Moving from the back of the bus to the driver’s seat

MEST, Tuesday January 18th 2011

Moving from the back of the bus to the driver's seat

I entered the MEST program in August 2009 among eighteen other Entrepreneurs in Training (EITs), right after graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana. Before joining MEST, I had the opportunity to work with some very well known organizations here in Ghana, but ultimately chose to become involved with MEST for the following reasons:

  1. I had found something more inspiring than accounting: software!

  2. I wanted an opportunity to impact my community with my own innovation.

  3. I was looking for an environment where I could develop personally and professionally.

We (MEST Class of 2011) have come this far and I am proud of how we have developed individually after working together at MEST for a year now.  In my first semester, things ran smoothly despite challenges for EITs with non-technical backgrounds who were new to the concept of programming, It was similar for folks from technical backgrounds who were also new to the concept of international business and entrepreneurship. Despite by background in Business Administration, I was proud to quickly pick up concepts in programming languages such as PHP and Java, eventually able to assist my classmates on programming-related questions.

Beyond programming skills, my first year also helped to further develop my business skills – particularly related to leadership.  Towards the end of my first year, I was given responsibility to be the team lead on a class project. The task was challenging but straight-forward: take an ordinary idea, validate the idea as a viable business, build a prototype and finally pitch the idea and prototype to visiting business executives from around the world.

I had not led a team before, not to mention a team charged with delivering a high-level business pitch! I’m very shy by nature and prefer to be “behind the scenes,” so you can imagine that this was certainly out of my comfort zone.

I’m proud to say that, while it was a bumpy road, I learned some valuable lessons I want to share with you:

  1. The team is responsible for delivering a final product, but the team lead should take ultimate responsibility of that product –it is something he or she should be proud of.

  2. Inviting my team members’ contributions turned out to make my work easy. With a range of skill sets, integrating each individual’s strengths compliments the process.

  3. It is important to understand that failure is ok and that you will not always get it right the first time – one must learn from these mistakes and make the final product stronger through the process of trial and error.

  4. Given the challenges, it’s important to have a little fun with your team outside of work!  :)

I hope that you found some useful tips in there for your team too, and I’m looking forward to growing through new challenges this coming year at MEST!  ;)

Post Submitted by:

Badu Boahen

Entrepreneur in Training (EIT) – Class of 2011