Likeleli recently re-launched Inspire Innovation in her home-country, Lesotho. In the past month, she has been working on getting the business off the ground. This week in her life is a reflection of the grit and spirit of a startup founder, mother, mentee, teammate, and ALUSB student.
“My reason for doing an MBA was to come out of it with a business. With the support of my Capstone advisor, coach, classmates and my ALU network in general, my Capstone project is coming to life as a business consultancy firm, “Inspire Innovation”.”
The novelty of Monday 19 November at Inspire Innovation was amped up with a new, permanent addition to the existing team of four interns who are collectively students/ alumni of the African Leadership Group (ALG). Thus, Inspire Innovation is a symbol of the powerful, pan-African network that is being built across the African Leadership Group.
Heeding a familiar Monday Meeting canon, Likeleli met with a branding expert to align on branding strategies for her company. She also conducted a Vision Connect session with her team, to retell the story of Inspire Innovation and refresh their awareness of the company’s mission and goals. In this light, she applied her learnings from ALUSB’s Leadership Lab as well as McKinsey Academy’s Communicating for Impact and Team Management courses. After the session with her team, Likeleli proceeded with what captures her typical weekday – meeting with potential clients to pitch her company.
This week has been particularly engaging for Likeleli because of her participation in the Entrepreneurship Expo and Business Summit, Maseru, organized by The Entrepreneurs Network which her husband is a part of. She is moderating a panel discussion on “Education and Entrepreneurship” and running an entrepreneurship workshop for some of the businesses that are exhibiting at the Expo.
Inspire Innovation had some milestones this week, including printing official T-shirts to boost their brand visibility and leveraging the Expo to conduct a business survey of client needs and problems. This is in line with their mission to make support services available to SMEs in Southern Africa.
“I always come home at 5:00 p.m to attend to my son, Tsepang. I focus on my family for the evening, go to sleep and wake up between 2:00 a.m and 5:00 am to do admin work – responding to emails, reviewing my team’s work and gearing up for the new day.”
According to Likeleli, Inspire Innovation has evolved so much over the course of the ALUSB MBA. In her startup journey, she has directly consolidated her MBA learnings while growing her reach through the ALUSB network. She says, “I have found myself having bolder conversations with people from whom I need help, to get things on the ground. I have gained so much confidence. I am setting up structures, and putting things in place so that by January 2019, this will be a fully fledged company. Having the support structure from my family, classmates, mentor and business partner has made the journey very exciting.”
Likeleli’s entrepreneurial path has also sparked a personal transition in her approach to innovation. Her knowledge of piloting from the Entrepreneurship and Innovation course has replaced her natural inclination to overthink, deliberate and contemplate, with the drive to “do it, at a very small scale, learn very quickly from it and try something else or change the approach.”
[On roadblocks] Likeleli has gained awareness of the trust limitations that come with being young and running a startup. She deals with it by communicating with her business partner, Makuena Kolobe, a development consultant; her mentor, Duduzile Seamatha, Director at Sheeran and Associates; and also through surrounding herself with other business personnel who inspire her to see the silver lining of her roadblocks.
[On motivation] Likeleli keeps lists to help her see things in perspective. She has also learnt to constantly tap into her support system. Regarding her schoolwork, she speaks highly of her Home Learning Team at ALUSB for encouraging her throughout her MBA journey. In her words, “we prioritize communicating on time, planning ahead of time and being realistic about setting expectations of others.”
Likeleli looks at balance over the long term. She thinks about [work-life balance] from an interesting point of view: “If I spend all this time working, schooling and generally being busy now, I can rest later.” Looking back at a time when she dedicated all her time to looking after her son, she attests that it shaped her to be less strict about gauging work-life balance and more holistic about her outlook on it.
In conclusion, Likeleli states, “If I can get everything on my list done without any interruption, getting results in all the goals I have set for the week, and still be able to read a book and go on a drive somewhere with my husband and son, then I would have had a perfect week.”
Emmett P. Tracy combines an erudite academic portfolio comprising a BA from Williams College, MBA from INSEAD, and a Ph.D. from Trinity College, Dublin, with an executive professional portfolio including Chief Executive Officer, KaffeeHouse Digital and Dean at Hult International Business School.
At ALU School of Business (ALUSB), Dr. Tracy consolidates academic administration, risk management and global strategy to position ALUSB as a leading, pan-African Business School.
Last week, Director of Admissions, Vani Nadarajah, interviewed Dean, Emmett Tracy. Read on to glean insights into the career path, motivations, and personality of ALUSB’s Dean.
