In a testament to the transformative power of education, INSEAD's Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) alumni from Africa have emerged as catalysts for change, making significant strides in their industries and communities.
This article explores the inspiring journey of one of these remarkable graduates, highlighting the role INSEAD played in equipping her with the skills and knowledge to make a lasting impact. We spoke to Ayobola Oluomo Adedayo, who exemplifies the transformative leadership driving the future of the continent.
Ayobola Adedayo, GEMBA'19
Senior Product Manager
Ayobola, can you please introduce yourself and briefly describe your professional background before joining INSEAD's GEMBA programme?
I am a product leader whose superpower is empathy. Before joining INSEAD's GEMBA programme, I had an extensive professional background in various industries such as telecommunications, technology, fast-moving consumer goods, value-added services, and not-for-profit.
With over 15 years of experience, I established myself as a product leader and innovator with a strong focus on marketing and product management.
What motivated you to pursue the GEMBA programme at INSEAD? How did you envision it contributing to your personal and professional growth?
I had a strong desire to strengthen my human and business management skills, as I knew this would have a positive impact on my personal and professional development.
Through the GEMBA programme, I envisioned acquiring the knowledge and expertise in digital technology strategies necessary to align my organisation for effective strategy execution.
Furthermore, it was in line with my long-term objective to be instrumental in catalysing world-changing innovations in an emerging market, particularly in Nigeria and eventually West Africa.
I knew that the GEMBA programme at INSEAD would provide me with the practical business skills required to successfully build and run a sustainable group of companies. It would also broaden my enterprise knowledge, specifically from an international perspective, which is crucial for operating in a global business environment.
Could you share some of the key learnings and experiences from your time at INSEAD? How did the programme equip you with the skills and knowledge to make a difference in your field?
During my time at INSEAD's GEMBA programme, I had the opportunity to learn from renowned faculty members and collaborate with a diverse group of professionals from different industries and countries. The programme exposed me to diverse perspectives, international experiences, and a global network of talented individuals.
These interactions have significantly shaped my approach to leadership and problem-solving, particularly in the context of Africa.
The GEMBA programme equipped me with a broader understanding of business dynamics, global trends, and the interconnectedness of markets. It provided me with frameworks and tools to navigate complex challenges and make strategic decisions. The emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation fostered my creativity and allowed me to explore new opportunities in my field.
After completing the GEMBA programme, how did you leverage your education and networks to create an impact in your community or industry in Africa?
After INSEAD, I actively engaged with local organisations and initiatives focused on driving social and economic development.
Through my expertise in product management and marketing, I contributed to the growth of startups and small businesses, empowering them to thrive in competitive markets. I commenced mentorship and have since been mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs and young professionals, sharing my knowledge and experiences to inspire their success. I am currently a UX design Mentor at SpringBoard USA.
I have also been able to consult for Nigerian startups by providing them with a blueprint for technology product launches. Furthermore, I have led product development and go-to-market initiatives for companies.
These efforts have led me to also gain more certifications in new fields such as Artificial Intelligence and I was able to get four AI use cases accepted into the NVIDIA inception programme. I have also been nominated for the Globant Awards for the years 2022 and 2023.
Can you tell us about a specific project where you feel your education at INSEAD played a significant role? How did it contribute to your success and the positive changes you aimed to make?
One particular project where my education at INSEAD played a significant role was the development and launch of a digital platform that is powered by the Mastercard foundation with the Learn at Home initiative during the pandemic.
This initiative aimed at providing access to essential educational support and service in underserved communities.
The insights gained from the GEMBA programme helped me shape the go-to-market strategy, identify target markets, and establish partnerships with key stakeholders.
The programme's emphasis on sustainable business practices and social impact influenced my approach to launching this social impact initiative.
In addition to my professional achievements, I have also gained recognition for my expertise and leadership abilities. I periodically receive requests to sit on boards across Africa and have gotten invitations to prestigious fellowship programmes within key professional circles.
These opportunities not only showcase the value I bring to organisations but also reflect the trust and confidence placed in my capabilities as a strategic thinker and decision-maker.
In what ways did your exposure to diverse perspectives and international experiences during your time at INSEAD shape your approach to leadership and problem-solving, especially in the context of Africa?
My time at INSEAD has been instrumental in teaching me the value of collaboration and the importance of considering different viewpoints when addressing complex problems. This perspective has been particularly valuable in the African context, where diversity and multiculturalism are essential aspects of navigating a rapidly changing landscape.
An example is how I developed a framework built on gamification to drive performance across the teams I managed. My INSEAD education has made me more detailed in my approach to everything. By default, I am a high-level visionary big thinker, but after a class on Leadership and personality traits that encouraged us to compensate for our areas of improvement, I was able to unlock a detailed approach to my work which has now become a part of me.
In a nutshell, the Global Executive MBA at INSEAD has not only deepened my understanding of business principles and strategies but has also honed my leadership and management capabilities.
It has provided me with invaluable insights into global business practices, fostering a global mindset necessary for navigating the interconnected world we live in today.
Have you been involved in any initiatives or collaborations with other INSEAD alumni from Africa? How have these connections and networks supported your professional journey and contributed to your impact in Africa?
My connections with the INSEAD networks in Africa have provided ongoing support, guidance, and opportunities for collaboration. We share insights, exchange experiences, and leverage each other's expertise to drive positive change on the continent.
The INSEAD community has been a valuable source of inspiration and mentorship, enabling me to continue my professional journey and make a meaningful impact.
Can you share any advice or insights for current and prospective African professionals considering the GEMBA programme at INSEAD? How can they maximise their experience and create a positive influence in their communities?
For current and prospective African professionals considering the GEMBA programme at INSEAD, my advice is to embrace the diversity and international exposure the programme offers.
Engage actively with your peers, faculty, and alumni, as they will become your lifelong network of supporters and collaborators. Be open to new ideas, challenge your assumptions, and leverage the knowledge and experiences of others to expand your perspectives. Use your education and network to create a positive influence in your community by applying the skills and insights gained from the programme to address pressing challenges and drive sustainable growth.
Looking ahead, what are your future goals and aspirations? How do you plan to continue shaping the future in your field, and how will your INSEAD education continue to play a role?
I aim to leverage my expertise in product management and innovation to drive meaningful change and contribute to the advancement of technology and business practices in Africa.
I plan to collaborate with like-minded individuals and organisations to develop scalable solutions that address social and economic disparities.
The strategic mindset, global perspective, and network gained at INSEAD are invaluable to make a lasting impact in my field and beyond.