6 lessons from our fireside chat with Hakeem Belo-Osagie

6 lessons from our fireside chat with Hakeem Belo-Osagie

We had the honour of welcoming Hakeem Belo-Osagie, the chair of Metis Capital Partners and senior lecturer of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, at the ALU Rwanda this week! Here are 6 pieces of knowledge that he left us with:  

1. “The ties that you make here, will remain with you for the rest of your life.”

“I was lucky to enjoy an education with a lot of diversity. The school I went to had students from 50 or 60 different countries. It left me with this sense that national boundaries and racial boundaries are artificial, that we should be able to relate to people across the globe. What divides human beings is much less than what unites human beings and at the end of the day, it’s the individual that counts. 

ALU students are in a very special position. You’re living and working together with highly intelligent people from different countries, different religions and different ethnic groups. The ties that you make here, will remain with you for the rest of your life. Whether you go into government, politics or business. When you hear about a flood in Senegal, something will prick your conscience because you studied with someone from that country. When somebody tells you that you must hate a Sudanese because they’re fighting someone in Southern Sudan, you’ll say; ‘no, there is a way we can solve this problem’. You will not be afraid to do business in a different country, cause there will be people you know there and you’ll have a sense that they’re not that different from you. 

I had a classmate from Aby Dhabi at Business School and the two of us got together and decided to do something interesting. Because we trusted each other and we knew each other from school, we were always able to sit down together, come to what we thought was a fair deal for both Nigerians and Arabs. The relationship that I still have with the government of Abu Dhabi is very much created by him and our relationship. And that is one of the examples of what a network can do.

2. “In thought, precision. In style, concision. In life, decision.”

“There are 9 words you should remember in life: In thought; precision. In style, concision. In life, decision. This is a saying that one of my tutors used to reiterate.

In thinking, you must be very precise. When it comes to your style, try to be simple. Do not try to be too elaborate, too full of yourself. There is a beauty in simplicity. In life, decision. You must have the capacity to make decisions. That is a very important part of your life. Those 9 words have never left me.” 

3. “Your first boss is either your second father/mother or your final nightmare.”

“In my business career, my first boss and my first business partner were great mentors to me. Your first boss is either your second father/mother or your final nightmare. My first boss was a very secure person who looked upon me as someone to develop and he did this long before the word mentorship was used or was in fashion. 

Mentors are very important because they help you separate what is important from what is not important. When you have a bad moment, when you think that it’s all dark, when you have the feeling that you’re at the end, they make you realise that they have been there many times before.” 

4. “Success is talent and hard work, meeting opportunity.”

Success is talent and hard work, meeting opportunity. However, not everyone gets an opportunity, especially in Africa, where large groups of people are living below the poverty line. You have to be honest with yourself. Even if I had worked as hard as I worked, if I had been born in Southern Sudan, in parts of Northern Nigeria, in Syria or as a refugee in Palestine… Where would I be today?

While taking a certain amount of pride in what we’ve achieved, we must continually remind ourselves that we have had certain opportunities. What does this mean? Those who have certain opportunities, have no excuse for laziness or not taking on a certain challenge. 

Part of your life should also be dedicated to creating more opportunities and that should be a significant part of your life.” 

5. “Making business as much as an option for women as for men is fundamental. “

“Making business as much as an option for women as for men is fundamental. If you look at study, after study, after study… they all show that by empowering women, more responsible decisions are taken in the upbringing of children, in the education of children and in the way which responsible spending takes place. I think that these factors make women’s success crucial. That economic independence will lead to the social change that we need. 

In my mother’s generation, women were nurses, secretaries, teachers… But there was a whole business area that was not meant for them and I think that having women in that business area is necessary.” 

6. “You just have to make up your mind in life because there is not enough time for everything.”

“People are often not as busy as they think they are. A lot of time is wasted on things that we really shouldn’t waste a lot of time on. You just have to make up your mind in life because there is not enough time for everything. I made up my mind to prioritise family, work and my social mission. And I stick to that.”

A new executive programme in partnership with INSEAD

A new executive programme in partnership with INSEAD

Delivered in partnership with INSEAD, one of the world’s leading and largest graduate business schools, Strategic Leadership in Africa is a brand new executive education programme for African executives, that integrates global insights into strategy, leadership and team-building with deep knowledge, experience and research on the challenges and opportunities of doing business in Africa. 

