I was privileged to be invited by Africa Leadership University (ALU) School of Business to speak to their 2018/2019 MBA students. ALU has an overall objective to improve the quality of leadership in Africa through developing three million leaders for the Continent over the next 50 years. ALU School of business manages the ALU MBA programme which is targeted at carefully selected business Executives across different Industries operating in Africa. In our discussions, we challenged the paradigm where business leaders exist to manage microenvironmental (marketplace, competition) issues and deliver commercial success but are ill-equipped to manage macroenvironmental (external, stakeholders) issues which we established, with the benefit of research/trends, represent a more fundamental risk to business success in Africa. We agreed therefore that consciously and systematically managing stakeholders should be intrinsic in the business strategy of the company. This is the strategy for “managing success” of the company.
My views on the experience with ALU MBA students are captured below:
1. The School: The uniqueness of the ALU MBA is in its “Africa-centricity”. Beyond traditional frameworks, students are exposed to practical skills, real-World experiences and thought leadership delivered from experienced African business leaders who physically engage the students in Kigali. ALU is more than a degree-awarding educational Institution, it is shaping great leaders for Africa. ALU’s vision is exemplified by its top-quality faculty, rich curriculum and excellent organization. It is comparable to any of the top business schools in the World!.
2. The Leaders: The ALU 2018/2019 MBA class was a gathering of young, bright, innovative and positively restless minds. In the midst of the diversity (different countries, different Industries) were a common thread of similar concerns, questions seeking solutions which connected them all. It was evident that the shared learning experiences and networks developed within the groups will transcend the duration of the programme. Working together to solve specific programmes for local businesses in Rwanda provided an avenue to translate learnings on the programme into dealing with practical problems within a specific African context. It was a great pleasure interacting with such great minds.
3. The Country: ALU has its presence in Kigali, Rwanda and Mauritius. Admittedly, it was a short stay in my first time to Rwanda but it was long enough to make some observations. Small but big things. What was particularly striking was the order in this City, quite unlike most African countries I make bold to say. Small but very organized and effective Airport, no touts, hangers on and unnecessary crowds. It gives a good feeling to the visitor and makes them want to come back. The Kigali Convention Centre with Radisson Blu Hotel are as contemporary as most places in the World. Government holds itself accountable to specific public service delivery targets with consequence management as necessary while ensuring strict compliance to rules, regulations by its citizenry. The sense of pride and patriotism was evident in the Rwandese I saw and spoke to during my stay. I could relate to all the reports about the great socio-economic progress that has been made in Rwanda.
Africa-centric leaders in the making, a progressive school in a progressive Country. There is indeed hope for Africa.