TBY talks to Dr. Enase Okonedo, Dean of Lagos Business School (LBS), on developing future managers, cooperating with international institutions, and changes in the executive education sector.

Dr. Enase Okonedo
Dr. Enase Okonedo, Dean of LBS, has the responsibility for overseeing all strategic, academic, and administrative matters of the school. Prior to becoming dean, she held several leadership positions at LBS at various times including Executive MBA Director, Academic Director, and Deputy Dean, Academics. She obtained an MBA from IESE Business School, Barcelona and a doctorate in business administration from International School of Management (ISM), Paris. A Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (FCA), the International Academy of Management (IAM), and the Society for Corporate Governance, Dr. Okonedo is the Chair of the LBS Management Board and a member of the Senate and Governing Council of Pan-Atlantic University.

How do you adapt your programs to meet the specific needs of Nigeria?

That is one of the critical things that helps us stand out. We recognized an opportunity to develop managers; not just in the theory of management but also the practice. Our entire structure is targeted towards developing managers who can put what they learn into practice. One of the key differentiating factors between us and other business schools is our focus on how to do business in Nigeria and now Africa. When we first began, our mission was to develop competent and socially responsible managers for Nigeria. In developing case studies, we wrote on businesses in Nigeria and carried out research on companies in Nigeria. However, since 2009, our mission has changed and we now have a broader focus, focusing not only on Nigeria but Africa as a whole.

How important are your international connections with other private universities or institutions?

They are still important, though probably less so than before. After the global financial crisis and the global recession, there were only two areas of growth: Africa and Asia. We started seeing a number of multinationals coming to Africa and wanting to expand their presence. Given our population, if a company seeks talent, Nigeria is a great place to find it. If companies are looking at top business schools, they will come to LBS. That meant our focus had to change. People graduating from this school were no longer staying in Nigeria, but working for companies that took them all over Africa. Until that time, IESE Business School was our principal partner because it was instrumental to our setup and also because we share the same philosophy. We began to look for additional partners to broaden our participants' outlook. Through these strategic alliances, we achieve research collaborations that broaden our faculty's field of research and enrich our students' learning experience.

Have you seen a change in the way that people look at training for executive education and management?

Because of the influx and increasing availability of technology, the greater majority of Africans and Nigerians now have access to learning that they may not have had previously. We see more of a boom in terms of massive open online courses (MOOCs). It means that business owners in Nigeria who previously had to save up to come to business school now have access to open online courses. There are various open courses out there and the quality differs; some of the top schools in business education now offer MOOCs. Now, there is broader access to education and I foresee a decoupling of management education. Before, to be a successful manager, it was necessary to do an MBA, but technology today is leapfrogging that. Technology is a disruptor in the education sector but business schools will not become extinct as there still remain other attributes, values, and attitudes that cannot be taught online.

How can the government and private education institutions collaborate to create more awareness about the need for higher education?

The first thing that we have to do is recognize the importance of developing talent. The portion of the federal budget devoted to education from the national budget over last 10 years averaged around 10.4%, with a 6.7% allocation this year. We have 180 million Nigerians, of which 110 million are young, and it is the duty of the state to provide education for these people. For companies, if we do not develop the youth, there is no one to recruit. Most critical is curriculum development: the curriculum needs to be updated in several schools because there is no regular review of the curriculum. We have 143 universities and 61 of those are private, so the greater proportion of universities in Nigeria are federal or state universities that are subsidized by the government. We need a more robust solution that makes room for collaboration.

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