17 October 2017

Nigeria: Lagos Business School Develops Responsible Leaders

interview

Dr. Enase Okonedo is the third dean of the Lagos Business School. A skilled leader in executive education and capacity- building, Enase is a global strategy and regulation expert, with 29 years' experience in the financial services and management education sectors.

With proven track record in emerging markets, Enase was drawn to the LBS's global focus, academic rigor, education experience, and growing tradition of excellence.

A values-driven leader, Enase is passionate about business education and the LBS's mission to improve the African continent by developing and inspiring responsible leaders and advancing knowledge.

As dean of the LBS, Enase is responsible for the school's overall strategic directions, academic and administrative matters.

Since her leadership, she has strengthened the component of the school's programmes through partnership with international business schools leading to the introduction of a number of new courses in Managing Business Risks in Africa, Family Business Management in Africa and Selling Strategies for Consumer Market.

In recognition of its sterling contribution to business education, the Lagos Business School was listed in the Financial Times (FT) 2017 top global business schools.

The LBS is making its eleventh consecutive appearance in the annual ranking of top business and management education providers.

According to the FT, "LBS is ranked among the most prestigious business schools globally in two categories: open enrollment and customs executive education.

The Lagos Business School is one of only four schools in Africa that made the prestigious list." In driving a strong brand platform that has been elevated to the reckoning of global leaders in business and education,Enase Okonedo continues to build on the on-going momentum while maintaining the school's signature academic rigor and welcoming culture.

How do you define the role of Lagos Business School?

Lagos Business School is an institution that provides management education with the intent of having a significant impact on the professional and ethical standards of business management in Africa.

We develop responsible leaders who contribute to businesses that address direct concerns of citizens and the needs of the environment. We aim to develop well-rounded individuals with an ethical mindset of doing business.

What is Nigeria's business community telling you about their workforce and leadership needs?

The Nigerian business community is pointing towards more practical and result-oriented developmental needs that border on depth and delivery. They are concerned about the skills gap in technical and managerial competence regarding many roles, even with the large unemployed pool.

It is still relatively difficult to find the desired talent due to skills gap. There is also a need and demand for bespoke leadership capabilities development, which helps organisations achieve identified milestones or objectives. Managing talent for key roles in organisations continues to be a big problem that will be solved systemically and gradually.

The business communities increasingly are looking for individuals who can contribute in meeting their set objectives/organisational goals. Increasingly, given the peculiarities of the operating environment, organisations are seeking skills such as adaptability, creativity, problem-solving, ability to think outside the box and excellent communication.

How have you adapted your educational programmes to align more closely with business?

There are instituted processes by which we receive feedback from participants, learning and development leaders and organisations we serve which enable us assess the suitability and practical applicability of our programmes and their ability to meet industry needs.

Also, due to close interaction with industry through different fora such as an annual HR Directors Forum; specially convened focus groups as well as advice from the school's advisory board made up of eminent industry practitioners, we become aware of trends and issues of concern to organisations with regards to people development.

Our predominant method of delivery being The Case-study Method, which ensures participant-focused learning; the use of experiential learning activities, simulations and practical projects ensure participants and students are always in close touch with the reality of doing business in Africa.

How are you gauging interest in the business school?

We run brand perception audits and digital campaigns to understand the extent of interest in the institution. We also look at the number of participants enrolling on our programmes and measure growth from year to year. So far we see a consistent increase especially since achieving accreditation from two of the topmost global accrediting bodies in management education last year.

The School is internationally recognised and accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and International Accreditation Advisory Board of the Association of MBAs (AMBA).

LBS is the first and only school in West Africa to be accredited by the AACSB and only 5% of business schools have this accreditation worldwide.

Our MBA programmes are also accredited by the International Accreditation Advisory Board of the Association of MBAs (AMBA), this accreditation puts LBS in an elite group of only 2% of top business schools in 70 countries

What have employers told you about LBS MBAs? What makes them different and attractive to employers?

One of the things employers value about the MBA is that they have very strong analytical abilities and problem-solving skills. There is also a high ethical awareness amongst them. The MBA graduates have a deep understanding of the various functional areas of management in addition to understanding the context in which businesses operate in Nigeria and Africa.

We have also been told that a lot of them have an entrepreneurial mindset which is useful in corporations - large and small - as this implies a tendency to always seek ways by which the organisation can create greater value.

How do they help students prepare for both the current job market and their long-term careers?

These unique wrinkles help them to prepare for the future. We expose them early in the programme to industry players, recruiters and members of alumni. Thanks to this engagement, they already know very early what the job market and industry are looking for and how they can position themselves to be unique.

In recent years, LBS has generally finished near the top in satisfaction for both students and alumni. What have been some of the things that it has done to produce such an upbeat vibe in these constituencies?

Education at LBS is comprehensive, drawing on experiences of diverse faculty and multinational participants. Our system of teaching ensures that participants are exposed to global standards and locally relevant management knowledge and skills.

Delivered in our purpose-built learning facilities; LBS programmes attract over 3,000 participants from multinational and indigenous companies yearly, who attest to the expert teaching, relevant programmes and the overall benefits derived from attending. To ensure continuous relevance of its programmes, the school places a premium on maintaining a relationship with the corporate clientele it serves.

LBS is located in Lagos where you are blessed with a wide range of industries and a growing entrepreneurial scene. How do you leverage your setting in this vibrant city to help your students gain invaluable experience and maximize their options after graduation?

In terms of leveraging our connection, a high percentage of our alumni and participants come from Lagos. Through these connections and networking activities that take place, we are able to expand our reach. We also have the LBS Breakfast Club which is one of the most prestigious and impactful breakfast club events targeted at CEOs in Nigeria. We have interactions with the top CEOs in the country; as a result of this we are able to build relationship with industry at the highest levels. These relationships facilitate a pipeline of speakers who share their experiences and knowledge with the students.

To what extent have you internationalized the LBS curriculum?

In terms of internationalizing the curriculum, some of the case studies developed at the school (real scenarios to help the imagination of actual situation and challenges in corporate business environments) have won international awards.

A lot of our teaching materials are used for teaching programmes, and we have the largest collection of case studies on companies operating in Africa. We also have journal articles written from research in the African context which are disseminated through international journals that are global in their reach.

To that extent, our research and teaching materials are shaping knowledge within Africa and outside Africa. Our students are also exposed to international opportunities in multiple ways.

Since your appointment as dean in 2009, what are the two biggest challenges you've tackled?

The two major challenges I have had since I became the Dean pertains to the demands of expansion and the rigors of international accreditations and memberships. In terms of expansion, we originally started with focusing only on developing managers for Nigeria but since 2009, we have broadened our scope to focus on developing managers for Africa.

These necessitated changes in programme structure - creating more modular programmes that facilitate attendance by participants from outside Lagos; course content and redefining our research agenda to focus on Africa.

The second challenge of international accreditation has various components which include quality of teaching, profile of faculty, student diversity/profile, operational efficiency etc.

What's your vision in terms of what the LBS is going to look like?

When we started 26 years ago, our mission was to develop competent and socially responsible managers for Nigeria. We have since then broadened our outlook to focus on developing managers for Africa and emerging markets.

Our vision is to be a world class business school, operating out of an emerging market, with significant impact on the practice and knowledge of management in Africa.

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