OLATUNDE IMMANUEL ’20 IS A REGIONAL SALES DIRECTOR FOR WEST AFRICA AT IDEMIA, AN AUGMENTED IDENTITY COMPANY SPECIALIZING IN SECURITY AND IDENTITY SOLUTIONS.
We had a chance to have a chat with Olatunde and discuss how he combines his different roles: father, regional sales director, and ALUSB MBA student.
Being the Regional Sales Director for West Africa, a lot of Olatunde’s week is spent traveling between his most established markets: Nigeria and Ghana. “Usually, I’m traveling every two weeks. When traveling, I usually leave Lagos on Wednesday morning and try to be back on Saturday morning. Last week, I was in Accra, where we have a lot of customers in the telecommunications industry like Vodafone, MTN, Airtel and Tigo. I meet with them and try to understand what their needs and strategies are in terms of what volume of sim cards they want quarterly and what other technology solutions they are planning to deploy.”
His schedule is very flexible, even when he’s working from home. But there is one thing that remains a constant: school runs. “We have two boys and a girl and when I’m not traveling, I always pick up the kids from school. When we get home, I sit with them and make sure they do their assignments while I do my office work.”
And after the family has gone to bed and it’s quiet, it’s time for Olatunde to do some ALUSB MBA work. His decision to pursue an MBA was mostly career driven. “I wanted to move up in my career and I thought having an MBA programme would provide me with the right tools to realize this.” And Olatunde was right. When he started his MBA journey at ALUSB, he got promoted from Regional Sales Manager to Senior Director. His new goal? Vice President for the whole of Africa. “For me to be able to reach that goal, it’s important for me to understand the African market. I thought an MBA program would allow me to build contacts across the entire continent, not just in West Africa. That is one of the main reasons that I chose the ALU School of Business, because of its pan-African uniqueness. We have good business schools here in Nigeria but they are kind of localized. And I didn’t want to do an MBA in Europe, for example, because the core of my job is in Africa, so I wanted an MBA that I could utilize in the future as I develop myself further on the continent.”
“It’s easier to go on a journey with a group of people than to work alone.”
When asked about the highlight of his ALUSB MBA journey so far, Olatunde is quick to bring up his classmates. “ I have phenomenal classmates. It’s easier to go on a journey with a group of people than to work alone. My job requires a lot of traveling so having awesome classmates that check up on me and let me know when an assignment is due is very nice. We understand one another and encourage each other. That’s the way we roll!” Even though Olatunde receives a lot of motivation from his classmates, he’s mostly self-motivated.
On doing business in Africa: I have traveled across Africa and I have noticed a few things. One of the things that I think is an issue on the African continent is knowledge of the market sector. I work in the telecommunications and banking sectors, that’s why I wake up to read the news first thing in the morning. I understand my sector and government policies surrounding it, do research and subscribe to journals that I read daily. It would save your life!
Secondly, I think that the networks are also key. The deals I have been able to achieve, are a result of knowing people. Our customers need to know that you’re valuable enough for them to be able to trust you.
Thirdly, when you do business in Africa; give your word, own the promise, deliver and overdeliver.”
ALU School of Business (ALUSB) is delighted to introduce our newest MBA cohort! The first of our Classes of 2021 (named Ubuntu) launched 27 October 2019 in Kigali, Rwanda.
There are many wonderful statistics about this class, of which the ALUSB Admissions team is incredibly proud. But one statistic stands out in particular: 57% of the students in this class are women. In the words of ALUSB Vice Dean, Catherine Duggan, upon welcoming the class, “Many of the women in this room are the only women on their boards or leadership teams. Now you’re 57%”.
“Many of the women in this room are the only women on their boards or leadership teams. Now you’re 57%.”
Other statistics to note: 18 African countries of residence and 15 African primary nationalities are present in the class, with Namibia and Burkina Faso represented for the first time. The class has an average age of 36 years, with on average 11 years of post-graduate professional experience. As Ubuntu student Armand-Didier Konan ‘21 reflected, “Diversity is the most important thing that we have here and it brings a special flavour to this MBA programme.”
After an electrifying first intensive programme starting Leadership Lab, Doing Business in Africa and Financial Accounting courses, as well as some strong community building, our newest leaders for the African Century have returned home to their families and organisations, to prepare for ALUSB MBA Term 1.
“Diversity is the most important thing that we have here and it brings a special flavour to this MBA programme.”
We can’t wait to watch you learn, build and grow, team Ubuntu! I am because we are!
