I must admit, growing up, the turtleneck was not one of my favourite items, especially when I had to wear it instead of my white T-shirt when it was too cold in winter, my mother would insist on it and I hated it because it wasn’t the uniform that I was accustomed to. Fast forward more than a decade later, and it’s become an adult staple item of clothing, for any gender. It’s that one item of winter clothing that you can wear multiple items that goes with a suit, a dress or a skirt.
In this blog, I wear this item 3 ways to work, and share with you what the outfit exudes about the kind of modern woman in the workplace that I believe it says about me:
1. Tucked in a Mini Skirt
This is one of my favourite looks that I love to repeat in winter, a turtleneck tucked into a skirt. A black turtleneck paired with black stockings and thigh high boots serve as a great canvas for creativity with the skirt, this is where you can add some colour to an outfit on a gloomy winter day. I decided to pair it with a plaid skirt to add a bit of coloured character.
What does this outfit say about me at work? I’m a young assertive woman whose confident to take on the business of the day! Thigh high boots have a tendency to perk up confidence in more ways than one.
Plaid Skirt: Thrift Store
Thigh High Boots : Zando
2. Layered under a Dress
There’s no item like a dress in a woman’s closet, it can weather any season and can be paired up with any shoe. So, how do we take advantage of it this winter? We layer the black turtleneck under a ringlet strap dress and heighten the look with black pumps fit for a look that can take you from a boardroom presentation to a late night cocktail networking event.
What does this outfit say about me at work? My playfulness is nothing that has to be hidden, I can bring myself to work, and take it from the co-creation workshop to a networking mixer.
Pumps: Nine West
Bracelet: Gift from friend, India
3. Sneakered in a Kimono
This outfit has two elements of my clothing that I love to bring to work, pants and African print clothing. In this last outfit, the poloneck is tucked in beige pants and powered up with an African print kimono that adds some serious and maturity to the look. Adding some more colour to the look was courtesy my Adidas bright pink sneakers and accessorizing with a bracelet that a friend of mine gifted me when she went to India a few months ago.
What does this outfit say about me? This is the kind of outfit I’d wear on a Monday or a Friday, to kickstart the weekday or end it on a high. This is the outfit that a global African millennial would wear hosting a workshop or has a ton of meetings and errands to do. It says “I came to slay” as loudly and confidently as possible.
Pants: Kelso @ Edgars
Kimono: Braamfontein Market
It was after a much needed catch up with my mentor, over some lunch where education was the theme of the few hours we spent building the trust of the relationship and updating each other on what was new and how we could continue building each other and our ecosystems. It was intimidating to sit down with an accomplished, educated and intelligent woman, but I’m glad the tough conversation was had. It was one of the keys that led me to making a decision that was about opening up to being more, experiencing more and living more – getting out of my own way.
I was going to go back to school to obtain my under graduate degree, 6 years post matriculating from high school. Besides the reasons mentioned above, the two other motivations was the value that I know education has the potential to add to my professional and personal life, and this was also a promise that I had made to my father before he passed away.
So why did I wait 6 years to pursue my under graduate qualification? I’ve got very good reasons and excuses which were very good delay tactics, please see below:
· Pending …
- · My application was unsuccessful in two universities through past
- · I was just really lazy and afraid to start all over again
- · I didn’t think I still had it in me, curriculums and times change – insecurity’s timing is perfect. It’s a good thing that it was no measure for faith!
- · I didn’t want to save for the course because I enjoyed being careless with my money, and I didn’t know that my company had a study assistance policy
· You get my drift …
After many dress rehearsals with myself and my mother, close friends, mentors and sponsors, I decided to get over myself and begin the journey, I enrolled.
- 1. Picking the Qualification
After I finally had plucked up the courage to sit on the University of South Africa (UNISA) website, I went through the qualifications that appeared not only intimidating, but relevant for the future of corporate innovation, startups and strategic partnerships through data and modelling in preparing or the current and future economic and industrial revolutions. The data led me to BCOM Business Informatics qualification. The modules looked relevant to the objective of my desire to go back to school. I applied and got accepted. I was extremely nervous and happy at the opportunity to become a better employee and a corporate innovation practitioner.
- 2. Preparing for the Qualification
I was accepted, so what was next?