Could you give us a snapshot of your academic and professional background?
A lot of my career has been driven by measuring risk at different inflection points, and I have taken a number of significant shifts in my professional and academic trajectory.
In a sense, my background boils down to decisions driven by managing probabilities at different points in my career – in academia and business. Going into academia, I identified the risks involved in considering different areas of study, and then, within the business environment, I observed and evaluated risks in starting and running a company that traversed countries and continents, from Morocco, Ireland, France, Italy and Mauritius to Kigali.
But I have always felt confident in the risks that I have taken and a lot of that stems from the work that I did in business school, which helped me grow in a confidence to analyze situations. Also, I have been fortunate to spend time with a community of people on whom I can rely – many of whom I met during my MBA.
My business school experience now involves helping students identify and evaluate their own risks in the decisions they make at this significant stage in their careers, usually by factoring in income and opportunity.
What led you to ALUSB and why sub-Saharan Africa now?
ALUSB is full of risk-takers, not least Fred Swaniker. I have great respect for the risks Fred has taken, and how calculated they are. ALUSB started a few years ago as an idea, and the school has grown into an extremely successful community of people who are going to change the continent. They are risk takers in their own right. Being part of this community of people who are able to take risks that transcend sectors and geographies, makes me really proud.
What kind of students would you like to see admitted into the ALUSB MBA Programme?
When I take part in the admissions process, one of the biggest things I look out for is open-mindedness, inclusivity and a commitment to diversity.
The ease of changing geographies today means that the opportunities are there to engage with diversity in different markets. The mindset of openness to engage in these differences has to be there. Usually, there are indications of this mindset when prospective students are asked what they expect to see in their classmates and what their classmates expect of them. I find it a good sign when students gravitate towards thinking about other people, not just about themselves.
Where would you like to see ALUSB MBA alumni in 10 years?
I would like ALU MBAs to be running businesses that embrace diversity, employing people from Ethiopia, South Africa, Greece, the Middle East… I want them to be game-changers in the sort of way people think about businesses on the continent – not just regional or overly localised, but as economies that are major players on the global stage.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“Pay greater attention to the details.” My dissertation supervisor used to warn me about moving too quickly and always encouraged me to pay greater attention to details. It was excellent advice.
3 items on your bucket list?
1. Writing at least one book per decade.
2. Deep-sea fishing.
3. Learning Swahili.
Favourite book, if so?
The ‘Meditations’ by Marcus Aurelius. “Poems” by Constantine Cavafy is another book I travel with constantly.
Favorites are tough. But the Irish love quotes. One that I use a lot – “Progress is impossible without change; and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” It is from one of the last works by George Bernard Shaw. People forget Shaw was one of the original founders of the London School of Economics. Incredible.
Who are your mentors in leadership – and why?
Multiple members of my family. I have been extremely fortunate to come from a long line of educators and leaders in education.
What drives you? Where do you get your motivation from?
I came to a point in life where every day was about learning something new and striving towards a sense of virtue. In Western philosophy, this could be understood as a sense of ‘Stoicism.’
“The point of everyday is to learn more. Everyday is a successful day if you’re learning something new and expanding a sense of understanding.”
Intensives are periodic week-long sessions where ALUSB MBA students meet in Kigali to learn directly from seasoned guest faculty. They also take the time to reconnect in person with their classmates. Here are some highlights of the recently-concluded October 2018 MBA intensive.
SUNDAY, 28 OCTOBER
Kicking off with a schedule overview and course introductions, our MBA students geared up for the week ahead. The Class of 2019 engaged in Frontiers – a field adventure at the heart of the Leadership Lab course – which stretched their courage, grit, and resilience. Walking on high ropes and jumping off an adventure tower, they took practical leadership to the field.
MONDAY, 29 OCTOBER
The Class of 2019 had an engaging session in Communicating for Impact, a Mckinsey Management Programme facilitated by Alim Ladha, founder of Instill Education. The Class of 2020 had an immersive Corporate Finance class session taught by Gonzalo Chavez, Professor of Finance at Hult International Business School.
“There is no right or wrong answer, the wealth of experience is in this room, it’s not in my head” – Alim Ladha
To wrap up the day, both classes unplugged at a combined Open Mic Event with the African Leadership University (ALU), Rwanda. Connecting with their ALU undergraduate family over dance, music, poetry, and comedy, students unwound ahead of the intensive week.
