The IBM Leading to Africa (L2A) program is a world class internship that guarantee personal and professional development and the opportunity to collaborate and network.
Toni Adentan, recently concluded her IBM Leading to Africa placement scheme, where she worked as a Core Deals Solutioning Support (SDCoE) with IBM UK. Toni was based in London South Bank office.
What made you interested in the program?
Like many on the UK Leading to Africa scheme, I’ve grown up identifying with two nationalities, in my case lying at the intersection between British and Nigerian culture. Carrying this unique identity largely moulded my formative years and the ideals that I now stand by. Similar to my upbringing, the Leading to Africa scheme offered me the chance to take advantage of both of these cultures but on a much larger scale, making it no surprise that the L2A scheme caught my attention.
Why did you apply to the program?
With Africa Rising being a common narrative surrounding the continent, and in line with my aspirations of positively impacting the continent, the Leading to Africa scheme provided the unique opportunity to be a part of the social projects IBM is working on in key countries of focus while being exposed to all aspects of the corporate culture. It was clear that the time was right to get involved in development and business opportunities present in the continent.
Tell us about your experience with the program.
The L2A program afforded me a number of experiences, most notably my trip to IBM Lagos. Realising the opportunity I had to leverage IBM’s global network, I initiated relationships with IBMers based in Nigeria, which led to the chance to shadow the Marketing Lead for Central and West Africa in the Lagos office. Thus, after 20 years I returned back to my native country, Nigeria. All in all, from the moment I arrived at the Murtala Muhammad International airport Lagos, the trip had already exceeded my expectations. Experiencing first-hand the realities of the issues I once could only distantly evaluate and suggest solutions to, reignited my passion for all things pertaining to the development of the continent.
As a firm believer in setting goals and expectations before significant endeavours, my main goal for the trip was to fully embrace Nigerian culture in the hopes of determining how I’d operate both socially and professionally if I was to move back and of course to network. Both of which I was able to achieve, either through enjoying traditional Nigerian dishes such as pounded yam and efo during lunch or gaining invaluable advice from L2A alumni, but most importantly refining my pidgin English skills. The highlight of the experience was being involved in projects and campaigns that were not only integral to the life of the average Nigerian consumer but also having ripple effects, with implications for those in the diaspora.
My short stay there made me even more certain of my decision to work in the African continent in the future and would definitely recommend such a trip to existing and future L2A interns. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be in the presence of people who are currently Leading in Africa and are also passionate about the continued development of the continent through Science, Technology and Innovation. I look forward to seeing where the future takes all of those I encountered.
What do you like most about the program?
The best part about the Leading to Africa scheme for me was the opportunity to work with like-minded individuals who are also passionate about the continent.
Collaboration has been central to the scheme and among us we generated initiatives, from brainstorming sessions to discuss specific challenges present in the continent e.g. financial inclusion, to finding and gaining sponsorship for key events such as TEDxEuston, among others — all of which are essential in preparing us to be future leaders in the continent. We were also under great leadership, and were allowed to pursue most of the ideas we came up with.
What tips can you give to help potential applicants?
The best tip I would give to IBM applicants is to display your passion for the company from the first application form to the final interview. Such informed enthusiasm is key to standing out from other applicants.
If you’re yet to research the company’s annual reports, follow it on LinkedIn or gain an understanding of its offerings. It’s important to show your commercial awareness.
For more information about our other student programs at IBM, take a look here.
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