I had been accepted and found out about my company policy, but because of the university administration and a strike that happened, I was late to apply which meant that the money had to come out of my own pocket. Because I had been intentional about going back to school, I had saved up a couple of thousands of rands, and my mother was also a gem and made an investment in my first semester, that helped. The cost of studying is high, if I were to advise someone on going back who has no financial aid, it would be to starting saving yesterday, a little does go a long way.
I also had to be transparent and disclose the decision to my manager, this so that should time come needed for studying and exam time (quite a few UNISA tutorials are on Saturdays), it would be no issue.
- 3. Doing the Course
You’re going to war, so strategize!
· Prepare a Timetable - To be honest, what’s really helped is having this timetable saved as my phone screensaver and putting in alarms on my phones. Be nice to yourself and schedule in a night off during the week.
· A Strong Ecosystem - Get yourself some considerate and supportive friends who will understand when you cannot go out (time and money) because of the current investment you’re making. In the long run, this will also
· Work Smarter – If you get an assignment that aligned to the theme that you’re already doing at work, or as a side hustle, complement the two and kills as many birds as you can with the assignment stone.
· Be Kind to Yourself – By this I not only mean spa days and popping a bottle of champagne when you’ve aced that exam, but eating better and taking that digital detox when necessary because the stress can manifest in pimples and headaches.
It’s been a tough few months, I won’t lie. To be honest, there was a period where I’d given myself one week off studying because I was just lazy to, even with the grace of my alarms attempt at reminding me only to be snoozed until it stopped. The truth is that you know you and your behaviour better than any tips that I could give you, and the reason of you going back to school fulltime or part time should be motivation enough.
Congratulations to us on taking the step to go back to being educated and seeing its value in our lives, and may continue to pursue by preparing and being ready to participate in our destinies.
One of the most exciting things to be at this age is to be young (by age and mind), African and being a part of an organisation at forefront of contributing to the knowledge economy and leveraging the power of data and technology to empower economies and communities. We’re also at a time where the emerging market that is Africa has the opportunity to craft its own the Fourth Industrial revolution perception through not only commodity prices, but to diversify away from these resources and move into sectors which will leverage the opportunity to use open innovation as a tool to shape Africa’s Future Agenda.
Open Innovation is a term coined and promoted by Henry Chesbrough, professor and executive director at the Center for Open Innovation at Berkeley . The professor described it as “ … a paradigm that assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as the firms look to advance their technology. The boundaries between a firm and its environment have become more permeable; innovations can easily transfer inward and outward. The central idea behind open innovation is that in a world of widely distributed knowledge, companies cannot afford to rely entirely on their own research, but should instead buy or license processes or inventions (e.g. patents) from other companies.”
The holistic idea of open innovation relates to creating profit and community from technology convergence of perceptions and an efficient way to operate and find solutions.And although outlined what it is, it is NOT Just crowdsourcing and one dimensional transactions, it’s to foster accelerate creative and business value for all stakeholders involved.
The Global Innovation Index is created and published by INSEAD, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and Cornell University and it covers 127 economies around the world and uses 81 indicators across a range of themes. Although no African countries emerged in the Top 10 of the list, Kenya (80) and Tanzania (96) represented the sub-Saharan African region as innovation players to be on the lookout for. Products and innovations like MPesa, Jumia, Ushahidi and Obami are incredible examples of the type of innovation that can and has come out of the continent.
My argument stems at how better accelerated in proving the concept and taking the product to market could these products have been, had the application of open innovation been applied.
Is it not about time that Africa heightened the advocacy and importance of open innovation? And at that, not just leaving it to one sector, but push collaborative open innovation – the interconnectedness needed to scale a Future Africa Agenda .
One of the most fascinating cases for me is the idea of a Sandbox, which is a cloud based capability that provides access to samples of organisations content and tools and where there’s tangible value for all stakeholders part of the transactions. On Africa’s potential alike, I believe we’re ready for a sandbox, and to this point, not only because Africa data is costly but finding credible sources of data has proven to be incredibly difficult.
Organisations like Fintech Sandbox have shown the value of a sandbox for startup partnerships in Boston, CodeSandbox Live in providing value for real collaboration between developers and Any API which has over 500 open APIs that have benefitted many entities. These entities show us what is possible with the world of open innovation in both emerging ad developed markets.
