Fellow graduands, I am honored to be here with you today on this final day of the Aresty Institute of Executive Education, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Advanced Management Program – AMP 78.
I would like to say a big thank you to the Wharton AMP faculty members, facilitators, and invited guest speakers for the wonderful opportunity afforded by the program. The program was intense, exciting, and much-needed learning of the global economy. I would also like to thank my cohorts, now turned friends and prospective future business partners for the engaging and instructive interactions
It would be an understatement to say that we currently live in trying times, but again, as in the past, we must continue to be resilient as we position to triumph against all odds. Every generation has faced immense difficulties, be it the blight of the Spanish Flu (1918), the Great Depression (1929-33), or the World Wars (1914-18, 1939-45). We, humans, are no strangers to difficult times. However, while these difficult times come with challenges, they also come with new opportunities for necessary interventions which generated prosperity and growth. It is in these difficult times that true leaders emerge and visionaries are forged and tested.
This was ordinarily supposed to be a physical program in Philadelphia scheduled to have lasted a couple of weeks. However, the pandemic changed the course of events as we have had nine months of extensive online sessions that have now come to an end. As such we are your first experiment in experiencing a virtual AMP, and a seemingly successful experiment at that.
The first lesson we have learned in the course of the program is that the ability to adapt is critical. A very smart man once posited that “it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent but the one that is most adaptable to change”. Change is constant and the Wharton AMP facilitators adapted and modified the program swiftly to address the demands of a changing world.
As global business leaders, the sessions on innovation and operations, marketing and creativity, finance and accounting, strategy, global trends, leadership, team management, and community building were very instructive on how to get the desired results, not just for the organization but as individuals. The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed gaps across different economies of the world. The session on Leading in Crisis could not have been more important. Focusing on the goal has always been a winning strategy, as challenges are bound to come, but that focus helps us elevate above the crisis and become solution providers.
Consequently, as we move to the next stage of our lives and careers using the knowledge, understanding, and tools that this program has impacted on us, I would like to emphasize the importance of hope and enthusiasm. The hope and enthusiasm to leave this world a better place than we found it, to surmount new and complex problems, to help and give back to our communities, and to share our knowledge freely, whilst we continue to explore new and better ways of doing things and achieving exceptional results.
We are marching into an uncertain world, but our steps and actions need not be uncertain.
Covid 19, brought us into an era when the world came together for a unified purpose – to overcome a common enemy. An enemy that did not discriminate between race, status, or geography. It has been a time when the whole world felt the same pain and the same need for survival. The world ran the same race, a race against time, and sought to purchase the same commodity – time -with most resources channeled to survival, and a hope to live to see just another day. There was an unprecedented unification of people across the world, hoping and single-mindedly holding our breaths for the same thing- LIFE. It has been a time where all people became preys and through shared concern learned to feel each other’s pain, beyond borders, color, or prosperity threshold
With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to rage and the resulting deepening of the Global North-South inequality, the opportunities to change and improve ourselves and our planet in these uncertain times must be utilized. We need visionaries now and action-oriented leaders more than ever before.
At the recently concluded G7 Summit, the G7 countries stressed the need to unite around a common purpose. As global citizens, we owe a responsibility to the world and to each other. I dare to say that in no other room in the world would you find people as well suited to taking on the great challenges of our times as we have here today – the challenge to lead and drive the energy transition movement for carbon reduction and a cleaner environment, The challenge to create cheaper and affordable sources of clean/ renewable energy and accelerate the adoption, to speed up the move away from less efficient machinery/ processes/ systems, to come up with new and innovative poverty reduction strategies, to ensure vaccine equity, to foster wildlife preservation and to create sustainable products Our planet has been through a lot, it’s time to think about ensuring the sustainability of life and living within the timeframe we have in all our activities. We have the opportunity, now, to leverage our knowledge and relationships to create new levels of value and extend the frontiers of humanity.
We must find the means to pursue purpose, enhance man’s happiness and creativity, create wealth and drive equitable progress globally. How can we unify the world around the virus of poverty? How can we apply the vaccine of multilateralism and social enterprise projects to build exceptional community relationships and thereby reduce the misery quotient globally? The opportunities to change and improve the world are endless.
We are here today, alive to say our goodbyes. So, I greet you all, not merely as peers and cohorts but as fellow survivors of an unforeseen period of chaos, fear, and death. I stand here, addressing you all, not just as consociates who went through tough times and high water but as friends who are hopeful of nurturing a better society. What the world has been through cannot be overstated or exaggerated. I would like to commend you for staying strong through these turbulent times.
In the midst of a most distressing global issue, we have hoped together, laughed together, thought together, and finished together. As we move towards recovery and a post-COVID world, it becomes paramount that we focus on purpose – that we emphasize why we are here and that we must strive to generate positive outcomes with significant impact and hopefully leave lasting legacies.
I look forward to the world reopening again fully to people meeting their loved ones around the globe and going back to business. This AMP has been an interesting journey and has re-energized me to pursue purpose. I am excited and I look forward to us applying the lessons learned with the rich tool kits in our various businesses and private lives
Once again, I would like to thank the faculty members for all the time and effort they have invested in us during the program. To my fellow graduands, we have gone from classmates to becoming friends. Together, we can do a lot as the future beckons to us. In Nigeria, my doors are always open, and I extend an open invitation to every one of you to come to visit my home country.
On a final note, we certainly will add value to Wharton Business School by “Putting knowledge into action.”
Our Story doesn’t end here.
See you in October.