A Conversation with Lola Cardoso, Chief Digital and Innovation Officer at Union Bank PLC

“I believe innovation is about creating, capturing and delivering value to stakeholders – these could be around solutions to your customers’ articulated or unarticulated needs. Innovation needs to be authentic to succeed.”

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Tell us a little about your journey to this current position Chief Digital and Innovation Officer at Union Bank. What led you into this path of innovation?

I joined Union Bank in August 2013 as Group Head, Corporate Strategy to drive the Bank’s strategy, anchor its overall transformation and support execution bank-wide.

My aim was to make a difference and transform an almost 100-year-old bank then into a modern organization with the right people, processes and platform. I have contributed to the successful transformation of the bank and proud as the bank continues its positive growth momentum.

In 2015/2016, I began driving the bank’s innovation and sustainability efforts, which are integral to our Bank’s future growth and positioning. Our transformation efforts focused on people, process and technology, have built a solid foundation for us to compete effectively and win.

 Today, I am driving digital and innovation in a 100+ organization and I now lead our retail distribution efforts with the aim of continuously delivering superior value to stakeholders as we position Union Bank as a leader in retail and transaction banking. We are in a new phase of our transformation as we deepen our focus on digital and innovation, which are essential to win in the future.

What are your thoughts on innovation as it is currently in Nigeria?

The speed at which innovative technology is travelling across the world especially Africa is incredible; it is reshaping how we consume financial products and media content. The continent’s strive for innovation and development, especially in Financial Technology – lending and payment systems is impressive – thanks to the increasing rate of mobile penetration across Africa.

“The continent’s strive for innovation and development, especially in Financial Technology – lending and payment systems is impressive – thanks to the increasing rate of mobile penetration across Africa.”

Nigeria is home to so many creative and innovative individuals and businesses – I am very proud to see how Nigeria is consistently being put on the map by so many innovations that have been birthed in the country. In fact, Nigeria’s tech industry has become the leading investment destination in Africa for investors globally; with the country’s startups raising ~$180m in disclosed funding rounds in 2018 according to Techpoint Africa. In the first half of 2019 alone, tech start-ups in Nigeria have raised ~$110m in investments from local and foreign investors. The potential is indeed huge!

Given Nigeria’s current dependence on revenue from oil, it is very clear that there’s a need to boost innovation and adopt new frontier technologies to support growth across all sectors.  Innovation is important for Nigeria’s social and economic growth. It is one thing to say you need innovation and another to create an ecosystem that will push beyond boundaries and challenge the status quo. Innovative technologies like AI, open banking, blockchain, robotics etc. need to be adopted to deliver the economic breakthrough Nigeria needs. With the Government’s recent creation of a refreshed ministry – Communications and Digital Economy, we hope that there will be deliberate and concerted efforts to create enabling structures and policies for innovation and digital initiatives to thrive in the country.

Leading the charge on Union Bank’s digital strategy and investments, I am increasingly driven to pay it forward for Nigerians and the larger society including women and youth to grow the digital economy. The challenges in Nigeria around financial access as well as financial literacy are clear opportunities that we are trying to tackle at Union Bank. I believe that by partnering with a larger ecosystem, we can push boundaries and succeed.

What are your key responsibilities as the current position of Chief Digital and Innovation Officer at Union Bank?

As the Chief Digital and Innovation Officer at Union Bank, my focus is to drive and execute the digital roadmap for the Bank while retaining oversight of the Bank’s strategy and innovation objectives.

 A key objective is to clearly define and execute a holistic digital strategy that enables and aligns with our ambitions. Critical tasks involve mapping out relevant digital requirements, as defined by our target segments and our priorities, identifying the right partners to onboard, and implementing an agile development and prototyping process for accelerated execution and insight gathering.

Ensuring the Bank is proactively abreast of developments in the digital and innovation space and making recommendations to the Bank on ideas and/or initiatives to invest in, is another important responsibility that I have.