With the many 2020, 2030 and future plans that Africa has for itself, the concept of open innovation to drive Africa’s Future Agenda is a tool that not only invites the strengthening of intra-African and global knowledge trade , but the opportunity to collaborate with stakeholders in the private, NGOs and public sectors to empower Africa’s success.
Images : EOH and Schema Open Innovation
It was the cover image that captured my attention to pick up the book and lean in, the image of two black women in their beautiful black hair, smiling at each other. With closer attention, I learned that one of the familiar faces with one of South Africa’s most decorated woman in business and leadership, Dr Judy Dlamini. It was the third point of observation, the title on the cover “Equal But Different: Women Leaders’ Life Stories – Overcoming Race, Gender and Social Class” and paging through the pages and seeing the black powerful women leaders profiled that convinced me to eventually buy the book with much excitement.
“My interest in this area of study is based on my strong belief that people are born equal but different. It is a belief that equity across gender, race, social class and sexual orientation will be attained in my lifetime.”
This is the opening quote of the first chapter of the book, where Dr Judy Dlamini unpacks the motivation for choosing the social identities of race, gender and class to carry the narrative of the book and the genesis of the book’s conception. The strongly academic tone of this opening chapter (very well consistent throughout the book) is sweetened by a framework suggested by authors Dlamini fondly quotes Nkomo and Ngambi (2009), a meso-level approach to women leadership that is operational at Societal, Individual and Organisational Level.
I’m so incredibly excited to be affirmed every day I see a sea of women, and particularly for my societal identity, black women who are successful in business and technology. Representation matters, it does, and what matters within the confines and decoration of the politics of the image of your role models is also what they consume to inform their society. Taking into account the time period of Apartheid that these women grew up in, the socialism of not only gender but race played a role in how their lives turned out and ultimately, what class they managed to place themselves in, consciously and unconsciously.
In the chapter that followed, Dr Dlamini goes on to profile numerous leaders including United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UN Women Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, CEO of Barclays Africa’s Maria Ramos, Founder of Fly Blue Crane’s Siza Mzimela, and current President of the Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa to name a few – this is where it got real for me.
The general consensus from the series of interviews confirmed this for me from the array of women leaders interviewed:
· Most of the women interviewed were black women, and the further education either in Europe or North America afforded them the entry point into the social class privilege that they enjoy today
· Men, and especially white men seem to be better mentors and sponsors to women at the start and peak of their careers
· Black women don’t see white women as allies, mainly because as Gloria Serobe puts it “…. White women are struggling to accept that they were marginalised; the fact is that they were. They benefitted from employment equity.”
From foreign perspectives of both women and men leaders, the consumption of feminism from both men and men to the strategy of quotas to enable more women into not only boards but also the transition from middle-level to senior-level management, this book peeled many layers to its honest core. The one unpleasantry of the book had to be the constant repetition of quotes from Chapter 2 “South African women’s life journeys” throughout the book from Chapters 3 onwards through to the final chapter. The reference of the chapters were written in a manner as though the reader started reading from Chapter 3 and skipped pages, instead from the beginning.
“There was consensus among the interviewees that women tended to work in support departments, which did not expose them to leadership positions. Cora emphasised the importance of being in a revenue-generating position within the organisation as a success strategy, while Tomatoe Serobe, co-founder and CEO of WipCapital, emphasised the need for women to understand the business of their company as a whole rather than only the small division where they worked.”
For a young woman starting out in her career and/or business, this is a book of great insights and a look at what not only successful black women representation looks like, but also a consultation on where and how one would draw the line in being an ableist of sexism, tokenism and other –isms in your career journey. Take heed of the strategies and advice supplied by these global leaders and do your best in your journey.
Images : Dillion Phiri.
At present, I’m enjoying a relationship series sermon that’s lead by Transformation Church’s Lead Pastor, Michael Todd and it’s an engagement of learning how to be content with the fullness of one’s singlehoodness (in Christ). The sermons are not only engaging about romantic relationships, but also in relationship with oneself and their Creator, and the abandonment of the knowledge that you have that causes unnecessary consequences which eventually displace you and God’s provision of your purpose. It’s a wholesome message about recognising the pattern of renewed grace to operate in the fullness of one’s purpose.
