A couple of things happened recently that caused me to reflect on the nature of The Tekedia Mini MBA, a course delivered remotely that I applied to and joined.
I watched a TEDx talk by one Sir Ken Robinson entitled ‘Do schools kill creativity?’ which questions the subject hierarchy and delivery methodologies of generic educational systems globally.
The second thing is I reflected on my own history, and acknowledged that I am to some extent the result of a disruptive product of the last millennium.
My graduate qualification for a start, isn’t a ‘university’ degree. I left my teens in a backward but fast changing Ireland, with both established heavy industry and engineering on one hand, and newly arriving companies in FMCG, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and computer hardware, distressed and dismayed with the candidate quality created by Universities. They viewed them as being too academic and detached from real world usable skills. So the Department of Education embarked on a mass evolution to throw lots of new degree level courses, with a focus on application, at the Vocational Educational Community, previously mostly aimed at trade skills. They were not ready.
In a panic to deliver on the metrics of campaign promises, the Government then decided to dump an ‘overflow’ of these courses on An Comhairle, or ‘AnCo’ for short. The problem was AnCo was set up to deliver something completely different. It offered entry level courses specifically to assist with employment challenges, typically teaching ‘top-ups’ in literacy and numeracy, basic modern trade and customer servicing skills, basic clerical skills, and other preparation for the semi-skilled labour market. Indeed, applicants had to prove they were unemployed for a minimum of six months to secure a place. It’s mission was to make the unemployable -employable! It was even questionable that their in-house tutors were educated to the level of these new degree level courses being added to their duties!
So AnCo leaders did something very disruptive for the time, though less unusual now – They contracted out the courses to a range of Management Consultancy Companies with track record and expertise in the course topics. I was schooled in Industrial Engineering under a Scottish company named Management Systems Dynamics.
Their approach was very application driven. Moreover, I was lucky to spend my Industrial Placement assigned to Murphy’s Brewery Cork. I gained exposure to all parts of process, sales and distribution, as well as their unique ‘third party portfolio’ business encompassing a wide range of products for which they acted in the Irish Market. I also got to see what an ‘acquisition’ looked like, up close and personal, as I served through the take-over by Heineken, and the lead transition between Pat Earley and Gerhard Koenderink.
So I understand the value of disruptive educational products with the power to shake up job markets and the entrepreneurial landscape.
‘Eduflation’ is what I call the increasingly reducing collective value (inflation) of a portfolio of typical university products as job seeker currency in the job market.
Sir Ken Robinson: ‘Suddenly degrees aren’t worth anything…When I was a student, if you had a degree, you had a job, if you didn’t have a job, it’s because you didn’t want one… (now)… you need an MA where previously you needed a BA, … and you need a PhD for the other… it’s a process of academic inflation, and it indicates the whole structure of education is shifting beneath our feet.’
The final line is damning and suggestive that ‘PhD required’ is not the end of ‘eduflation’ but merely the start of a phenomenon gathering pace.
Eddie Cross, the renowned economist recently said he was bored by stories about barrow loads of Zimbabwe Dollars needed to buy a toilet roll… will we have to start preparing for barrow loads of PhDs needed to secure a job?
One thing that Ken Robinson doesn’t mention, is the entrenched perception of PhD holders as ‘too academic’ and (outside of the medical field) the strong association with being a career educator and at some stage, becoming a professor. So are we heading for a ‘damned if you have and damned if you haven’t for many professions?
He did however say: We need to radically rethink our view of intelligence’
On the educational community (Professors) he says… I used to be one… They live in their heads… they look on their bodies as a form of transport for their heads… it’s a way of getting their heads to meetings!’
So where does that leave us all in terms of educational status? How much will be enough? Is there an end?
Here are a few pointers:
Firstly I see career education as a lifelong journey that shadows a career, not as something to be completed prior to having one. They feed off each other. A first degree is generally ‘pure’ (mine wasn’t!). A masters (especially STEM) is generally applied. A Doctorate depending on context, can be either.
I completed my first degree in the last millennium and my masters in this one. Employment or running a business creates a bedrock on which to build a postgraduate experience. I see little value in extra academic credentials that haven’t extracted value from work experience.
A qualification portfolio is like a bunch of vehicles in a second hand (tokunbo) car lot. If none are selling, then the answer isn’t to increase inventory. The obstacle to closing sales is something else. For those who specifically need career opportunity over self-employment, this needs to be explored.
- Align educational and career progress together so they make a joint life journey.
- Less is more, ‘barrow loads of PhDs’ isn’t realistic for one lifetime! Make (limited) choices robust against eduflation on quality and relevance.
- Value disruptive learning opportunities which deliver well on journey value, application impact, cost and time, and ability to be multi-tasked against other responsibilities competing for time.
- Have a life!
The Tekedia Mini MBA in my own words.
I discovered the Tekedia Mini MBA as I was looking to gain career value from an increase in available time caused by the advent of the pandemic. I knew Tekedia owner (Prof. Ndubuisi Ekekwe) only as a frequent content creator on LinkedIn and responded to his posts from time to time. I had not had dialogue with him.
Being the second iteration of the program, there was limited opinion in the public domain, and I made a decision to sign up based on face value of the website content, some limited discussion I had with Tekedia admin. by email, and attracted by the very affordable course cost.
The course runs a period slightly in excess of four months. Each week consists a number of video lectures on essential topics. They are supported by other documents (usually pdf) and a bibliography of mixed media suggested reading/watching/listening. There are assignments.
Three live webinars take place every week. Two by course lead contributors (usually topical by those who have provided the lectures), and one by Prof. Ndubuisi Ekekwe which is more general.
The lead contributors are about 80% Nigerian and 20% other which are mostly US. The co-learner community for this edition are about 85% Nigerian, 10% Other African and 5% Other, based on my perception, and this is subject to dynamic change as the editions progress.
There is also a small pool of webinar moderators who are all Nigerian, and Prof. Ndubuisi Ekekwe sometimes moderates himself.
Sir Ken Robinson: ‘Do schools kill creativity?’
After a short topical intro by the course lead contributor, a Q&A/discussion period follows where course lead and co-learners dynamically contribute and debate. These include real life business challenges and concerns in the here and now, across multiple sectors, mostly in Nigeria, though references are also made to other markets and business models in Africa and the world at large.
Separately the co-learner community have whatsapp groups. Tekedia is currently perfecting its own cross platform whatsapp type service.
Participation is not graded, though there are (optional) ‘labs sessions’ which engage on completed assignments and feedback is provided by Tekedia. There are also follow-on specialist courses (Captsone Projects) available to Mini – MBA ‘graduates’.
My first direct exposure to Nigeria began in 1997. I married a Nigerian at the turn of the millennium and have children schooling in Nigeria. I am titled in Nigeria and acknowledged in print for contributions to a number of industry sectors. I won’t bore the readership with more detail!
Nevertheless, I’ve not done ‘the whole nine yards’. I haven’t written JAMB, I haven’t attended a Nigerian ‘bricks and mortar’ University and I haven’t served NYSC!
The opportunity to participate in a Nigerian led program with predominantly Nigerian co-learner group ticks extra boxes and fills gaps for me as a non-indigene tied to the market through personal circumstances.
For anybody currently in Nigeria or indeed Africa, this is a great opportunity, particularly if you are running your own business, or are a Project Champion (Intrepreneur). There is a strong focus on Virtual Business and New Tech. It is also very relevant for anybody wishing to understand this market and learn directly from real business people with real challenges.
In the spirit of ‘Less is more’; making choices robust against eduflation and Valuing disruptive learning opportunities; Tekedia Mini MBA is not one to miss.