Sometimes, we come across a piece of advice that sticks with us and propels us forward. As part of our ‘Woman Of the Week’ campaign, ALUSB asked some of the women in our community to offer some advice to their peers in the ecosystem in the hopes of inspiring and empowering young, up-and-coming businesswomen across the continent. Whether you’re getting ready to make an important business move, take your career to the next level or just looking for some inspiration; this blog post is for you.
Khalila Mbowe‘21, Founder and CEO of Unleash Africa Social Ventures, is a multi-talented, serial social entrepreneur that has her hand in many industries including technology, gender, art and development, communications, and youth innovation. How did she end up in the MBA class of 2021 at ALUSB, you ask? Read on to discover the answer to that and more!
Khalila’s professional aspirations, interaction with ALUSB alumni and Khalila’s passion to be a catalyst for systemic change across the continent, led her to the MBA programme at ALUSB.
“I chose this MBA programme because I believed that it would give me an edge when it came to managing my businesses, as well as growing them across Africa. Additionally, I wanted to interact with a network of people who share my passion for Africa and be in a space that would provide me with tools to understand the dynamics of doing business on the continent.”
After being enrolled in the programme for only a few months, Khalila points out that her greatest highlight so far has been her classmates. “We have formed bonds which I am sure will go on beyond the programme.” She adds that the ALUSB MBA has brought together people with a passion for bringing positive change in Africa and motivation for self-development. “Our class is a diverse pool of information, perspectives, and support from all over the continent. It feels like the Admissions team didn’t just pick these people for the class but also for Africa.”
“Our class is a diverse pool of information, perspectives, and support from all over the continent.”
Besides her classmates, Khalila notes that the ALUSB MBA faculty have also played a big part in her enjoyable experience so far. “As someone who’s very passionate about the continent, it’s nice to see that same passion in the faculty that teaches us. Their dedication is almost tangible.”
“I have grown in my ability to empathise greatly with different stakeholders.”
Khalila emphasised the fact that she is now able to see opportunities and draw connections. She adds that through the 360 leadership assessment, a part of the ALUSB MBA Leadership Lab course, she has been able to spot gaps in her leadership style. This has allowed her to be in a constant state of reflection, learning and growth.
Khalila has also picked up some skills in doing business in Africa. Specifically, she has been able to connect the dots and understand different aspects and systems that come into play for professionals on the continent. “One of the key things that I have learned is to navigate different markets on a contextual level, which benefits the people involved. It has brought a whole paradigm to the work that I do.”
On the future post-COVID-19
Currently, the most pressing challenge that Khalila has faced is the COVID-19 outbreak. The pandemic has required quick and sudden adjustments in her routine and the drastic changes and uncertainty have affected her and others in multiple ways. Fortunately, her classmates have been supportive throughout the whole process. “You don’t go through it alone as the class is doing it together. That bond and solidarity are keeping us sane.”
Despite the current global situation, Khalila is still very optimistic about the future of Africa post-COVID-19. “I feel like this pandemic is a catalyst.” While she acknowledges that the situation has been cruel and difficult for the world, she also believes that it has shed some light on the loopholes in our institutions and systems across multiple sectors, globally. “I believe that this is an opportunity for Africa to rise but it can only do so with exemplary leadership.
“It’s time for exemplary leadership in all sectors. It’s an opportunity for Africa to really lead the world.”
Finally, Khalila shares a few tips on how to best manage to work from home and to get through these uncertain times.
- Stick to a routine.
- Practice self-care.
- Avoid procrastination; don’t wait for tomorrow!
- Reflect on your vision, goals, and dreams.
- While we are getting a lot of negative information we need to find the positive in life. Allow yourself to smile!
Want to know more about how our MBAs navigate through their ALUSB journey? Take your pick:
- “I transformed a function-oriented person to a strategy-oriented person.” – Bob Mugisha ’21
- Lilian Kuria ’20: “This is a time for all of us to use our creativity to find solutions for Africa.”
Would you rather start your own MBA journey at ALUSB? Start your application today at: http://bit.ly/APPLYO20 !
As the world celebrated Father’s Day this past Sunday, Chidi Afulezi, ALUSB’s Head Faculty for Product, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, took this opportunity to flip the script and bring attention to an important issue in our communities: gender-based violence. We’re honoured to share his reflections on fatherhood with our larger community.
I would like to shout out all the ALUSB fathers. Happy Father’s Day to you. It is my privilege to play this role with you…It is not easy, but the fact is, being a father is the ultimate job in life. Yes, you have or will soon have an ALUSB MBA, and you are a captain of industry that takes no prisoners, but all of that is really beside the point…to me, the true measure is to be most successful at being a good father.