Every year when the clock strikes midnight on 31st December, I get excited at the prospect of a new calender year and the optimism that it comes with, featuring heightened hope and unshakable faith at the new beginning. We usher into the new year with an inspired energy to create new chapters that will impact our lives in a way that we can only imagine. At times, these set of new eyes and faith can burn out before we even use them to the capacity that they’re meant to last, because the excitement of this new possibility eclipses the hard work of preparation and of pace, and instead replaces it with a pace of competitiveness and maintenance of a vision that was to be nurtured.
the process of preserving (maintain in original state) a condition or situation or the state of being preserved.
care for and protect (someone or something) while they are growing.
I pray that your new vision is nurtured and not just maintained, and that it’s guidance is under God’s provision and His divine enablement for Him to show you that He is indeed God. I pray that you receive your victory already because of this renewed faith, and that you pair all this by investing with sweat and other equity required to execute.
The Effort of Attention
And speaking of which, execution requires the effort of attention which is reciprocity. As you enter 2018 with vision boards and entries into education institutions that you’ve been accepted in, remember that (this is mostly me speaking to me) that nothing can impede the execution of the vision than lack of effort, even if God has provided.
What will make this year different than the last? How will this year produce a better you? Why do you wake up in the morning if there’s nothing that you do everyday that will take you closer to your vision and goals? And who will you relationship with that will hold you accountable and ensure that the 2018 you becomes the education that you’re praying for and working towards?
God’s Provision - Place of Purpose
This is the word that I believe in God for this season - that His grace is sufficient enough to divinely enable to me access to His divine compensation in provision for my purpose, and that where He has placed me, He will provide His promises at His pace of grace. January has been a month of affirming that word in my life for the past 24 days, and it’s only the beginning, and He’s already provided for the seeds I planted in desire almost 2 years ago, He’s doing it at His pace of grace.
I pray that we cast our nets deeper in the ocean, and not be satisfied with just maintaining our visions, but to nurture them into goals with the effort of attention. In Marianne Williamson’s “A Return to Love”, she expresses that the effects of your life is rooted in your thoughts and that that experience can only be transformed if we change how we think. In addition to this, I believe we also need to change how we perceive ourselves, so I pray that we see ourselves through God’s grace because through it, it’s how we can think about ourselves differently in order to access divine compensation.
To a year of operating in the place of God’s purpose.
Around this time, a month ago I was landing back on South African turf at Cape Town International Airport coming from an inspired few days at the One Young World summit hosted in Bogota, Colombia at the Agora Bogota International Convention Centre. I was at the summit as a Thomson Reuters delegate and there was no preparation for the monumental few days it had been getting an opportunity to represent the continent and women in technology and innovation. I’d landed at El Dorado International Airport with 2 unnecessarily large (my mother’s words) grey bags and a brown purse ready to be a woman in technology with style, and to network and minister impact while getting and exchanging the tools of the social intrapreneurship trade.
Founded by David Jones and Kate Robertson in 2009 with the vision to invite young leaders across the global to formulate and share innovative solutions for pressing world issues, the summit has grown to be one of the largest has grown to be one of the largest gatherings of young global leaders. This year brought over 1500 delegates from 196 countries, all with the goal in mind to share stories and the work that our peers and their organisations and businesses are doing, and so that we may connect and be empowered to create greater social impact and add value.
The first day of the summit allowed me to meet with other Thomson Reuters delegates from all over the world, who are doing incredible social impact work inside and outside of the company, and to register for what was going to be an unforgettable experience. I had been connecting with one incredible colleague from the Philippines via social media prior to the event, Emmanuele Marie Parra, a Publishing Specialist by trade at Thomson Reuters and currently the Thomson Reuters Foundation Ambassador. It was great to connect with Emmanuele and hear more about her passions outside the business as an Anti-human trafficking advocate. If one thing is certain, it’s that it’s great to be with a company that values what you value, and invests in one's ability to make you even better at what you're technically skilled at and are passionate about , and at Thomson Reuters, there’s many millennials who take heed to that!
