Educating African Managers

Last week I attended the annual conference of the Association of African Business Schools (AABS). It was hosted by Strathmore Business School here in Nairobi. I had the opportunity to talk about IESE’s Africa Initiative. Some of the participants already knew about it, but others were not familiar with how IESE contributes educating African managers.

During a coffee break at the AABS conference
During a coffee break at the AABS conference

The context of my presentation was a panel about the role of institutions in Africa’s economic story. I focused on the role of business schools. Well trained business leaders who manage their companies taking into account both the economic and the social dimensions will have a positive impact on the social and economic development of Africa.

Given Africa’s expected future growth, some estimations by the African Management Initiative Report indicate an urgent need to train 1 M managers! How does IESE contribute to this effort? Basically, in three ways:

  • Training faculty of African Business Schools through the International Faculty Program and the Ph.D. Program;
  • Supporting our Associated Schools in Africa (LBS in Nigeria, MDE in Ivory Coast, SBS in Kenya, ASM in Angola) through participation in advisory committees, and by opening our doors to their administrators for experience exchange;
  • Engaging directly in training managers: participants in their AMP and EMBA programs come for a week at IESE, and IESE faculty may teach short courses in those schools.
Panelists at the AABS conference
Panelists at the AABS conference

But this is not a one-way route: IESE also benefits from these relationships. For instance, in collaboration with SBS, our MBA program offers a course on Doing Business in Africa that allows our students to gain exposure to the African business context. Through the schools’ local connections, IESE faculty may gain access to African companies opening the possibility to engage in new research projects related to Africa, and to write teaching cases that enrich our own programs by bringing into the classroom the African context.

Clearly, I’m a direct beneficiary of these relationships. Both LBS and SBS are great hosts for me in my sabbatical months. I wouldn’t have been able to do the work I’m doing here without their welcoming and support.

This week I have a parenthesis in my sabbatical: I came back to Barcelona to teach in our Global Executive MBA program. Btw, there are 3 African participants from Ivory Coast, Kenya, and Mauritius.