We sat down with ALU School of Business (ALUSB) Vice Dean Catherine Duggan, who led the Strategic Leadership in Africa (SLA) programme development from the ALUSB side, to tell us more about this world-class initiative


What sets Strategic Leadership in Africa apart? 

“The best of both worlds”

“One thing that’s unique about this SLA programme is that it will integrate INSEAD’s offerings as one of the global leaders in executive education with ALUSB’s deep expertise in Africa. Participants will get the best of both worlds: global perspective from one of the top business schools in the world, together with Africa context, focus, and experience from an innovative, truly pan-African business school.

I’m especially excited about this programme because it is the product of a true partnership between the ALUSB and INSEAD faculty and staff. From the beginning we agreed that we wanted something developed specifically for the African market, rather than something that was bolted together from pieces of programmes designed for other markets. 

As a result, I think participants will find that SLA is a learning experience that is integrated, practical, and relevant to the challenges (and opportunities) that they are facing right now in African markets. It will also give them a chance to think about where African markets fit into the global economy and how they can best position themselves and their organisations for what we like to call the African Century”.


Who is Strategic Leadership in Africa for?

“Senior managers and decision-makers”

“One of the most exciting things about SLA is that it is really designed for people who are helping their organisations to thrive in the rapidly-growing (and rapidly-changing!) pan-regional and pan-African market. I think that the ideal participant in this programme is, first and foremost, a person who is thinking about this common set of challenges, rather than a person with a specific CV.

We’ve found that this type of executive education programme is perfect for people who have recently been placed in a position to guide and grow their organisations across borders or in particularly challenging environments. People in these positions have often recently moved from leading a functional area into the senior leadership team and now need to be able to think strategically at very high levels, lead across organisational areas, and develop a deep understanding of the context of doing business in one or more countries on the continent. A programme like this is also excellent for people who are expecting to make such a transition into senior leadership.”

We’re looking for participants who have already had significant professional success and who can bring and share their insights and experience. The dynamic and participant-focused nature of the programme, combined with an accomplished and diverse group of participants, really allows us to leverage the insights of the group itself and makes for a much richer and more practical learning experience than a more traditional lecture format. 

One of the best things about any programme is the networks and relationships it helps to create. SLA will bring together a group of some of the most exciting leaders from across the continent, all of whom are looking to expand their networks and meet people facing similar issues across Africa. 

As a result, this programme is also perfect for people who have already gotten an MBA elsewhere, or who are now too senior to consider an MBA degree. Rather than delving into the functional, technical skills of an MBA, this programme will focus on the issues of leadership and high-level strategic thinking that become more and more important at the highest rungs of business”.


Please describe the Strategic Leadership in Africa curriculum.

“An integrated, problem-focused curriculum” 

“SLA offers an integrated curriculum with four angles: Understanding Strategic Challenges in Africa, Building High-Performing Teams in Diverse Environments, Understanding the Context of Doing Business in Africa and Developing Leadership Skills for a Changing World. 

The curriculum is designed to be as practical and relevant as possible, even as we talk about cutting-edge theories and approaches to handling business challenges. One of the ways we’ve done that is by creating a programme in which the elements are integrated, much as they are in the real world, rather than divided into separate “courses.”  

Both the INSEAD and ALUSB faculty teaching in the programme are committed to a problem-based approach. In some sessions this will mean exploring real-world cases faced by organisations in Africa; in others it will involve working through the actual challenges that the participants are facing. In every opportunity the programme will provide tools and analytical techniques to help manage both the challenges at hand and the ones participants may face in the future. 

Even the logistics of the programme are designed to be as practical as possible while adding value for participants. It combines two in-person modules in Kigali, Rwanda (each approximately 4 days long), with an online “intermodular” period during which participants will work through some of the challenges they are facing in a systematic way.  They will also be eligible to take selected online courses (at no additional cost) to review or develop key skills”. 


Strategic Leadership in Africa launches in February 2020.  Please click here to find out more about this exciting new programme!

Mutsa Kajese’ 20: We certainly need more leadership on the continent.

Mutsa Kajese’ 20: We certainly need more leadership on the continent.

MBA student Mutsa Kajese 20′ believes that leadership is a lifestyle that is continuously practised and improved. He is the founder of Ubuntu Lab, a personal growth hub and the author of “30 days of Transformation: A Guide to your Authentic Self” 
We’ve summarised some highlights from Mutsa’s interview below.  Scroll down to view his full video interview. 
What does leadership mean to you?

