ALU School of Business (ALUSB) was honoured to welcome their third MBA cohort to Kigali, Rwanda on Saturday 7th July, 2018.
The MBA Class of 2020 is made up of 46 students, of which 33% are women. Residing across Africa, Europe, the United States of America and the Middle-East, this class represents 17 countries of residence (Benin, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Dubai, Ethiopia, France, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, United States, Zambia and Zimbabwe). With a proud, pan-African DNA, the class represents 15 nationalities, 14 of which hail from the continent.
The class unites expertise from multiple industries: conservation, consulting, financial services and banking, agriculture, energy, consumer goods, education and healthcare are the most represented industries. With on average 11 years of professional work experience, this experienced cohort includes managers, directors, controllers, partners, C-suite officers, founders and entrepreneurs.
In line with the mission of ALU School of Business, this MBA cohort represents many employers with a pan-African vision, including AfricaRE, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Ecobank, Coca-Cola, EthioChicken, GE, the IUCN, DMM.Africa, Genser Energy, Unilever, WWF and LinkedIn to name a few.
Hours before starting their programme, many ALUSB MBA Class of 2020 students were able join the ALU community in celebrating the University’s first ever graduation, to honour the founding MBA Class of 2018. The ceremony was attended by His Excellency President Paul Kagame, along with keynote speaker, Strive Masiyiwa and ALU Founder and CEO, Fred Swaniker.
As they oriented to a new work-life-ALUSB normal, the Class of 2020 began an intensive week of team building, Business Fundamentals, Doing Business in Africa (DBIA) – and of course, ALUSB’s signature V^3 Leadership Lab. Over the course of the week ALUSB welcomed the following DBIA guest faculty to Kigali: South African Advocate and Professor of Law, Thuli Madonsela, Co-Founder and COO of DRC’s PYGMA Communications, Willy Yav, and Safaricom’s Director of Regional Sales & Operations, Steve Okeyo of Kenya.
Zanudeen Makorie ‘19 is a lawyer, General Counsel and Company Secretary at RioZim, the largest mining company in Zimbabwe. In this interview Zanudeen talks about his personal leadership journey since joining ALUSB, shares his thoughts on what leadership development applied looks like in his professional life, and highlights some leadership lessons from African leaders that other students in the programme can emulate.
“Leadership is not something that you are born with but it’s something that develops. All of us have the potential, it’s just a question of applying what we have.”
Here are some highlights from Zanudeen’s interview:
How have you grown and developed as a leader since joining the programme?
“I was privileged enough to come from a background where I was always in leadership positions…In my head, I assumed that being a boss was being a leader but after joining ALU School of business, all of that has changed. I realised that there are many bosses out there but there are a few leaders.
Leadership is a journey that begins with you. First lead yourself, and to do that, you need to know who you are…I learned self-awareness and that makes it easier for me to lead others.
The most critical thing with leadership is just being able to lead others so that they can lead themselves later.”
What does leadership development applied look like for you in this programme?
“The best learning curve for me was when we did character profiles at the beginning of the programme. Naturally I am conservative, quite mild, and I assumed that was not leadership. Most leaders you see are extremely charismatic…I found my personality more on the mild side and I assumed that some of us were not necessarily leaders. But regardless of your character profile, all of us have that leadership within us. Leadership is not something that you are born with, but it’s something that develops. All of us have the potential, its just a question of applying what we have.”
What African Leaders have inspired you and taught you and your classmate’s leadership lessons to emulate?
“In Zimbabwe I am proud of Strive Masiyiwa, the Founder of Econet. I studied him in law school and I have watched his company grow since I was a child to where it is today. When you meet him, he is a very humble man and he speaks to everyone. I think Africa needs good ethical businessmen who are doing it well, not corrupt…simple people like us who made it, through simple hard work and perseverance. That’s my role model.”
New Leaders are stepping up in Zimbabwe and across Africa.What is need from those leaders from your perspective?
“The future of Zimbabwe is exciting regardless of who you support. The people who are rising are those who appreciate the struggle that the ordinary Zimbabwean is going through…I believe what needs to be done is getting someone who unifies the whole country…through diversity, we are better. We are one Zimbabwe, we are one nation and I believe whoever is going to take us forward cannot ignore the need to unite all of us as a people. That’s the only way we would go forward.”
Watch Zanudeen’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.