Work Ethics: Diligence, Responsibility and Accountability

Work Ethic Stock Illustrations – 928 Work Ethic Stock Illustrations,  Vectors & Clipart - Dreamstime

“Work ethic is the most important component of being successful” – Kliff Kingsbury

I am a believer in the ability of individuals to be successful in their endeavors if they just put in the necessary effort. On the same note, I acknowledge that in that journey they need some push, support and constant nudge to get to that position. This is why last year when we launched the YouTH Voices Network, we made a commitment to deliberately, intentionally and strategically work with young people to help them realize their potentials. On this account, we’ve consistently rolled out and structured programs with different groups of young people. Some with successes and some with their fair share of failures from which we learn. An example of these shortcomings pushed me last year to write a reflection with focus on the entitlement scourge. It’s good to see the good in people and even better to acknowledge that they actually strive to do their best towards that end.

This week as I resumed work, I’ve had to catch-up on projects of the yester-year both in my core employment and personal projects. On this account, I had an uplifting and eye-opening conversation with my boss reflecting on a case where we acknowledged the need for work ethics especially when others are counting on you to deliver on your end. Subsequent to this, when going through some of the deliverables the team we work with were to deliver on I’m in dismay. As part of the program we run, we outlined deliverables for which each of us agreed to and therefore it has been my expectation that we would uphold our ends of the bargain. The my surprise we are being forced to let go of some members of the cohort against our wish considering they’ve not been able to deliver on their commitment. It’s discouraging in development work and especially in the matrix of the broader scale of things acknowledging the potential of the work we can do with them to impact communities.

Being the first month of the year, reflecting on these experiences I think and believe that as we all work in our respective resolutions with hopes of success, may we commit to develop our work ethics even better. There’s no success without hard work. And hard work without good work ethic isn’t possible. Let us commit to do better and challenge ourselves to continuous improvement.

“If you’ve got the confidence and the work ethic, you can make any dream come true.” – Bret Har

Philosophy of Money

Time, Money, Value Your Philosophy and Success - Network Marketing Coach  Jackie Ulmer Social Media

“Man makes money, and money makes man: it forms his way of living and his way of thinking.” – Alla Sheptun

Money is a reality of life. Has it ever occurred to you that there’s almost universal consensus on the reality of man as a fact of life? It so happens that since the invention of money, our lives revolve around money. We value our labor using money. We value our time in monetary terms. We value property in monetary terms and even now we gauge individuals based on their net worth. In other words, money has become the framework on which we value almost everything in our lives.

Over the holidays, I took a break from the city to unwind and rejuvenate for the year. It was a fulfilling moment from the conversations with my folks, interactions with friends in the village and the chilled moments. I also took this period to reflect on this topic of money. For an entire year, I was in the city working to make a living in the form of money and it’s given that in this year, this is going to be the norm. This made me question whether the essence of our lives should be about making money. In an earlier article I wrote about reconciling our purpose with pursuit for money which still holds but in this piece I’ll delve into another concept altogether.

As we are starting off a new year, most if not all have aspirations to make more money or at least be able to sustain their livelihoods. This is pegged on them being able to make money. However, on the same account I believe we all need to have a reason for making money especially beyond the basic necessities of living. This is because in my reflections I tend to believe that our pursuit of money is driven by desire to acquire certain things in life e.g. a car, a home etc. I am not against this but my question is, what then when you’ve got these? Do you stop or do you start chasing an illusion for a dream? When I say an illusion, it’s the tendency to spend money on things based on the context in which you find yourself. If peers are buying jets you also make a purchase because you can without regard to whether you need it or not. This is why I think and believe we all need a money philosophy.

A money philosophy is our rationale and principle for why we need money and the value of that money in our lives as an enabler to the realization of our pursuits in life. Our pursuits are never material but emotional manifested in material acquisitions, provisions or cherishable moments. We get to concretize our money philosophy our pursuit for money will not be a lose aspiration but rather substantive and focused. We become seekers of the essence of our lives rather than pursuers of mans greatest creation of all times: money.

