We had the honour of interviewing Former CEO of MTN Nigeria, Business Advisor and CEO of Africa Context Consulting, Micheal Ikpoki, in between his classes in March.
This video summarises Michael’s superb insights on some of the important nuances of doing business in Africa, gives excellent advice for rising leaders on the cusp of entering the “C-suite” and provides some context on why he chose to teach at ALU School of Business.
What is the key to doing business in Africa, that most people overlook?
“Actions from the regulator and government are the biggest risk to any business, bigger than the risk of market actions…we are all trained to deal with the competition but as leaders we are not well-equipped to deal with others issues in the external environment, namely government and regulatory issues”.
What brought you to teach at the ALU School of Business?
“It’s very clear that if you look across Africa there’s a lot of positive movements taking place and governments are becoming more accountable. citizens are now beginning to ask for change and in the midst of that there’s going to be a lot more expectations on companies and business leaders need to live up to that. That is where the gap is and what you are doing here at African Leadership University…trying to create Africa-centric leaders is critical and a big gap that we need to fill”.
What advice do you have for someone joining the C-Suite or making a partner for the first time?
I would capture it in one word, “PRESENCE”. Now your decisions have a lot more impact….you affect the lives of more people, because people now look up to you, you become a role model, it becomes your responsibility to cultivate more role models across the organisation”.
Watch Micheal Ikpoki’s fantastic full interview below!
Sidumiso Sibanda ‘19 runs a non-profit organization in Ghana and Nigeria in skills development and training for young people. We sat down with her at our last March intensive, to ask her about what attracted her to ALUSB, how we have developed her as a leader to date, and if she has a message to women who are thinking of applying to this MBA programme….and she has an incredible message!
Why ALUSB? “I’m really focused on Africa because this is where I’m from, this is where I want to be, this is the continent that I want to make the biggest difference on.”
On leadership development: “I started the programme in July 2017, and if you had asked me in June what I thought about myself as a leader, I would have said, I think I’m a great leader. In the last seven months, ALUSB has completely wrecked my life!
The combination of the academic content that we are doing, all the Leadership Lab material which really focuses you and causes you to reflect a lot on the decisions that you are making…it almost feels like I am ripping myself apart to build myself back up again.
Her message for women: “I think I have found a community of women that are strong and supportive.. but more importantly I also found a community of men, and African men at that, who are genuinely interested in what we have to say. I’ve found a set of brothers who genuinely love me even with all my faults, who don’t silence me, who encourage me…and I have never heard anybody who goes to any other business school ever saying that about their classmates.”
Watch Sidumiso’s fantastic full interview below!
Our MBA students return to Kigali every 4 months. They come to be inspired and to learn from tremendous leaders from across the continent and from awesome ALUSB faculty. They network, participate in social activities and spend valuable face time together. We have compiled highlights from this week to give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse into an ALUSB MBA intensive.
Saturday 3rd March
MBA students working in the conservation industry kicked off the MBA intensive week with ALU School of the Conservation-led visit to Akagera National Park. Students discussed the Park’s strategy to combine business and conservation with the Park’s leadership team.
Talking integration of business with Philbert from the Akagera team: “We are focusing on new business models, such as charging concession fees from eco-friendly businesses allowed to operate within the park”.
Sunday 4th March
Thank you Dr. Deqo Mohamed for inspiring us by sharing transformative work you have done with communities in Somalia. Your leadership and vision are a challenge to our generation to do more for our continent” – Yves Iradukunda ‘19.
In the run-up to International Women’s Day 2018, ALUSB’s first Women in Management session took place, guest starring two phenomenal role models, Dr. Deqo Mohamed & Ms. Ayesha Bedwei.
Monday 5th March
Class of 2019: Vice Dean & Prof. Catherine Duggan kicks off her blistering Political Economy course with the quote, “I think of your job as a leader as absorbing complexity and transmitting clarity” ~ Yaw Boateng. The Class of 2019 then explored 30 years Chinese economic development, preparing to project next 20 years: of African development.
CLO Ryan Findley leads the Class of 2019 through the Renaissance Dam Simulation, a pan-African Leadership lab exercise, combining V3 challenges with negotiation skills.
Tuesday 6th March
Guest faculty Gbenga Oyebode, a successful lawyer, business adviser and board member for several companies, including MTN Nigeria, led a Doing Business in Africa session with Classes of 2018 and 2019. He then joined a subset of students for lunch and discussion.
“You need to have a strategy to manage the success of your company”. Guest faculty Micheal Ikpoki, the former CEO of MTN Nigeria, currently business adviser and CEO of Africa Context Consulting, an Africa-focused business advisory company, explores the importance of stakeholders management in Africa with our Classes of 2018 and 2019.