I’m focused on integrating digital into all aspects of our business, from solutions, channels, processes and data to the operating model, incentives, and culture we embed in the organization.

How would you define innovation based on your experience at Union Bank?

I believe innovation is about creating, capturing and delivering value to stakeholders – these could be around solutions to your customers’ articulated or unarticulated needs. Innovation needs to be authentic to succeed. It needs to be part of your organization’s ethos to be successful. At Union Bank, innovation was adopted as a core value in 2017 reinforcing that creativity and forward-thinking is critical for our individual and collective success. Our commitment to innovation comes from the top. Employees are empowered to think creatively and strategically and we are committed to considering all ideas shared and investing in those relevant to our growth and strategic priorities.

Innovation can thrive only when we embrace and nurture an environment of ideas, creativity, and openness. This is the culture companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon have embedded – encouraging their employees to test, fail fast / forward, and learn.

“I believe innovation is about creating, capturing and delivering value to stakeholders – these could be around solutions to your customers’ articulated or unarticulated needs. Innovation needs to be authentic to succeed. It needs to be part of your organization’s ethos to be successful”

In Union Bank, there are several internal initiatives in place to promote innovative thinking and actions – Annual Case Challenge, Ideas Bank and Union X. These are platforms that provide an opportunity for employees to flex their creativity and be recognized by leadership and colleagues. A number of the recommended solutions are currently in the incubation stage, with some already set to launch. Beyond these focused initiatives, we want to ensure that the innovative culture cuts across all functions across the bank and influences the way we hire, train, recognize and empower our employees. To this end, we have embedded some courses in the Organization Enhancement Academy curriculum that focus on creative thinking and strategic execution competencies to supplement the experiential and on-the-job exposure. This year, we included a design thinking course – Product, Service and Experience Design – to support our mission to continuously create the simplest, smartest solutions and guarantee the best experience every time!

While we continue to build our innovative culture, we recognize the power of collaborating with external parties. We remain open to partnering with start-ups and tech companies and this is evident from the number of live discussions and proof-of-concept testing with several local and global fintechs as we drive to become Nigeria’s most reliable and trusted banking partner.

“While we continue to build our innovative culture, we recognize the power of collaborating with external parties.”

Which companies (around the world) do you admire most for their approach to innovation? Can you share what caught your attention about their practices?

In general, I admire companies that leverage AI, data-driven technologies, platforms and ecosystems to consistently augment their ways of working and create new offerings that push boundaries and reinvent the future. We know the likes of Google and Amazon blaze the trail here with their numerous offerings in the marketplace. However, I would like to emphasize “what” I admire. I admire companies that have made millions of consumers rely on their offerings to access every single product / service they need within one platform in the palm of their hands, thereby becoming an integral aspect of people’s lives – business, personal needs, lifestyle, etc.  As a result of this approach to innovation, it becomes very possible to expand to new business lines quickly by leveraging digital technologies and their existing customer base who have become loyal due to the convenience of their offerings.

“… companies that have made millions of consumers rely on their offerings to access every single product / service they need within one platform in the palm of their hands, thereby becoming an integral aspect of people’s lives – business, personal needs, lifestyle, etc.  As a result of this approach to innovation, it becomes very possible to expand to new business lines quickly by leveraging digital technologies and their existing customer base who have become loyal due to the convenience of their offerings.”

I particularly like to draw inspiration from businesses such as this – their ability to meet consumers ever-changing demands for speed, flexibility, personalization and the role these play in creating great experiences and loyalty are critical as I think about my role in driving Union Bank’s vision to be Nigeria’s most reliable and trusted banking partner.

What advice would you give to professionals looking to improve their career in innovation management, strategy or innovation leadership?

My biggest piece of advice to innovators is to make creativity a habit. It is very easy to teach someone how to do a job, but very hard to teach someone how to think differently. Take a different view of life and challenge assumptions. Question everything.