My wish for you this year is that you develop your money philosophy to guide your pursuit for money as your become a seeker of your life’s essence.

“The philosophy of money is the mode of the intellectual inquiry of the essence of money as a social phenomenon and its influence on the «world of things», the «world of people» and the «inner world» of the individual.” – Alla Sheptun, The Philosophy of Money

Thanksgiving Note

6 Ways to Say Thank You During the Pandemic

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

Life is about experiences, both good and bad. All these have people involved in them one way or the other. Earlier in July when I wrote Part II of a World of Possibilities, I promised to pen down a thanksgiving narration for those who’ve been critical in my professional journey however short it has been. On the same note I purpose to share some key pointers that may be critical to a young person wondering what moves to make next. In the spirit of learning, life and business are integrated with my first reflection on this being to Big Bank Take Small Bank, that I wrote last year. Experienced professionals have an opportunity to play a role in junior professionals lives, in my case this has been a key piece. The future of our professions, corporations and societies are anchored on supportive, nurturing and transformative intergenerational relations. When seniors extend a hand to lift juniors, they open a world of opportunities. It is then upon the recipient to make the best of these and pay it forward when the time comes. I will do this piece in parts reflecting on the different roles I’ve taken up since graduation:

1. Kenya Healthcare Federation (KHF)

The most daunting of experiences in any persons life is where to go next upon graduation. As clockwork, our transition from pre-school to college/university are almost pre-determined. The challenge comes after graduation especially in the era of unemployment and tough economic times. With a university degree, the expectations on you by society in general are high and you need to make the best of the investment in your education. Unfortunately, this is almost never guaranteed unless luck deals you a favourable card. In my case this happened.

Upon graduation, I was lucky to have met Dr Elizabeth Wala during the Kenya Healthcare Students’ Summit (KEHSS) where I was a moderator for a session and she was a speaker. We exchanged contacts and got busy with life as is the norm. Four (4) months down the line, I was getting done with school and needed a job. Making a cold call is not the easiest of experiences being we didn’t know each other except for the chance meeting we had. I sweated through the call and to my surprise she asked me to send her my resume which I did shortly after the call. By good luck, KHF needed a project assistant to support with the organization of the 9th East Africa Healthcare Federation (EAHF) Conference. This was my first job with my immediate boss being the bridge to my second job. I was also lucky to get a mentor.

Lesson: As a student, take advantage of networking opportunities especially through professional associations and be keen to engage with people. You never know when you’ll meet the angel you’ve been praying for.

2. Kenya Association of Pharmaceutical Industry (KAPI)

During my service at KHF, I worked under Anastasia Nyalita who doubled up as the Chairperson, KAPI at the time. When my contract with KHF came to an end, the serving administrator for KAPI was also leaving for other opportunities thus there was an opening. By virtue of having served KHF with favourable track record in my opinion, she considered me for this opportunity. Coinciding with part of my internship I had to juggle both and ensure I deliver in terms of meeting the organizational objectives through this term. For the vote of confidence in my abilities and willingness to take chances with me, I’m utterly grateful. Through this role, I was honored to work with pharmaceutical industry leaders in the country including the Vice Chairperson, Vinod Guptan who became a full-time mentor always thinking of how to stretch me for my growth, Winnie Ng’ang’a the Executive Secretary (Current Chairperson) who was always available to guide, Douglas Weru (Former Honorary Treasurer) who was keen on my future prospects through the association, Willy Soriney (Former Chairperson) who had mastery of the industry dynamics, operational aspects and was always willing to advise & support when needed, Evah Amwayi and Francis Karanja the ultimate guides who were there to support steer the operational nitty gritties. I am a better person because of them and their support through this period of my professional journey.

