Our first Learning Uncut story from Africa

One of my goals for Learning Uncut in 2021 is to bring you a story from every continent.  Today is our first story from Africa.  My guest is Roti Balogun, a Nigerian currently based in upstate New York working for General Electric.  He speaks with me about an initiative he kicked off in 2016 when he was the Chief Learning Officer for GE in Africa.  Inspired by a conversation he had at a World Economic Forum conference about what a partnership between industry and academia could look like, he looked for a way to create a partnership to help both GE and Africa to build the digital skills of engineers to prepare for the fourth industrial revolution.  The program is called the African Industrial Internet Program (AIIP).  This was both well-aligned with GE’s strategy, their social responsibility and government policy.

More partnerships are being created between organisations and academia to help address market skills shortages and strengthen talent pipelines. The collaboration between GE and the African Leadership University (ALU) that Roti describes provides insight for anyone interested in building such partnerships.  It’s also refreshing to hear an example of a progressive university who are adapting their offerings and approaches to stay abreast of change.

Episode Highlights

– GE’s strategy of being an industrial digital leader covering the gamut from ‘GE for GE’ to ‘GE for customers’ and ‘GE for society.’  How the strategy has evolved over the past three years to rise to the challenge of building a world that works.

– The opportunity for emerging economies to leapfrog capital intensive industries to capitalise on the industrial internet and increase the opportunity for digital transformation.  The need for engineers with digital capability to achieve this goal.

– Making the business case for the AIIP as a program to address this need – creating socioeconomic impact that is also good for GE.  Leveraging the local regulatory environment.

– Addressing inclusivity amidst a diverse pool of candidates faced with a range of cultural, readiness, logistics, technology barriers to address.  Strategies included bridging programs and scholarships.

– The scope of the immersive 12-month program, including technical skills, application development, influencing, innovation and entrepreneurship.  The use of field visits and a capstone project supported by GE Subject Matter Experts.

– Providing post-program support for participants to ‘remodel’ their careers using an alumni and online forum.

– The relationship between GE and ALU being ‘a marriage of true value.’  What each party contributed.  Finding an innovative academic partner whose views on continuous learning aligned with GE

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Nudge your curiosity with our show note resources

The show notes for each Learning Uncut episode always include some ‘bonus resources.’  These are resources that relate to topics explored, but not necessarily explicitly mentioned in the conversation.  For example, the resources with this episode include an entertaining, yet pointed, TED talk from African comedian Adeola Fayhun which may challenge any stereotypes you have about Africa.  Not your style?  Maybe the Deloitte report on whether Africa is ready for digital transformation would interest you. Check out the show notes to see what nudges your curiosity to explore further.

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