From 6-12 March, a period spanning one week, 52 young Nigerians were camped together, and had the privilege of learning at the prestigious Lagos Business School. The participants were a motley crew selected from different states in Nigeria, with diverse academic backgrounds. Some were youth corps members, while others had just completed their service year. The common thread linking the participants was their high-flying nature. Each person was smart, had some form of leadership experience, and I had the privilege of being part of them.
The road to the Venture in Management Programme (ViMP) 2016 began in January with social network-driven adverts that asked Nigerian youths with certain stated attributes to apply for an exciting “mini-MBA” programme. The time for application elapsed on January 30. Thereafter, the organisers, Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN), along with two key sponsors, the Africa Capital Alliance Foundation (ACAF), and Accenture, carried out pre-selection, interviews and then compiled the final shortlist. Fifty-two persons were then contacted and asked to report at the Gran Melia Hotel in Lekki, Lagos State on Sunday, 6 March.
From 12 noon on the 6th, participants began to check-in at the hotel. The sponsors had benevolently covered the hotel bills for one week. In fact, apart from a tiny commitment fee to guarantee participation, the entire programme was designed to cost participants nothing. Later that afternoon, an orientation exercise was held. Participants received further briefing about the programme’s history and objectives. After this, the ViMP 2016 Class selected some persons to lead the class. Dinner was served at 7pm, after which participants socialized and then retired for the night full of expectation.
By 6.30am on Monday, breakfast was served, and participants were bussed to the Lagos Business School (LBS), a stone’s throw from the hotel. This schedule was maintained for the remaining days. For most participants, myself included, this was our first time inside the prestigious school. The programme kicked off by 9am with a presentation on the history of LBS by one of LBS’ faculty. After this inspiring presentation, the 2016 class knew that business had started—real business!
For all the sessions at LBS, participants learnt from some of the best faculty in the school. Arguably, LBS has some of the brightest minds in the fields of business and management in Nigeria, beautiful minds that can compete at a global level. LBS runs a “case-based system”, different from what most participants had experienced in the Nigerian schooling system. Instead of the normal lecturing system used by conventional schools, the case-based system at LBS involves real-life (or adapted) cases from appropriate business scenarios. Participants review cases before each respective class and note key attributes. The lecturer (or facilitator) simply leads the class in discussing a case. This approach ensures that the classes are truly participatory. It is amazing to see the array of viewpoints contributed by class members when they know that speaking out is not excoriated, but rather encouraged.
On Wednesday, participants were involved in a CSR campaign at two primary schools in Lekki. Using training materials provided by JAN, participants introduced the young pupils to the world of business and outlined the skills required for different career options. It was quite an experience teaching little kids to identify possible business opportunities.
After the CSR campaign, the 2016 class had the honour of meeting two high-flying alumni of ViMP, Mr Adedotun Adejuyigbe, Commercial Head of Lekoil, and Mr Zeal Akaraiwe, CEO of Graeme Blaque Advisory. Both persons shared their ViMP experiences and resultant career trajectories with the 2016 class. From the questions that followed, it was clear that participants had learnt from the wealth of experience being shared.
ViMP 2016 also incuded a career fair with presentations by Akintola Williams Deloitte, Agile Communications, Stanbic IBTC and Capital Alliance Nigeria. As part of the ViMP experience, some of these companies conducted aptitude tests for interested participants. It is hoped that some participants would progress in the recruitment processes and be offered roles at those firms.
The highlight of ViMP 2016 was a retail case competition among five groups. On Monday, we were informed that the competition would hold on Friday, the last day at LBS. Each group set out to work, combining normal daily reviews with advance reading of upcoming cases, and group discussions. Each group was expected to create an advert and a PowerPoint presentation subject to given criteria. On the D-day, the presentations showed a vista of creative talents. However, one group had to emerge the best of the best—mine!
After the presentation of prizes to the winning group, participants enjoyed a graduating lecture by Mrs Omawumi Kola-Lawal of Capital Alliance Nigeria. Later, prizes were given to the Most Outstanding Male and Female participants. Then, the Director of MBA Programmes at LBS, Dr Uchenna Uzo, supported by Mrs Kola-Lawal, presented certificates to members of the 2016 Class, marking the end of the LBS component of ViMP 2016. Thereafter, the class had lunch and then returned to the hotel for an evening of socializing and everything else.
After breakfast on Saturday, participants began to check out of the hotel. Participants headed back to their respective bases, armed with newly acquired knowledge and a drive to pursue excellence in life. For me, as I returned to Kaduna State, I reminisced about the exciting week in Lekki. I did not just have the honour of being among a class of smart young people; I had the privilege of presiding over this exciting group. ViMP 2016 was a blend of fun, “overeating”, motivating stress and networking opportunities. It was truly a memorable experience that would remain evergreen in our minds.
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