…we certainly need more leadership on the continent. 

“Leadership is not something that you can learn, per se. It is more than that. It is living to the very core of your being, understanding that it’s not about you. You notice that one core component of leadership is that you always have to serve the other; and empathy is also a very big component of that as well. That is what I think leadership is and we certainly need more of it on the continent”. 


On striving for work-life balance.

I have to allow things to flow into each other, as opposed to being very strict.

“I believe in work-life integration…I make sure I have dedicated time. I am a father, I am a husband as well, so I have to allow things to flow into each other, as opposed to being very strict and saying okay, at this time I need to do this, and I need to play with my daughter for thirty minutes and if I go thirty-one minutes, it’s over. Life doesn’t happen like that”.


On 30 Days of Transformation: A guide to your authentic self:

It is a tool kit for you to elevate yourself; to level up so you can start contributing to a better world.

“It’s just a guideline, not necessarily set in stone, but a guideline for you to elevate yourself to the next level of your life. It doesn’t matter whether you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, whether you are a student, whether you are an undergrad or post-grad, parent, recently married or going through anything – or not going through anything. It is a tool kit for you to elevate yourself; to level up so you can start contributing to a better world”.

Watch Mutsa’s full interview below:

Nelly Wainaina ’20: The journey of leadership does not stop

Nelly Wainaina ’20: The journey of leadership does not stop

As the Stills Portfolio Lead and Head of Marketing for Kenya and Tanzania Country Operations at Coca-Cola, Nelly Wainaina ’20 is no stranger to leadership. Still, her time as an MBA student at ALU School of Business revealed some leadership aspects that she had yet uncovered. Watch the video below to learn more about other discoveries she made at ALUSB and her advice to young, African businesswomen.
On the V^3 Leadership Model
(…) It’s a programme that sort of unpacks you, like almost disintegrates the type of person you are; your leadership skills, your qualities and then puts you back together. And I find that absolutely brilliant because the journey of leadership does not stop. Many of us joined the programme when we thought: ‘I’m at the apex of my career, I’ve got lots of experiences, I’ve got a lot to teach,…’ But to be honest, there’s been a lot of unlearning and you have to do, you have to be receptive to the learning process so that you can learn and then transform. And I tell you, it’s been absolutely amazing.
To young businesswomen on the continent
Yes, women are different from male leaders but if you go into business with the notion of ‘I’m a different person than the other one’, then you already shortchange yourself. And I would advise women to play the game just like anybody else would, to believe in themselves. And once you believe in yourself, you become more confident and then opportunities start opening themselves up just like the rest of your male counterparts. So I don’t think there’s a difference in terms of skills for both men and women. It’s just if you present yourself as a ready person for the opportunity, you’ll absolutely be successful. So just believe in yourself and be confident in your choices.
Watch Nelly’s full interview below:

Introducing our new partner, The Africa List

Introducing our new partner, The Africa List

The ALU School of Business (ALUSB) is delighted to announce a partnership with The Africa List – a platform that brings together high performing business leaders in some of Africa’s most dynamic markets.

This partnership brings together two pan-African organisations, committed to supporting the development of business leaders and entrepreneurs to help drive the continent forward.

Throughout 2019, ALUSB will provide learning and development workshops in the countries The Africa List works in – Ethiopia, DRC, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia – and a four-day leadership retreat for a select group of The Africa List members at the end of the year. We’re very excited to start working with The Africa List’s members and to share our innovative teaching methods, including our signature African case studies.

The Africa List network is made up of business leaders drawn from the most influential companies operating in each country. The firms included vary in size; from growing start-ups to established family firms and multinationals.

The Africa List chose to work with ALUSB because of the opportunity to work with a like-minded organisation that has a strong record of developing some of the most exciting business people on the continent. “We are delighted to be working with ALUSB,” said Julie Benoist, Interim Head of Network for The Africa List. “Their focus on tailoring learning to the specific context and challenges our members face will help them take their careers even further, and help them build lasting businesses that can drive the continent forward.”

Our first workshop with The Africa List will take place on Tuesday 18 June in Lusaka, Zambia.

