Training new and current African business leaders the Jack Welch way

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Dean Sippel: ‘Leaving your job to go back to re-skill or re-tool is difficult’

AFRICAN countries face a distinct set of social, economic, and political conditions that create unique business challenges—along with exciting opportunities. To gain a competitive advantage, businesses across the continent need exceptional, confident leaders.

This requires learning institutions that can train the continent’s human resource to improve their ability to design and execute winning strategies, deliver innovative offerings, nurture high-performance teams, and navigate rapid change to help drive growth in Africa’s dynamic markets. One institution making a steady impact in this regard is the US-based Jack Welch Management Institute (JWMI).

Founded in 2009 by Jack Welch, the legendary former CEO of American global conglomerate General Electric (GE),  JWMI says its mission ‘is to transform the lives of their students by providing them with the tools to become better leaders, build great teams, and help their organisations win. By teaching Jack Welch and other renowned business leaders’  canons of performance and people-driven management, the Jack Welch Management Institute prepares MBA programme graduates to transform their companies and careers’.

‘After many years of Jack Welch’s tenure at GE, he travelled the world, wrote some books, gave presentations and taught at Ivy League schools. Jack has a love of people and teaching. He was often asked questions about what it takes to win in business,’ Dean Sippel, the Institute’s CEO, told Africa Briefing in an interview.

‘So fast forward 10-15 years after doing that, we had met him and he had a vision. Technology and education were advancing, how do you take some of these winning concepts and proven methodologies to the larger population, to really democratise business education? What do you really need to know about business education through the lens of teaching people business skills, but also leveraging technology? So we started 10 years ago.’

Currently, JWMI is ranked in the prestigious Princeton Review Top 25 online MBA programmes with more than 2,000 alumni. ‘We are probably one of the largest programmes out there with 2,000 students from about 57 countries,’ says Sippel.

The Institute has attracted more than 150 students from Africa in the last three years. ‘We really started to receive a lot of interest from Africa through platforms like LinkedIn. They liked our value proposition,’ Sippel told Africa Briefing.  ‘We are a fully US-accredited MBA programme, so I would say we have the baseline topics that you’ll find in any MBA in the US. The difference in our programme is really about how we’ve designed it, [one of] a few that were originally designed as an online programme,’ he added.  And it appears those African students are happy customers. ‘A lot of our alumni from Africa tell me how our programme is benefitting them, and over the last two years, we really have seen even a larger interest. Most of our African alumni are in the engineering, mining and finance sectors.’

Students from 25 African countries are enrolled on JWMI’s programme, with the majority from Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana and Kenya.

Admission criterion for the JWMI MBA programme is a US bachelor’s degree equivalent or a 3.0 in that degree with professional experience. ‘We validate qualifications by getting official transcripts from the applicant’s school. We also offer free transcript review assistance for all our international students,’ Sippel said.

According to Sippel, the JWMI MBA programme is the most ideal and convenient path to career advancement. ‘Leaving your job to go back to re-skill or re-tool is difficult. So being online democratises that and allows students and professionals to do both without disruption.’ He adds, ‘There’s definitely a pay-off if you’re able to add that in your career in your 30s and even younger. Most of us don’t have the luxury to stop work and go back to school.’

 

 

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