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.
We had the honour of sitting down with one of our ALUSB MBA guest faculty, Professor of Finance and Dean of Hult International Business School’s Boston’s Campus, Dr. Gonzalo Chavez.
Professor Chavez has taught finance all over the world and we were delighted to host him for his first teaching engagement in Sub Saharan Africa! In this interview, Professor Chavez talks about his experience teaching our ALUSB MBA students and he leaves us with two pieces of advice for rising African leaders.
We’ve compiled some interesting excerpts from Gonzalo’s interview, you can find the full video below:
On teaching ALUSB MBA students for the first time.
“It has been a pleasure. The group is very collaborative, very dynamic, very positive. What I’ll always remember them saying is: “Let’s do this!”. And that is the kind of attitude one needs, not only in a class environment. That is the kind of attitude one needs as the next business leaders“.
Advice for rising African leaders.
For the leaders that want to take on the challenge of realising Africa’s potential, Dr. Gonzalo Chavez has two pieces of advice:
- “Continue to challenge yourself to adapt current knowledge to the African reality. As a leader, you very frequently have to make decisions that have a financial impact, but you cannot be the expert in every single field. Force yourself to ask about the practical implications. Don’t just look at it from a metrics perspective, but ask: “what does this metric mean?” Go back and just remove yourself until you get to a point where it all makes sense.”
- The second piece of advice Dr. Chavez has for this cohort of African Leaders is to be a promoter of education.” The reason why they are leaders at this point is because they are being trained and they have the education. Their responsibility is also to make sure that that continues. Because the level of education in this continent’s population is going to be a deciding factor in what happens in the next 10 to 15 years.”
This leads us nicely to Gonzalo’s closing question:
“What are you doing to make sure there are others like you?”
Watch Dr. Chavez’s full interview below!
Patience Mapeza ’19 is a Senior Retail Banking Manager for NMB Bank in Zimbabwe. She joined NMB in 2002 a few years after the former merchant bank registered as a commercial bank. She has risen steadily through the ranks ever since. Patience now manages over 14 bank branches across the country, working hard to drive a more financially inclusive society. This week we followed Patience for a week and observed her as a senior professional, guardian and team leader.
Patience’s Monday begins early. She wakes up at 4:00am to catch up with her MBA assignments. As legal guardian to her nieces, aged 17 and 19 years respectively, she then checks in on the girls to make sure that they are ready for school, then drops them off and then heads to work.
Patience usually arrives at work by 8:00am, where she will first respond to emails that are pending from the weekend. She checks in on the status of her 14 branches, ensuring that any issues are addressed immediately. Patience closely monitors how each branch is operating, ensuring that customer satisfaction levels are optimised and that her branches are staying ahead of their competitors in offering financially inclusive customer solutions. If issues occur that require her presence in a branch, Patience will leave her office and head out to that branch.
Other priorities in Patience’s weekly schedule comprise business development meetings with her Executive Directors. “People know I have an opinion, but I have to work extra hard as one of the few women in senior positions at the bank, to ensure that no balls are dropped”.
On weekends, Patience catches up with her friends and family. She is blessed with an amazing network of professional women, peers with whom she can share, who advise and encourage each other with a view to promoting more women in leadership across their respective industries.
Golf is also a favourite past time, and Patience will play a round with friends when she can find the time.
After church on Sundays, Patience hosts her family for a meal. “My family has been so supportive. They always motivate me to work and give me the space I need to work on my MBA assignments. I send the girls to my parents over the weekend, freeing up time for study”.
A perfect week for Patience is when she is able to accomplish her set objectives at work and satisfy her customers. The ALUSB Intensive weeks have always been a highlight of her MBA journey. “ALUSB brings together diverse, amazing professionals from across the continent. We share, engage and network. And I am ever impressed by the high quality of our guest lecturers.”
On Motivation: Patience believes in the power of prayer. She adds, “My home is my sanctuary. I reflect on how I can grow as a guardian, leader, and business woman. My country, Zimbabwe, has gone through a series of challenges. It can depress you, so I always try to stay positive, because I do not know what tomorrow may hold”.
On Roadblocks: ‘I am an empowered woman. I try to identify opportunities in spite of the challenges faced by women. Zimbabwe is a patriarchal society where a woman with an opinion is not always well received, especially if unmarried”. Patience embraces her values, virtues, and vision as a woman, striving to look out for fellow women. “It sometimes makes people uncomfortable, but I feel that if life brings challenges to our doorstep, it is up to us to turn them into opportunities”, she adds.
