PROGRAM NEWS: Wharton, the Coca-Cola Foundation and the Africa-America Institute have collaborated to increase the leadership capacity of NGO managers in Africa, while at the same time broadening the conversations among US executives participating in Wharton’s flagship Advanced Management Program. Anne Wainscott-Sargent tells the story:
The unique partnership has brought 18 high-potential managers from the African continent to Wharton’s campus in the last three years. The managers take part in Wharton’s five-week Advanced Management program that attracts some of the world’s top management leaders from leading organizations such as Boeing, EDP, Johnson & Johnson, the U.S. Marine Corps, Mitsubishi Corporation, and Rothschild Wealth Management.
It’s a win-win for both groups, according to Tamela Vieira, practice leader for Wharton Executive Education’s Partnerships for Social Impact. “These NGO managers bring a wonderful perspective that is unique based on their non-profit experience and their work in a developing country. All of this supports our educational process here to get people to see the world through different lenses.”
AAI manages the selection process and serves as a resource on the ground for the visiting students. The association also works directly with African-based business schools in a larger program. The entire cohort from both Wharton and African universities numbers 276 students from 15 countries.
“These NGOs are on the front lines and really are the safety net in their countries. To the extent that we can support them in being more effective in what they do, then that enables them to reach out to even more constituents and provide even more enhanced services,” says AAI President and CEO Mora McLean, who first envisioned the partnership with Wharton when she reached out to her former college classmate, Jonathon Spector, then vice dean of The Wharton School.
The goal was straightforward – build a critical mass of managers with senior management training that could create capacity in Africa. To move forward, the program needed the financial support of the private sector. That is where The Coca-Cola Company came in – helping launch the program through its Africa Foundation.
“We firmly believe that improved education and access to skills development are key to helping Africa achieve its full potential,” says William Asiko, president, The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation. “Through this program we are assisting those who are already engaging with their local communities become even more effective. In turn this is helping us to achieve our overall long-term goal – to positively change the lives of people in communities where we do business and expand opportunities for them as well as the Company.”
Lucy Owusu-Darko completed the Wharton program in 2009, and since then has used the skills she learned to be a more resourceful leader and a better negotiator in her work at Opportunities Industrialization Centers International (OICI), an NGO in Ghana.
“You can have all the funding in the world but it is values that guide you to take positive decisions that will move your organization forward – its values that determine your integrity. You can’t move forward without it,” Owusu-Darko says.
This is a condensed extract from an article first published in Developing Leaders, issue 7, Spring 2012, written by award-winning business communicator and ‘strategic storyteller’ Anne Wainscott-Sargent.
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