Kevin Wakuze, a.k.a. “Mr. L&D” (Learning & Development) describes himself as a suave, modern learning champion.
He always has learning on his mind. Whether working or playing, he never stops thinking about corporate education or the 375 Cellulant employees he is responsible for developing.
Kevin takes us through his life at Cellulant;
What do you do at Cellulant?
I have the best job at Cellulant!My role has 3 key areas of success:
- Developing succinct professional development programs that are specific to team and individual needs, drives business growth, and ensures good talent retention & attraction.
- Building out a Center of Excellence(CoE) for L&D that stands out above the rest in the continent.
- Driving proper & targeted succession planning, and knowledge management that assures us of continuity in the business both through external and internal hires as well as knowledge management systems.
What drives you?
Developing people is my passion and purpose! I’m thrilled whenever I help someone see something they couldn’t see, and learn something they were struggling to learn and apply it well.
I’m always curious about what else I can be doing to help that process, not just for myself or Cellulant, but the entire learning community.
Anybody who is in this field has a great sense of satisfaction when they can see that light bulb go on in another individual’s eyes.
It says, ‘I’ve been able to contribute something, help them get it, help them in their career and help their business grow.
What new ways of doing things will you keep from this past year?
I’ll continue to apply McKinsey’s Three Horizons Model of innovation to my work. For context, The 3 horizons model is a growth strategy framework by McKinsey that you can use to think about the future of your company.
It can help you manage growth in a coordinated way. What this means for the L&D team is that in any given year:
- 70% of our effort is on the 1st horizon : Horizon 1 innovations provide continuous innovation to a company’s existing business model and core capabilities in the short-term, 1-3 years).
- 20% of our effort is preparing for the 2nd horizon: Horizon 2 innovations extend a company’s existing business model and core capabilities to new customers, markets, or targets. You should expect to see results from a horizon 2 project in 2-5 years.
- 10% of our effort is preparing for the 3rd horizon: Horizon 3 is the creation of new capabilities and new business to take advantage of or respond to disruptive opportunities or to counter disruption. These projects generally produce results in 5-12 years.
What are you looking forward to solving for the business this year?
I indrive three principal types of change at Cellulant:
- Revamping our learning goals, shifting the focus from the development of skills to the development of mindsets and capabilities that will help our employees perform well now and adapt smoothly in the future.
- Transforming our learning methods, shift away from traditional classroom instruction and adopt approaches that can provide learning to more employees, in more-customized ways.
(Think online and audio courses, video conferencing, interactive simulations, and formal opportunities for employees to reflect on and apply what they’ve been taught.)
- Streamlining the L&D department, making it more agile, and strategic by conducting performance consulting conversations, assessment of capability gaps, curating world-class curriculum and content, encouraging peer teaching, measuring the impact of training, and providing tools to tailor learning plans to individuals.
What is something you wish you knew earlier in your life?
Don’t let “perfect” be the enemy of “good”. We should all strive to do our best, but if you always aim for perfection, you may blow deadlines, annoy your colleagues, and miss out on opportunities. Instead of never being satisfied with “good enough,” talk to others about their standards.
What does a good job look like to your boss, peer, or client? Seek their feedback on expected results, costs, and timelines rather than trying to meet your extremely high standards.
Then check in regularly with these colleagues.
Don’t wait until you think the project is finished, build in checkpoints where you share your progress at 50% or 80% done.
Your boss or client might tell you that the work is good enough at that point!
You can also try small experiments where you relax your standards slightly. What happened? Were your worst fears realised?
Finally, consider how perfectionism impacts your relationships.
Are you setting unrealistic standards for those around you? The need to have it “perfect” will often annoy others, and in extreme cases, drive them away.
What achievement are you most proud of?
First, serving as Cellulant’s Group Head of Learning and Development is a dream come true for me.
I get an opportunity to live my passion and purpose, everyday—at scale.
Also, I’m very proud of the efforts that the L&D team has made over the last 3 months. For example, we’ve defined, and launched this year’s L&D strategy.
We’ve geared towards knowledge management implementation (an initiative that aims to enable knowledge and information to grow, flow, and create value in our business)
What is the best career advice you have received so far?
It’s from one of my greatest mentors. She taught me how to find my purpose using a Japanese concept called “Ikigai” —a reason for living.
Having a strong sense of ikigai—the place where passion, mission, vocation, and profession intersect—means that each day is infused with meaning.
It’s also the reason many Japanese never really retire (in fact there’s no word in Japanese that means retire in the sense it does in English):
They remain active and work at what they enjoy, because they’ve found a real purpose in life—the happiness of always being busy.
In your own words, what does Cellulant want to do in Africa and why is that inspirational for you?
We want to become a one-stop shop for businesses looking to transact across any region with any currency.
This inspires me to bring my A+ game everyday.