Towards the tail end of my tenure, I had the opportunity to work with Sarah Muthuri, my current manager and former Director, KAPI in organizing a Biosimilars Workshop at Strathmore Business School. When she later needed additional team members based on our interactions, asked for referrals from me.

Lesson: Be open to learning. You learn by stretching yourself, widening your horizons and exploring new possibilities. Key is to be in an environment where you are free to dream with the support system needed for you to soar. Seek these environments out as much as you can and when you find them, do not disappoint.

3. Novartis

In my current role at Novartis, I was lucky to be among the three (3) who were recruited. I made two referrals and followed up with a request if I could be considered for the same opportunity. Luckily, it became my next step in the professional journey. A step I am glad to have made.

Lesson: Make the best of opportunities and when in a vantage position, do not hesitate to extend a hand.

Early this morning before I came around to writing this article, I read an article by Clayton M. Christensen on how we measure our lives and one key point that I took from it is that, as much as we are in pursuit of monetary compensation in order to satisfy our needs, the ultimate motivator is the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others, and be recognized for our achievements. In my journey, I’m working to get clearer on this and hope I make the right choices along. For they extended a hand to lift me up, I’ll do my part to lift others.

Ps. As Melinda states, “If you are successful, it is because somewhere, sometime, someone gave you a life or an idea that started you in the right direction. Remember that you are indebted to life until you help some less fortunate person, just as you were helped.”

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” – Eckhart Tolle

Happy Holidays!!!

See you in 2022!

How Systems Fuel Corruption

What is corruption? - Transparency.org

“Corruption is a cancer that steals from the poor, eats away at governance & moral fiber and destroys trust.” – Robert Zoellick

Corruption is a hot topic all over the world. In Kenya, it has been a part of us from the precolonial era to the current day where there are incidences, claims and accusations on corruption. As time goes by, it is becoming inherent in us that corruption is a way of life, rather sad I’d say. Yesterday, when scrolling through twitter I came to a post by a senior Economist in the country, Dr David Ndii, talking about corruption and the party led by the current deputy president, UDA. On his account, corruption is part and parcel of Kenyans especially the party to the extent no Kenyan should expect UDA to champion for anti-corruption. That’s not the principle upon which they intend to win the elections for they are all corrupt as party members. Question is, how did we get to this point as a society?

On another account, he gave an analogy of the traffic management system, where he alluded to one committing a traffic offence which is to be penalized through a fine but to follow the due process will mean one loses an entire day of work & ultimately paying the fine often to the tune of Kshs. 10,000. The alternative is bribing the police officers often with as little as Kshs. 50 or so and getting to go on with your errands for the day. It’s a no brainer that the latter would be the most preferred option for anyone not only for the cost of it but rather the time factor that one has to waste an entire day following the due process. This is the reality we have to contend with on a daily basis in the conduct of our affairs as individuals. How can we expect change when the systems are designed to dissuade integrity & good conduct while fueling vices?

I’ve written a couple of times on corruption and the ills of corruption ranging from laying the foundation, convenient lies, is it in our DNA, it takes two to tango among others. As much as I argue for our individual roles and responsibilities in uprooting the vice of corruption, I acknowledge that just as businesses need an enabling business environment, we need enabling systems to be able to weed out corruption. When standard government services are not being discharged with efficiency with provisions to corrupt the system and get the services one needs with convenience, it’s given people will seek the alternative. Case in point is the traffic scenario alluded to above and others such as obtaining a passport, birth certificate among others where at times it would take up to a month yet by corrupting the system you are able to get the same document in less than 48hrs. In other words, efficiencies are possible in these institutions but they lack the incentive to stay efficient through the standard ethical processes and therefore the alternative corrupt channels are lucrative as they are.

