Lessons from an afro-optimist, life advice for university students, ALU Shark Tank

For the last 26 years, Joyce-Ann Wainaina has loved working for Citibank because she finds meaning in what it does to help clients meet the world’s toughest challenges and embrace its greatest opportunities. She started out as a relationship manager and rose through the ranks, becoming CEO for Citi East Africa in 2014. Wainaina was one of three distinguished guest speakers who visited ALU’s Mauritius campus, African Leadership College (ALC) this week to share their stories and meet students. Ibrahima Guimba-Saidou, Head of SES Commercial Activities for Africa and Delphine Maidou, CEO of Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty also spent time on campus during the week.

Wainaina gave a presentation on current trends in the African economy. She encouraged students to “imagine the unimaginable” when thinking about the continent and work to use local skills in a global arena. She was also a guest on the Assembly talk show “Hot Seat with Tinashe” where she answered questions about her career, work-life balance and being a woman in a male-dominated industry. She later joined ALU Founder, Fred Swaniker as a co-judge in a Shark Tank style competition where two student entrepreneurs pitched their ventures and won dinner with Wainaina and Swaniker as the prize.

During their time on campus, Ibrahima Guimba-Saidou and Delphine Maidou shared their experiences as business leaders on the continent. They both held office hours where students spoke about their personal ventures as well as challenges and got advice on how to solve them. They also had a “mini Projects class” where they presented problems they are facing in their day-to-day operations and gave students the opportunity to help them solve those problems using what they have learnt in class. They ended the day with an interactive session with students – Guimba-Saidou spoke about how Africa’s development will be led by our most abundant resource, its people, while Maidou shared “what I wish I knew when I was your age.” This was followed by a student-led round table discussion with both speakers and ALU Founder Fred Swaniker.

The Distinguished Guest Speaker Series gives students an opportunity to meet and build relationships with business leaders across the continent. Read below for highlights from each speaker’s presentation.

On the African continent

For me, Africa is not the dark continent. It’s where we have the most resources – brain power – Ibrahima Guimba-Saidou

  • Africa will be driven by our young population’s local skills on a global landscape – Joyce-Ann Wainaina
  • Leaders of tomorrow should look at what we have at our disposal, Africa’s combined brain power – Ibrahima Guimba-Saidou

On Leadership and ethics

As a leader you need to wear your power lightly. Be compassionate to the people you work with – Delphine Maidou

  • Don’t compromise your values. You won’t forgive yourself if you compromise your values – Delphine Maidou
  • There is always one way of doing things – the right way – Ibrahima Guimba-Saidou
  • Leadership is asking “how do I get people to believe in the same thing I believe in and get them to join me” – Delphine Maidou
  • If two people agree all the time, then one is not needed. Agree to disagree, learn from it and build from it – Delphine Maidou

On being an entrepreneur

Execution is really the differentiator. Everyone has ideas. – Delphine Maidou

  • Mistakes that cost money can be fixed as long as it’s a misjudgment or done out of ignorance. You learn from it and you don’t do it again. Mistakes that can destroy your career forever are mistakes of integrity. You lose your reputation and you can’t buy that back – Delphine Maidou
  • You have to take a lot of risks to achieve anything in life. But make sure that they are calculated risks with backup plans – Fred Swaniker
  • When pitching your idea, believe in what you’re selling, have passion and be confident – Joyce-Ann Wainaina
  • When pitching your idea be concise and inspiring – Fred Swaniker

You can find more nuggets from our guest speakers via the #ALUGuestSpeaker hashtag on Twitter.

About ALU

ALU provides higher education for a higher purpose. Our students declare missions, not majors.

They develop the real-world skills to take on the world’s most pressing challenges. And they take ownership of their learning from day one through our peer and student-led approach – because ALU believes in the power and agency of young people to start shaping the future right now.

Together with a world-class faculty and staff, our students are igniting a ripple of positive impact across Africa and the world. Join us

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