Perhaps one of the most surprising aspects of this interview is the striking similarity of considerations between African business and European or American business in terms of talent, culture, learning and reward. 

In this fascinating conversation Simon shares very openly his insight into the trends and developments on the African continent and beyond, and we learn tons about what businesses (local and international) should keep in mind if they would like to tap into the amazing opportunities that Africa and its talented and innovative workforce can offer. 

Skills & Mobility

One of the challenges businesses and employers in general are facing is the reluctance of mobility for skilled workers between African countries. Even though the legal possibility is there, some barriers still exist, they may be linguistic, cultural, or lack of understanding about the benefits for relocation - an issue we are also facing in Europe. With young people earning higher and better degrees, they may not find work if there is a mismatch between their education and qualification, and the needs of the country or region. 

Thinking beyond borders

Somewhat linked to the above is also the challenge, as to how to foster an entrepreneurial mindset in young people, and also one that encourages them to think beyond their own boundaries geographically. So many ingenious ideas are being developed, shops and businesses being opened by young talented Africans, but how to get them to think to adapt their services and products to an even bigger, and growing African market. 

Values and organisational Culture

Perhaps rooted in a strong sense of belonging in the tribal societies, employees in Africa place great importance on the values represented by their organisations, and what roles businesses can play in the development of the local community. If there is a disconnect between empty slogans and how employees, supply chain companies or the local environment is being treated - talent and workers will disconnect, and it will cost a lot of money to organisations, same as in other parts of the world.

Curating learning and the network effect

As his main bread and butter, Simon has very strong views about the potential learning and development has in organisations, and places a particular emphasis on the role of CEOs leading on this. Simon proposes that leaders shall become Chief Knowledge Curators if they want to see their organisations succeed. Making knowledge sharing part of the KPIs ensures that organisations really develop learning cultures, foster ecosystems of information exchange and transparency, and prepare for innovation, problem solving in a fast paced, VUCA world - almost as a vaccine against uncertainty. 

Simon Rey is  the Head of Group Talent, Learning and Organizational Development for Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (one of the largest Pan-African Financial institution).

You can get in touch with Simon on LinkedIn

This podcast was created through our media partnership with the Work 2.0 Africa conference organised in Johannesburg on 3-4 October 2017. For more information please visit the conference website.