Guest Faculty Willy Yav, broadcaster and pan-African entrepreneur from the DRC, joined us for an interview while on campus in Kigali this past July. Hear Willy’s advice for building pan-African ventures and his thoughts about the future of Africa. Be inspired!
Here are some highlights from Willy’s interview. Scroll down to watch his full video interview, below:
“But yes, we are advancing. We are not going back. Africa is not going backwards.”
What led you to teach at the ALU School of Business?
“ALU believes that I have some experience to share. It is very important to talk about what I know, what I believe are the problems and what I suggest could be the beginning of solutions.”
What is your advice for making an impact at a pan-African level?
“We have to learn to start small after doing proper preparation…
At Pygma, the company that I co-founded, we are borderless…we are not limited by the borders that were set in place by a few people sitting around a table, carving up the continent up like a piece of cake.
You need to build your business with the ambition to grow, to have an impact at an African level. I would say if you do something that works in Awolowo Road in Lagos, Nigeria, its going to work in Rue du Commerce in Kinshasa. Its the same people, the same problems. If we add to it the intellect…as long as you know how to interpret it and re-adapt it to our reality, and find an African solution, I guarantee we are going to be well – actually better than a lot of continents.”
What does the future of Africa look like through your eyes?
“Better than African today by far, and at one stage we are going to reach a critical mass of a lot of people thinking the way we now think, and we will have a continent that will be amazing.
People think that working success is in two or three weeks. No, its not true. Even considering the whole situation in the DRC, because I live there but partially, I can see where we have improved. We have actually improved a lot on certain aspects. Then, I can be there and say this is not fast enough for us to catch up, we should do it better.
But yes, we are advancing. We are not going back. Africa is not going backwards.”
Watch Willy’s full video interview here:
Lillian Madeje ‘18 describes herself as a passionate changemaker from Tanzania. In this video interview, Lilian talks about her personal leadership journey since joining the ALUSB programme, the importance of empowering her team, and her thoughts about what lays ahead after graduation, this July.
Here are some highlights from Lilian’s interview:
How have you grown and developed as a leader since you joined the ALUSB MBA?
“Joining the class, I was actually looking for the technical capabilities of the programme. I had just started my company in 2014, and 2016 was when we were starting to grow…I needed the hardware to make sure that I would function well.
I can attest to the fact that over the past 16-17 months I have been able to grow as a leader…the concept of a leader who is seen…I am really keen on grooming the team that I’m working with, on getting them to see the vision that we have for the company.
What’s more important to me is the growth within the team and the feeling that the team has. This is displayed by people going the extra mile while delivering on a project. I can actually leave for a week without stressing because I know that the team is on point.
What got us to that point is not because Lilian said so, but it’s because of a team effort. I have been able to trust my team, to delegate and to see opportunities that can empower my team to do better.
It’s all about learning.”
What does the future look like as an ALUSB MBA Graduate?
“It’s a bittersweet feeling. July is coming…and we are excited because it means we have gone through the boot camp and we’re coming out the other side.
…I know we’ll be meeting. Now have a reason to visit different cities in Africa and have meetups. Other than that, I know for a fact that given the work I do, if I need someone in a certain country, all I have to do is pick up the phone and call, and I know that I will have support”.
Watch Lillian’s full video interview here:
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.