Why I decided to study an MBA
Studying an MBA was something I always knew I wanted to do, I felt like I had gained enough work experience that it would be the right fit for me and my career goals. I have worked with top-level managers and the one thing they mostly have in common is an MBA. With career growth and a senior managerial position being an aspiration of mine, I knew that an MBA would always be on the cards. I also believe that studying an MBA has a great return on investment.
I am a chartered accountant with both banking and consulting experience; however, I have always had an entrepreneurial mindset. While I was studying at university, I ran a small fashion business for women, which I also continued once I graduated. I am looking forward to exploring my entrepreneurial side whilst studying at Alliance MBS.
My hope is that the MBA will boost my strategic decision-making skills and enable me to compete in a global market. Business has always been second nature to me, and I crave moving up the career ladder to become a business executive, so what better course to study than an MBA?
Why I chose Manchester
The reason I chose to study in Manchester was that I needed to get out of my comfort zone. I had experienced a lot of theoretical teaching during my undergrad degree and wanted something more practical. I knew I wanted to study abroad, and the ranking of the school was important to me. Manchester had always been a familiar name, as a lot of friends in Nigeria support the football teams. I read more about the city and fell in love. It felt like a perfect match. I am so excited to get to know the city and explore once lockdown restrictions are lifted.
Another pull to the full-time MBA with AMBS was the diversity of the class. My class has 31 nationalities represented and I have never had the opportunity to interact with such a variety of people from different cultures and work experience. It has been a fascinating and eye-opening experience so far. Despite the lockdown in Manchester due to Covid-19, AMBS has continued to implement its method of ‘learning by doing’ without compromise.
From day one, I felt that the staff at AMBS believed in me because they have shown genuine care about my welfare and growth. I found speaking to the recruitment and admissions teams so easy as they have always been so warm and friendly. I had some anxiety about relocating to Manchester, especially during the pandemic situation, but the team at AMBS have made it seamless.
How the class will benefit from having more African students
Since arriving in Manchester and meeting my class, I have noticed that there are more African students than in previous cohorts. This is definitely a step in the right direction as it pertains to inclusivity and diversity, adding to the flavour and breadth of backgrounds in the class. For our first project, we are grouped in teams of students from different countries and professional backgrounds. This has been great and really helps us to appreciate the different cultures, ideas and approaches to working.
I believe Nigerians thrive in most situations we find ourselves. We have a “can-do” spirit that always makes us step up into a challenge. I believe this diligent and resilient nature is now renowned which is why many international schools also target Africans. Everyone, including Africans, comes with various cross-border innovative ideas that the class can learn from as we connect with one another. Through this, maybe some students will also get to correct common misconceptions about some African countries and broaden their understanding. Appreciating these differences from first-hand experience would help lead change around the world.
What I think students can learn about doing business in Africa
There is a lot that students can learn about doing business in Africa, that I hope myself and other African classmates can share insights of during our time on the programme. There are several opportunities to be taken advantage of in Africa. Many African countries are developing and are in dire need of foreign investments to enable economic growth. However, this is not to say that there have been no improvements.
The 2019 World Bank Doing Business report shows that 4 Sub-Saharan African economies - Togo, Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire and Rwanda - made the list of global top 10 improvers. In 2020, two Sub-Saharan African Countries, Nigeria and Togo, were among the most improved in terms of the ease of doing business, all making several reforms. However, Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa, still underperforms in several areas, such as governance, electricity, road networks, trading across borders, paying taxes and market data deficit. I have always been a proponent of enabling SMEs as I believe that they are the bedrock of these developing countries, but most of them die prematurely due to the soft and hard infrastructure gap. Any investor must take these factors into consideration while making short, medium and long-term business plans in an African country.
Choosing an MBA format
I would say that many Africans are risk-averse and not responsive to change. Relocating is also not something a lot of people want to do when they have a large family (I would say this is the same for a lot of people and not only Africans). Many Africans might also fear leaving their full-time job, as it might be difficult to get something as good or better after completing their studies. For me, it was an easy decision since I am young and unmarried, and the full-time MBA was the only option that gave me the chance to get out of my comfort zone. I wanted a change of environment to broaden my horizons, connect physically with people from different countries and create memorable experiences.
Challenges and opportunities when building a career in Africa
Patterns of growth and job creation vary between regions across the continent. However, there haven't been sustainable job opportunities in most of these regions. There’s a fast-growing middle-aged and educated bracket entering into the labour market in Africa, especially in the emerging economies. Many are however rendered jobless or take on below minimum wage jobs ($60 monthly or less). With unemployment rates increasing, it is tough to build a career in Africa especially in indigenous companies. This is why many high achievers work for multi-nationals or start up their own businesses. Constant development of one’s skillsets, increasing your connections via LinkedIn or getting an international education like I am now can help you be better positioned. The latter is not easily accessible to many, but it is one way to develop the global mindset which many African countries need in order to work towards achieving the UN SDGs.
Where are the best career opportunities in Africa?
This is quite difficult to answer. I would say it depends on the depth of your knowledge about any industry that interests you and how you position yourself to grasp the opportunities with innovative ideas. From statistics, however, agriculture, oil and gas, telecoms, infrastructure and banking are the fastest growing sectors- this is not surprising at all. By GDP growth rate, South Sudan (8.2%), Rwanda (8.1%) Côte d’Ivoire (7.3%), Ethiopia (7.2%), Senegal (6.8%), Benin (6.7%) and Uganda (6.2%) led the chart in 2020.