like this. Yves was lucky to have many morale boosters around him.
“My wife and newly born daughter are really the main sources for my motivation; it’s rewarding knowing that they have my back. That aspect of family support is very important.”
Yves colleagues at MASS Design Group were also a source of motivation during his MBA journey: “Seeing the impact of the work that we do, is very inspiring. My colleagues are dedicated, passionate and never compromise on quality. A work environment like that is encouraging and motivates me to contribute to them as they contribute to me.”
Finally, Yves states that his MBA journey would have been impossible without his classmates. “Even though the ALUSB MBA is a remote programme, we remained connected throughout the year, not just at the intensives. We WhatsApp on a daily basis, call each other, offer support in difficult times and celebrate the exciting ones. Without those people, what you’re learning loses meaning.”
And even though Yves graduation from ALUSB is quickly approaching, he’s not planning to stop learning anytime soon.
“I think learning itself is a lifelong journey. The MBA programme opened my eyes and kickstarted a lifelong learning journey. It helped me realise how much more opportunities are across the continent. So the upcoming graduation is not a final destination, it’s the start of a new journey of learning and collaborating with other people.”