Now, of course, I had to flip this a bit. I am the dad of three incredible young women in their teens, and that has me acutely focused on the pain and raw helplessness that many fathers experience when their daughters leave home and don’t come back, or come back with wounds deeper than any external damage. I find myself focused on the angst and shame that some fathers feel to know their sons leave home and become predators and perpetrators of incredibly cruel acts towards women in our communities.
“Father’s Day is a day for me and for the rest of the fellas out there to affirm our undying and unequivocal support for our women.”
Listen, I am not here to equivocate about any of this. Gender-Based Violence is real, and anyone who wants to get into nuance or “should haves, could haves” lost me when they opened their mouth to speak. As a father of three girls, the husband of another man’s daughter, the son of another man’s daughter, and the brother to another man’s daughters…Father’s Day is a day for me and for the rest of the fellas out there to affirm our undying and unequivocal support for our women.
We can’t be leaders, or successful business people, without that affirmation. Yes, we can breathe fire in the boardroom or negotiate under extreme circumstances. But, I’m a father of three members of Africa’s most important demographic segment, and I will do what I must to support them, that’s what matters most. Nothing matters more.
I appreciate you, and again, Happy Father’s Day.
Lilian Kuria ’20: “This is a time for all of us to use our creativity to find solutions for Africa.”
15 months into her MBA journey at ALUSB, Lilian Kuria ‘20 has made tremendous career moves, gained a family in her MBA classmates and broadened her perspective on doing business in Africa! Read on to learn more about her MBA experience, how she leveraged her ALUSB network and became the Country Manager at Chancen International and her thoughts about the future post-COVID-19.
Pursuing an MBA at ALUSB
Lillian’s motivation to pursue an MBA at ALUSB was twofold. Firstly, she wanted to strengthen her skills in areas she felt she lacked as she moved up to more leadership roles. Secondly, she sought an environment where she could interact and learn from a network of people motivated to make a difference on the continent.
Lilian was also intrigued by the pan-African focus throughout the ALUSB MBA programme. “It’s not just an MBA programme that equips you with business skills – the skills are also steeped in the African context. This knowledge is essential for anyone who wants to have a successful career in Africa.”
What stands out as a highlight during her MBA journey so far? The power of the ALUSB network! “My current role at Chancen International is a product of the ALUSB network.” During her first couple of intensives in Kigali, Lilian got to build a bond with her classmate Batya Blankers, the Co-founder and CEO of Chancen International. Through continuous interaction during the MBA programme, they both realised that Lilian was exactly what the organisation needed! Soon afterwards, she took up the role of Country Manager and relocated from Nairobi to Kigali, an experience she is very enthusiastic about. “This tells a very strong story of what is possible with the kinds of networks you end up building at ALUSB.”
Her transition to working in Rwanda wasn’t a smooth journey, as she had many different responsibilities and activities she needed to accommodate. But she credits her success during this period to the support received from the ALUSB community which allowed her to thrive through the transition. “Being able to rely on my classmates, the ALUSB faculty and administration made everything a lot easier.”
Additionally, credits the diversity in the ALSUB MBA community for broadening her perspective. “I have learned new skills and gained a lot of knowledge from the different fields, cultures and perspectives that are represented in the MBA classrooms.” This has given her a better understanding of the different issues on the continent.
“I have been able to build a strong network in a very short time which would not be possible in any other environment.”
On the future post-COVID-19
As someone working in the education sector, the past couple of months have raised some concerns with Lilian. She worries about the ability of new graduates securing a place on the job market since the strain that the pandemic has caused on global economies. Nonetheless, she sees an opportunity amidst this crisis for young people to harness their creativity to create new job opportunities and industries. “This is a time for all of us to use our creativity to find solutions for Africa.”
Lilian concludes with some advice for the people working from home:
- Develop a routine
- Be kind to yourself
- For people in leadership positions: you have a role to play in ensuring people working under you are well informed and taken care of. As a manager, you need to create a support system around the people you work with.
Advice for prospective students
“If you have a dream to work across different countries in Africa or to be able to influence things on the continent, then ALUSB is the place to be. Beyond the exceptional course content, you’ll also gain a strong community of students, alumni, faculty and other staff members who are motivated to make a difference on the continent.”
Do you feel called upon? Start your application today at: http://bit.ly/APPLYO20 to join #AfricasMBA!
