Joachim Nzuzi ’20 on doing business in Africa and leadership

Joachim Nzuzi ’20 on doing business in Africa and leadership

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.”

A Week in the Life of Gloria Karambizi ’20

A Week in the Life of Gloria Karambizi ’20

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.

Diana Kizza ’20: We owe it to our continent to dream big

Diana Kizza ’20: We owe it to our continent to dream big

Diana Kizza ’20 describes herself as an economic catalyst with a passion for healthcare. She is currently a Senior Programme Manager at the Clinton Health Access, where she is managing a programme on Sustainable Health Financing. Watch the video interview below to learn more about Diana’s decision to pursue an MBA at ALUSB and how her journey has been so far.
“…we need to remember and learn or relearn to dream big for Africa. We owe it to our continent to dream big despite the challenges that we’ve seen, despite the pain and the tears. There’s no better time than now.”
What led you to ALU School Of Business? 
“I didn’t want to go back abroad because everything that I learnt abroad was only applicable abroad and not really in Africa. It hit all the right buttons. So you meet all the right people; people who work in Africa and are excited and passionate about changing Africa. You meet people who have the skills and the networks to help you link to who you need to go to, to get answers and help and support. And for me, those are two really big things. And third; the leadership component. Because I believed that there was something in me. I needed to find a way to get it out, but I couldn’t find where to get it out from. But reading the ALUSB course content and just reading through the profiles of students that have been here before, I realised this is the perfect place to gain those kinds of skills.
How would you describe your ALUSB experience so far? 
“It was very disruptive because you have this way of life. You think that you’re moving along a certain path and all of a sudden you’re hit by a bolt of lightning and you realise that you can do more, it’s you who’s limiting yourself. You see the challenges all around you and I’ve learned through this programme that those challenges are opportunities that you need to recognise. We hear about Mo Ibrahim, we see Kagame at the first graduation ceremony of ALUSB. I think what that brought for us is that, you know, despite our background, despite what has happened in our past, we need to remember and learn or relearn to dream big for Africa. We owe it to our continent to dream big despite the challenges that we’ve seen, despite the pain and the tears. There’s no better time than now.
Watch Diana’s full video interview here:

Motlatsi Mkalala ’19 on taking bold leadership decisions

Motlatsi Mkalala ’19 on taking bold leadership decisions

Motlatsi Mkalala ’19 is a South African, an Area Manager at Standard Bank, and a rule breaker. We had the pleasure of sitting down with this maverick to discuss his decision to pursue an MBA at ALUSB and his thoughts on taking non-conforming leadership decisions.
“I’m a person who does not conform; I don’t follow rules, I recreate them.”
Here are some interesting excerpts from Motlatsi’s interview, you can find the full video below:
WHY ALUSB?
Although Motlatsi was thinking about applying to a business school for a long time, he had become a bit anti-MBA over time: “I thought everybody was getting an MBA and that it was losing its value.”
But the Pan-African programme at ALUSB made him reconsider: “When I heard about ALUSB, I got excited because it was a Pan-African MBA and the first of its kind. I thought the MBA would give me a greater understanding of the issues and challenges the continent has and a context of where I would want to go next.”
ON LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
Leadership is at the heart of ALUSB’s vision and is a constant presence throughout the MBA programme. We adhere to a unique V^3 model, which uses a mixture of Virtue, Value and Vision, to develop well-rounded leaders. Not only do we craft their leadership through top-quality content and coaching, but the students also learn to lead through on-the-job practices and experimental activities.
When asked about the leadership development programme at ALUSB, there’s one thing that immediately comes to Motlatsi’s mind: “We learned how to be bold and take bold decisions. And you start to reflect and think: do I take bold decisions in how I run the business? Or am I always comfortable because I’m scared to be the one that stands out? That has challenged how I influence the team or my boss to take a different stance.”
Watch Motlatsi’s full interview below:

4 work-life balance tips from Yves Iradukunda ’19

4 work-life balance tips from Yves Iradukunda ’19

Three years ago, Yves Iradukunda ’19 started at MASS Design Group in Kigali, Rwanda as the East-African operations manager. Now, he’s the senior director of operations and mainly works on bringing in new talent, kickstarting new projects and managing relationships with MASS’s different partners.

With responsibilities that are constantly evolving and expanding, Yves still managed to complete his MBA journey at ALUSB without jeopardising his responsibilities at work.

We talked to Yves about his time at ALUSB and the 4 elements that determined his academic and professional success throughout the MBA programme.

1. Knowing your “why”

Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or an established leader, identifying the meaning behind your decisions is essential for a purpose-driven and significant journey.

Yves’ reasoning for pursuing an MBA was twofold. Not only did he want to take advantage of the general management training that a Business School provides, but he specifically wanted to expand his knowledge on entrepreneurship and leadership.

“Ideally an MBA was going to allow me to understand my previous experiences through different lenses. I really wanted to know what it meant to inspire; not just the people that I work with, but also the broader society, through the work that we do.”

Knowing his “why” and identifying his goals kept Yves focused and intentional during the ALUSB programme.

2. Choosing the right fit

Even though it is an essential building block, knowing your “why” is not the only thing that will keep you motivated. It is equally important to find an institution that suits you academically and personally. Yves found his match in the Pan-African centred programme at ALUSB.

“There are so many untapped opportunities on the continent and ALUSB’s focus on the African context made the school really attractive and unique. I am now able to tap into a vast network of professionals that are operating in different markets and expand my understanding beyond my own experience. If you’re really interested in increasing your knowledge and expertise on the continent, this MBA is the right programme for you.”

