A Week in the Life of Akua Nyame-Mensah

A Week in the Life of Akua Nyame-Mensah

Akua Nyame-Mensah ’19 has worked in e-commerce for the past four years. She was the Managing Director at Jumia Classifieds, Nigeria and Ghana. For the past few months, she served as the leader at a design and build company. She currently aspires to take an entrepreneurial route starting with career advisory services.

Wake up. Stretch. Start off with a to-do list: Akua has built an early morning habit that is allusive of her fitness enthusiasm and her orderliness. This week in Akua’s life has had a smooth live-work-study rhythm owing to its commencement with a public holiday in Nigeria where Akua resides. Coincidentally, Nigeria’s Independence Day celebration on Monday, 1st October, heralded Akua’s transitional journey to becoming a self-employed coach and consultant.

Monday was more than a public holiday to Akua, it was also her boyfriend’s birthday hence the celebratory mode was very much activated. She picked up a cake for him, and they hung out together. She also watched TV shows and movies, as deserving of an extended weekend.

Akua’s Tuesday was for finalising, consolidating and planning. Her last day at her former job was on Friday, the 28th of September, hence she set Tuesday aside for communication with partners and clients to inform them of her transition and to direct them to the appropriate succeeding personnel. She also officially commenced her design thinking cycle for her MBA Capstone project idea which doubles as her next career path.

Akua is driven to provide support to youth who need career guidance before and after they get formally employed. She has personally experienced the tenacity of the job market and the fast-pace of the corporate world, hence her passion to assist others to navigate the professional world/ life-phase. Armed with guidance from her Capstone supervisor and feedback from the accessible target audience, Akua is resolved to translate her Capstone project into a fully-fledged profitable advisory firm after graduation.

“I want to develop products and services based on what people around me are interested in. A lot of people tell me that I need to have my niche, but to me, that is synonymous with imposing my products or services on people. I feel like there’s no need to impose a solution even though such niche markets tend to provide more security.”

On Wednesday, Akua took significant-steps ahead in ideation and project design despite the threat of a cold. She obtained guidance from her Capstone supervisor for defining her target market. Later in the day, she had enlightening conversations with two ladies, one of whom was a fitting representation of her target audience and the other, an experienced coach who has had an inspiring career trajectory from coaching to facilitation and customer engagement. Before the day ended, Akua ensured to engage with some of her Leadership Lab readings.

On Thursday, Akua cross-examined the type of brand she hopes to build with her advisory firm. She reflected on her values and considered how to translate them into the services she aspires to provide. She also did some business development based on the networks she built from her time at Jumia. Furthermore, she conducted research on legal considerations for registering her business in Nigeria and the United States. Today being #TGIF, Akua is super excited as she plans to attend a Major Lazer Concert happening in Hard Rock Beach, Lagos, Nigeria from 7 p.m.

[On roadblocks], Akua is very persistent and adherent to communication and follow-ups when other people are involved. She says, “I’m not afraid to be persistent but I will wait.” When solely responsible, she leverages people around her who help her stay on track.

[Motivation] to Akua stems from the fact that when she makes an investment into something, it’s essential to get something out of it. She expresses her curious nature and its correlation to her interest and engagement with her MBA coursework. In her words, “I’m constantly trying to be innovative, constantly trying to be creative, and finding new ways to be more organised, better, faster, quicker. My self-motivation partially stems from my desire to be comfortable and secure enough to take chances and challenge myself to be better.”

[Work-life balance] to Akua is about prioritising and not compromising habits such as stretching, running and sports. She believes her initial work opportunities helped set up her to be flexible and pursue her interests.

“[A perfect week] is one where I wake up every single morning, write in my gratitude journal, stretch and do some exercises. Getting these two things done sets me up for a really good day. Also, getting through as many of my to-dos as possible and sleeping well and early makes my week perfect.”

To ALUSB aspirants, Akua says, “leadership is really what you make of it. It depends on the resources you want to pull, and how you execute it.” Having previously obtained a Masters in City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania, Akua’s road to ALU was paved by the desire to partake in building a great institution. She attests that so far, she has obtained real value and built genuine relationships through the ALUSB MBA programme. In her words, “I have learnt a lot about myself and I have been able to apply a lot of what I learned into my daily work.”

Conclusively, Akua advises people to keep in mind that “asking questions when unsure is key for balance.” She chips in the practical need to leverage technology – Google Calendars, Evernote, and possibly, an iPad for reading – to be able to succeed smoothly in a blended learning programme such as the ALUSB MBA.

A Week in the Life of Bame Moremong ’19

A Week in the Life of Bame Moremong ’19

Bame Moremong ’19 is the Executive Director of Brand Botswana, at Botswana Investment and Trade Centre and a current ALUSB MBA student. She manages marketing teams and mothers two daughters while studying her MBA. Her depiction of this week is as true to life as an executive’s existential template. She is customising this template for the strongest suit by embracing the supportive ALU network of like professionals.