I believe it is a moment for us as a society to make the right decisions in the coming year to elect the right leaders, commit to do our best in our places of work to foster efficiencies while creating systems that would weed out corruption & corrupt individuals and finally commit to go the whole way to anchor these solutions. As for every system, there’s need for the right leadership, a community of champions to share best practices and foster the culture of excellence coupled with consistency in follow through to ensure it’s an integral component of the organization or nation. Let’s commit to do better.

The Gift of Responsibility

“To whom much is given, much is expected.”

This weeks marked a special moment in my life, the day of my birth. It’s a gift to be alive and to share amazing moments in that very journey with the people you love & care about. I was lucky to spend moments leading to this day with my folks in the village. As always being with the Big Man, one always has a moment to learn and gain insights about the workings of the world. On this occasion I was reminded of an article I did last year on rights & responsibilities reflecting on the series Inside Bills Brain and further reinforced by a short article by Melinda F. Gates on her Approach to Philanthropy: the principle of social responsibility. As Melinda states, “If you are successful, is because somewhere, sometime, someone gave you a life or an idea that started you in the right direction. Remember that you are indebted to life until you help some less fortunate person, just as you were helped.”

Spending the weekend with my Dad having lived for over 60years, he narrated his experiences from a humble family to being lucky to get education which was his ticket to a better life. As the first generation in the family to get tertiary education, he had a different experience and perspective on what life would be. On his account, from a vantage position he had the task to stand tall and be there for the family. Supporting his younger siblings through school, fending for the family while at the same time raising his own family. Such experiences shape our outlook on life. In his regard, responsibilities shaped the person he became. He had to work hard & smart. He had to envision a better future not only for himself, his children but for every other person within his circle of influence including students he taught in school. His commitment was to make them see life in a different perspective and acknowledge that heritage was not a life sentence but rather a pedestal to launch from.

On the eve of my birthday, as I travelled back to the city, I kept reflecting on our discussion with a focus on what I was grateful for the year that has been. In hindsight, I believe it’s the gift of responsibility. As much as we are in a society where we wish we had fewer responsibilities, it is these that define who we are and what we stand for. We take responsibility for our actions, inactions, animate & inanimate creatures in our environs among others. Responsibility gives us something to work for, to live for and to look forward to. That better future and this forms the compass upon which I envision to guide my steps into the new year.

Ps. I earlier made a commitment to write a thanksgiving reflection towards the end of this year here. I’m coming around on this and will ensure I do a series on the people who have shaped my professional life. Tune in.

Intellectual Property – How the youth are being swindled

Call for public participation on the Intellectual Property Draft Bill 2020.  - iFreedoms Kenya

“Intellectual property is the oil of the 21st Century. Disregard for IP is theft of equal proportion to getting one off their ancestral land.”

Intellectual Property (IP) as defined by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. Globally these are protected by law and infringement or abuse of the same is considered an offence in a court of law. Intellectual Property (IP) rights are legal rights that provide creators protection for their original works, inventions, or the appearance of products, artistic works and scientific developments. These rights include patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. In accordance with industrial & corporate best practices, it is recommended that individuals file for any of these rights in the development of their ideas, concepts or products as a safeguard from theft by others in the process of development. Unfortunately, in resource constrained settings most owners of intellectual property are either ignorant about these provisions, lack the financial muscle to file an application, are naive or are unaware of the potential value of their creation. This is the case for most young people in Kenya and by extension Africa based on observations and documented evidences that I’ve come across over time.

Over time on this page, I’ve consistently argued for and in support of innovation and the power of businesses to drive meaningful change in communities. Key being the need to have an innovative ecosystem that would spur creativity and innovation, support development of innovative ideas, concepts and products, facilitate commercialization of these solutions and ultimately sustain growth into sustainable corporations serving societal needs. I still believe that this is possible and commit to pursue this aspiration. However, I’ve come to see the short end of the stick in certain spaces that pose as supporters or lifeline for some of the disenfranchised entities. Over the last 10 years, we’ve had substantial growth of start-up incubators in Africa especially Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Rwanda. While these are poised to inject life into the lackluster innovation ecosystem in Africa, some have taken advantage of local innovators for the benefit of the monied financiers bankrolling these innovations. Some even have foreign directors key in marketing these solutions and reaping out of them. To some extent these give the innovators semblance of value for their ingenuity and hard work. It however is an infringement on the IP rights if any.

