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Welcome to the Financial Times live web chat with Enase Okonedo who features in our Ten Questions Q&A.
Dr Okonedo, dean of Lagos Business School at Pan-African University in Nigeria, will answer your questions on Thursday, 23rd February 2012, between 13.00-14.00 GMT.
Post your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and they will be answered on the day on this page.
Why did you choose to study for an MBA; why did you do this at Iese? And what advice would you give to someone applying for an MBA today?
Enase: My first degree was in accounting and then I qualified as a professional accountant but felt that my view was too narrow and I would be restricted in my career to accounting. I felt that an MBA would broaden my options and it certainly has helped my career in management.
Why Iese? I was at Lagos Business School and we had a very strong relationship with Iese, who had helped in the establishment of the school and its programmes, so it was a natural choice.
For anyone preparing for an MBA, be prepared for a lot of work and to be challenged, to have your views on a good number of things shaken and to be transformed. In applying, be selective about the school you decide to go to; different programmes emphasize different things so be clear about what you want from an MBA.
How do you see the pan-African view at your school developing over the next few years?
Enase: The business education landscape has changed over the last few years and is still evolving in terms of the markets and the products. Whereas in previous years, business education could have been considered more general with varying degrees of quality across schools and programmes; I see that it’s become more contextual in some ways and at the same time more global.
We are in a situation where we have to be global in our outlook but also provide relevant local perspective. When I refer to the pan-African view, I refer to providing knowledge that encompasses the nuances businesses and managers operating on the continent have to contend with. To do this, we have to broaden our scope of research to include research on businesses across different countries in Africa as well as deepen our knowledge of indigenous management practices where they exist. Over the next few years, I see a broader offering of programmes that address this need.
What do you think is the best way of encouraging more women into business education and then assisting in furthering their careers so that there is more equality at senior levels?
Enase: I’m not an advocate for preferential treatment on grounds of gender in any role, rather I believe that positions should be given to the most qualified.
Having said that, I recognise that there are not as many women in business education as there are men. One thing that militates against women advancing to senior positions is the need or desire to balance their work with other demands, especially on the home front. Therefore, to accommodate this, there could be policies that provide flexibility in schedules to allow for a balance.
In addition, I would propose that schools desirous of attracting women in academia have to determine the best way to increase the pool of women applicants qualified to compete with the men for positions. This could come about through advocacy and outreach programmes, actively soliciting for female applicants.
Amazingly, you appear to have a lot of faith in people and their abilities. What features endear people to you? And what do you (personally) want to achieve at LBS?
Also, with your background in problem solving and decision making, what do you believe to be the most crucial features required of decision makers? And why isn’t this available in abundance today?
Enase: Yes I do have a lot of faith in people as I cannot do it all myself and I recognise this, therefore I have to work with people to make any appreciable progress. In this regard, I like people who have the ability to see ‘the big picture’, who can visualise the heights that I want to attain and are prepared to work hard. Commitment to the job is essential.
I dream big and I dream of LBS being a leader in management education in the emerging markets. I would want to see this dream come to fruition and have adopted a phased approach to realising this. Obviously, many variables come into play, especially the competition and the challenges of the operating environment. But so long as I am taking incremental steps towards this objective and there are structures in place to ensure continuity, I am glad.
I believe the crucial features in decision making are the ability to think objectively, think creatively and work decisively to address a problem. Any lack of abundance may be due to the conditions and structures within an organisation not allowing this. The onus therefore is for organisations to put in place a culture that nurtures, encourages and rewards critical thinking and unleashes creativity in people.