3 benefits of executive coaching for emerging leaders

3 benefits of executive coaching for emerging leaders

We live in a high-paced environment where emerging leaders are often expected to come with strong leadership, ownership and accountability behaviours – all on top of sharp technical skills. I don’t know about you, but unless you’re one of the few born leaders, leadership is something that needs to be developed and nurtured on a consistent basis.

Regardless of your career level or industry, executive coaching can be an amazing tool to make your development process as an emerging leader more thoughtful, intentional and smooth. Why figure it all out on your own, when you can have the assistance of an outside expert?

We reached out to ALUSB Alumna, Akua Nyame-Mensah, who is a strategic advisor and professional coach, to explore what executive coaching entails and its benefits for your personal and professional life.

Before immersing herself fully into coaching, Akua worked for Africa’s first tech unicorn, Jumia, where she helped build the real estate platform, Jumia House in Ghana and went on to lead Jumia House Nigeria. It was during her time at Jumia that Akua took her first step towards becoming a coach by getting her professional coaching certificate at  TeamBuilding Africa (TBA) Consults. “For me, a coach is not necessarily an expert. The client is always meant to decide what we focus on and what’s important. My job is to help facilitate them, help guide them, help identify potential challenges, pitfalls and distorted thinking. I believe that people are already quite good by themselves and it’s my job, as the coach, to take them from functional to optimal.

Here are some of the main benefits of executive coaching through the lens of Akua:

1. An improved sense of self-awareness

Self-awareness is where growth begins. It is the first step towards breaking away from your comfort zone and seeing things differently. A coach can be a catalyst for this development by helping new leaders see themselves from an outsider’s perspective. “Coaching involves a lot of self-study and self-reflection for the client. We all have an idea of who we are, how other people perceive us and then there’s that bit of you that’s always going to be hidden. Through coaching, you can get a better idea of who you are and how you present yourself to others. That knowledge can help you influence people better, leverage your strengths and identify key people that will help you improve your areas of growth. A greater sense of self-awareness can also lead to better time management because you have a better understanding of what’s important to you.”

2. A better understanding of  your strengths and growth areas

Some skills may be fine as mid-level employees but as you enter into senior leadership roles, new expertise is needed. Coaching can help you identify those growth areas and help you develop them further. ”Through coaching and self-coaching myself, I learned more effective ways to have conversations about things I don’t necessarily agree with. I was always confident enough to say “no, I don’t agree with you”. But now I am able to approach it in a more productive way, like: “we have different ways of looking at this, I can see it from your point of view, this is mine…”. Just being a bit more diplomatic in my approach has had a huge impact on my professional life.”

Inversely, you might already have some leadership skills that you’re not even aware of. In that case, people like Akua can be the mirror that you need to recognise the uniqueness and value of the capabilities that you already have. “As a coach, my interest really lies in providing or helping to facilitate a conversation where people get fresh ideas, fresh perspectives and see things from a different point of view. My goal is then to help them move forward and leverage their resources, all while keeping them accountable. Every coaching session is a little bit different. If people feel a shift, have thought through a behaviour change or get a new idea for business development, that’s a successful conversation.”

3. Better leadership skills

As a leader, your responsibilities go beyond your own performance; you’re also managing a team that looks to you to make the big decisions. Executive coaching can help emerging leaders drive innovation and autonomy within their teams. “I have always been really interested in leadership and I have always been involved in leadership to some extent, both in sports and in my career. A lot of my initial interest in coaching came from wanting to be a better leader for those below me and a better colleague and support to those above me. What I quickly realised from my time at Jumia was; just because I had an extremely Ghanaian name or even had the opportunity to live in several African countries, didn’t mean that I would be able to be an effective leader in Ghana or be able to effectively influence people towards a goal. Not everyone is going to listen to what you have to say. You have to think of different ways to motivate people. You have to become comfortable with trying different things, you have to become comfortable with failing a little bit more openly.”

Are you ready to question your assumptions about yourself, discover your strengths and growth areas and become a better leader? ALUSB is offering one 60-minute executive coaching session with our very own Akua Nyame-Mensah ’19, People & Business Strategist and professional certified coach!


To qualify for these offers, you must:

  1. Submit your complete application by end of day 24 June 2019.
  2. Gain full admission to and confirm your seat in the ALUSB October 2019 MBA programme, in order to be connected to your executive coach.
  3. Conduct your coaching session(s) before 27 October 2019.

Don’t hesitate and submit your application at bit.ly/APPLYALUSB