Subsequently, I’ve always vouched for the power of universities to serve as the catalytic centers for innovation, industrialization and development. I argued for this when I envisioned a Stanford like university in Africa. Today my belief was further reinforced when I conversed with a junior colleague and friend pursuing her undergraduate studies in one of the Kenyan universities of a project she designed with peers towards the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) 2021. With such forward-looking and brilliant minds, we need to strengthen our core respect for and appreciation of IP. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in this country. In the process of working on ways to execute this solution, she pitched to a couple of organizations including government agencies just to be invited to a meeting where a Ministry Official was presenting this idea for partners to finance and her team relegated to mobilizers for the very solution they designed. Such happenings dissuade diligence, proactiveness and creativity among the youth. It’s more painful when the very government expected to uphold values & create an enabling environment for its’ citizens to thrive take advantage of the very citizens especially the marginalized lot.

Reflecting on this, I was reminded of an article I wrote in 2021 where an established company partnered with us for a project which served as a lifeline to our work but at the same time augmented it’s operations, Big Bank take Small Bank. The same concept has been applied by the Virgin Group for it’s Virgin Unite and Virgin Start Up ecosystem which I follow with commitment. Such models are worth emulating as they underscore the potential of young people, the marginalized and the disenfranchised by giving them a chance to manifest what they are capable of. On the flipside, when established organizations take advantage of start ups and exploit them it not only kills them but also shrivels development in the entire ecosystem. As a society we need to do better to respect and protect intellectual property.

On the positive side, as a young person who have lost out on certain instances to the same ruthless crooks I use this as proof of concept or rather validation of my ability to think creatively, design solutions and deliver impact. One day it will pay off, just not today. When you lose out, take up the pieces and keep working on it. You may in the end figure out better dynamics that will even be more impactful than the initial prototype. They don’t have your insights and perspective around the solution, it’s execution and roll-out. You still have a chance.

Staying Taliban

JOEBOY FAN™ on Twitter: "Stay Taliban Stay Dangerous. 🔥… "

“When you play it too safe, you’re taking the biggest risk of your life. Time is the only wealth we’re given.” – Barbara Sher

In August 2021, the Taliban took over leadership in Afghanistan during ongoing withdrawal of US troops in the country. Social media played a key role in broadcasting the happenings for the insurgent group across the world. On the backdrop of this, social media users riding on the wave, coined new phrases to suit their circumstances and in Kenya one such phrase has been to “Stay Taliban” loosely translated in the local context to “stay dangerous”. In other circles it is used to denote toughness without showing emotions or appearing to care for them.

As a believer and a proponent of social responsibility and mutual coexistence, I have an inclination to the fact that as human beings, there is a shred of tenderness left in us. This in essence signifies our humanity which would be described as the quality of being humane; benevolence. Over time I’ve written about our humanity in this blog and I still believe it’s the common fabric that brings us together. The ability to feel for others, empathize with their situation, lend a hand when you can, offer a shoulder when it’s all you’ve got for at the end there is hope in humanity. The circumstances we live through have compelled most of us to hide behind our pain, to act tough and put forth a facade. It doesn’t do us any good in so doing for in the end we are denying ourselves the very warmness of humanity we wish for in reality by acting all strong, mean or unavailable. What would it cost you to show emotion and just be vulnerable enough to express how you feel?
Over time I’ve been keen on social science literature which drew me to work by Brene’ Brown including her talk on the power of vulnerability, an interview of Jay-Z by Dean Baquet where Jay-Z narrates his life story recollecting on experiences he recalls from young people acting out in the neighborhood which in retrospect was a call for attention. Acknowledging our humanity and inadequacies is a good place to start in addressing our underlying shortcomings and seeking out help. In another talk by Barbara Sher informed by her practice and research work she recounts the ability of individuals to connect based on need. All we pick from all these is that by feigning perfection, staying aloof or blocking the world out, we do not have the opportunity to live a fulfilling life. Why then would we work so had to lead a miserable life?