“My biggest piece of advice to innovators is to make creativity a habit… Question everything.”

What #innovationmoment are you most proud of in your role as Chief Digital and Innovation Officer at Union Bank?

I don’t have one proud moment… we have accomplished a lot at Union Bank. I have many proud moments and am excited about the future. 

 I am very proud of the commitment and the passion with which my organization is driving innovation and is relentlessly pursuing our Digital Union agenda. The creation of the digital and innovation team working across the bank to create value and drive return for the bank and Nigeria has been rewarding. Providing them the tools and soon the workspace to create/co- create with our ecosystem makes me more excited about the future.

 In addition, the implementation of innovation hackathon/challenges for UBN and for Nigeria (Centenary Innovation Challenge, Campus Innovation Challenge, edTech Challenge to name a few) has ignited our employees as well as Nigerian youth and entrepreneurs. These have been proud moments given the opportunities to nurture and enable home grown ideas and provide unique learning opportunities to all involved given partnerships with other innovation partners.

Also, our thorough innovation development process has been awesome to drive and the reward of birthing sustainable digital solutions with real impact on Nigeria consumers. We look forward to building our pipeline of solutions in partnership with the Nigerian technology and business ecosystem. 

If you could build a company from the ground up, what innovation tactics or design methodologies would you use to build?

Companies coming up with new products would like to get the desired product to customers’ hands faster before their competitors even have time to think about modifying it.

 The Lean Startup method teaches you how to drive a startup, how to steer, when to turn, and when to persevere and grow a business with maximum acceleration. This is a principled approach to new product development.

 Today, too many startups begin with an idea for a product that they think people want or need. They then spend months perfecting that product without ever showing to customers. Taking a leaf from design thinking, it is very important to validate the idea/product with the market, observe your customers to determine their unarticulated needs, and further refine the product/idea with feedback from testing and prototyping.

 These methods help to ensure that there is a need and an existing market for the product/idea to be launched, therefore greatly improving the chances of success in the marketplace as well as improving the sustainability of the business.

“Today, too many startups begin with an idea for a product that they think people want or need. They then spend months perfecting that product without ever showing to customers. Taking a leaf from design thinking, it is very important to validate the idea/product with the market, observe your customers to determine their unarticulated needs, and further refine the product/idea with feedback from testing and prototyping.”

#innovationmoment

“The creation of the digital and innovation team working across the bank to create value and drive return for the bank and Nigeria has been rewarding. Providing them with the tools and soon the workspace to create/co-create with our ecosystem makes me more excited about the future.”

A Conversation with Gbeminiyi Laolu-Adewale, Head, Innovation Strategy and Commercialisation at Guinness

“Business leaders will drive innovation by encouraging openness and diversity within their teams. This enables team members to be free and unbiased in their assessment of business situations.”

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What does innovation mean to you?

Innovation simply is the act of doing things differently to drive efficiency that ultimately improves customer experience, humanity and the world we live in. 

How can business leaders drive innovation within their teams and company?

Business leaders will drive innovation by encouraging openness and diversity within their teams. This enables team members to be free and unbiased in their assessment of business situations, it also makes room for out of the box thinking that generates innovative ideas. Business leaders must also be humble enough to receive feedback as this is the only way to test the quality of output be it product or services. Most of the time, the feedback received from team-mates, employees, customers and consumers form the necessary springboard for Innovation.

“…the feedback received from team-mates, employees, customers and consumers form the necessary spring board for Innovation.”

How do you think the private sector can develop innovative solutions that can drive growth and push for disruption within the public sector?

First of all, I’d like to say there is no better sector equipped to lead and drive innovation as much as the private sector and I say this because of the bureaucracy that poses a limitation in the public sector does not exist such in the private sector as it is mostly profit-driven. The quest for profitability in a tight economy has led many private sector organizations and multinationals to innovate and come up with better quality, more efficient product/services that command higher prices whilst striving to drive down cost significantly.

