The Future of Work Lies with the Next Generation Of Talent

Finance Maverick Papa Madiaw Ndiaye Discusses the Importance of Leveraging Tech-Savvy Talent for Success

What inspired you to establish AFIG Funds?

I wanted to have an impact. I still do, but the nature of the impact has changed over time.

Credit: African Development Bank

If you invest in a can-do person who never leaves a stone unturned and is positive, you will most likely succeed.

We brought in our network and helped establish an ecosystem for entrepreneurs who were already succeeding and were just trying to get to the next level. I felt we needed to have a venture capital approach to private equity, growth and expansion. This meant that we had to take a technology — private equity that actually existed somewhere else — understand it well, operate it, and then adapt it to an African environment, ensuring that we had a lot of flexibility to keep moving forward.

How do you identify the right talent to invest in and hire?

Fundamentally I always say I’m interested in the ‘can-do’ attitude of a person. It’s all about the attitude, because you could be in the most pristine, beautiful investment environment, but if you invest in the wrong person with the wrong attitude, you will not sleep well at night. On the other hand, you could be in the worst environment, but if you invest in a can-do person who never leaves a stone unturned and is positive, you will most likely succeed because they will come up with opportunities and solutions in the face of potential disaster. So attitude is really important.

How important is it to you to create opportunities for the next generation of talent?

Credit: White House

If you can’t leverage Africa’s young talent, you should not be working in Africa.

It’s fundamental. I mean, if you can’t leverage Africa’s young talent, you should not be working in Africa. In my case, I really believe that. One of the first things I did, as soon as I started AFIG Funds, was to work with my partners to start an internship programme. There were many things that I wanted to achieve, and being around talented and enthusiastic young people was going to solve for that. I wanted positive energy. When you work with people over a certain age, like myself, we have some energy, but it’s not the same. We’ve seen guys and girls full of hope, with the naivety that goes with it. I think that gets some of the creative juices flowing for somebody like myself.

How can young professionals best prepare themselves for the future of work?

Credit: Techgist Africa

The international language today is tech. So if you don’t speak tech, you have a problem.

Not too long ago — certainly coming from a French speaking country — the big thing was “learn English, so you can be fluent in the international language”. The international language today is tech. So if you don’t speak tech, you have a problem.

Photo by bruce mars via Unsplash

I think it’s fundamental to be a fighter. It’s fundamental to have grit. And all of that can be encapsulated by being anchored to your “why”.

Finally, what advice would you give to talented young professionals seeking to achieve success and add value to the companies and organisations where they work?

Three things. Number one: Don’t be fooled by acquiring a skill. It gets you through the door, but it doesn’t make you successful. Of course, you’ve got to get through the door first. You need to have the skill; go get trained, be excellent. Be number one, do whatever you can to really know technically what you need to do, because no one has time for technical glitches and mistakes. So don’t sleep on it, but don’t get too comfortable. Always be learning something new, and accept that what you just learned cannot be the be-all and end-all.

Credit: sarov.net

Always take the time to check in, surround yourself with people who make it impossible for you to forget who you are and what you’re trying to do.

In the last two years, I’ve taken it as a time to check in. Where am I? What do I need to do? And I feel like we’ve been given a warning. The human race has been taken to the edge of the cliff and it’s been a horrendous situation. But as you observe that, it’s important that you think to yourself, “I wasn’t off the cliff. So what do I do about that? And what do I do about the fact that I could have been off the cliff. What do I do with the rest of my time here?” Always take the time to check in, surround yourself with people who make it impossible for you to forget who you are and what you’re trying to do.

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