Relax my friend. Have fun. Enjoy the experiences. The not so good ones, learn from them and accept it’s part of life.

Rethinking Universities’ Business Model

University Icons - Download Free Vector Icons | Noun Project

“Higher education is the strongest, sturdiest ladder to increased socio-economic mobility.” – Drew Faust, President – Harvard University

Education is an enabler and an equalizer. It’s believed that through education, we are all granted an equal opportunity to contribute to and compete in the global economy. This is the basic principle upon which globally, there is a commitment to ensure every child has access to quality education. In the recent past with reforms in the Kenyan education system and fiscal policies, education to some extent is being left a preserve for the rich. This is made even more pronounced following recent revelations by the Vice Chancellor of the biggest university in Kenya, University of Nairobi (UoN) that included an increase in school fees and tripling of accommodation charges. As the university institutes these measures, other universities including Kenyatta University and Moi University have decried tough financial times. For a university that has been in existence since 1960, we would expect UoN to have achieved sustainability if it were run with a focus on sustaining it’s operations beyond government financing. It may not be the easiest approach but in my opinion I believe our universities can do better without putting the extra burden on students and their families.

The standard operational model of universities in Kenya has been to raise their revenues from student fees including accommodation charges, receipt of government financing and partnerships/sponsorships for specific university programs & projects. These are key but when some of these revenue streams dry, they are put at a fix and this necessitates strategic planning on how to redesign the financial models of these universities. In my perspective I believe universities have the potential to be sustainable financially without putting the extra burden on students. In order for universities to do this they have to leverage their muscle in terms of intellectual powerhouses, strategic partners and investment acumen. Some of the approaches through which this can be done include:

  • Operationalization of research offices & grant making departments to support in mobilization of resources through funded projects, initiatives and research calls. Currently, most of this is at the mercy of lecturers and administrative staff who may have interest in these areas and at the same time most of these are done at a personal level rather than institutional. Institutionalization of such a domain has the potential to offer universities an additional revenue stream as they stand a better chance in securing projects considering the academic qualifications of their staff and access to human resource pool using students.
  • Establishment of innovation incubators and labs in the respective universities has potential in reshaping industries, positioning universities as strategic partners to corporate entities while attracting financial investment for the institution. This is based on the fact that university students’ have a curiosity muscle and adventurous nature that’s key in idea generation, testing, prototyping and follow through if provided with an enabling ecosystem. As part of a greater society these ideas have the potential to revolutionize industries as they are based on the prevailing market context. This has been a lifeline for universities like Stanford which has an enabling entrepreneurial & innovative ecosystem as I earlier wrote about.
  • Universities are the powerhouses for industries in terms of labor supply as well as market for strategic product launches. The ability of universities to establish strategic partnerships with corporate partners to host sponsored programs, conduct launches and exhibitions to an audience that’s curious to try new things is a key ingredient not only in helping generate income but also exposing students to the corporate market. It’s being done by other universities through townhalls among other such programs with corporate guest speakers.
  • Universities through their alumni networks, well-wishers and donors have over time been able to organize fundraisers with an aim of supporting needy students. While these have been critical, thinking beyond the donation is important. I recently watched an interview by David Rubenstein of Columbia University, Endowment fund manager Kim Lew where he explains their working model to ensure raised funds are invested to ensure they can continuously guarantee support for needy students beyond the fundraisers. These are some initiatives which can be adopted and considering universities are not investment organizations, this is an avenue for a strategic partnership with a financial institution thus opening up mechanisms for additional funding.

