I am a passionate believer in climate change, hence my involvement as a climate scientist with experience in data analysis and monitoring and evaluation (M&E). I am passionate about development with a career goal to leverage data science to build innovative solutions to improve quality projects.
With a love for learning, I joined the Innovate for Africa fellowship created by a team of professional facilitators from the Harvard School of Education and MIT Sloan School of Management. They curated an impactful and intensive 1-month virtual program with a mix of on-demand lesson materials and resources to build fellows with the needed skills to solve Africa’s challenges through innovation, this is called the Innovation readiness training. Some of the things I got to learn include;
The Power of Personal Branding
In the corporate world, for one to thrive, one needs to understand the art and science of professionalism and owning a brand even as an individual. This is what was reeled out as the core of personal branding. Leveraging the digital media to curate a professional profile that helps strengthen your online presence by communicating what value your brand offers.
Here, I learned how to use a systems thinking framework to map out all the systems, processes, and flows internally and externally affecting an organization.
Using a case study, I was able to learn, unlearn, and understand how major stakeholders interact through the context of their organisational history; their group composition; and the formal structure of the said organisation. The SWOT analytical method helped determine the internal processes - strengths and weaknesses - of the organisation, while the STEEPLE (Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental, Political, Legal, and Ethical) method was, in turn, important in diagnosing the external processes - opportunities and threats - side of it.
Through the knowledge gained and the understanding gotten from system thinking, I could easily conduct strategic analysis; define strategy and its roadmap, and implement strategy without breaking the ice.
With design thinking, I could utilize experimentation to refine and improve ideas. I could view failure as an opportunity to learn and innovate, that is the growth mindset. I could prioritize critical problems and identify root causes. I could also utilize analytical strategies to determine the best medium to research relevant information. And I was opportune to work collaboratively with my team and other fellows during the hackathon process. We worked on a solution called Agronovator, a seamless solution for sustainable agricultural practices in Nigeria.
Hard Skills Lab
Here, I was in the data analysis class working on a real-time project for IFA (in an attempt to model the African countries with the best innovative ecosystem where IFA can operate). In order of ranking and goodness-of-fit test conducted, results from the Analysis revealed that South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt and Ghana were significantly the perfect countries for IFA programs. I would like to appreciate my mentor; Amit Kooner, for his guidance and support towards the completion of my deliverable.
The Guest Speaking Session
The IFA experience won't be complete without the ever striking guest speakers who graced the synchronous part of the training. These guest speakers are masters of their own art, sharpening our entrepreneurial mindset towards the development and future of Africa.
Forgetting the words of Fehintolu Olaogun of CredPal will be a great disaster. He said as quoted "It is easy writing a long letter, but it is more difficult writing a short letter." I paused and reflected on it. It was indeed powerful.
Efosa Ojomo, the sustainability and innovation guru. told us that, "Not all enterprise is for profit-making, but all enterprise is started with money." What a distinct talk with no barrier.
The design thinking Project offered me a wide latitude to express ingenuity, learn and share ideas during the innovation readiness program. It was simply my best experience so far as an innovator.
Partnering with a startup like yours will be an incredible learning experience for fellows like Akpan, IN ADDITION to helping your startup accelerate with passionate African innovators.
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