Strong Showing for Recruitment to Top Businesses in Africa
The second edition of Africa Business Day featured another high-powered panel debate and a Career fair involving a dozen companies implemented on the continent. The November 26 event asked participants from HEC Paris - and beyond - to answer the question “Are you the next leader in Africa?”
After last year’s focus on the continent’s agility and innovation, this Africa Business Day sought to entice would-be candidates to the remarkable opportunities African-based companies offer graduates. That is, those with “the right mindset” for some of its booming economies, according to Nene Maïga. She’s the articulate chief of staff to the CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa and a regular guest to such events at her former school (H12). “The ideal profile to work in Africa is one which brings together a mixed background, a rich bag of soft skills and good teamwork abilities.” However, Maïga insisted, these skills needed to be augmented by an agile and flexible mindset.
Brice Chasles concurred: dexterity and imagination are essential elements to thrive in Africa. The CEO for Deloitte Francophone Africa told a full audience in S building that his company is recruiting graduates who are self-starters and business-shapers. “This is one of the world’s most complex regions and one’s flexibility and knowledge of Africa’s business culture needs to be complemented by a good sense of humor,” said the Deloitte veteran who graduated from HEC’s TRIUM program in 2012.
CMA CGM Rides Africa’s Development Wave
During the one-hour panel debate, these two successful HEC alumni were joined by a diverse gamut of business and education leaders who provided a range of insights into their experiences over the years. Newly arrived as the head of CMA CGM’s Talent Acquisition department, Andrew James brought with him a global vision of his company, a world leader in logistics and shipping. “We have representatives in 50 of Africa’s 54 nations, so we need to have an understanding of the international nature of our workforce, one going beyond the continent. But this is an exciting moment to be in Africa, its development depends on goods being transported and this is where CMA CGM comes to the fore.”
With 770 offices worldwide, the company headquartered in Marseilles is well placed to tap into a continent which has seen strong development in sectors as diverse as off-grid solar, fashion, outsourcing, cinema, healthcare and education. These last two sectors were present at Africa Business Day in the shape of Nanna-Freja Riis Larsen, Global Talent Manager at Novo Nordisk. The global healthcare company, headquartered in Denmark has been a leader in diabetes care for a century and employs over 42,000 people in 80 countries. “Novo Nordisk is currently offering some fabulous career opportunities in Algeria and Kenya. In 2020 we’re offering 48 graduate opportunities worldwide” Larsen said. “We are promoting talent programs with a strong focus on professional and personal development as well as international rotations that will build talents for the future.” Novo Nordisk’s two-year development journeys are seen as natural transitions into a professional environment devoted to helping people living with chronic diseases.
Following the debate, students queued patiently to discuss the opportunities the ten companies present could offer them as interns or fully-fledged employees. Their representatives patiently answered questions and accepted the resumes proposed by students from a diversity of backgrounds and disciplines. Puma Energy, one of the fastest growing independent global energy companies in the world, held one particularly popular desk. Exiting from a brief exchange, Sheri-Ola of HEC’s Master in Marketing degree shared her satisfaction: “This has been a useful evening. The business representatives here have put our minds at ease over the possible constraints in working in Africa. They described showed how many of these companies are investing in their service-based programs which provide plenty of opportunities.”
Barriatou’lah and Zeadé of the MBA program left their candidacies with one of the sponsors of the evening the Agence Française de Développement (AFD). “I’m glad there was less focus on the challenges posed by our continent’s infrastructure and more about how your career can flourish by answering these challenges with imagination and flexibility,” said the former, a Beninese who hopes to return to West Africa after graduation in 2020. AFD’s country officer in Nigeria, Vincent Larrouzé, said the profiles he met during the evening met with his team’s drive to support the continent’s young innovators and back their most promising projects. “We have put in place a wide range of ambitious programs to accelerate Africa’s transition towards a more sustainable and fairer system of development,” commented the veteran analyst, a former adviser in France’s Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs. "There has been a surge of interest here for our focus on governance, health, biodiversity and education, making HEC an excellent place to recruit future leaders for Africa.” This latest event is part of the school’s ongoing drive to expand its involvement in the continent.