Ethiopia Trip Report: Events organized at Addis Ababa University

Since I returned from Ethiopia, I’ve been reporting about my trip. If in case you missed my previous three reporting, you may check out the links below:

  1. Ethiopia Trip Report: Media Appearances

2. Ethiopia Trip Report: Workshops for media institutions

3. Ethiopia Trip Report: Events organized at the University of Gondar

In this report, I’d like to share with you the highlights of my visit to Addis Ababa University (AAU). For your info, AAU is my alma mater. When I decided to return to the motherland after 13 long years, I vowed to pay back my former university, which gave me so many growth opportunities. On top of doing my first degree, AAU (the then student leaders) gave me a chance to serve its community as the president of AAU Students’ Union in 1997/98. This was the institution where I had a chance to serve nationally, travel to some African countries, and become a better person and leader.

The majestic main gate of AAU

Fortunately, my request to serve my alma mater got positive responses from the President- Prof. Tasew and Drs. Demeke Achisew & Kassu Jilcha, Directors of External Relations and Career Development Center, respectively. At AAU, I had three wonderful opportunities to serve. Let me quickly give you the summary of these events:

  1. With AAU Leadership. The university’s top leaders including Vice-Presidents, Directors, Executives, Deans; Middle and Lower Level Managers were invited by the President to attend this keynote. The theme of my presentation was ‘AAU Reclaiming Its Historic Responsibilities in the Nation Building Process’. The focus of the speech was about how AAU could play its fair share on the ongoing change process by raising competent change agents (Technocrats). I underscored the fact that the country, more than ever, needs a generation that can shoulder the responsibilities of transforming Ethiopia in one generation. In the end, we had a Q&A session where we had hot discussions about the kind of deep change and cultural reforms Ethiopia needs, the roles of the university in these regards, and some other proactive roles this historic university could play as a national learning institution, which had played crucial roles in the past as the nation went through so many transformations. I also shared some of the soft skills students need to develop so as to succeed while they are on campus and after graduation, and as they play their fair share on the ongoing change process. I also suggested incorporating and making these soft skills as part of the curriculum like other mainstream courses.
With the university’s leaders at Nelson Mandela Hall in Sidit kilo, the main campus of AAU

2. With AAU Career Development Center Team. I found the Director of the Center- Dr. Kassu, as a very dedicated and passionate servant who is working tirelessly to serve the student body. He invited trainers from all the campuses to attend this workshop. By the way, I was impressed by the prime attention the university gave to career development. The Center directly reports to the President. I showed the team the crucial roles soft skills play by taking some insights, facts, stories, tools, and approaches from my third book ‘Soft Skills That Make or Break Your Success’. I suggested the incorporation of certain soft skills on top of teaching students on how to write killer resumes, develop interviewing skills, and conducting mock interviews. Though the latter three skills are important to get one’s foot in the door, they are not enough to impress experienced recruiters. Most importantly, unless these skills are coupled with certain soft skills, they’re not adequate for students to thrive and continue to climb the corporate ladder.

The Career Development Team

3. With the Student Leaders. I had a consultative meeting with Addis Ababa University Students’ union leaders. The experience took me 20 years back in memory lane. I shared with them what it looked like to be a student leader back in the days, the things that helped our team succeed, the challenges we faced, and some of the results we have achieved, and more. They asked questions on how to overcome the challenges they are facing now, how to serve their constituents with excellence, and so on. We talked about some of the soft skills and leadership competencies they need to develop in order to serve the students body in particular and the AAU community at large with leadership excellence. We also discussed how they may play crucial roles in the nation-building process by tapping into the opportunity that presents itself in current Ethiopia. They asked me to continue to support the union’s leadership to build its organizational and leadership capacity, and I said yes… I want to thank student leader Juhar Sultan Yusuf, who was communicating with me before I even set my foot in Ethiopia to bring the student leaders together.

AAU Student Leaders…

Will share with you the last report on my Ethiopia Trip very soon. Stay tuned!

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