I believe that before going back to parents and guardians to ask for more pay in fees, university managements need to think for and with the society. Denying the youth a chance through education is a disservice to the community. By exploring alternative financing solutions we can nurture a generation through quality, market-driven impact-based education. Let universities exercise their intellectual muscles as they are supposed to.

“Education is simply the soul of the society as it passes from one generation to another.” – G.K Chesterton

Professional Associations need to Rethink their operating model

Professional Association Events Venue. Professional Bodies.

“A man only learns by two things; one is reading and the other is association with smarter people.”

– Will Rogers

Over time I’ve passionately advocated for and championed the role of professional associations in serving the membership i.e. professionals both by advancing the specific sectors in which they operate through mentorship & coaching as well as through welfare programs. On this account, leadership is key as I earlier discussed here. Subsequently, I’ve continued to learn and explore ways of deriving value from professional associations beyond the mainstay operational matrix of continuous learning and welfare programs such as investment vehicles e.g. SACCOs. Following my last article that came up yesterday, reflecting on the knowledge economy with focus on our journey to self reliance, I believe there’s more to professional associations in advancing professions and promoting welfare of members.

As I earlier alluded to in my article on Mentorship Part II and as is common knowledge, unemployment is a growing worry across the world and even more pronounced in Kenya/Africa considering the high population of youth with minimal job opportunities. While this is the case, there are corresponding challenges in every sector ranging from weak health systems, food insecurity, infrastructural shortfalls including mushrooming shacks/slums among others. The key question I’ve had is on how best we could suit our professional associations not only to further the interests of those already enjoined considering most will not join when they are not able to pay the membership fee, not meaningfully employed or even working in the sector. Such experiences will then be killing the professions and professional networks thus the need to rethink ways of engaging professionals, creating value including employment for junior members to engage them onwards to grow the profession.

In rethinking professional associations operational model, I believe we need to adopt alternative approaches based on the fact that members of the profession possess specialized knowledge in these specific professions. Some of the approaches that I believe are key for the future of professional associations in serving their members, advancing growth of industries/sectors and delivering value are:

  • Establishing project offices dedicated to proposal developments to support in execution of research and implementation science projects in their expert domains leveraging on the qualifications of senior professionals and enjoining junior professionals as project associates, interns and project officers. This will help in developing knowledge-base for the profession, open new avenues and create employment opportunities for junior professionals who are currently struggling with unemployment.
  • Mobilize resources through special purpose investment vehicles with a focus on revolutionizing service delivery in the sectors in which they operate e.g. for pharmacists investing in pharmaceutical production, supply chain, education & training, pharmaceutical care facilities among others. Through these special investments, jobs are created for members of the profession, quality services are delivered to the clientele and best practices are fostered as these are guided by code of ethics as espoused by these professional associations. This will take the place of SACCOs or complement these as they are focused on an area of professional strength rather than mere returns. At the same time these investments help investors including professionals generate income from their investment in the professions’ growth. Putting their money where their mouths are.
  • Design and operationalize a knowledge-repository that can guide the development of the industry/sector in which they operate within leveraging on the principles I argued for with regard to the knowledge economy. By structuring such models, we are able to revolutionize practices, generate innovative ideas and leapfrog human development.
  • Finally, professional associations serve as knowledge cross-pollinators. By having professionals engage objectively on matters of the profession new knowledge emerges and these become the innovations of the future. Failure to associate is recipe for disaster for our professions that we must avoid by restructuring our associations’ operating models.

These are some of the approaches that will help in addressing societal challenges, advance professions and safeguard the welfare of professionals today and into the future. Deliberate and strategic investment in professional associations for impact is key.

Knowledge Economy – Journey to Self Reliance

USAID's Policy Framework | U.S. Agency for International Development

Source: USAID’s Policy Framework – Journey to Self Reliance

“In a knowledge economy, a good business is community with a purpose, not a piece of property.”