“…there is no better sector equipped to lead and drive innovation as much as the private sector…”

Linking this to the public sector, the private sector can drive growth and disruption in its counterpart sector through partnerships. With the huge opportunities in the power, housing and transport sectors, private organizations would have to come to the table with their disruptive solutions and seek to partner with Government to create a win-win situation. Example of disruption in the power sector would be offering solar-powered electricity solution for homes and businesses. Private sector execution with Government backing in terms of funding and platform will lead to a big positive change in the Nigerian economy and a win-win for all. This way, the private sector can command a profitable price point for stable power supply, the Government/Public sector wins by delivering on its age-long promise of stable power and also generates revenue in the process and the Nigerian citizens win by having stable power supply which makes it easy for their families, small business owners and large corporates to thrive.

As Head of Innovation strategy in a multinational company as Guinness, how have you been able to translate internal challenges to innovative solutions?

Working in a multinational company in a tough economy like ours leaves you with only one option which is to Innovate for growth. Product innovation is the only way to unlock new growth and profitability. With the rising cost of commodities, government policy changes on duties and taxes, constant change in consumer behaviour and the unending squeeze in consumer income, the only way for multinationals to remain relevant in business is by translating these challenges into opportunities to innovate for growth.

What disruptive techniques would you say companies can adopt to drive business growth?

Companies planning for disruption could adopt 2 techniques:

  1. Deliberate strategy: With this technique, companies make the choice of disruption through careful research, data gathering, financial analysis and planning. This usually takes years of research and planning with a dedicated project team in place to plan and execute the disruptive Innovation. This is the most common technique adopted by big multinationals.
  2. Emergent Strategy: This is a more spontaneous approach where disruption happens as a result of unplanned events. i.e. with the advent of the Coronavirus in China, The MD of Fine Hygienic Holding seized the moment to turn around a lot of his company by adding the production of 210 times reusable face masks to his product offering. This is a company than previously majored in Toilet papers and diaper production but with an unplanned event, he took the onus upon himself to Innovate and disrupt the Asian/middle east market with this unique facemask offering that commands higher price point than the existing facemasks in the market but offers better value to the consumer.

What new concepts have you been inspired by that has caused a shift in the way you approach business challenges.

I’m very much inspired by the disruption in education with the new wave of online courses which ranges from short courses to long term courses, B.Sc’s and MBA degrees that can be earned right from your bedroom or office without stepping into a physical class. This wave of online studies has changed the face of education in Nigeria and around the world putting an end to geography thus enabling more people to stay connected with learning at their own pace in the comfort of their bedrooms. This has influenced the way I approach business challenges as I am able to engage with my team, customers and target audience using online platforms to deploy new ideas, make sale pitches, conduct research and get feedback via online tools and platforms.

What #innovationmoment have you experienced in your career so far? (We define an #innovationmoment as something you’ve been a part of or have witnessed that has been incredibly life-changing and impactful to others) Can you share?

My #innovationmoments would be the launch of Baileys delight. A light lush crème liquor with a taste of African honey that is produced here in Nigeria by Nigerians for the drinking pleasure of Nigerians. It was a first of its kind and afforded many Nigerians the opportunity to unwind with an affordable but indulgent crème liquor from the house of Guinness.

A Conversation with April Anazodo CEO & Co-founder Metamentis

“To stay ahead in an era of global market disruption, business leaders not only need to innovate, but also build a creative culture that enables their teams proactively drive innovation.”

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How can a business turn a challenge into an innovative solution? What steps will they have to take using the strategic play model? 

There’s definitely no singular approach on how to turn a challenge into an innovative solution, problem-solving and innovation require a blend of various tools, methodologies, skills and values.