3. Being intentional

In the course of the last 15 months, Yves’ responsibilities at MASS Design Group have both changed and increased in terms of expectations. But despite the added pressure, Yves found a way to stay on top of his schoolwork.  

“You have to be very intentional. There have been many weeks where it was a struggle to dedicate the needed time to my course material, but that means that the weekends are for catching up. So if the week has been hectic, be intentional in the weekend and really make time to study.”

4. Having a strong support system.

Having a support system is imperative when embarking on any journey, especially a challenging one like this. Yves was lucky to have many morale boosters around him.

“My wife and newly born daughter are really the main sources for my motivation; it’s rewarding knowing that they have my back. That aspect of family support is very important.”

Yves colleagues at MASS Design Group were also a source of motivation during his MBA journey: “Seeing the impact of the work that we do, is very inspiring. My colleagues are dedicated, passionate and never compromise on quality. A work environment like that is encouraging and motivates me to contribute to them as they contribute to me.”

Finally, Yves states that his MBA journey would have been impossible without his classmates.  “Even though the ALUSB MBA is a remote programme, we remained connected throughout the year, not just at the intensives. We WhatsApp on a daily basis, call each other, offer support in difficult times and celebrate the exciting ones. Without those people, what you’re learning loses meaning.”

And even though Yves graduation from ALUSB is quickly approaching, he’s not planning to stop learning anytime soon.

“I think learning itself is a lifelong journey. The MBA programme opened my eyes and kickstarted a lifelong learning journey. It helped me realise how much more opportunities are across the continent.  So the upcoming graduation is not a final destination, it’s the start of a new journey of learning and collaborating with other people.”

A Week in the Life of Patience Mapeza ’19

A Week in the Life of Patience Mapeza ’19

Patience Mapeza ’19 is a Senior Retail Banking Manager for NMB Bank in Zimbabwe. She joined NMB in 2002 a few years after the former merchant bank registered as a commercial bank. She has risen steadily through the ranks ever since. Patience now manages over 14 bank branches across the country, working hard to drive a more financially inclusive society. This week we followed Patience for a week and observed her as a senior professional, guardian and team leader.

 

Patience’s Monday begins early. She wakes up at 4:00am to catch up with her MBA assignments. As legal guardian to her nieces, aged 17 and 19 years respectively, she then checks in on the girls to make sure that they are ready for school, then drops them off and then heads to work.

 

Patience usually arrives at work by 8:00am, where she will first respond to emails that are pending from the weekend. She checks in on the status of her 14 branches, ensuring that any issues are addressed immediately. Patience closely monitors how each branch is operating, ensuring that customer satisfaction levels are optimised and that her branches are staying ahead of their competitors in offering financially inclusive customer solutions. If issues occur that require her presence in a branch, Patience will leave her office and head out to that branch.

Other priorities in Patience’s weekly schedule comprise business development meetings with her Executive Directors. “People know I have an opinion, but I have to work extra hard as one of the few women in senior positions at the bank, to ensure that no balls are dropped”.

 

On weekends, Patience catches up with her friends and family. She is blessed with an amazing network of professional women, peers with whom she can share, who advise and encourage each other with a view to promoting more women in leadership across their respective industries.

 

Golf is also a favourite past time, and Patience will play a round with friends when she can find the time.

 

After church on Sundays, Patience hosts her family for a meal. “My family has been so supportive. They always motivate me to work and give me the space I need to work on my MBA assignments. I send the girls to my parents over the weekend, freeing up time for study”.

A perfect week for Patience is when she is able to accomplish her set objectives at work and satisfy her customers. The ALUSB Intensive weeks have always been a highlight of her MBA journey. “ALUSB brings together diverse, amazing professionals from across the continent. We share, engage and network. And I am ever impressed by the high quality of our guest lecturers.”

 

On Motivation: Patience believes in the power of prayer. She adds, “My home is my sanctuary. I reflect on how I can grow as a guardian, leader, and business woman. My country, Zimbabwe, has gone through a series of challenges. It can depress you, so I always try to stay positive, because I do not know what tomorrow may hold”.

 

On Roadblocks: ‘I am an empowered woman. I try to identify opportunities in spite of the challenges faced by women. Zimbabwe is a patriarchal society where a woman with an opinion is not always well received, especially if unmarried”. Patience embraces her values, virtues, and vision as a woman, striving to look out for fellow women. “It sometimes makes people uncomfortable, but I feel that if life brings challenges to our doorstep, it is up to us to turn them into opportunities”, she adds.

On Teamwork at ALUSB: Throughout her MBA, Patience has realised that working as part of a team and listening to her team mates makes things easier. “My ability to go through this programme is in part due to my supportive teammates. I was not sure that I would be able to keep up with the pressure, but with time, I have come to embrace it.

“The ALUSB MBA is doable, possible and I have embraced the ALU term #DOHARDTHINGS! I doubt that there is anything the programme can throw me that I won’t be able to handle.”

 

Patience has a message for people considering the ALUSB MBA: “This is the perfect opportunity for you to be a changemaker. ALUSB has given me the opportunity to see what I was not able to envision before”.

Patience looks ahead to life after graduation as a significant time of application, when the MBA Class of 2019 puts all the skills and knowledge that they’ve acquired along this 20-month journey, into practice. She also looks forward to creating suitable banking products in Africa to ensure that Africa is banked differently and banked better. ‘I now see normal tasks as opportunities.” she concludes.