– Charles Handy

I have been a proponent of education and the value of this knowledge in driving human development & economic prosperity over time. Last year, I did an article on the Fourth Industrial Revolution where I argued for data, information and knowledge derived from these as the key drivers of the 4IR. Subsequently, it so happened that in 2020, my mother country Kenya was in 2020 reclassified as a lower-middle income country by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This triggered a series of changes in policy direction which have seen international partners and agencies change their engagement plan from aid-driven to internal capacity development dubbed Journey to Self Reliance. This is extensively explored and argued for by the USAID and by extension other affiliated agencies and organizations. In order to work towards this envisioned future, we have witnessed internal changes including government fiscal policies with increased taxation among others. This is majorly geared towards ensuring programs earlier funded by donors and development partners do not collapse during this transition.

These changes in my perspective are catastrophic in the immediate moment especially with a struggling economy. However, in the long term it will be dependent on how we ride this wave to create value or draw back on the gains we had made as a country. Reflecting on this publication by the Learning Lab, I am convinced that for us to realize our aspirations of a self-reliant and sustainable economy, we will need to leverage on human capital and create a knowledge economy as the basic principle. In all advances that have ever been accomplished by humans, the starting point has always been creative ideas capable of solving societal problems. This can only be made possible through a strong knowledge ecosystem either through academic institutions i.e. technical colleges, universities, incubators and consultancy firms among others. These institutions will need to generate new ideas, concepts and implementation frameworks in various fields with the potential to change the dynamics of operation. On this account, I believe in a country where unemployment is rife, building a knowledge economy to drive this future is key. It’s evident that by realigning our education system to create a conducive ecosystem for creativity is needed but may not be possible. How then can we tap into the knowledge economy?

  • Employees in their respective organizations with the technical capacity & know-how need to take a lead role in futuristic thinking based on market dynamics to envision a future for these industries. They should then position themselves as thought-leaders sharing insights and perspectives through different mediums to influence others into such models. These will evoke action in the industry and ultimately success when these are adopted as mainstream models. In so doing, the professionals build a personal brand of value, tap into existing employment opportunities as industry champions, serve in board positions and most importantly shape industries. They’ll be leveraging on their specialized knowledge-domains to drive and derive value from the industry. Publications in the form of white papers, journals and books will be the outcomes of this work developing a local repository of insights for industry shapers of the future to act on.
  • Professionals will need to organize, associate and operate within their expert domains in the form of professional associations, industry associations and trade unions to envision, design and work towards a future for the industry or sector with shared purpose.
  • Partnerships and collaborations between industry players and academic institutions will be a key contributor in ensuring graduates are optimized for the job market, empowered to be creative and innovative and most importantly understand the market dynamics. With this new business models, innovations and ecosystems for economic growth will be established for centennial industries.
  • Consultancies are key in the Journey to Self Reliance framework as there is need to contextualize international learnings & practices to local contexts for sustainable development in these countries. This is opening up spaces for professionals to commercialize their technical knowledge while leveraging on their indigenous context to ensure insights offered are key in shaping the future of practices and driving the development of the country.
  • Finally, organizations will need to attract great talent, encourage continuous learning and establish a culture of curiosity, visionary and morality.

Looking into the future, I believe it’s time for professionals to put their technical competencies to use and deliver value for all. This is possible by refocusing our priorities, strategizing with a long-term vision for our respective industries rather than the immediate gratification mindset of moving products from point A to B. Unless it requires specialized knowledge derived from your professional practice there’s little value add as any other person can do it.

Ps. There’s evidence to confirm that the future is knowledge based. Grant funding opportunities are keen on shared learning among others such as this call for proposals by Voice.

“In an economy where the only certainty is uncertainty, the one sure source of lasting competitive advantage is knowledge. – Ikujiro Nonaka