Wednesday 7th March
ALUSB CAO, Dr. Emmett Tracy, led an all-day Business Strategy session with the Class of 2018, building on their McKinsey Academy courses.
Thursday 8th March
International Women’s Day #IWD2018, Celebrating intelligent, passionate, beautiful women who are changing Africa.
After spending a day in the field with local organisations, our Class of 2019 presented their BUILD-structured findings and recommendations.
Friday, 9th March
Guest faculty Nicola Galombik, Executive Director of Yellowwoods, leads her “Where Value meets Virtue” session, focused on the importance and pursuit of shared value in African economies.
“My personal mission is to inspire and empower African entrepreneurs to build an inclusive African dream that others can believe in; to bring about hope for African youth – so that they know if they work hard, they can achieve their goals.“ Diana Mulili ’18.
#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 Diana Mulili ‘18 who shares highlights from her professional journey since beginning the ALUSB MBA, and the impact the programme has made to date.
Qn 1. Has the ALUSB MBA met your expectations so far on your student journey? If so, how?
The programme has more than met my expectations, for two main reasons:
- The applicability of the programme – I weave in content from the MBA to my day-to-day life.
- The ALUSB network is relevant to my environment and is a network that you can start using immediately. The network gives you direct access to what is happening around the continent. It’s a knowledge network that you can tap into to get more relevant data – and make better decisions because of it. For example in recent days, as political change has swept the continent, my classmates are on the ground relaying real time information and insights to their classmates. At at the time of this interview, I’m in Dubai to meet with someone from the African Leadership Network (part of the African Leadership Group); he might partner with my organization and me, to help us identify the next industry ripe for investment and transformation.
Qn2. What led you to the ALU School of Business?
My personal mission is to inspire and empower African entrepreneurs to build an inclusive African dream that others can believe in; to bring about hope for African youth – so that they know if they work hard, they can achieve their goals. A few years ago there was a misalignment between what I was doing in my career and my mission. That’s why I ended up at ALU. I wanted to be with people who shared the same desire to see positive change actually happening on the continent. Being in ALU has helped me bridge the gap between my mission and my career; I am now in a role aligned to my mission.
Qn 3. You’ve just made a move to your current organization. How has the ALUSB made an impact on your career to date?
ALUSB definitely helped me. Sometimes you don’t realize how the programme is equipping you and transforming you. Business strategy, problem-solving, PECAB (Political Economy in the Context of African Business) are useful and relevant courses. The Leadership Lab teaches you the importance of being attuned to the people around you, about having a high EQ. And (ALU Founder) Fred Swaniker’s fire to see change come about in Africa – his challenge to do hard things is always at the back of my mind.
All these elements help establish you as the best candidate for the right job. The V3 (leadership) model has guided me in setting myself as the leader I’m supposed to be, and this shows up in my professional profile, in interviews, etc. The V3 model is a guiding force to making the right decisions and knowing how to bounce back from those decisions.
Qn 4. What does the future of Africa look like through your eyes? What role will you play in it?
There is a lot of change happening, and great conversations are happening across the continent: we Africans want to do things differently, to demonstrate impact and value for all the action that is being taken…now the actual output is essential. Rapid execution is crucial now more than ever.
With the recent rise in Impact Investing in Africa we’re seeing more patient capital where we want to go through the growth curve and come out stronger. My role is and has always been in the execution – of a robust and executive strategy. At Msingi our vision is to create widespread, lasting prosperity in East Africa through building Industries of the Future. We seek to develop high volume jobs, growing per capita income and contribute to GDP growth in all the 4 countries we exist in (Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania & Kenya).
In the long term, I want to scale my role to a more continental-wide space.
I had the pleasure of interviewing ALUSB all-star faculty member, Bill Egbe, during his time at the business school in Kigali. Here’s what he had to say about how ALU School of Business is building leaders for the African century:
“[I am] an experienced corporate executive, and former president of Coca-Cola South Africa. I’ve been retired for about 18 months now. So I consider myself a pensioner after thirty years of being in the corporate trenches in the US, in Latin America, in Europe, and in Africa. I thought it was time to focus on something different other than corporate life.
[Coming to ALUSB], I was really intrigued by two elements the business school was focused on. It is really focused on trying to build a new generation of ethical and entrepreneurial leaders for Africa. And I think those two elements that, especially in the context of Africa, makes a lot of sense to ensure that people are nurturing the sense of entrepreneurship to accelerate the development on the continent.