The unofficial second day, and first day of workshops and speaker engagements started at 08h45 with a session highlighting Nobel Peace Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus’ objectives on the impact and giving the delegates insight into the work that he does. Yunus’s talk was bedded in his work in financial services innovation to alleviate poverty and build economic development across Asia. The talk was followed by a series of other engagements that unpacked case studies and actions that fellow delegates are undertaking to drive change in their communities, which undoubtedly was the most inspiring part of the program. The day stretched to cover topics ranging from anti-corruption, to using social media for good and powering sustainable development in communities. The workshop that left me underwhelmed and I was really looking forward to was hosted by The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, with a prime focus on "How to Create a Public Private Partnership". It was more of a presentation with a Q&A session afterwards than being workshopped the tools of the topic at hand, engaging with the content and delegates at hand.
It was day two’s programme that was the one that I was looking forward to learning from and engaging with. There’s a clear dependency of innovation and profit from global companies driving diversity and inclusion as a business agenda. What policies need to be implemented to plant a seed of urgency in the public sector? African youth and women are still marginalized groups who are not as active economically as their men and senior counterparts, what actionable conversations are being had and actions implemented? These were some of the questions that I was hoping to get answers from, and more particularly, shared case studies from the corporates on how they’re holding themselves accountable for the actions of their businesses. I didn’t get all my answers.
Themed on private and public partnership and corporates doing business in alignment with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), the content was promising. It was the “Fighting Racial Injustice” panel that included Black Lives Matter activist Deray McKesson, Apple’s Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity Denise Young Smith, reporter Aamna Modhim and moderated by KPMG’s Global Head of Citizenship Michael Hastings that was one of the most transparent conversations on the main stage. The discussion unpacked using social media as tool to not only fight racism but create awareness around it, while Denise highlighted on need for the ascension of black women corporate and her role at Apple. The crux of the conversation brought out how technology, journalism and intrapreneurship are empowering people with the potential to disrupt societal structures.
Hosted by The Circle of Young Intrapreneurs looking at “How to Profitably Do Good: Social Intrapreneurship?” was a workshop that I’m happy I attended. The moderators really looked at some of the issues that we were passionate about, and imparted tools and techniques, and the network to be able to be supported and do the work. And recently, a Circle of Young Intrapreneurs -Johannesburg chapter powered by fellow delegates at PWC was launched, which was incredibly attended, sharing One Young World anecdotes and imparting intrapreneurial learnings for the aspirant intrapreneur and the corporate millennial who's an innovator at heart or by trade.
So, a month has passed, now what?
I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend the summit and be exposed to a global network of my peers who are doing incredible and inspiring work in their companies and communities. As a One Young World Ambassador also working on a project that focuses on the business value of having millennials as part of the workforce by creating sustainable innovation through the backbone of SDGs – I’m very excited about this one. The other goal to go back in 2018 as a coordinator, mostly with the intention of connecting the Africa delegates and growing that community and connecting it with the opportunities that we all have to create positive change.
Until next year One Young World!
A few weeks ago, I uploaded a blog post about leveraging the value of strategically positioning and the networking opportunity that is on social media platform, LinkedIn. In the article I discussed and unpacked a couple of points on how to make the most of LinkedIn, and wrapped up the post by sharing a new and proudly South African application that is perfect for not only introverts, but for those who are constantly on their phones during conferences and want to be connected. It’s time to have you Knekted to the world.
From 4 – 7 October 2017, I was fortunate enough to have been selected to be a One Young World delegate (now ambassador), and be one of more than 1300 global young leaders who have committed to and are actioning positive change in their communities and their respective industries and sectors.
I have to be honest, I’m quite the extrovert, so I find it quite easy to walk up to someone and engage with them, with the end result being either a business card or a Twitter handle exchanged between the respective parties. In all this, there’s always a moment where even the most confident of extroverts get nervous, what happens then? How would I get the rest of the world to KnektMe to their network?
In comes the beauty of technology, and introducing KnektMe, a proximity based networking tool that uses Bluetooth to discover other users within a specific area.
Founded by 22 year old Carl Visagie, KnektMe is a networking application targeted at entrepreneurs that allows people to connect face-to-face through the virtual platform. Once you have downloaded the application and created your profile (which is more of a business card), you’ll be able to connect to another user and see each other’s skillsets and other general information. Does this sound like any other business platform? Admittedly, it does.
So what’s KnektMe’s unique selling point? It’s the immediacy to network and create a connection where distance is no object.
