A Midsummer Reflection on My Work Thus Far
The Yaba neighborhood of Lagos is home to many budding tech companies and incubators, including my host company, ccHub Nigeria. The media has nicknamed this area "the Silicon Lagoon". ccHub focuses on the pre-incubation step of a technology venture. The diagram below captures how they position and differentiate themselves from other Nigerian incubators. The work I've done thus far has been helping developers in the pre-incubation phase transition to the next step - MVP launch and then seeking investor funding.
Mostly I've been brought in to handle the business and project management matters since ccHub is filled with developers or "techies" as they're called whose primary focus is coding, graphic illustration and other technical skills but need help with getting their ideas off the ground. Since I focus on the business side of things, my duties primarily revolve around research and presentations. I've done a lot of research on the mobile environment, spent time meeting and speaking with other techies at other incubators and attending local industry events. Then I compile my findings into a takeaway deck (takeaways include more information than a presentation deck) as a reference for techies since their projects will continue long after the conclusion of my internship.
I was selected because of my digital marketing experience which I've been happy to apply since it's a way to gain a foothold into International Development. (A fellow AMIP associate told me she was declined by ccHub because her background was too "finance oriented".) Most of my work is around assessment, developing a social media strategy and packaging developers' work into pitch decks. Which brings me to an observation a Georgetown MBA alum shared: In the development field, organizations want a jack of all trades because they don't have the time/resources and/or feel the need to invest in training individuals - so a candidate is expected to come in and hit the ground running. Use this to think about how to position yourself for your target employment organizations.
Another valuable b-school lesson that is applicable to any field: Develop/brush up on your powerpoint and presentation skills! I've sat through painful employer presentations and conference presentations because presenters focus too much on preamble because they want to showcase everything they've done and then run out of time when they get to the meat of the presentation. Here are a list of Georgetown courses that include comprehensive presentation/deck deliverables as part of the coursework.
- Management Communications (1st year core)
- Pinkowitz's Measuring & Creating Value (Popular finance elective)
- Any classes in Homa's Marketing Trilogy: Marketing Strategy, Advanced Marketing Strategy or Price, Value & Profitability (Popular marketing elective that's not just for marketers!)
I'll end with a general observation about working in Africa which is a sentiment that's been echoed by a few of my peers. The business culture and mindset is different -- it's slower paced and not everyone has a hard work ethic because of the poor incentive structure. In Lagos, I've interacted with a number of Nigerians educated in the US or UK, however a majority have not and you have to adapt to a slower pace of work. Oftentimes matters will be categorized as "urgent" but the urgency dies fast and there's significant idle time. (It reminds me of a dysfunctional organization that needs a new CEO to create systems and support to turn the culture around. Yeah Professor Holtom, I paid attention! However in Nigeria, the CEO is a President and you're dealing with ~159 million peeps, significant change is not gonna happen soon.) It's always good to take this time to see what opportunities or work you can create that will add value. To me, that has been one valuable application of my skill set.
If you're interested in learning more about Africa's mobile instructure, check out this blog started by SlimTrader's CEO and Founder. It provides a nice summary and overview of the mobile environment and challenges an unreliable/nascent credit system poses on everyday transactions.