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:
Oluwatoyin “Toyin” Arowolo ‘18, a wife, a mother of two, and a Nigerian entrepreneur, with plans to expand beyond Nigeria. As Toyin enters the home stretch of the ALUSB MBA, she shares a message for women considering this programme, and talks about the moral responsibility that lays ahead now for the founding class of 2018, as they prepare to graduate.
“The core of this programme has been leadership, but it’s also been ethical leadership – and more than anything, that’s what Africa needs.”
Here are some highlights from Toyin’s Interview:
On striving for work-life balance during the programme:
“I look back and wonder where I had the time to do this. I have two girls, I.am a wife, I work a nine-five job which is more like an eight to eight. I am active in church, started a business midway through business school.
What advice would you have for people considering this programme?
“In the midst of all this, I am happy to say that I have kept up with school work, it hasn’t been easy….it’s been a beautiful experience…in two years as pre-ALUSB and post ALUSB – there’s definitely been a change.”
On what lies ahead beyond graduation:
“As founders, we have an even bigger responsibility to go out, do good and be the kind of leaders people look up to. One of the things that leadership does is inspire us and as the first class, the founders class, I think that we have the moral responsibility (to do so), which is even greater.”
“I think that all eyes are on us, and me as an individual as a member of the class….the sky’s the limit of all of us and we have so much work to do”.
Watch Toyin’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.
“The future of Africa is bright, but only we the leaders of today and tomorrow can make it bright. It is filled with many challenges, but these challenges can be flipped into opportunities depending on the lens we choose to look at them.”
Inutu Zaloumis ‘19
#MeetTheStudents is a series where we profile our students from all over Africa who are #DoingHardThings to drive the continent forward. This #MeetTheStudents interview features Inutu Zaloumis ‘19 who shares highlights from her professional journey since beginning the ALUSB MBA, and the impact the programme has made to date.
1- What has surprised you about the ALUSB MBA to date?
I have never done a Masters, so I didn’t have anything to compare it with. However, after examining it with friends who are in “long distance” learning programmes for their MBAs, I realized that their content was not based on African cases. I was surprised by the format of the HLTs (Home Learning Teams) and PAGs( Pan African Groups) because this has given me insight into different countries and how similar and at the same time different the countries are. The leadership lab was surprising as I initially thought there would purely be assignments on what we have read but the portion of self-reflections and being able to read my cohort self-reflections was different and very insightful. Another aspect was how practical it is and how I can immediately apply the learnings.
2- Tell us about the professional transition that you’ve just made. How did this opportunity come about?
I was headhunted for the position, and initially, I did not consider it. But after attending the second intensive, I realized that I should be brave enough to explore the opportunity. The MBA has taught me the importance of a Pan African experience and how important it is for personal and professional growth. The new role I have is stretching my thinking and has opened me to new cultures and backgrounds. I am thankful for the learnings with the MBA as I can put into practice what I learn immediately and in a much broader context.
3- Did the ALUSB MBA play a role in this transition? If so, how?
Yes, it did play a significant role in my transition. Firstly, it was something that Fred said: Do hard things. It also made me look at my professional growth, where I was and where I want to be in the next few years. The other thing was a statement that Achieng Butler said: “Do what makes your heart sing.” And it was during those sessions that I knew that the unsettling feeling I had was actually that I felt that I had outgrown my current role and needed to be challenged further. I know I would not have had the courage to take up this role if I had not been exposed to ALUSB MBA programme.
4- What does the future of Africa look like through your eyes? What role will you play in it?
The future of Africa is bright, but only we the leaders of today and tomorrow can make it bright. It is filled with many challenges, but these challenges can be flipped into opportunities depending on the lens we choose to look at them. This change can only be done by developing leaders at different levels, and we are the ones that can do that, one person, at a time, demonstrating leadership wherever we are placed, and pouring into those that are looking for a new found hope in their leadership.
My role is to become the leader that I wish to be led by. I look to play a role firstly in my sphere of influence, as they say, charity begins at home. I am here in Kenya, and I have an opportunity to show Kenyans what Zambia can produce. I look forward to making an impact in the property sector here as I did back home, but this can only happen when I first learn about Kenya.
Our MBA students return to Kigali every 4 months. They come to be inspired and to learn from tremendous leaders from across the continent and from awesome ALUSB faculty. They network, participate in social activities and spend valuable face time together. We have compiled highlights from this week to give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse into an ALUSB MBA intensive.
Saturday 3rd March
MBA students working in the conservation industry kicked off the MBA intensive week with ALU School of the Conservation-led visit to Akagera National Park. Students discussed the Park’s strategy to combine business and conservation with the Park’s leadership team.
Talking integration of business with Philbert from the Akagera team: “We are focusing on new business models, such as charging concession fees from eco-friendly businesses allowed to operate within the park”.
Sunday 4th March
Thank you Dr. Deqo Mohamed for inspiring us by sharing transformative work you have done with communities in Somalia. Your leadership and vision are a challenge to our generation to do more for our continent” – Yves Iradukunda ‘19.
In the run-up to International Women’s Day 2018, ALUSB’s first Women in Management session took place, guest starring two phenomenal role models, Dr. Deqo Mohamed & Ms. Ayesha Bedwei.
Monday 5th March
Class of 2019: Vice Dean & Prof. Catherine Duggan kicks off her blistering Political Economy course with the quote, “I think of your job as a leader as absorbing complexity and transmitting clarity” ~ Yaw Boateng. The Class of 2019 then explored 30 years Chinese economic development, preparing to project next 20 years: of African development.