On Teamwork at ALUSB: Throughout her MBA, Patience has realised that working as part of a team and listening to her team mates makes things easier. “My ability to go through this programme is in part due to my supportive teammates. I was not sure that I would be able to keep up with the pressure, but with time, I have come to embrace it.
“The ALUSB MBA is doable, possible and I have embraced the ALU term #DOHARDTHINGS! I doubt that there is anything the programme can throw me that I won’t be able to handle.”
Patience has a message for people considering the ALUSB MBA: “This is the perfect opportunity for you to be a changemaker. ALUSB has given me the opportunity to see what I was not able to envision before”.
Patience looks ahead to life after graduation as a significant time of application, when the MBA Class of 2019 puts all the skills and knowledge that they’ve acquired along this 20-month journey, into practice. She also looks forward to creating suitable banking products in Africa to ensure that Africa is banked differently and banked better. ‘I now see normal tasks as opportunities.” she concludes.
Arnaud Niyongabo ’19 has been with Village Health Works in Burundi for the past seven years. As he embarks upon the final weeks of his ALUSB MBA experience, the winds of change are blowing in a new direction.
Arnaud just accepted a job with Kaz’O’zah in Bujumbura, an organisation that works to “encourage artisans to become skilled craftsmen, reach their full potential through skills development, hard work and determination, and then thrive as self-sufficient income-earners”. As Arnaud embarks upon his new horizon, enjoy this week-in-his-life as a husband, father, leader and ALUSB MBA student.
Monday, 21 January starts early in the morning. Arnaud grabs a cup of his favorite Arabic coffee and then takes his two sons, aged 3 and 4, to school. As he navigates the traffic on his way to work, he reflects on the challenges faced by the people of Burundi. Arnaud fully intends to play his part in improving the lives of many.
At work Arnaud meets with his team, where they discuss the events of the previous week, analyse their objectives and reflect on how they can improve. Arnaud creates a space for his colleagues to voice their challenges, leading brainstorming and problem solving sessions, ending with a clear way forward for the week.
“The MBA’s DBIA [Doing Business in Africa] course has taught me how to be resilient. Sometimes you just have to be ready for what’s coming your way. Expect the unexpected and adjust it to your goals, then keep moving forward”, he says.
Tuesday to Thursday sees Arnaud in the field with his clients, comprised of artisans, women, NGOs, restaurants, farmers and young people. Arnaud and his team are responsible for equipping their clients with the skills they need to become financially sustainable.
On Friday, Arnaud returns from the field, full of new information and progress reports to share with his team.
On motivation: Arnaud has a clear source of motivation for both work and school: “My wife is my greatest source of motivation. She ensures that I keep track of my studies and work”, he explains. This is turn drives him to be a better leader and husband.
On teamwork: Arnaud attests to the learnings from his ALUSB teammates. He is impressed by the diversity and commitment among his MBA classmates. He describes them as “a group of change agents with the passion and zeal for making their communities better places”.
A perfect week for Arnaud is one where he is able to spend quality time with his wife, keep his two little boys happy and healthy, go to church, visit family and friends, meet his professional objectives of the week without roadblocks and submit all his ALUSB assignments on time.
Arnaud has a clear message for the newly admitted MBA candidates who will be joining ALUSB:
“Do not look at the MBA as just a tool to learn about business concepts or to help you move forward in your careers. It is also about human connections, about creating a strong network with your classmates, and about how you want to grow as a business leader”.
As he looks ahead to graduation, Arnaud is committed to continuing the projects that he started with his team mates, and to working to maintain the precious ALUSB relationships that he built over the past 18 months.
On Leadership and Personal Branding
ALUSB Director of Admissions, Vani Nadarajah, had the pleasure of sitting down to an interview with Mzamo Masito, Chief Marketing Officer of Google Sub-Saharan Africa. In part 2 of this wisdom-packed interview, we asked Mzamo about his leadership heroes, got his advice on entering senior leadership positions for the first time and tapped his vast experience on building a great personal brand.
Find his full video interview below. Some great soundbites follow below.
On great leadership:
“The great leaders that I have experienced happen to be great human beings. What we are actually trying to develop is a great human being, who happens to become a great leader”.
What advice would you have for someone entering the C-Suite for the first time?
“You have to know yourself. You have to have such a high sense of self-awareness, self-conviction and you need to know what your values are.