Joachim Nzuzi ’20 is from the DRC, operates as the CEO at Africa Rising Consulting in Johannesburg and is the Chief Operating Officer at Realbanc Limited in Lagos. It doesn’t get more pan-African than that! With this much experience on the continent, Joachim is the ideal person to talk to about doing business in Africa.
People often say; you don’t choose your career, your career chooses you. And Joachim agrees. “I started looking after peoples assets in South-Africa, I was advising them about investment opportunities and such. And my current business partner, who would often travel to South-Africa, would come and ask me for advice about which area would be best to invest in; in terms of properties. So one thing led to another and then he asked me to come to Nigeria to help him restructure his company. I always had a passion for real-estate. And that’s really how I got into it. So, it’s not as if I chose it, it kind of like chose me more than anything.”
Realising he was growing in his career, Joachim decided that an MBA would be the perfect tool to help him take on these new responsibilities. “I started to identify some gaps and I felt that an MBA was going to give me a better perspective on how to make good managerial decisions.”
About 16 months in his MBA at ALU School of Business, Joachim has no regrets, only lessons. Here are a couple of things that he learned from his vast experience and knowledge of doing business on the continent and his time at ALUSB.
1. Be patient with the continent
Take it easy. I know people say; ‘the higher the risk, the higher the return.’ But you have to be very patient with the continent. You have to take a long-term approach when it comes to doing business in Africa. It’s not going to happen as quickly as you think, but if you stay consistent, things will turn around. There is so much great potential in Africa and I will always say to people: take your time when doing business in Africa and stick to what you know.
“You have to take a long-term approach when it comes to doing business in Africa.”
2. You have to educate yourself
“If you want to do business in Africa, there are just so many factors that you have to take into consideration. Having a local context on different fronts protects a business from risks that could result in considerable losses. I’ve invested money in the DRC and I’ve lost money. Mostly because I was not very in tune with what was going on in the country. So, if you do not know the environment, you’re going to lose money.
There are a lot of things that ALUSB has reaffirmed as far as doing business in Africa is concerned. But the one thing that I learned is to consider all factors. The old me would go into new territory without even thinking. But ALUSB has taught me the ability to look at things that other people are not looking at. My approach was very limited, but now it’s much broader.”
3. Good leadership is essential
“A lot of things have changed regarding my perception of leadership especially after learning more about the V^3 leadership model at ALUSB. So now, I think a great leader is someone who understands the needs of their people more than anything. And it’s not just about telling people what to do; it’s listening to the needs of the people and finding a way to meet that need. It’s not about you taking the people where you want to go, it’s about taking the people where they need to go. And that is the kind of leadership Africa needs right now.”
“It’s not about you taking the people where you want to go, it’s about taking the people where they need to go.”
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.
Here at ALU School of Business, we believe that entrepreneurial ventures play a vital role in Africa’s development. We actively encourage ALUSB students to explore entrepreneurship through courses like E&I, the Lion’s Den event and even through the V^3 Leadership Model, which has entrepreneurial elements at its core!
Demilade Oluwasina ‘20 is someone that needed no introduction to the entrepreneurial spirit. Demie, as he’s more commonly referred to, is currently an ALU Rwanda Faculty member for Entrepreneurial Leadership and acts as the support for the design and delivery of other programmes including the Global Challenges Degree. His role at ALU is a testament to his passion for entrepreneurship and education. He is also a believer of lifelong learning – hence his decision to embark on an MBA journey with ALU School of Business.
He pursued this MBA with the hopes of achieving 3 things: new skills, great relationships and a broader perspective for impact. “I wanted to gain new skills through going through content, reflecting on that content and incorporating it in my daily work life and other projects. Secondly, I wanted to build great and lasting relationships that enable me to tap into even more resources with the diversity of colleagues, partners, and others in the ecosystem. And lastly, a broader perspective through conversations with the people and the different issues we discuss in class. These 3 things, I believe, will empower me to be a better leader and a change-maker with greater impact.”
At ALU Rwanda, he is known for being an enthusiastic faculty member who has played a huge role in mentoring students with different enterprises within the ALU space as well as supporting Global Challenges students in formulating value-oriented missions. But Demie often goes beyond his job description and his workspace to deliver social impact.
One example of this is his project with the EDD, a Rwandan organization that works to rehabilitate and empower street children. “I got involved with them through some of my colleagues at ALUSB During BUILD Lab.” The ALUSB MBA BUILD Lab is a 24-hour design challenge where students are paired with local partners in order to contribute to the optimization of their businesses while also learning important leadership, innovation, and teamwork skills. Through this process, ALUSB MBA students are able to identify some key problems and solutions to address them.