TUESDAY, 30 OCTOBER
The third day of Intensive was very stimulating, alluding to a rich, signature ALUSB case study entitled “World Duty-Free Company Limited Versus The Republic of Kenya”, taught by Francis Daniels, Director of Africa Opportunity Partners and Professor Catherine Duggan, Vice Dean of ALUSB. The day ended with an interesting panel discussion on “China in Africa: A Benevolent Force or an Ulterior Motive”, organised by ALUSB in collaboration with Kigali Shapers, an arm of the Global Shapers Community.
WEDNESDAY, 31 OCTOBER
The atmosphere was tense in the morning ahead of the Class of 2020’s Corporate Finance examination. By the afternoon, it was filled with energy and excitement prior to the Amazing Race, a component of the Leadership Lab course, which took the Class of 2020 to the streets of Kigali. In teams, they completed challenges on their journey to the final destination. Upon completion of the amazing race, students reflected on the subtle traits of leadership that were brought to light through the experience.
THURSDAY, 1 NOVEMBER
The day started with the Business of Conservation Conference, hosted by the ALU School of Wildlife Conservation, graced by President Paul Kagame, and attended by over 300 global delegates. ALUSB Conservation Leader Scholars were keynote presenters, sharing their conservation stories and inspiring a call to action for wildlife conservation on the African continent. It was a remarkable event which spurred commitment by various stakeholders to solve Africa’s conservation challenges.
FRIDAY, 2 NOVEMBER
With less than 111 days to graduation, the Class of 2019 were preoccupied with their Capstone Project sessions. These sessions comprised feedback rounds with supervisors, meetings with senior advisors and personal/group reflections. They also had Capstone Simulation sessions where they simulated real businesses with products, making decisions in different areas of the business and observing the effects of their decisions on the company. In teams, their companies competed for market share and revenue.
SATURDAY, 2 NOVEMBER
The last day of the intensive started with classroom sessions in Leadership Lab and Operations Management by the Class of 2020. The Class of 2019 continued their Capstone advisor insights/ peer coaching sessions. The day ended with a send-off presentation by David Wafula ’18, an alumnus from the MBA Class of 2018. David motivated the students to approach the new academic term with diligence and the pursuit of excellence. To the Class of 2020, he said, “you can’t be doing normal things and expecting extraordinary results.”
“Failure is a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you’re in it, you never stop”- David Wafula ’18
Hector Chilimani is a Business Operations Project Specialist at One Acre Fund, Malawi. His passion lies in serving his community by equipping and empowering people with the tools they need to solve their problems. Through his leadership style of imparting ownership, Hector is, in his own right, building leaders and problem-solvers for the African century.
Monday, 15 October 2018 was Mother’s Day Holiday in Malawi. In total indulgence of the atypical Monday, Hector started the day at 7 a.m, later than his 4:30 a.m weekday routine, and without the succession of his early morning jog or aerobics. He checked his emails for about 30 minutes and sent well wishes to the mother figures in his life before embracing the relaxation in the air over Malawi. Having had a hectic weekend submitting a Capstone Project deliverable, he spent the rest of the day resting and catching up with friends and family in the scenic small city of Zomba where he resides.
Hector’s Tuesday, strictly termed a “no-meeting day” was spent on executive, managerial and administrative work, as he prioritises preparing for 1-on-1 check-ins with his manager and direct reports as well as ensuring his collaborators have the necessary support to execute effectively. Consistently, his work responsibilities revolve around key client data management, as well as the implementation of acceleration projects across credit repayment, collection, client protection, and customer engagement. He is also in charge of cross-departmental coordination, with the goal of developing the capacity and effectiveness of the business operations teams.
Hector’s Wednesdays are typically consolidatory. He blends work meetings, team check-ins, and committee sessions during the day with his MBA coursework at the close of work. This Thursday, he led the One Acre Fund Malawi culture crew to the warehouse where farm input delivery was underway in anticipation of the agricultural season. The culture-themed visit, organised in the midst of a two-week project to deliver inputs to 15,000 farmers in 4 districts of Malawi, was aimed at providing support and boosting the morale of the input delivery workers.
On Fridays, Hector typically plans for the week ahead, to ensure that his team is aligned with their priorities for the coming week. His week winds up with an all-staff Town-Hall meeting which occurs in form of feedback sessions, strategic reviews, internal alignment on initiatives and stretch project conversations.
[Motivation] to Hector stems from his passion to serve others, and he does so by assisting workmates, clients, and farmers as part of his daily job. With regards to his ALUSB MBA programme, the love and support from his friends, well-wishers, classmates, and activators keep him going. He says, “there is always that one voice in the midst of all the discouragement, that tells you to keep going. That is the voice I listen to.”