Learn to be vulnerable with the people you lead. They must see the human being, not the title”.
On personal branding:
A great reputation = winning + strong values.
“A great reputation = winning + strong values. All you have is a reputation and all you are selling is a reputation.
The winning talks to ability and talent. Sharpen your skills, get on the job training, coaching, mentoring, an MBA…you need hard skills as much as you need soft skills.
The strong values are your moral compass.
And when the what (winning) and the how (moral compass) are balanced, you have a great reputation and a great personal brand.”
Njideka Nwabueze ’20 is a Proposition Manager at Diamond Bank Plc, Nigeria. She leads BETA proposition, a digital savings strategy to increase financial inclusion for low income un-banked and underbanked market entrepreneurs – especially women.
Njideka’s weekly rhythm involves managing 1,200 mobile field agents across over 270 Diamond Bank branches in Nigeria. These field agents go out into streets and markets with the objective of “banking-the-unbanked”, an endeavour that necessitates non-traditional strategy and implementation. The scope of Njideka’s work role stretches from consumer research, strategic planning and implementation, to marketing, sales, and financial capacity building, especially for women.
In her words, “we have a proposition, BETA savings, financial services that are deployed via mobile devices and agents to the financially excluded, with a view to accelerating financial inclusion in Nigeria. I am currently prioritising agent training, that they may engage customers, understand and align their personal preferences with the right product offering and therefore provide a stronger value proposition to our customers.”
In a snapshot, one can attest that the one thing which stays consistent in Njideka’s work-week is the clause, “find out what is best for customers.” Evidently, she emphasises that customer evaluation is at the heart of what her team does. Market research and customer evaluations make room for new product propositions and existing product iterations, the nexus of Njideka’s role at Diamond Bank.
Njideka’s day-to-day focus includes streamlining data from customers, the sales team, market research and competitive intelligence, to build and pitch new business cases to the Executive Committee. The proposals are crafted with detailed attention and Njideka must liaise with stakeholders across the finance, IT, operations, legal, project management and risk management divisions to ensure that all the necessary boxes are checked.
[On roadblocks], Njideka says, “the first thing I do is stay positive.” She recognises that there is always an opportunity in every roadblock she faces. She believes one can learn from impeding situations. From her experience, she attests, “Every time I overcome an obstacle, it prepares me to handle future challenges.”
In addition, Njideka says, “when you encounter roadblocks, it is time to engage more – talk to more people, find out people who have faced the same kind of problem, and in some regards, try negotiation assuming another party is involved.”
[On motivation], Njideka is a rare gem. She is married with four sons, and currently nursing a 9-month old son while studying her ALUSB MBA. At this point in life, navigating work-school-family, the word “motivation” is synonymous to “passion-driven goal-setting” for Njideka. She had set a goal to have an MBA by the year 2020, and despite still nursing her last child, she enrolled in the ALUSB MBA programme, with the conviction that it was the right place to be. Six months and two intensives later, Njideka says “I really appreciate Leadership Lab at ALUSB. It has reinforced the importance of goal-setting, reflection, and evaluation.”
An out-going extrovert, Njideka has gotten a lot more motivation by adapting her natural instincts and limiting time spent on social media and hangouts. She strives to keep managing her time more effectively throughout the MBA programme, and she adds that by listening to good music, she stays refreshed and uplifted.
[A perfect week] to Njideka is three-dimensional. Family-wise, it is a week where she is able to make her children happy, put smiles on their faces, and see them excel in school.
My perfect school-week is definitely the Intensive week. The excitement from catching up with classmates, guest faculty, and ALUSB staff is fantastic.
At work, Njideka’s perfect week is one where her weekly sales targets are met, and when a product she has worked on for so long is finally approved and launched, with the extra spice of a press release announcing that the product is live in the market.
In conclusion, as we countdown in weeks to the final MBA Application deadline on 14 January, 2019, Njideka has a message to those considering the ALUSB MBA programme as well as those currently applying but are yet to submit.
She says, “Go for it! I have interacted with colleagues who have done their MBA programmes in various institutions, and I have come to conclude that ALUSB is totally different. ALUSB’s leadership programme is one of the best in the world. You gain real insights into who you are as a person, and you experience a transformation which significantly improves your professional and personal relationships.”
ALUSB trains you to be an authentic leader. Here, you learn, unlearn and relearn. Expect an awesome journey through it all.
Join us today!