Take Off! Six Insights from the 2024 UBA GMAP Graduation Ceremony

Last week, I led the induction with UBA’s newest cohort of graduate trainees – our GMAP Class of 24!

I love these sessions, I meet new members of our UBA-Tribe, I hear their stories, answer their questions and welcome them to our Group.

I vividly recall starting my career as a trainee.  I had ambition, a thirst for knowledge, and an unwavering commitment to excellence, but I was also in need of guidance, unsure at times and the challenges seemed enormous.

I opened up to questions – these were profound, highlighting the aspirations and concerns of a generation eager to make their mark in the world.

I was asked how to start a career, how to kick off on the right foot, avoid pitfalls, and maintain resilience.  First impressions count.

One question touched on the essence of perseverance and commitment.  It probed into the “why” behind my drive for success, a question that goes deep into the very core of my motivation.  Reflecting, I realised that my journey has been driven by a combination of factors.

  • The determination to succeed, and an unwavering focus on defining my path and preparing for the future.  Building a mindset of discipline and long-term thinking.  It is about making sacrifices and staying true to one’s goals, even when the journey gets tough.
  • Success is not a solitary pursuit.  Surrounding myself with the right people —individuals who share your vision and are committed to seeing it through.  Find teammates, mentors, and colleagues who become your allies.  Their continuous support and dedication can make all the difference.
  • Understand the journey.  Ensure continuous improvement and growth, both personally and professionally. It is essential to remain open to learning, to adapt to changing circumstances, and to embrace new challenges with resilience and grace.

Another question that stood out was whether I believe I have self-actualised according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  While I believe that I have been successful, I also recognise that self-actualisation is an ongoing process— a journey rather than a destination.  It is about striving to become the best version of oneself, continually pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

There was also a sobering reminder that “it usually gets lonely at the top.” It is a strong observation that speaks to the challenges of leadership and success.  Yet, it is also a call to remember the importance of humility, empathy, and connection. As you build a career stay grounded, remember the values that define us, and to never lose sight of the people who supported us along the way.

I shared some insights on navigating the often difficult journey to success.

I emphasised the importance of conquering challenges, avoiding shortcuts, and maintaining resilience. Here are some key takeaways from our discussion:

1. Conquer Challenges with a Positive Mindset:  Do not let doubt win, keep a positive mindset.  I have found inspiration in books like “Think Big” by Ben Carson, which offered valuable lessons even during my early career as a bank branch manager at just 26. Instilling this mindset in my children and encouraging them to read and learn from such sources, has been a priority.

Conquering challenges begins with believing in oneself and fostering a mindset of resilience.

2. Embrace Hard Work and Long-Term Thinking: Success rarely comes overnight. Hard work, dedication, and a long-term perspective are essential ingredients. Avoid shortcuts, that lead to temporary gains rather than sustainable progress. Define your path, set ambitious goals, and take consistent steps towards achieving them.

3. Stay Focused:  There are many distractions in the world today, and staying focused and disciplined is key.  Define your journey, stay committed to your goals, and remain optimistic even in the face of adversity. Surround yourself with positive influences and continually seek opportunities for growth and learning.

4. Embrace Challenges as Opportunities for Growth:  Challenges are not roadblocks but stepping stones to success. Embrace them as opportunities for growth and learning.  As I shared from personal experience, perseverance in the face of challenges builds resilience and confidence, ultimately leading to greater achievements.

5. Invest in Yourself and Your Future: Continuous learning and self-improvement are essential investments.  Take advantage of opportunities to expand your knowledge, whether through reading, mentorship, or personal development initiatives.  Remember, the more you invest in yourself today, the greater your dividends in the future.

6. Believe in Africa and Promote Africapitalism: Despite the challenges facing our continent, I remain a strong believer in Africa’s potential, we are full of untapped opportunities. I believe in the power of collective effort and our contributions toward building a better future for ourselves and future generations. Africapitalism is the way to build Africa’s wealth and as Africans, the responsibility to shape our continent’s future rests on our shoulders, no one but us will develop Africa.

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