CLO Ryan Findley leads the Class of 2019 through the Renaissance Dam Simulation, a pan-African Leadership lab exercise, combining V3 challenges with negotiation skills.
Tuesday 6th March
Guest faculty Gbenga Oyebode, a successful lawyer, business adviser and board member for several companies, including MTN Nigeria, led a Doing Business in Africa session with Classes of 2018 and 2019. He then joined a subset of students for lunch and discussion.
“You need to have a strategy to manage the success of your company”. Guest faculty Micheal Ikpoki, the former CEO of MTN Nigeria, currently business adviser and CEO of Africa Context Consulting, an Africa-focused business advisory company, explores the importance of stakeholders management in Africa with our Classes of 2018 and 2019.
Wednesday 7th March
ALUSB CAO, Dr. Emmett Tracy, led an all-day Business Strategy session with the Class of 2018, building on their McKinsey Academy courses.
Thursday 8th March
International Women’s Day #IWD2018, Celebrating intelligent, passionate, beautiful women who are changing Africa.
After spending a day in the field with local organisations, our Class of 2019 presented their BUILD-structured findings and recommendations.
Friday, 9th March
Guest faculty Nicola Galombik, Executive Director of Yellowwoods, leads her “Where Value meets Virtue” session, focused on the importance and pursuit of shared value in African economies.
Leadership is at the heart of the African Leadership Group, which the ALU School of Business (ALUSB) is part of. We believe that good leadership is the force that will really transform the African continent and help to bring about the African Century. This philosophy is an integral part of what we teach at ALUSB through our V^3 Leadership Model.
In this post, Ryan Findley, an architect of the V^3 Leadership Model, shares insights about how the model was developed with the African leader in mind.
Who is Ryan Findley? What do you do at ALU School of Business?
I am a leadership enthusiast who is currently serving as the Chief Learning Officer (CLO) and Chief Operating Officer (COO) at ALU School of Business. My role puts me in charge of ALUSB’s final products which includes our curriculum, our intensives, or anything we publish. As COO, I am in charge of the team to ensure that we deliver on everything from marketing to student recruitment to student assessment and so on. Those, ultimately, are my responsibilities.
What attracted you to work at ALU School of Business?
It was really exciting to have the opportunity to redefine the MBA. The MBA has been around for about sixty years and it started within the Ivy Leagues of the US. To date, pretty much everyone else has copied it. There is little variation globally in the classes you would take in an MBA, and how you would study an MBA.
Maybe about 10 years ago we began to see an infiltration of part-time programmes and dual degree programmes. Before then, the standard was: you took two years off, went to business school, and after those two years at business school you returned to the working world. So that was the first thing: I felt like we could redesign the model. Not that part-time MBAs aren’t being done, but having an opportunity to solve the dearth of such programmes in Africa is exciting.
Much more exciting, however, was the opportunity to integrate leadership into the MBA. There are not many MBAs out there with a true focus on leadership. Some offer it as an elective or offer a few classes. However, given that leadership is so important in Africa, I couldn’t imagine anything more important than giving MBA students a robust leadership experience. And that was something I believed that we could do better than anyone else in the world.
How was the V^3 Leadership Model that is taught at ALUSB designed?
I was in the room at the inception of V^3. The model was designed with the same premise that we had at the ALU undergraduate programme and at the African Leadership Academy (ALA), which is that leadership on the continent needs to have an entrepreneurial element to it. As our founder, Fred Swaniker likes to say, “the challenges that leaders face on the continent are effectively entrepreneurial challenges.” They are the challenges of an entrepreneur. Therefore, blurring the lines between leadership and entrepreneurship was at the heart of the design process of the V^3 leadership model.
How would you explain the V^3 Leadership Model?
Firstly V^3 stands for: Value, Virtue, and Vision. Being an entrepreneur is about creating Value. Entrepreneurs squeeze out Value from every unit, every store, and every part of the supply chain in order to create Value for their customers, clients, and other stakeholders.
However, if we have people who only know how to maximise and extract Value, we can easily see a point where this becomes exploitative. And that’s where Virtue comes in. You can’t just be someone who creates or delivers Value, you’ve got to be someone who is Virtuous–who is ethical, courageous, resilient. Virtue is treating people well and taking care of stakeholders as much as shareholders. Virtue does not inherently create Value, but when paired with value creation, turns out to be quite a powerful mix.
Vision ties it all together by answering the question: “Where is it all headed?” It provides the direction and the orientation of an organisation, the society, the community, and all other settings where people are working to create value within the boundaries of a set of virtues. It is therefore important that all V’s – Value, Virtue, and Vision – work synergistically with one another.
What impact has ALUSB had on the lives of its students, outside the classroom?
The stories we’ve heard have been really impressive! From students getting raises at work, to students getting triple the money on a business they were selling, to students having their church pastors tell them: “Hey, you’re doing this for all of us.”
The impact is incredible! I’d say almost everyone, on some level, has shared some success from their personal lives, even if it’s about their kids. When their kids see how their parents themselves work hard on their homework, passing tests, and so on, they bond over it.
I think that, into the future, we would get more tangible results around things like job changes, salary improvements, company funding, meeting spouses, et cetera. We are only 14 months in and the impact we are having is already this significant.
Now, imagine where we would be in 14 years! Why not join us now?