My Decade in Review: Professional Lessons + Reflections

Decade in Review

I had a great time going through images from the last few years and reflecting on how all the things have done have led me to me starting my own coaching and consulting practice.

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2010 – Finished my undergraduate degree in Growth and Structures of Cities at Bryn Mawr College, and rather than accept a ‘real internship’ related to what I studied, I went to Johannesburg, South Africa to work at the 2010 Football World Cup.  In South Africa, I decided I didn’t like working in the real world and figured I would go into academia. 

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2011 – Graduated from my accelerated Masters in City Planning program at the University of Pennsylvania. At this point, I knew I wanted to get out of school as fast as possible, but I was crushed I couldn’t find a full-time job in planning.  The US was still in a recession and I decided to move to beautiful Olympia, Washington, USA where I had a blast working outside and biking in the rain as an Americorps Volunteer.

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2012 – I did everything I could to find full-time opportunities in Africa. I decided the easiest move was back to Accra, Ghana and thanks to a former schoolmate, I got a great well-paid internship at a USAID (United States Agency for International Development) project but had a hard time finding a well-paid opportunity in development or planning.

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2013 – Was recruited to join what would eventually become Jumia Group in Ghana.  I was one of the first people they hired to launch and lead one of their online platforms.  I was invited to build their real estate classifieds platform and I thought it was an impossible mission. As someone who studied planning, I had done research on real estate in Ghana and knew it was full of fraud. I took the job thinking I would leave once I found something closer to what I studied, instead I fell in love with monetizing the platform and building my team.  Though I was not involved in building physical structures, I was building teams and the businesses of the agents my platform supported. 

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2014 – We had amazing opportunities to grow the platform, brand and increase the amount of information available to all those involved and interested in the real estate sector in Ghana. My team grew and so did my fear of ‘doing the wrong things.’  I realized my very non-emotionally intelligent way of engaging my team would not scale and started reading books on leadership and reaching out to people in my network for support.  

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2015 – I was asked to take over the Nigeria classified platform and I was scared to so do. I had heard horror stories of taking over another person’s business and team (and they were quite close to the truth. Lol) and living in Lagos.  I decided to take the opportunity but requested to keep my Ghana team as well.  I wanted more responsibility and the opportunity to manage people remotely.

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2016 – I moved fulltime to Lagos and really enjoyed my time outside of the office. I dealt with a lot of office politics and team dynamic challenges. I was introduced to coaching and toyed with the idea to do a leadership-focused MBA to help take my management focused career to the next level.  I was also traveling back and forth between Accra and Lagos almost every week or so.

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2017 – This was one of the hardest and most amazing years for me professionally and personally. I was told my platforms (in both countries) were going to be sold to competitors but was not allowed to tell my teams for months.  I was upset because I had to withhold information from my teams and thought I would never find another opportunity with as much responsibility and funding. Letting go of my team (by the time I left Jumia I had directly or been involved in letting go over 100 individuals between Ghana and Nigeria) was extremely difficult and there was a lot of resistance and negativity directed towards me. I also had to deal with finding another opportunity myself and doing my MBA and professional coaching coursework.

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2018 – This is the year I realized how marketable I was.  I leveraged the heck out of my experience and had a chance to visit and interview at some of the most innovative and well-funded tech-enabled companies on the continent. I decided to join a start-up interior architecture company (where I secured an opportunity with more responsibility and my take-home was 75% more than at Jumia) but after 5 months decided it was not the right place for me. On a whim, I registered my business and challenged myself to do something on my own.  One of the first opportunities I got was to host a few sessions at a fintech conference.

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2019 – What a year! My first time working for myself full-time and though I enjoy building and enabling teams and businesses I really thrive supporting other leaders to do so by learning more about themselves first.  This year I served over 50 individuals, graduated from my leadership-focused MBA and conducted my employee engagement masterclass four times.

What are some of the things you have been up to over the last 10 years?  What have you learned?

1 comment

Anthony Eli Agbenu Jan 16, 2020 07:08pm

Nice overview of the last decade to show your progress.

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