The continent is not going to be developed by big corporations; entrepreneurs will drive the development. Not the politicians either; entrepreneurs will drive the development. So we need to make sure that we are building a new generation of leaders who are focused on grabbing the entrepreneurial activities.
I also like the fact that they have this unique model of taking experienced leaders in business, NGOs, private sector, public sector, bringing them into an MBA programme. The students spend some time on campus through face-to-face intensives, using cutting-edge technology to engage students when they are off-campus. The students’ interaction with top-level global academics and experienced business leaders make a combination that is going to be very dynamic in shaping how successful they will be as they go on to play leadership roles on the continent.
And I just want to be a part of that.”
Watch Bill’s full interview here:
Leadership is at the heart of the African Leadership Group, which the ALU School of Business (ALUSB) is part of. We believe that good leadership is the force that will really transform the African continent and help to bring about the African Century. This philosophy is an integral part of what we teach at ALUSB through our V^3 Leadership Model.
In this post, Ryan Findley, an architect of the V^3 Leadership Model, shares insights about how the model was developed with the African leader in mind.
Who is Ryan Findley? What do you do at ALU School of Business?
I am a leadership enthusiast who is currently serving as the Chief Learning Officer (CLO) and Chief Operating Officer (COO) at ALU School of Business. My role puts me in charge of ALUSB’s final products which includes our curriculum, our intensives, or anything we publish. As COO, I am in charge of the team to ensure that we deliver on everything from marketing to student recruitment to student assessment and so on. Those, ultimately, are my responsibilities.
What attracted you to work at ALU School of Business?
It was really exciting to have the opportunity to redefine the MBA. The MBA has been around for about sixty years and it started within the Ivy Leagues of the US. To date, pretty much everyone else has copied it. There is little variation globally in the classes you would take in an MBA, and how you would study an MBA.
Maybe about 10 years ago we began to see an infiltration of part-time programmes and dual degree programmes. Before then, the standard was: you took two years off, went to business school, and after those two years at business school you returned to the working world. So that was the first thing: I felt like we could redesign the model. Not that part-time MBAs aren’t being done, but having an opportunity to solve the dearth of such programmes in Africa is exciting.
Much more exciting, however, was the opportunity to integrate leadership into the MBA. There are not many MBAs out there with a true focus on leadership. Some offer it as an elective or offer a few classes. However, given that leadership is so important in Africa, I couldn’t imagine anything more important than giving MBA students a robust leadership experience. And that was something I believed that we could do better than anyone else in the world.
How was the V^3 Leadership Model that is taught at ALUSB designed?
I was in the room at the inception of V^3. The model was designed with the same premise that we had at the ALU undergraduate programme and at the African Leadership Academy (ALA), which is that leadership on the continent needs to have an entrepreneurial element to it. As our founder, Fred Swaniker likes to say, “the challenges that leaders face on the continent are effectively entrepreneurial challenges.” They are the challenges of an entrepreneur. Therefore, blurring the lines between leadership and entrepreneurship was at the heart of the design process of the V^3 leadership model.
How would you explain the V^3 Leadership Model?
Firstly V^3 stands for: Value, Virtue, and Vision. Being an entrepreneur is about creating Value. Entrepreneurs squeeze out Value from every unit, every store, and every part of the supply chain in order to create Value for their customers, clients, and other stakeholders.
However, if we have people who only know how to maximise and extract Value, we can easily see a point where this becomes exploitative. And that’s where Virtue comes in. You can’t just be someone who creates or delivers Value, you’ve got to be someone who is Virtuous–who is ethical, courageous, resilient. Virtue is treating people well and taking care of stakeholders as much as shareholders. Virtue does not inherently create Value, but when paired with value creation, turns out to be quite a powerful mix.
Vision ties it all together by answering the question: “Where is it all headed?” It provides the direction and the orientation of an organisation, the society, the community, and all other settings where people are working to create value within the boundaries of a set of virtues. It is therefore important that all V’s – Value, Virtue, and Vision – work synergistically with one another.
What impact has ALUSB had on the lives of its students, outside the classroom?
The stories we’ve heard have been really impressive! From students getting raises at work, to students getting triple the money on a business they were selling, to students having their church pastors tell them: “Hey, you’re doing this for all of us.”
The impact is incredible! I’d say almost everyone, on some level, has shared some success from their personal lives, even if it’s about their kids. When their kids see how their parents themselves work hard on their homework, passing tests, and so on, they bond over it.
I think that, into the future, we would get more tangible results around things like job changes, salary improvements, company funding, meeting spouses, et cetera. We are only 14 months in and the impact we are having is already this significant.
Now, imagine where we would be in 14 years! Why not join us now?