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Learning how to become a leader through a one-year immersion at ITC

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

No one escapes her fate…

Mine gave me the chance to be an Ibrahim Leadership Fellow at ITC and advisor in the Office of the Executive Director. It has allowed me to equip myself with the tools and skills to better use my passion for trade to support the development of Africa.

[su_highlight]Africa has engaged in a sustainable structural transformation. To create a positive dynamic and build this emerging Africa, our countries need a new generation of committed and inspirational leaders. My ambition is to be at the forefront to contribute to good governance and inclusive growth and make a positive impact on my continent.[/su_highlight]

My year at the International Trade Center, the joint UN and WTO organisation dedicated to improve the competitiveness and the internationalisation of small and medium-sized enterprises, has been intense, professionally and culturally enriching, thanks to my missions in Hungary, Turkey and Lesotho, to name just a few, and working with colleagues from more than 90 different countries.

I handled multiple responsibilities during my year at ITC. These included preparing for and accompanying the Executive Director on some of her official visits to countries, writing speeches and briefing notes for meetings, reviewing the strength of technical and strategic argument in technical documents, undertaking research for the ED and the Chief Adviser/Chef de Cabinet, interacting with partners and high-level officials of beneficiary countries, handling protocol issues, guiding the design and implementation of trade-related technical assistance programmes and speaking on panels.

Through the one-on-one mentoring of the Executive Director and her senior managers, including the Deputy Executive Director, the Chief Adviser/Chef de Cabinet and the Heads of Divisions and my daily interactions with the operational sections, I learnt about the leadership expectations and functions in an international organisation, contributed to in-house strategic thinking, strengthened my technical expertise, expanded my professional network and, in general, became familiar with the United Nations and the WTO system.

This “learning by observing and doing” journey provided me with key Leadership qualities such as excellence in delivery, curiosity, confidence, flexibility, adaptation, communication, empowering others, humility and integrity. Today, I feel ready to act as a leader, put these new skills and experience at the service of my continent and play a leading role in creating this better Africa.

I thank the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and the International Trade Centre for their trust and invaluable support towards this journey.

Recognition is the memory of the heart; mine to you will be eternal.