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Convener's speech


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A speech by Mrs. Ini Onuk, Lead Consultant/CEO, ThistlePraxis Consulting Limited

A speech by Mrs. Ini Onuk, Lead Consultant/CEO, ThistlePraxis Consulting Limited

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  • 1. Powered by 81B, Lafiaji Way, Dolphin Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria. +234 1 213 1404 +234 813 661 1906 FROM THE CONVENER Let me begin with gratitude to our Chief Host – the Executive Governor of Cross River State, His Excellency, Senator Liyel Imoke, and the amiable people of Cross River State, thank you for not hesitating to host the AR- CSR again. Although we had announced this time last year, that we were packing our bags to Addis Ababa; a series of circumstances – largely funding – conspired to keep us in Nigeria. In response, the team at the secretariat considered a strategy overhaul and at the right time, we will be ready to sit at the table with your team to make this a long-term and mutually rewarding relationship. I also thank you in an individual capacity, for your clear-cut demonstration of leadership and commitment. I am grateful and do thank you sincerely. I must also commend very deeply the Cross River State Government’s Investment Promotion Bureau headed by the Special Adviser to the Governor - Mr. Gerald Ada and his team, who have been brilliantly swift and cooperative all through the planning process. I thank our sponsors, Diamond Bank and Shell Nigeria for their support and investment in this initiative. Appreciation is also in order to our Media Sponsors, Africa Magic and Ventures Africa for the media push. ThistlePraxis Consulting is truly grateful to the 2013 Keynote Speaker, Mr. Ashish Thakkar. We thank you for accepting without any reservations to be here. (Although we had met and I didn’t mention it, your acceptance was the final confirmation we had to again host this event in Nigeria and nowhere else). Our Lead Discussant, To all our discussants and speakers, what can I say - many of you I have only recently met; thank you for identifying with a good initiative even without personal interaction with the convening team or me in the past—you are certainly leaders. Transformational Leadership. Innovation. Sustainability. One factor, which the organization striving for innovative supremacy and sustainability cannot afford to ignore, is leadership. A charismatic and inspirational leader can transform the organization’s reality completely. Transformational leaders inspire followers with a vision that addresses their higher needs and engage followers in the attainment of that vision.
  • 2. Powered by 81B, Lafiaji Way, Dolphin Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria. +234 1 213 1404 +234 813 661 1906 Transformational leaders become role models for their followers and make their followers to go beyond their self-interests for the benefit of a larger collective. Thereby followers cease to be driven by material rewards and instead aspire for higher levels of motivation (such as self-actualization). In addition to being innovative iconoclasts, transformational leaders can also be trusted to do the right thing. Doing the right thing even when it is not popular requires courage and visionary leaders possess the required strength of character. This attracts followers towards them and makes followers emulate them. Thus over a period of time, followers also become more innovative. There are two important segments of innovation, namely, product innovation and process innovation. It should be noted that innovation could also be pursued radically (i.e. sudden change of modus operandi) and incrementally (i.e., incremental with step-by-step improvement). However, driving innovation could involve developing strategies, and processes that facilitate the transformation of ideas to final product or service. It should be pointed out that I consider innovation as the new pre-requisite for competitive advantage. In linking that to transformational leadership, innovation requires an ongoing investment in leadership skills needed to support innovation. One of the significant trends shaping today’s businesses in a global economy, is that organizations can no longer rely merely on access to natural resources, technology, or capital. As each of these bases of competitive advantage loses relevance, what differentiates an excellent firm from a merely efficient firm is the quality of its creativity and innovation and their ability to get things done in a superlative manner. This trend underscores the recognition that a superior strategy, which is consistently innovating and giving off its best to the organization, is a superior source of competitive advantage; and that will be sustainability. Sustainability is a key stratum of organizational and technological innovation that yields both bottom-line and top-line returns, and invariable results in lower costs, less inputs, new products and services. In the final analysis, the quest for sustainability becomes transformative because sustainability is a megatrend. Sustainability is the new key driver of innovation. Even for the public sector – governments, government
  • 3. Powered by 81B, Lafiaji Way, Dolphin Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria. +234 1 213 1404 +234 813 661 1906 agencies etc, it is no longer a peripheral issue. Public service needs dynamic changes to deliver national good to its citizens. The seeming consciousness we have observed across the continent, the emerging voices for change, the pockets of initiatives and game-changing models, the clusters of individuals reaching deep to challenge the status quo with superior arguments; indeed this consciousness which we herald as a step in the right direction – must not fizzle out. This is the challenge before us – not just as we deliberate today and tomorrow, but as a generation in existence at a turning – point. Africa is at a turning point. WE are no longer the Dark Continent but can we drive urgent innovations? At ThistlePraxis, we are driven by the constant need to innovate. We have evaluated our impact to restructure our model into a full-fledged management consulting practice providing client services through a six-point portfolio – Strategy & Performance, Assessments & Audits, Public Sector Effectiveness, Advocacy & Thought Leadership, Research & Reporting and Competence Development. I am superbly excited to present to you our modest attempt at innovation - ThistlePraxis’ Mobile Apps, Carbon Calculator, Sustainable Conversations Online and Test Cafe. They are projects of our Advocacy & Thought Leadership Division. This bouquet of mobile apps and New Media-driven initiatives are in line with emerging trends, increase in digital media appreciation and online penetration across African economies. We intend to have much more useful information readily available for African professionals whilst growing a virtual community of resources on important issues so as to further promote the adoption and practice of Sustainability in Africa.
  • 4. Powered by 81B, Lafiaji Way, Dolphin Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria. +234 1 213 1404 +234 813 661 1906 The Carbon Calculator will enable individuals and organizations track emissions whilst the test café will allow users explore various areas and evaluate their understanding of same. We expect that these will capture and retain the attention of more individuals whilst promoting eco-friendly lifestyles. ThistlePraxis Consulting in strategic partnership with The CSR Company Austria is also pleased to announce ‘The CSR Label’ Certification and Audit services in West Africa from July 2013. We intend to assist consumers in finding and buying products which comply with the ISO 26000 International Standard on Social Responsibility and other global best practices. At ThistlePraxis, we remain resolute and continue to foster a future where Africa leads discussions on Sustainability. The countdown has already begun for the 2014 edition and for the first time, we intend to start off the calendar with the Pre-Summit Meetings across the regions of the continent. We hope you will again join us between June 19 and 20, 2014 as delegates, partners and sponsors hopefully, again here in Calabar. Our offer to our Host, the Cross River State Government to test-run a model for a Sustainable Development Commission still stands. I am hopeful that yet again the resolutions of our deliberations will make a very useful resource document whilst we hold up the flicker of hope that as Africans and African organizations, we will do the right thing. The questions here today are many? How do we drive game-changing strategies within the public and private sectors? What is the role and place of transformational leadership in ensuring the innovative creativities are sustainable? Are we truly harnessing the innovations that have come out of Africa in the recent past? Can we and are we ready to export African innovations? Can we trust our leadership both in the public and private sectors? Is the business of business still business? How can Africa reverse the tide and uphold Transformational Leadership at all levels, one that constantly drives sustainable innovation?