However, it’s important that businesses consider diverse perspectives when trying to solve a challenge. Ground-breaking innovation is often a result of embracing different points of view and making connections to get the complete picture. Remember the story of “The Blind Men and the Elephant”? All six blind men had touched a different part of the elephant but tried to use their individual experience to define what an elephant felt like.

“Ground-breaking innovation is often a result of embracing different points of view and making connections to get the complete picture.”

Many businesses still have meetings and strategy sessions where just a few people feel confident enough or are given the opportunity to share their thoughts and bring their ideas forward. You can already tell that they would end up with less than half an elephant! 

Businesses can use LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®  to radically enhance their problem-solving and strategy process. LSP allows people to use LEGO® bricks as a tool for creating, thought-building, storytelling and deep reflections. It creates a safe environment for innovation to thrive and gives all participants a voice regardless of culture or position.

You and your team seem to leverage the idea of ‘playfulness’ for creativity and innovation in business. Can you speak more to this, for business leaders looking to drive innovation in their organizations?

My team and I love the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Methodology because it’s not random play, we engage teams in deep thinking and reflection within an experiential framework. The process of building and collaborating often produces insights which simply would not have appeared in regular discussions. Participants use LEGO® bricks to create models that express their thoughts, reflections and ideas, unlike the typical strategy sessions that occur in places of work.

 In the past organizations focused on logical and methodical thinking but that’s no longer enough. It’s no surprise that LinkedIn has ranked Creativity as number 1 in its list of most in-demand soft skills for 2018, 2019 and 2020.

 With play, most of our senses are awakened and our imagination is freed to go wild and generate unconventional ideas. Busy work life and rigid routines tend to kill creativity but when organizations give their employees the space and time for constructive play the results are phenomenal.

“With play, most of our senses are awakened and our imagination is freed to go wild and generate unconventional ideas.”

To stay ahead in an era of global market disruption, business leaders not only need to innovate, but also build a creative culture that enables their teams proactively drive innovation.

“To stay ahead in an era of global market disruption, business leaders not only need to innovate, but also build a creative culture that enables their teams proactively drive innovation.”

Seeing the complexities businesses face either as a result of a new policy, customer trends or economic strains do you think the Design process is a good strategy to turn to when seeking to create innovative solutions around those constraints? 

The pace of change like you have outlined in today’s business environment is very swift. What design thinking and other creative processes do is to make room for rapid problem solving using a structured process. 

This process consistently helps you maintain focus on the customer; the very essence your business exists. It helps you track the customer journey and create tailor-made solutions or improvements on this journey.

 The tools used develops the capacity of employees to think on their feet, generate, select and analyze ideas within a short period of time.

Creating ideas is not enough; communicating these ideas is also as important as creating them. The design thinking process makes it easy to communicate ideas in 3D thereby making abstractions concrete. To develop innovative solutions to customer or business challenges, design thinking and a plethora of creative processes are your go-to toolkit for today’s business environment.

Which company would you say you admire for their approach in using design to create innovative solutions?

It’s awesome to see more companies embrace design as a critical business driver. However, I absolutely admire Apple’s tenacious approach to design. I would love to see more of our traditional institutions in Nigeria embrace this same level of commitment to design in order to create highly intuitive customer experiences.

“I absolutely admire Apple’s tenacious approach to design. I would love to see more of our traditional institutions in Nigeria embrace this same level of commitment to design in order to create highly intuitive customer experiences.”

You have a background in the Banking industry, if there’s something you could add or do to improve the process around corporate governance (which you know quite well seeing you have worked within that department in the past when you worked in the banking industry) or any other department based on your experience now in design, what would it be? 

There seems to be a common assumption that corporate governance introduces bureaucracy and roadblocks that hinder innovation. This is based on another common misconception that creativity and design thinking should not be structured processes.

However, I believe, the core corporate governance principles of fairness, transparency, accountability and responsibility are critical in building a culture of innovation.

The problem might just be the way some banks execute corporate governance controls. It is possible to be more creative and intentional around implementing these controls in a way that does not negatively impact customer/employee experience but rather complements innovation efforts. This is what I would love to improve.

