Wednesday, December 14, 2011
GE, meet Ashesi. Ashesi, meet GE.
On Tuesday, December 13, Ashesi celebrated a new partnership. The General Electric company, a world-wide conglomerate with 300,000 employees, arrived with three managers and three recent Ashesi alumni who have worked at the company for less than two years, to kick-off the relationship (there are only 24 GE employees in Ghana).
Mr. Abu Sulemana is GE's new Africa CIO. Abu, a tall, poised, and handsome gentleman, was raised in Ghana, educated at KNUST (first class in Civil Engineering), later earning an MBA in the UK. Moving to the US, he worked with Amersham Health, which was acquired by GE in 2004. Mr Sulemana had just moved from Princeton, New Jersey the night before, planning to live and work out of Accra. He offered to teach on project management at Ashesi, claiming he had some wonderful stories about IT projects around the world he had managed.
Mr Patrick Awuah, founder and president of Ashesi University College had spoken at a GE training event near Washington, DC, triggering Mr. Sulemana's interest in the college. Some visits later, GE's HR organization determined that Ashesi met the criteria for becoming an "Executive School," a list that includes over 45 US colleges the likes of Boston College, Boston University, Bucknell University, Clarkson University, Clemson University, University of Connecticut, Cornell University, University of Dayton, University of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Michigan, Northeastern University, University of Puerto Rico, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Syracuse University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Case Western Reserve University, University of Cincinnati, University of Illinois, Indiana University, University of Miami, University of Notre Dame, Pennsylvania State, Purdue University, University of Wisconsin, Stanford University, University of California-Berkeley, Duke University, University of Florida, Georgia Tech, University of Maryland, Michigan State, North Carolina A&T, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Prairie View A&M University, Texas A&M, University of Texas, Tuskegee University and Virginia Tech. According to the University of Dayton, nearly 70% of GE interns and college hires come from this small list of schools.
Mr Kunle Olaifa, GE Africa's HR executive, defined the goals of the designation as a strategic university partner. Ashesi becomes the second such college on the continent, along with Strathmore College in Kenya. These schools are willing to work with GE and will see GE investing corporate & business resources to proactively build a sustainable employment brand, recruit & measure results. We were pleased to hear the comment that Ashesi hires had some of the "best ROI" of their African recruiting campaign to date.
One of the reasons Ashesi came to GE's attention was its focus on ethical leadership. Key qualifications included academic excellence & GE cultural fit, and the gender balance at Ashesi. GE also applauded Ashesi's goal of drawing students from a broader geographic area, an initiative supported by the Master Card Foundation.
What was most encouraging to me was the realization by GE that finding bright people in Africa is not particularly hard, but that GE's "DNA" of integrity is trickier. One of the alumni hires admitted that her experience at Ashesi exposed her to a community that expected ethical behavior, making it easier for her to "fit in" at GE. All in all, it made for a very encouraging morning.