The past couple of months have brought on rapid changes that have pushed the world to adapt – and our students were not exempt. Due to the blended nature of the ALUSB MBA programme, the institution was able to quickly adjust to this ‘new normal’ and continue to deliver a great academic experience. But how are MBA students experiencing this uncertain period when it comes to their personal and professional lives? We were pleased to talk to Bob Mugisha ‘21, Safety Manager at Rwanda’s national carrier, RwandAir, about his ALUSB MBA journey and how he’s currently managing work and life during this global pandemic.
“My choice for the ALUSB MBA programme was a no-brainer!”
As Bob was getting more leadership opportunities and experiencing different managerial challenges, he saw it fit to seek out an MBA to take his career to the next level. He was specifically looking for a programme that would give him the expertise to respond to his managerial responsibilities effectively while also providing him with a chance to interact with other professionals and expand his network.
Other criteria included a focus on leadership, business and Africa. Additionally, he wanted to enrol into a programme that would allow him to keep working and immediately transfer learnt skills. Finally, a learning environment with a small group with room to form meaningful connections with classmates was also really important to Bob. “Based on these criteria, my choice for the ALUSB MBA programme was a no-brainer!”
“My classmates are remarkable.”
“My classmates are remarkable, and the support they offer through our learning teams is incomparable.”
Even though he’s is still in the earlier stages of his ALUSB journey, Bob highlights his interaction with his classmates as a noteworthy experience. The class of 2021 ‘Ubuntu’ has developed a culture of looking out for each other and providing support to ensure that each of them is fairing well. “This culture has not only improved our business intuition but has also led to tremendous personal growth!” The diversity in class has also enriched his learning experience as he has gotten exposed to a variety of perspectives from different parts of the continent.
Nonetheless, there have been some challenges that he experienced during this journey. At the start of the programme, Bob found it difficult to combine the programme with his work and family life. With time, he learned how to manage tasks better through prioritization and delegation. “I decided to merge my personal, school and work calendars so I don’t miss anything important and avoid procrastinating.”
“…I’m able to make more informed decisions.”
The ALUSB MBA learning model allows students to apply new skills, tools, and frameworks directly to their organisations! Bob mentions the Leadership Lab course as particularly impactful. “Leadership Lab helped me rediscover myself, my core values and my drive! Although it is difficult to do business in Africa due to the different challenges, it is possible for ethical leaders to flourish and create solutions and opportunities.”
Every second at ALUSB has been truly rewarding. I transformed from a function-oriented person to a strategy-oriented person.
Learning how to assess a problem and coming up with a viable solution through the case study method has also made him a better manager and leader. With this in mind, he is gotten better at delegating tasks and using empathy as the drive for his decisions. “Now that I have a broader understanding of things, I’m able to make more informed decisions.”
“I applaud the organising team for creating an online intensive that was interactive and enjoyable”
Following the growing number of Covid-19 cases on the continent, ALUSB quickly decided to conduct our signature in-person intensives online. The introduction of the first-ever online ALUSB intensive raised some concerns with Bob, especially when it came to class participation. “I did not think the sessions would be as interactive given that everything was happening online. But I applaud the organising team for creating an online intensive that was interactive and enjoyable, especially during the breaks!”
“…always reserve some time to exercise.”
As a Safety Manager at Rwandair, Bob has faced a lot of challenges due to the current pandemic. “These are difficult times for the aviation industry since passenger services have shut as most countries are on lockdown.But I’m still working from home and managing the aspects that are still operational.”
It hasn’t been easy but Bob has found a way to effectively work from home during the lockdown. Here are some of his recommendations:
- Create a morning routine (this helps to get through the day).
- Stick to your schedule!
- If possible, create a dedicated office space.
- Try to control your screen time. Only use your phone when necessary and try to limit the time you spend on social media.
- In your plan, always reserve some time to exercise – I always plan in 30 minutes to 1 hour daily.
Finally, Bob shares a message for anyone who’s interested in joining the ALUSB MBA programme: “If you are someone who wants to challenge the status quo, ALUSB is the right place for you.”
Following the growing number of Covid-19 cases on the continent and in other countries of origin for ALUSB faculty and students, the resulting travel embargoes, as well as the World Health Organisation upgrading the global risk to high alert, ALUSB has taken the decision to postpone the March graduation.
ALUSB views this decision as a difficult, but necessary, step to ensure the health and well-being of a community of professional leaders, corporate executives and academic experts who are responsible for businesses across Africa and the world.
The graduation ceremony will be postponed to Saturday, 7 November. The momentous occasion will take place at 10:00 am at the Kigali Convention Centre, Rwanda.
We’re looking forward to celebrating this milestone for the class of 2020 ‘Umoja’ later in the year! Stay tuned for more updates.