We had the privilege to have a chat with Christopher Williams, African Leadership University President, as he shared his insights on the future of business on the continent, African leadership and the difference between managers and leaders.
On the future of Africa: All the elements are there.
“All the elements are there. A young population, a growing middle class, a strong interest in development after long periods of economic challenge. It also satisfies a bigger need that the global community has, like I said, to reach new markets. So I think the two coming together promises a lot for Africa.
(…) we now have to be aware that this is an opportunity and this is a moment and this is a window we have to take advantage of. I’m very excited about the role of a school like ALU because it plays exactly in that sweet spot of the expectations, the opportunities, and the demand for Africa’s role in a growing world. So it’s all about the question of how fast we can prepare and how we will embrace technology as part of the solution.”
“… this is an opportunity and this is a moment and this is a window we have to take advantage of.”
On his leadership heroes
“(…) But if we bring things closer to home, as we look day by day at people we can relate to more directly, I think the school and the students and faculty should draw inspiration from Fred himself. What Fred has decided to do is not easy. I don’t think too many people growing up aspire… Well, they might aspire to do different things. I think they might aspire to even create companies but not many people aspire to found universities. That is a very complex endeavour and so he chose the difficult one of at least those two choices. And the fact that the faculty and the staff and the students, so early in the life of this institution, have come along on this journey shows that everyone has a little bit more focus and comfort doing something extraordinary.”
“… they should be able to look at the environment and look at their companies and look at their countries and look at the world and say: ‘what next?’ or ‘what if?’.”
On the difference between leaders and managers.
“Managers live in a functional space and they can manage operationally what needs to be done. Leaders think about a potential or vision or future that doesn’t exist today and they capture it as eloquently as they can and then they make people get excited about it and go after it. So they should be visionaries, they should be able to look at the environment and look at their companies and look at their countries and look at the world and say: ‘what next?’ or ‘what if?’.”
Watch Christopher’s video below: