Fintech, solar-tech, health-tech, and the ecosystems that connect the tech to customers in Africa – these are all massive growth sectors throughout the continent. They have emerged because of limited access to financial services, power, and healthcare, and they are scaling rapidly with an influx of investment coming from…well, everywhere.
But the technologies and how they are utilised, scaled and adapted from one country and region to another, depends on the capabilities of leaders to innovate in a highly adaptive, iterative way.
Exponential growth, accelerated disruption, enhanced technologies, rapid paradigm shifts. This is what leaders (and specialists) in these sectors are dealing with, daily. And the biggest ask – no, critical requirement – is the ability to make decisions swiftly, using imperfect, sometimes minimally tested data points in order to keep up with, and preferably ahead of, the pace of innovation.
So where are these leaders to be found? What types of comparable work environments should they have been exposed to, and how does one figure out if they’re up for the job (which in itself may change from the time that you define the role profile, to the time you make the hire)?
What is sometimes missed in the hiring process, is that doing new things, with limited access to all the information one would ideally like before pushing the ‘go’ button, is not an in-built skill that automatically comes with decades of experience.
Nor will one necessarily find this capability in Ivy League qualifications or in top global brands (although there are certainly some that have deliberately cultivated this skill within their workforce).
The best place – in fact the market-place – for leaders with a track record of boot-strapping and iterating on the fly, is on the continent of Africa itself. Messy, imperfect, erratic, unreliable, inconsistent – a great breeding and training ground for Africa’s future leaders. And not to be over-looked in the search for great leaders.