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Akanza Boris Armel Konan
Ambient Culinary Category Development Manager – Cote d’Ivoire & Guinea
Program/Concentration: Jack Welch MBA
TELL US ABOUT YOUR JOB RESPONSIBILITIES AT Nestlé
I am responsible for the ambient culinary brands’ portfolio in Cote d’Ivoire & Guinea, a+CHF100m business. I build and drive the execution of Marketing and Commercial plans that will generate strong business results for the category. I also make sure to propose mitigation/alternative strategies to address exceptions or deviations whenever they arise.
I started the Job in October 2020. Before that (2016-2020), I was a Demand and Supply Planning Manager for various business units (Dairy, Beverages, Confectionery & Soluble Coffee), overseeing our whole Central & West Africa Market (twenty-five countries and ten operating companies). In that role, I enabled fast business growth through proactive supply planning. I also contributed to the successful introduction of game-changing products that turned around business situations and shaped the West African Food & Beverages landscape.
Why were you looking to get an MBA?
I wanted an MBA to provide me with the tools to live up to my full potential. I did not necessarily expect my company to offer me a better position just because of an MBA. However, I trusted the process: I believed it is a life-changing journey that will significantly grow my leadership and technical skills and prepare me to take up more critical positions in my company or achieve bigger things in life.
HOW HAS THE JWMI CURRICULUM HELPED YOU IN YOUR CAREER?
The Jack Welch MBA gave me the confidence to get out of my comfort zone and go for the career I wanted. Since I started the program in 2018, I became a supply chain leader, grew a team, created a leadership platform in my company, landed the position I longed for, and set foundations for the career path I aspire to have. None of this would have been possible without what I learned during the JWMI program. Indeed, the “Learn it on Monday. Apply it on Tuesday.” motto sinks deep in your lifelong learning mindset.
DID YOU FIND THE CURRICULUM WAS IMMEDIATELY APPLICABLE? PLEASE EXPLAIN.:
Yes, it was! Jack Welch spoke about “pattern recognition.” The Jack Welch MBA teaches you to identify those patterns in your current job, thanks to its teaching method centered around real-life examples. As early as the first or second week, you have the opportunity to apply the concepts to your company through your DQs, learning journals, and assignments.
HOW DID YOU NAVIGATE JOB, FAMILY, AND WORK? WHAT STRATEGIES DID YOU IMPLEMENT TO GET IT DONE?
I am grateful to my wife and daughters for their support during the program. I devoted 2 hours daily to go through the materials and prepare for the assignments. I would usually start working at 9 PM so I had time to play with my kids and put them to bed before I did schoolwork. I adjusted the amount of time dedicated to the JWMI program each day to accommodate emergencies or extra office work I took home.
Good quality DQs also helped to reduce the load of writing assignments as you could build upon them.
LOOKING BACK AT WHAT YOU THOUGHT ABOUT AN ONLINE PROGRAM WHEN YOU FIRST EMBARKED, WHAT WAS YOUR OVERALL IMPRESSION NOW? DID IT MEET YOUR EXPECTATIONS VIA DQ BOARDS, EOP VIDEOS, FACULTY ETC?:
As an international student, I could not afford to pay high tuition fees or/and leave my job for a year or two to get an MBA. I was already on a promising career with several promotions in recent years. So it made no sense to break that momentum and increase my financial burden. Also, I believed online programs would be the next big thing. Therefore, the online MBA was the option that best suited me.
WAS THERE A PARTICULAR PROFESSOR OR MEMBER OF THE STAFF THAT YOU FELT HELPED YOU TO EXCEL? PLEASE ELABORATE.
Dr. Jamie Chesler, my instructor for JWI510 Leadership in the 21st Century and JWI505 Business Communication & Executive Presence, greatly supported me. She helped me find the right pace and strategy to cope with the program’s requirements.
I also want to mention Dr. James Sartain. “Strategy” was the class I was impatient to take. He made course topics and the curriculum so relatable and evident. He far exceeded my expectations!
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR MOST REWARDING EXPERIENCE IN THE PROGRAM?
My most rewarding experiences are:
- Learning about finance, the language of business. I dreamt of the day I could navigate through financial statements; I can now interpret them correctly.
- I read so much before about strategy, and it looked so “esoteric.” Then, I attended JWI 540, and it all became more evident.
- Fast learning on any topic! Discussions questions, learning journals, and the various assignments and presentations taught me how to quickly dive into unfamiliar and complex subjects and form a strong opinion.
Please share any advice for new students embarking on the MBA journey.
I advise any incoming JWMI student to leverage the incredible opportunity that the program provides: “Learn it on Monday and Apply it on Tuesday.” Those words are not just a tagline. They are a growth hack. By relentlessly doing so, you will push the limit of your comfort zone and end up surprising yourself positively. When I followed that principle, it brought me so much autonomy in my day-to-day job, as well as the ability to think deeply and wide. I could work on stuff that was new to me and deliver decent inputs within a short time. I believed more in my ability to learn, adapt, and deliver results in many more situations than before, which ultimately gave me the confidence to make the leap and change careers.
Connect with Akanza Boris Armel Konan on Linkedin
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