Returning from a three-weeks away from the office on official business, Bame settled into her typical work week with a ‘catch-up’ to-do list slated to reconcile her old and new projects. Her Monday morning started with her “me” time at 5:30 a.m. As a habit, she devotes thirty minutes to spiritual connection before the day comes alive in her household. Then, she gets her daughters ready for school before heading to the office. In the office, Bame tries to fit her MBA coursework into the normal workday by looking at Leadership Lab (LL) during her lunch hour. She also endeavours to end her days with at least an hour of coursework after family time with her daughters.

Bame’s priority for this week is a two circle Venn diagram bearing report writing from her last trade mission to Beijing in August, and event planning for the Global Expo Botswana to be held in October. Outside these circles, she approves projects for her team members to proceed with their initiatives and responsibilities, and holds meetings with the rest of the executive for work updates, strategy and review.

[On Roadblocks], Bame shares her scare in Term 3, where she struggled with her coursework. Now, she thrives on the consciousness that there’s a whole group of about sixty people who are all rooting for her success, ever willing to encourage and remind her of her whys. She says, “one of my Pan-African Group (PAG) members became my self-designated accountability partner. It is so inspiring to have such access to the most supportive people when the going gets tough.”

[On motivation], Bame affirms that her first home-learning teammates at ALUSB have become her sisters even though they are technically no longer team members: “I run to them when I have issues, when I need encouragement and motivation.” She adds that making it through peculiar hitches from her last term taught her to reach out and utilise the support within her ALUSB community.

“[A perfect week] is one the stars align and I am able to submit my ALUSB coursework on time, spend time with my daughters and stay on top of my deliverables at the office. I’m all about simplicity, finding peace and staying on track.”

Concluding with her deepest sense of connection to the ALUSB mission, she says, “I always get a sense of the whys at the intensives and that’s why I look forward to every single intensive. It motivates me for the coming term. During the term, reaching out to faculty has assisted sometimes. Also, my kids just won’t let me fail, they always remind me that I got deadlines because they are so looking forward to graduation next year.”

Bame anticipates two main takeaways by the end of her ALUSB journey: self-awareness and personal growth. She is confident that by the time she graduates, she would have had twenty months of introspection and applied emotional intelligence, a life-long access to a great pan-African network, as well as an undaunted assurance of her ability to create an impactful, difference-making enterprise on the African continent.”

I’ve been so hard on myself this entire journey but through the process, I have become fully alive to my zeal to make a difference in the lives of people. At ALUSB, I have been given the tools to bring these things to life, and I have the biggest network of people supporting me along the way.

 

 

A Week in the Life of Raoul Ndayambaje ’20

A Week in the Life of Raoul Ndayambaje ’20

Raoul Ndayambaje ‘20 welcomed us to experience his life as the Head of Transaction Services Group (TSG) at Ecobank, Rwanda and ALUSB MBA student. Raoul’s burgeoning career in banking is both inspiring and fascinating as he grew from an early leadership role of data analyst team lead to a transactional products and services expert within seven years.  

This week – 2018’s thirty-eighth, September’s third, and MBA Class of 2020’s tenth – is one of the typical non-travel weeks for Raoul. His Monday started as early as 5 a.m, an early bird habit he has cultivated to enable him to catch up on his coursework before heading out to the office at 8 a.m. His office is a shared executive office space on the second floor of the high-rise, primely located Ecobank headquarters in Kigali’s Central Business District.

Attending the regular Monday-morning executive committee meeting sets the tone for Raoul’s week. This week, his priorities include ensuring the bank’s corporate and commercial clients tax compliance for the month of September, preparing a Product Policy for collateralized facilities, managing clients’ business requests and reviewing Point Of Sale and E-commerce products performance. All of these responsibilities are interspersed with a healthy dose of meetings.

Raoul strives to be home by 7 p.m daily in order to face his studies, thus balancing up his early morning/ late night time allocations to school work. The requisite multinational and often cross-continental team engagement for his coursework tends to seep into some of his office hours. He highlights this diffusion of work and study as one of the compromises one has to make for effective team collaboration.

 

“I need to make sure that when my classmates are available, I sacrifice a bit of my time. A blended learning programme like ours demands setting-up a system of engagement. Down the line, we will have more fixed time slots and at that point, discipline becomes extremely paramount.”

 

 

[On roadblocks] Raoul mentions that working in a customer facing industry such as banking comes with the loss of full sovereignty over one’s calendar. He mentions that before his ALUSB MBA programme, he used to be a “one-stop lead,” however with the weight of school responsibilities, he has learnt to instill in his colleagues, the spirit of taking initiative over ongoing aspects of their departmental role.