When I landed in Bogota, I convinced a friend of mine to download KnektMe and to test it within the Agora Convention Centre where the summit would take the place for the days ahead. She agreed to the suggestion and that’s how I got to test out the interface of KnektMe. Because of its close proximity, we were only able to locate each other when we were on the same floor, and sometimes the same room. We managed to connect to each other, easily. The only downside to the KnektMe experience was that we couldn’t connect to every One Young World delegate as they hadn’t downloaded the app yet.
However, if the application was connected to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram as a means to connect with other people, and still within the unique value feature of the proximity with KnektMe be able to pick up those users - I believe it would’ve made One Young World and other events much more valuable.
Using Google Firebase Database to handle everything from security to storage, the platform is quite safe, revealing only the information that you’ve voluntarily shared, which is public.
Free for download on iOS and Android, KnektMe is the perfect platform for start-ups looking for investors and customers, recruiters seeking ideal job candidates, and freelance opportunities as well as general networking opportunities.
This is not a directory of names or a messaging service, it’s an instant networking opportunity for both introverts and extroverts!
I remember being told that there was this new social media platform in town and that the only objective of it was to replace recruiters and the long tedious exercise of applying your CV to HR practitioners who won't tell you why you'd been successful with the application. It was LinkedIn. And I can confidently say that my little birdie who told me about LinkedIn couldn't be far from wrong, from the recruiters and recruitee's perspective.
Two days later I opened my LinkedIn account, this was in October 2014. I then uploaded my favourite picture from Facebook, which, in the early 2000s, obviously was a selfie of me pouting. I then imported everything from my CV into the fields asked by LinkedIn. I then needed to do one more thing, I needed to follow all of the companies that I wanted to work for and then wait for them to follow me back so that I can have my interview. Now all I had to do was wait. And wait, and 2 years later I was still waiting. Clearly there was something wrong with either the recruiters, because my profile filled in all the blanks that LinkedIn asked of me.
It's safe to say that during those 2 years, no recruiter came my way because, well, I didn't have the most palatable LinkedIn account. So what needed to be done in order to be taken seriously as a professional in my field?
I first needed to understand the LinkedIn game before I could play it. LinkedIn is a professional social media network platform that connects professionals from across the world in different industries. The value-add about this platform is that it not only has it for job listings and a myriad of recruiters, it's also an opportunity to broaden your network authentically, receive and give testimonials about yours and your colleagues' work and update your CV as well as establishing your expertise and introducing people to your skills and thought leadership capabilities through blog posts and/or LinkedIn groups with their like-minded individuals.
However, in all of this you have to POSITION yourself correctly. LinkedIn is about perception, and how you consistently commit to it. It can be overwhelming at times to engage on the platform as a newbie, I’ve been there. Let me share 5 rules of engagement that curbed my experience and has now made it an incredible joyride, still learning on the way: 1. Invest in your Image
Your image and voice on LinkedIn will most likely not be the same as Twitter Facebook, where you’ll overshare about personal things, and update the world about your dating woes. The same goes for your images. Your profile picture doesn’t have to be you in a suit with your arms crossed and no smile to be deemed professional, however, do invest in a high resolution portrait picture that embodies your personality and invites not only recruiters and potential employees, but a professional network. You can reach out to Anthea Adams or Thandi Gula for this, they’ve incredible rates that won’t take you thousands of rands of pockets back.
2. "What do you do?"
Without a potential connection having to go through your entire profile or your account, LinkedIn has an incredible feature for you to provide a summary of what you do, and ultimately why you are on LinkedIn. Use this feature to your advantage, because it is your image, job title and executive summary that ultimately makes the first impression and first perception about who you and your work are.
3. Thought Leadership Positioning
Now let’s be clear, having a shiny image and a crisp executive summary doesn’t mean that people will now immediately come to your profile like a swarm of bees, invite them. This you can do through engaging with posts, and also through creating your own. This can be through posting images and status uploads, and one through a blog post. This is one of the most powerful ways to positon your brand as a leader in your market. People want to know how much you know about your market, and essentially be able to trust you about your thoughts an expertise on subject matters in your industry. Create blog posts atleast every two months if you’re starting out, and continuously market your thought pieces.