“One of the biggest issues that EDD had, was the struggle to articulate a strong brand and marketing strategy in order to keep attracting the right kinds of shareholders, support and more to be sustainable. I have years of experience in design, branding, advertising and publishing. My friends asked if I was willing to help with the project and I decided to take it on.
“I saw that EDD’s work was needed and was indeed transformative and I wanted to be part of helping them reach their goals, succeed and be sustainable as an organization.”
Demie is currently working on a strategy that will attract support and the right stakeholders to make the EDD a sustainable organization. At the same, he gets to be part of a programme that is empowering young children in Rwanda by providing them with a community that is supportive and concerned about their welfare.
We were graced with the opportunity to chat with Mutwakil Abdul Mageid 20’ to learn more about the outstanding work that he and his colleagues are involved in with Sudan Bukra- an innovative solution to freedom of speech in Sudan.
Sudan has been through some major political changes in the past months. A fight for democracy, a change in leadership, a massacre of over 120 lives, and a nationwide Internet shutdown, which silenced protesters and left millions of Sudanese people without access to information, e-commerce and the ability to communicate with the rest of the world. It was at this point that a group of Sudanese professionals, including Mutwakil Abdul Mageid ‘20, decided to take action and start Sudan Bukra, a free-to-air, crowd-sourced and crowd-funded broadcasting channel that provides civic education to the Sudanese community.
Mutwakil Abdul Mageid is a key account manager for Ericsson, currently managing MTN accounts in Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, and Eswatini. He is also a Class of 2020 ALUSB MBA student.
In describing what led him to ALU School of Business (ALUSB), Mutwakil says,
“I was in pursuit of an MBA that is relevant to my inspiration as well as my big-picture plans – an MBA that is relevant to Africa. I did not know this existed until I came across the ALUSB MBA programme, which focuses on doing business in Africa and on leadership – the two main things that I was looking for!”
Could you share with us some context on the events that took place leading up to the internet shutdown?
“On 19 December 2018, the people of Sudan started a movement of ‘Freedom, Peace, and Justice’, seeking political change from a thirty-year regime of dictatorship. After months of protests and demonstrations, Sudan was able to remove Omar Bashir from power, along with his regime, but only for the minister of defence to take over.
This resulted in the people of Sudan returning to the streets. On 6 April 2019, they rallied in front of the military headquarters and vowed not to move until the execution of the declaration of freedom. A declaration was signed by all parties and civil societies asking for a democratic transformation. Two months later, the military took over power and suddenly there was a massacre at the sit-in area in Khartoum, resulting in the loss of over 120 lives, which was quickly followed by a total internet shutdown the following day. The main purpose of the shutdown was to cover up on-going violence and silence protestors. There was also a blackout, aimed at dispersing the protestors from the sit-in area.”
Protestors using their mobile phone lights at the sit-in area, Khartoum
What is the story behind the Sudan Bukra?
“Sudan Bukra means Sudan Tomorrow. Based on a contextual meaning of the Arabic word “Bukra”, it alludes to hope and optimism.
We named this project Sudan Bukra to communicate a message of hope for the future of Sudan.”
Mutwakil continues, “Based on how dictatorship works, my colleagues and I knew that the people in power would try to cut off social media since it’s something that they can’t control. We wanted to find a means by which the people of Sudan could still reach out to each other using a combination of traditional media (Television) and content from social media. We came up with the Sudan Burka TV channel as a solution for the freedom of speech. We receive information from the ground, transform it into content for TV and broadcast it. At the same time, we use it as a means to communicate the progress of negotiations, as well as details about the demonstration schedules as organised by the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA)”.
Given the risks that you face, what drives you to continue your work with Sudan Burka?
“The main thing that keeps us going is the hope that we have for Sudan. We want the best for the people of Sudan and we believe that having access to information is a way to build our country”, explains Mutwakil.
Sudan Bukra has already reached millions of people, a fact that was confirmed when over 4 million people attended a demonstration organised by the SPA and broadcasted through their platform. It is a pillar of hope and a testament to the resilience of the Sudanese people.
Mutwakil states that he and his colleagues hope that Sudan Bukra will continue to be a platform of civic education for the people of Sudan beyond the current political climate. He envisions a Sudan where the people are informed about democracy and good leadership, leading to the overall transformation of Sudan.
“Do not focus on who will solve the problem, but focus on how the problem will be solved,” Mutwakil Abdul Mageid ‘20.
A true leader for the African Century, we are proud to have Mutwakil as part of our student body and are eager to see the transformation that he and his colleagues will help bring about through Sudan Bukra. Through Mutwakil, we are reminded that leadership is not a position we occupy, but an attitude and a lifestyle of service, vision, and purpose.