“[Motivation] is in check as long as I keep remembering my whys,” says Raoul. Two months into the MBA programme, Raoul acknowledges that he is still in transition and adjusting his personal and professional times for his MBA programme. According to him, “the ride has not been easy but it has been smooth.”

[Work-life balance] is anything but a pendulum scale to Raoul. His work and life are embedded such that work is at the core of his life. In his words, “I can’t feel my life balanced if I am not delivering.” In light of this, Raoul doesn’t grapple with the culture of calculated time allotment towards personal and professional interests. What’s important to him is always finding the time to exercise and have a bit of spiritual meditation.

“[A perfect week] is one where I meet my weekly budget, submit my assignments on time and spend at least two hour-long sessions at the gym.”

To conclude, Raoul heartily chips in his appreciation of the humour-coated team encouragement and upliftment in his ALUSB MBA programme. Therefore, he says to ALUSB aspirants weighing the ramifications of the blended learning programme, “when your team mates from South Africa, Nigeria or Kenya crack a joke, you get to hear different types of jokes that will definitely make your life easier.”

Yvonne Gyefour ’20: Two months of Greatness at ALUSB

Yvonne Gyefour ’20: Two months of Greatness at ALUSB

Yvonne Gyefour (MBA ’20) is a Customer Marketing Manager at Unilever, Ghana, specialising in the personal care division. She describes her road to ALU, her key learnings so far and her advice to ALUSB aspirants. Get to know and be inspired by Yvonne’s career, her ALU and her legacy! 

Yvonne’s arrival in Kigali for course orientation coincided with ALU’s first-ever graduation ceremony. From the snippet of the ceremony she was able to witness, she was highly motivated and reassured of her decision to study at ALU School of Business (ALUSB). Two months down the line, she speaks highly of her experience in ALUSB, tracing her superlative emotions from the all-absorbing intensives in Kigali to the enriching online interactions with her classmates at present. She describes her classmates as awesome – mid-career professionals from various countries with diverse experiences, and similar aspirations.  

Weighing in retrospect, her attraction to ALU, Yvonne says, “two main things attracted me to ALU School of Business. One: The networking. Two: The Pan Africanism. Being well established in Ghana was not enough. I have a huge pan-African interest, and like Kwame Nkrumah said, we need unity to make an impact on the continent.”

Considerably, Yvonne’s road to ALU was paved by her desire for a transition from a national to a pan-African outlook/ impact. This transition is already happening on the fast wheels of the ALUSB Leadership Lab and the Doing Business in Africa course.

On Leadership Lab, Yvonne has the most fulfilled words. The programme has given her the opportunity to step back in introspection and be deliberate about the things that she does as a leader. She expresses her love and new-found devotion to ALUSB’s V^3 leadership paradigm, which is hinged at the intersection of virtue, value, and vision for true African leadership.

Yvonne’s goal for social impact in Africa primarily targets women and youth. She aims to help women get access to funding and training so they can expand their businesses, afford education for their children and live better lives. She strongly believes in the creativity and industriousness of Africans. She asks the average African youth, “what if you can do this if given adequate support, such that eventually, you are able to employ other people?”

In light of these, her key learning outcome from the Doing Business in Africa course has been a cognition of structured approaches to women and youth empowerment. Realising that she’s not the only one committed to these parallel causes, and having brainstorming conversations with like-minded classmates, she is certain of gaining more clarity down the line in addressing the inadequate conditions of women and youth in Africa.

“If you are at that point in your life where you feel like there is more you can do; and if you ever stop to think that there is a reason why you are African, then ALU puts things in perspective for you.” —Yvonne Gyefour, MBA ’20

Yvonne’s moonshot journey at ALUSB might still be at the translunar injection stage, but her realisations so far are quite reminiscent of the actual moon landing and lunar orbit. Her deep learning insights in combination with her inspiring personal drive speak of hope for the African continent. The culmination of her description of the past two months in ALUSB can be found in her choice of the qualifier “greatness” to summarise her journey so far.

She admits that it is ok to have fears and concerns about the travels or the money when considering ALUSB, but advises aspirants to sit back and reflect on their dreams for the African continent. If you want to apply, Yvonne gallantly says, “Just do it. You’re going to get a lot of help along the way, starting from the application phase.”

A WEEK IN THE LIFE OF ALUSB’s GRADUATING MBA CLASS

A WEEK IN THE LIFE OF ALUSB’s GRADUATING MBA CLASS

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.

ZANUDEEN MAKORIE ‘19: LEADERSHIP IS A QUESTION OF APPLYING WHAT WE HAVE

ZANUDEEN MAKORIE ‘19: LEADERSHIP IS A QUESTION OF APPLYING WHAT WE HAVE

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: