#Impact365: HCD Centre provides mentorship for undergraduates as it aims to create global business leaders

Human Capital Development Centre has a major goal and that is to empower young undergraduates in Nigeria to become business leaders in their own rights. As easy as it sounds, penetrating Nigerian universities and gaining approval has been a challenge for Eyitayo Ogunmola, the Founder and Lead Partner at PM Hub, the umbrella company under which HCD Centre exists.

Mr Ogunmola is a certified and award-winning PMP Project Manager. In this interview with YNaija’s Impact365, he shares the vision for HCD Centre and the impact it has made so far among young people in Nigeria.

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Please tell us more about what you do at HCD Centre.
The best way to communicate what we represent is to say that we are a business school for emerging corporate leaders. We realized that companies are eager to recruit good hires in the region( I mean West Africa), but also find that candidates with traditional management and simple business skills—such as the ability to drive change or build teams, make financial decision, lead a negotiation —are in short supply. We are a leading training ground for emerging corporate leaders in Nigeria. Yet, we have a very focused niche among undergraduates. We engage the best of the best undergrads in Nigerian institutions. Our typical student is Ayobami of Tai Solarin University of Education- she is a social entrepreneur using sales business model and impact training to improve the lives of refugees in Nigeria. Or Praise Adeyemo that was recently invited by United Nations Alliance Of Civilization (UNAOC) as a global young leader. We have a decentralized structure that doesn’t run conventional business schools; we operate from the inside of the tertiary institutions. We work with students while they are in school as budding business leaders and engage them as such. At the moment, we have established presence in 20 schools, also have about 20 ambassadors in each school and over 100 students in each school. Although, we have weak presence in some schools, we are really growing fast and doing our job.

So, when you think about it, we have a 1 month training bootcamp that focuses on project management, business analysis, corporate leadership & lean entrepreneurship. We use locally developed and created business cases using international methodologies. The experience is such that our students review almost 10 business cases. You can imagine a room of young executives talking about the business model of a Nigerian company like Andela and reviewing its growth strategy. We really drill them as corporate executives for the life after school. We currently have mentors and thought leaders that are facilitators in the organizations. We are very selective actually; bringing in people from leading firms like Mckinsey, Accenture, PwC as mentors to our undergraduates. You know when you are developing young people as global business leaders, you also need to create a very high standard.

How large is the community and how has progress/growth been so far?
20 universities and polytechnics in Nigeria. We have some prospects but little presence in Benin Republic. Crawford University is also our partner. We are a training partner of AIESEC Nigeria. We have an average of 20 ambassadors in each university- that is about 400 ambassadors, right? An average of 70 students register for our training per cohort. Our team actually designed our model in such a way that we have bootcamps every semester in the schools. Looking at what our mission represents- ‘ a business school for emerging corporate leaders (undergrads and recent grads)’, you’d agree with me that there is more to do. I am more excited about the community of our ‘thought-leaders and mentors’; we currently have about 40 young consultants from top companies that have committed strongly to mentoring our students.

How do you choose and recruit your trainers?
We head hunt. Its that simple. We see what you are doing, our team loves it and we come after you. That is a very simple model, right? And we hope to maintain that standard. Anything short of that isn’t quality to us. Our thought leaders are young executives of top companies. We currently have our largest pool of mentors from PwC. We started to reach out to them because we wanted to create a unique system for knowledge transfer and these mentors are our critical to that objective. For instance, Ololade Olumuyiwa-Biala is an experienced experiential marketer and she is committed to replicating more than 50 corporate leaders with the same skill set. I always like to share what Dapo Ogunkola, an assistant manager with Deloitte is doing with 100 emerging finance professionals among undergrads. He is simply mentoring them to be better than him. We actually head hunt and that is the ultimate role of our lead partner, Gideon. He has 7 years experience working in the Nigeria consulting industry and really has indepth knowledge of what the job and business competitive landscape looks like. So far, he has helped attract talented mentors.

How about the government?
I like to speak to this with some subtle admiration. There are 3 sectors here- private industry, government and non-profit space. We have chosen to engage the private industry and the social sector for now. The reality is that what we do interphase strongly with those in government but that is at another level. It’s quite tough for us to penetrate a university or polytechnic without gaining institutional approval. But we’d rather focus on the growing sectors and provide real values to them.

What are the challenges faced in keeping up the work?
I really think the basic challenge is reconciling the component of the entire cycle with the perceived end goal of the same. People will ordinarily think the ultimate goal of this type of engagement is to get jobs for the students within our program, that is not absolutely correct. The goal is to recreate you and position you intellectually for your reality. We are optimizing the entire experience so that we can align it with the ultimate desire of everyone who passes through the centre. Because students want jobs and also want to create new businesses. So we have to start attracting top employers for our students. We will be launching the corporate leadership laboratory and a fellowship which will be focused on the job learning and job shadowing. I also need to state that we have proactively surmounted the challenge of institutional bureaucracies of the typical university in Nigeria. It takes hard work to get the school to understand what we do.

What are your future projects?
Our ultimate goal is to become a business school for corporate business leaders and that has shaped our choice of projects. So, we have 3 major goals for 2017- to start our HCD fellowship (very competitive on the job learning program for undergrads), launch the impact & leadership award and also partner with a private university for a corporate leadership laboratory.

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