“I believe, the core corporate governance principles of fairness, transparency, accountability and responsibility are critical in building a culture of innovation.”

What #innovationmoment have you experienced in your career so far? (We define an #innovationmoment as something you’ve been a part of or have witnessed that has been incredibly life-changing and impactful to others) Can you share? 

A real estate firm approached us about their growth challenges. They had spent a lot of money on marketing efforts but the CEO didn’t feel the ROI was worthwhile. 

We gathered more facts and information on their challenges and we realized they had never really defined their brand and this was negatively impacting the customer journey.

So, we ran a customer experience design workshop for them. The challenge was “How might we design a unique customer experience across all touchpoints and meaningfully portray their brand”.

Following the workshop, the firm immediately redesigned its marketing strategy and offices to reflect their brand identity. They have since doubled their revenue and exponentially grown their customer base.

“A real estate firm approached us about their growth challenges… we ran a customer experience design workshop…They have since doubled their revenue and exponentially grown their customer base.”

#innovationmoment

“A real estate firm approached us about their growth challenges… we ran a customer experience design workshop…They have since doubled their revenue and exponentially grown their customer base.”

A Conversation with Victor Orie Ononogbu, Innovation Manager MTN

“I believe the cliché that the largest room anywhere is that for improvement. A trophy is a quick rush to death – keep moving, and that is what innovation is all about.”

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Tell us a little bit about your journey to this current position of Innovation Manager at MTN Nigeria

I started out in accounting and auditing, working for a medium size private auditing firm. Then moved to Nigerian Tobacco Company PLC. (now British American Tobacco) first as a trainee and then a Asst. Manager Research and ending up as Regional Marketing Manager.

I took my marketing career to MTN Nigeria as pioneer market research manager, setting up and resourcing the unit under the Marketing and Strategy division. I left MTN briefly to work in real estate as head of marketing and returned to the corporate services division of MTN as Education and later Health Portfolio Manager of the MTN Foundation.

Then the move to MTN’s innovation unit in the Transformation office where I am focused on delivering a handshake between business and the academia, and the entire innovation ecosystem. I have birthed the MTN Academic Research Development and Innovation Challenge (ARDIC) and other innovative ecosystem-based solutions to enhance the company’s customer experience.

What led you onto this ‘path’ of innovation?

Interest and passion to see things differently and find new and better ways of achieving greater results. Coming from a research background, asking questions comes naturally to me. I believe the cliché that the largest room anywhere is that for improvement.  A trophy is a quick rush to death – keep moving, and that is what innovation is all about. I am excited by seeing uncharted paths conquered and underrated individuals, teams and nations conquering erstwhile untouched challenges.

“Interest and passion to see things differently and find new and better ways of achieving greater results.”

What are your thoughts on innovation as it is currently in Nigeria?

Based on my experience I am very positive about innovation at the macro level in Nigeria.  My concern is on innovation at the micro level.

At the macro level as shown by Nollywood and Nigerian musicians, the absence of formal structures does not deter Nigerians. Yaba is beating its path to join other global innovation centres (Silicon Valley, Singapore, Bangalore, Tel Aviv etc) and is brimming with solutions to several local challenges in business and the society.  Perhaps the greatest challenge remains access to information and relevant technologies to enhance productivity. That is why the recent trialing of 5G technology is gratifying and holds the ace for a surge in innovation across industries and sectors in Nigeria.

Private sector involvement in catalyzing and harvesting latent innovation activities from the ecosystem is central to reducing the impact of the absence of formal innovation structures in Nigeria. And that is what initiatives like the MTN ARDIC seeks to address by creating a platform for key research in key areas of national development to become solutions rather than become archival artefacts only good for few citations here and there.