LinkedIn is all about relationship building, and finding ways to add value to your connections, and vice versa. Once you’ve made a connection, send a simple “Thank you so much for connecting!” or “Thank you for the connection, Much appreciated, I trust we will add value in each other’s lives. Best regards,” follow up note to initiate the relationship. This doesn’t mean that you’ll immediately work together, but you showing interest is a great first step!
As I wrap up this post, I’ve also just discovered a new application from Cape Town, South Africa called KnektMe. It’s the perfect app for the introvert who sometimes doesn’t know how to navigate their way at a tech event or a business lounger. KnektMe is a proximity based networking tool that uses Bluetooth to discover other users within a specific area. Don’t let your shyness get the better of you networking, and let’s continue to use technology to App(size) our careers!
Images by Thandi Gula Photography (left) and Anthea Adams Photography (right)
On Wednesday (06 September) morning, I had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours at SMME Roadshow Opportunity at the Cape Town International Convention Centre and sharing the stage with phenomenal intrapreneurs, entrepreneurs and public sector officials alike. The conference is one that showcases the opportunities to micro, small and medium enterprises with the objective to link these entities with an opportunity to for economic development across the private and public sectors. This is an annual roadshow that takes place in four cities across South Africa, and I had the opportunity to deliver the work that is being done at Thomson Reuters Labs, but also in understanding the framework between how corporate partners with startups.
Intrapreneurship is a term that’s been gathering some steam over the last few years, and the train is moving faster than ever before as corporates have actualised now more than ever the opportunity to adopt the DNA of the startup innovation character. Now more than ever, the c-suite group is making way for the new c-suite titles, gone are the days of a company only having a CEO, CFO and CMO. Because of the urgency to pivot the company’s innovation life cycle, the large organisations are employing Chief Technology Officers (CTOs), Chief Innovation/Information Officers (CIOs), Chief Digital Officers (CDOs) and Chief Growth Officers (CGOs). Companies have designed and brought in this talent of executives to not only do research and execute, but be the bridge between data and customer-centric and the growth of a company. And through this c-suite reshuffle, there’s a pipeline that’s being brought in by these new generation c-suite leaders for large corporates to incrementally and disruptively innovate externally – collaborating with startups.
Just as Brillianaire Consulting‘s Managing Director, Octavius Phukubye encourages, that “Collaboration is the new innovation”, this accounts for corporate across sectors, and not just the cool kids of MNOs and Banks with the rise of curiosity and innovation in the financial services sector. For a startup, there are so many benefits to partner with a corporate, with an opportunity to scale not just reliant on funding. Mechanisms like data and data models, mentorship, paid proof of concepts and connecting the startups with potential customers and business partners are just a few, so as to how fruitful and innovative this kind can partnership can be motivating.
As a startup, before even approaching or pitching to the large corporate, here are a few things that I believe you should keep in mind:
- 1. KYS (Know Your Startup)
In financial and risk, there’s a term known as KYC (Know Your Customer), which is essentially the process of a business identifying and verifying identity of customer. In this respect, as a startup founder, know the value that you will be capturing for the corporate through your talent, structure, processes before the LinkedIn stalking commences. Have your startup ducklings in a row.
- 2 What do you need besides funding?
Scale – to accelerate and grow. What do you need to scale your startup besides funding? How will you move from ideation to product development, or whatever stage you may find your startup in? Is it data, access to market or monetary investment? And once it’s evident that it is indeed money that you need to scale, be transparent about what you need it for. Who knows? The corporate might have the resources you’re looking for.
- 3. Understand the Innovation Journey
Once the design thinking and creative workshops have been done, priority projects and products outlines and NDAs signed and sealed, where to from here? And how long will it take to get to the finish line? How many more people and departments will the idea go through, and where does our role start and finish? Essentially, understand the culture of intrapreneurship of the corporate that you’re working with, and the processes and systems in place.
There are many phases involved in developing a solid corporate-startup relationship, and working together on a proof of concept might be the first or last stage of the relationship. In whichever way, so much work and time goes into these kinds of partnerships and they don’t always work out. However, in your desire to working with corporates and partnering with them, ensure that you understand the framework of the partner and your value as a startup in the period of the enthusiasm from both parties, to the follow up and eventually the implementation.
Image source: Daniel Jajoura