[On roadblocks,] Hector sees challenges as “innovation quests” or learning opportunities, hence he approaches obstacles like topics or subject matters that warrant deep understanding and deliberate unpacking. In this light, he deep-dives into the practical details of every roadblock he faces, focusing more on “who can be of help” and less on “who triggered what.”
“I am motivated by challenges, I do not want to waste any crisis in my life.”
Hector has a powerful statement to make on what drives efficient teamwork. His work position as a business operations manager, as well as his ALUSB context as a pan-African & Home Learning group member, has incited his stance that “engagement, inclusion, and respect are key to teamwork and collaboration, as altogether, the three tenets accentuate the value in the process and result of teamwork.” He adds that “it is a leader’s responsibility to cultivate spaces that allow people to derive value from team engagement.”
Overtime, as a leader, what has been helpful is being able to listen to silent voices, and being aware of how my actions can be destructive or empowering to those I lead.
To Hector, [a perfect week] is mostly aspirational, but it pushes one to be more intentional in deciding their weekly progress. In his words, “this would be a week where I have been available to my direct reports, made room for big picture time, brought closure to a number of projects in my pipeline, caught up with my MBA coursework, and spent the weekend with friends. Preferably, it would also be a week where I hiked, supported some initiative with Fellow Lions club where I am the Projects Director, checked on my siblings and got the chance to ready myself for the coming week.”
[To ALUSB aspirants,] Hector says, “challenge yourself to think through where you are and where you want to go. If you agree that Africa’s drawbacks stem from leadership, then you need to search for places where your thinking could be reinforced or challenged. In ALUSB, you will build networks across the African continent and gain more awareness/ engagement around issues that are dear to us as Africans, with real-time opportunities to learn and apply this knowledge in your work and businesses, including your personal growth.”
Hector Chilimani ‘19 has found ALUSB to fit the description of “AfricasMBA, building leaders for the African Century.” He invites you to join this growing network of budding African leaders.
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:
ALUSB’s MBA Class of 2018 arrived in Kigali for the last stage of their MBA journey: programme wrap-up and graduation. What did they experience that final week? Here are some highlights of the week:
SUNDAY 1 JULY
The week opened with an evening reception at 1000 Hills Distillery, which offers one of the most beautiful views over Kigali. Students and staff greeted each other, and caught up in person. They were officially welcomed back by Dr. Modupe Taylor-Pearce.
MONDAY 2 JULY
The Class of 2018 kicked off their first full day of the week with opening remarks from the Chief Learning Officer (CLO), Ryan Findley. They then started to present their capstone projects to Vice Dean Catherine Duggan, Dr. Modupe Taylor-Pearce and fellow classmates. Their capstone projects were the culmination of two terms of work.
TUESDAY 3 JULY
Students wrapped up their capstone presentations, receiving feedback from fellow MBA classmates and ALUSB Deans. Powerful ideas were shared, brilliant questions were asked and value was added from experienced peers in the room.
WEDNESDAY 4 JULY
The Class of 2018 student committee organised a day trip to Rwanda’s beautiful Lake Muhazi, where they spent some quality time away together. The students participated in many activities, including eating competitions, sack racing, a dancing competition, football and a tug-of-war!
THURSDAY 5 JULY
Students took some vital time to reflect on their futures, post graduation. What was next for our Leaders for the African Century?
FRIDAY 6 JULY
Students were joined by their families, who attended a special programme with some of ALUSB’s finest faculty, including a taste of a Political Economy in the Context of African Business (PECAB) case study led by Professor Catherine Duggan, and a Leadership Lab simulation led by CLO Ryan Findley. In the afternoon they attended a tour of Kigali, visiting key landmarks like the Kigali Cultural Village and the Special Economic Zone, future home of the Kigali Innovation City.
Meanwhile our MBAs attended a closing session with ALU Founder Fred Swaniker, who reminded them, “We have less than 6000 days before Africa has the largest workforce in the world. It will be morally irresponsible not to contribute towards solving this challenge”.
SATURDAY 7 JULY
We were honoured by the presence of His Excellency, President of the Republic of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, who led the Class of 2018’s final leadership case.
The students then proceeded to their graduation ceremony, for which Dr. Strive Masiyiwa, CEO and Founder of Econet, delivered a wisdom-packed keynote address. Thirty eight students graduated with a Masters in Business Administration that day.