We had the privilege of gleaning some wisdom from guest faculty Gbenga Oyebode, lawyer and chairman of Aluko and Oyebode, one of Nigeria’s top commercial law firms.
In this interview Gbenga shares his tips for doing business in Africa, his reasons for teaching at ALU School of Business, as well as his thoughts about what kind of leadership is needed to advance Africa and help bring about the African Century.
“Our ability to manage our people better, to mentor our people and show true leadership around the problems that bedevil our continent…that’s going to be the difference between the past and the future.”
Here are some highlights from Gbenga’s interview:
What is key to doing business in Africa that most people overlook?
“The 50+ countries on the African continent are not all the same….I think the real key is knowledge of the local market. Try to understand the market you go to, try to behave like the locals, to to understand what they want, their aspirations…pay special attention to the likes and dislikes of the local communities”.
What led you to teach at the ALU School of business?
“I have always felt that the gap on the continent is around education and leadership. I think that if we are going to achieve our objectives, and if in 20 years we look back and we ask, ‘What have we done?’ , it would be that we have educated our people better and at all levels, but that that education also includes significant investment around leadership”.
What kind of leadership is needed to drive Africa forward in the next 10-15 years?
“Our students must focus on leadership as a core skill, in addition to all the other specialist skills that they have acquired along the way…that’s going to be the real difference. Our ability to manage our people better, to mentor our people and show true leadership around the problems that bedevil our continent…that’s going to be the difference between the past and the future”.
Watch Gbenga’s full video interview here:
Words cannot express how proud I am of you, that you have made it successfully to the end of this grueling program of business leadership transformation and earned the right to be called the FOUNDING GRADUATES of ALUSB. You caught the vision, married it with your passion, you were selected among thousands, you have persevered, you have grown as leaders, you are equipped, and you shall continue to soar. Every one of you has been transformed from the competent managers that you were two years ago into competent Pan-African business leaders. I am honored to have played a part in your future success, of which I am confident.
To those whom much is given, much is expected. The journey that you started with ALUSB is not coming to an end; it is changing in its nature. You are now no longer students who are being transformed by our program; you are now graduates whose accomplishments and leadership will shape the brand and design of the program. Most importantly, your leadership will shape Africa. As you celebrate this milestone, I urge you to remember why you chose this program, and why this program chose you. We chose each other because we are passionate about changing Africa. Africa needs you desperately to make Africa great. Make Africa great by creating thousands of new jobs. Make Africa great by inspiring others to become better leaders. Make Africa great by consistently demonstrating V3 leadership.
I am so proud of you.
Make me prouder.
Brenda Kobola’ 19 works in the Human Capital space at Standard Bank Group. In this interview, Brenda discusses striving for work-life balance as she manages work, study, and family life. She also describes her personal leadership journey since she joined ALUSB.
Here are some highlights from Brenda’s interview:
How do you strive for work-life balance in the midst of so many competing priorities?
“At any given time, I have to make priorities, and I have to decide what I am focusing on otherwise if I split myself, there is no quality in anything that I am doing….it’s not easy, but you have to be disciplined. If you say today is my study day, it has to be that”.
How have you developed as a leader since you joined ALUSB?
“I came here, and we were talking about the V^3 Model. I said okay, I feel that I am that African leader. As guests came to speak to us about the different elements of the V^3 model, I started questioning myself….and as you start questioning yourself, you realise that the journey of a leader is about how you craft it as you go along”.
How is ALUSB building Brenda as a leader for African Century?
“I think for me, having the opportunity to sit around leaders, having guests that come in and tell you their stories… it just pushes you. What do I see around me? What can I do? How do I improve things around me and the issues that I am identifying, and what do I do about them? I think that, for me, is the biggest learning so far”.
Watch Brenda’s full interview below.
It was inspiring to spend some time with ALUSB Guest Faculty Ayesha Bedwei, a Partner and Diversity & Inclusion Leader at PwC in Ghana.
In this interview Ayesha shares some powerful insights about the nuances of doing business in Africa, as well as her thoughts about how to empower and encourage more women into senior leadership positions.
Here are some highlights from Ayesha’s interview:
What is the key to doing business in Africa that most people overlook?
“Our infrastructural deficits and lack of key basic amenities make it difficult sometimes…, but one of the things that it has made us do is to become resilient and very adaptable to change. Those are some of the things that make a marked difference between doing business in Africa and doing business in the West, where things work and should work most of the time”.
What can we do to empower and encourage more women in leadership positions?
“As women, we must support other women because we understand the challenges and we have been through them….we all have a part to play, both men and women, and we should be compassionate towards, and encourage other women to rise up”.
Ayesha discusses first the challenges that hinder women rising up and occupying senior leadership positions, as well as those of managing the multiple facets of a woman’s life beyond her career, as a mother, wife and an African woman with extended responsibilities. There are many things we can do to make the workplace more inclusive for women.
What advice do you have for someone joining the C-suite or making a partner for the first time?
“There are unwritten rules which a lot of people will not take the time to tell you. When you get into this position, you must spend a lot of time keeping quiet and listening, to understand and appreciate the power dynamics and understand the realm that you’ve come into”.
Watch Ayesha’s full interview below!
“This MBA has taught us how to use and leverage the business, leadership skills and so forth to make an impact, and what it means to be a visionary leader”.
A member of ALUSB’s inaugural MBA Class of 2018 and a global health international development professional who was born and raised in the USA, Haroun recounts his professional journey, as he made the move back to his family roots in Sierra Leone.
Here are some highlights from Haroun’s interview:
About the move to Africa:
“It was actually the MBA that pushed me to be on the ground in Africa; right after the first MBA intensive (week) I decided to quit my job at USAID and get a position in Africa”.
On the ALUSB community:
“There is a great representation of the Pan-Africanism, we’re very connected, we all have great networks in the various industries that we’re in, and the potential of great leadership in these areas”.
On the MBA curriculum:
“ALUSB MBA has taught us how to use and leverage the business skills, leadership skills, and so forth to make an impact and what it means to be a visionary leader, to be a visionary leader, a value based and a virtuous leader”.
On Building Leaders for the African Century:
“I see a lot of potential in our class, I see future presidents in our group, future business leaders, private sector leaders making great impacts all around the continent”.
Watch Haroun’s full video interview below.
We had the honour of interviewing Former CEO of MTN Nigeria, Business Advisor and CEO of Africa Context Consulting, Micheal Ikpoki, in between his classes in March.
This video summarises Michael’s superb insights on some of the important nuances of doing business in Africa, gives excellent advice for rising leaders on the cusp of entering the “C-suite” and provides some context on why he chose to teach at ALU School of Business.
What is the key to doing business in Africa, that most people overlook?
“Actions from the regulator and government are the biggest risk to any business, bigger than the risk of market actions…we are all trained to deal with the competition but as leaders we are not well-equipped to deal with others issues in the external environment, namely government and regulatory issues”.
What brought you to teach at the ALU School of Business?
“It’s very clear that if you look across Africa there’s a lot of positive movements taking place and governments are becoming more accountable. citizens are now beginning to ask for change and in the midst of that there’s going to be a lot more expectations on companies and business leaders need to live up to that. That is where the gap is and what you are doing here at African Leadership University…trying to create Africa-centric leaders is critical and a big gap that we need to fill”.
What advice do you have for someone joining the C-Suite or making a partner for the first time?
I would capture it in one word, “PRESENCE”. Now your decisions have a lot more impact….you affect the lives of more people, because people now look up to you, you become a role model, it becomes your responsibility to cultivate more role models across the organisation”.
Watch Micheal Ikpoki’s fantastic full interview below!