Author: JerryLynn Kariuki, Intern, ALU School of Business
The COVID-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption of education systems in history. Students and teachers have had to adapt to the world of virtual learning; a world that comes with its own set of challenges. Luckily, Chidi Afulezi, ALUSB’s Head Faculty for Product, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, is no stranger to challenges and he took this one head-on. We caught up with Chidi to learn more about his experience as an educator during a pandemic and get some tips on how to make the most out of virtual learning.
Q. How has COVID-19 impacted your work as an educator?
Chidi: One of the main impacts has been losing the personal face to face connection I previously had with my MBAs. It’s not possible to truly replace the particular aspects of in-person learning, such as body language or feeling the tension in a room when navigating difficult conversations.
Fortunately, ALUSB had already stepped up with virtual learning. The virtual learning experience was made more comfortable by hosting webinars, using emails and other platforms to communicate with students. I believe the broader ALU community is looking up to ALUSB as a benchmark for how we do virtual learning. As a faculty member, I am proud to know that it is not just the MBA’s who are getting some form of instruction but the whole ALUSB community is learning. I believe that among the many offerings, this element makes ALUSB an exemplary learning institution.
Additionally, this experience has prompted me to up my game in terms of the equipment, technology and tools I need to provide an engaging learning experience. Looking at it from teaching methodology, I had to find ways to bring empathy, energy, kindness and firmness to support my students through this challenging time and ensure we produce bonafide MBAs.
Q. What are the benefits of online learning/teaching?
Chidi: Through virtual learning, there are opportunities to bring more people into the classrooms.
There is also an opportunity to combine classes and to extend the executive education classes, not just to our students but to other corporate organisations.
Moreover, going virtual has allowed me to be with my family. While travelling was exciting, spending more time with my family has been a blessing which I genuinely appreciate, and I consider this a benefit of the transition to virtual learning.
Q. What are your highlights from our second online intensive this past July?
Chidi: The first thing I can point out is the ALUSB Operations team who stars in their execution of the virtual intensives. The group organised and ran a world-class virtual learning experience that was engaging for both the educators and the students.
My second highlight was the interaction with students, especially during the capstone presentations where they shared some of the projects they have been working on to solve challenges they have identified all over the continent and in different sectors. It was a learning experience for me too, and I felt inspired by their excellent work.
Q. What is your prediction for the education sector post-COVID-19?
“The education sector in the world, and more specifically on the African continent, is about to see some significant disruption.”
Chidi: The education sector in the world, and more specifically on the African continent, is about to see some significant disruption. Essentially, COVID-19 is an accelerant rather than a change agent. Previously, the changes happening in the education sector were moving at a slower pace. But with COVID-19, I anticipate the acceleration of significant shifts in the industry. I believe we are going virtual, and this will translate to more students having access to education.
Notably, this is predicated by the availability of supportive infrastructures such as internet connectivity and electricity. Universities and other physical structures will not disappear as these too have their significance in society. However, virtual education may become more predominant.
In addition to this, educators will need to be exceptional at what they do to attract the kinds of people who stick around virtually. This will be an opportunity to highlight the ‘superstars’ who can deliver instruction and teach via virtual mediums.
Finally, Chidi shared the following practical tips to make the most out of online teaching:
- You have to be interesting. While delivering content virtually, you need to make the delivery of your content exciting and simplified. An educator needs to be very engaged to ensure that students don’t get disengaged. This could mean having visual content that is well thought out and keeping your energy levels high.
- Get the right tools. Improve your delivery by ensuring that you have the right equipment to deliver online learning.
- Learn from other educators who are doing well.
- Find something that your students and team can look forward to. It is important to have something that brings you together and lifts your energy levels.
Want to read more stories from our ALUSB community? Here are some links to get you started:
Applications to join our MBA classroom in March 2021 are now open! Start your application today at: http://bit.ly/APPLYNOWM21 !
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.”
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:
Here at ALU School of Business, we believe that entrepreneurial ventures play a vital role in Africa’s development. We actively encourage ALUSB students to explore entrepreneurship through courses like E&I, the Lion’s Den event and even through the V^3 Leadership Model, which has entrepreneurial elements at its core!
Demilade Oluwasina ‘20 is someone that needed no introduction to the entrepreneurial spirit. Demie, as he’s more commonly referred to, is currently an ALU Rwanda Faculty member for Entrepreneurial Leadership and acts as the support for the design and delivery of other programmes including the Global Challenges Degree. His role at ALU is a testament to his passion for entrepreneurship and education. He is also a believer of lifelong learning – hence his decision to embark on an MBA journey with ALU School of Business.
He pursued this MBA with the hopes of achieving 3 things: new skills, great relationships and a broader perspective for impact. “I wanted to gain new skills through going through content, reflecting on that content and incorporating it in my daily work life and other projects. Secondly, I wanted to build great and lasting relationships that enable me to tap into even more resources with the diversity of colleagues, partners, and others in the ecosystem. And lastly, a broader perspective through conversations with the people and the different issues we discuss in class. These 3 things, I believe, will empower me to be a better leader and a change-maker with greater impact.”
At ALU Rwanda, he is known for being an enthusiastic faculty member who has played a huge role in mentoring students with different enterprises within the ALU space as well as supporting Global Challenges students in formulating value-oriented missions. But Demie often goes beyond his job description and his workspace to deliver social impact.
One example of this is his project with the EDD, a Rwandan organization that works to rehabilitate and empower street children. “I got involved with them through some of my colleagues at ALUSB During BUILD Lab.” The ALUSB MBA BUILD Lab is a 24-hour design challenge where students are paired with local partners in order to contribute to the optimization of their businesses while also learning important leadership, innovation, and teamwork skills. Through this process, ALUSB MBA students are able to identify some key problems and solutions to address them.
“One of the biggest issues that EDD had, was the struggle to articulate a strong brand and marketing strategy in order to keep attracting the right kinds of shareholders, support and more to be sustainable. I have years of experience in design, branding, advertising and publishing. My friends asked if I was willing to help with the project and I decided to take it on.
“I saw that EDD’s work was needed and was indeed transformative and I wanted to be part of helping them reach their goals, succeed and be sustainable as an organization.”
Demie is currently working on a strategy that will attract support and the right stakeholders to make the EDD a sustainable organization. At the same, he gets to be part of a programme that is empowering young children in Rwanda by providing them with a community that is supportive and concerned about their welfare.