“Private sector involvement in catalyzing and harvesting latent innovation activities from the ecosystem is central to reducing the impact of the absence of formal innovation structures in Nigeria”

At the micro level (i.e. firm levels) the pace of innovation will be dictated by industry dynamics. For example, it will be suicidal for any Nigerian bank to rest on its oars today in the midst of the enormous changes in fintech and mobile telecoms which threaten the brick and mortar model within the industry.

Overall, there is a ground swell of innovation in health, agriculture, finance, logistics, retail etc. driven by enthusiastic young Nigerians who are unsatisfied with the status quo.

“it will be suicidal for any Nigerian bank to rest on its oars today in the midst of the enormous changes in fintech and mobile telecoms which threaten the brick and mortar model within the industry.”

What are your key responsibilities in your current position as Innovation Manager at MTN Nigeria?

In summary, ecosystem innovation management, which includes innovation in the academia (universities, research institutions, etc.), innovation and tech hubs, government agencies and parastatals focused on research and innovation and relationships with global innovation and research entities interested in Nigeria. We believe that a lot of solutions reside outside our industry and they need to be harvested for national development; and it is my job to achieve this.

“We believe that a lot of solutions reside outside our industry and they need to be harvested for national development; and it is my job to achieve this.”

Do you run sessions for ideation or problem-solving? If so, how do you go about it?

Internally, yes, I do. We have what I would call a proprietary ideation protocol which enhances our ability to drill down quickly to innovative ideas and get them running in the shortest possible time.

How would you define innovation based on your experiences at MTN Nigeria?

Strictly based on my experience driving innovation and not textbook definition: innovation is creating new processes and/or solutions that lead to considerably big and scalable improvements in value delivery, customer experience and ultimately quality of life.

“…innovation is creating new processes and/or solutions that lead to considerably big and scalable improvements in value delivery, customer experience and ultimately quality of life.”

How do you factor your users/customers as you drive for innovation at MTN Nigeria?

We start off with ascertaining what the customer requires – remember that innovation is meant to solve customer pain-points at a scale hitherto non-existent. As an innovator however, in most cases you see beyond the customers’ imagination. That means, the customer may not even know that she needs a particular solution until you present it to her. In that case, traditional research would do little to guide the innovation process. It requires something different, modelling the unimaginable needs of some geeks. Whatever the case however, an idea of use case and the type of groups that will adopt same is fundamental to innovation.

“…innovation is meant to solve customer pain-points at a scale hitherto non-existent. As an innovator however, in most cases you see beyond the customers’ imagination.”

Which companies (around the world) do you admire most for their approach to innovation? Can you share what caught your attention about their practices?

Grab (which grabbed Uber out of Singapore and the region – talk of daring ‘bigly’), Walt Disney (incredible run, reinventing itself), Alphabet/Google (restless innovation to conquer the world and the way people live), Alibaba (their nothing is impossible kind of attitude to innovation), Amazon (with a finger in practically every pie coming from an industry where nothing like this would have been expected).

What advice would you give to professionals looking to improve their career in management?

Acquire and display loads of passion for changing and disrupting the way people live. Then follow your nose. Equally important, get into the innovation ecosystem and circles; learn some skills especially things around technology (5G, IoT, AR, ML, APIs, block-chain etc.). Study to understand these concepts and their impact on innovation today – they’re means to an end in innovation, and not the end in themselves.

“Acquire and display loads of passion for changing and disrupting the way people live. Then follow your nose.”

What #innovationmoment are you most proud of in your role?

The emergence of the 6 winners of the MTN ARDIC; rollout of MTN’s mother and child OHP campaign in 2018 arising from the Yellow heart campaign which I championed.

If you could build a company from the ground up, what innovation tactics or design methodologies would you use to build?

Design thinking is a sure bet for me, as well as end-user embedding to systematically query the solution and process for delivering it from point one (1). The customer at the centre, – nothing trumps innovation with this kind of design. Then I will adopt agile project management principles in birthing the innovation to optimize both cost and time.