Astra Fellowship for Young Leaders of Tomorrow recently graduated its first cohort of 40 fellows in Lagos.
The fellowship aims to develop leadership skills and foster personal growth among software engineers, technology professionals, innovators, and creatives.
The program includes workshops and seminars on effective communication, team building, strategic planning, and decision-making in the technology industry.
Astra Fellowship for Young Leaders of Tomorrow has graduated its first cohort of 40 fellows during a recent ceremony in Lagos.
The fellowship was designed to provide software engineers, technology professionals, innovators and creatives with the skills they need to build their capacity for personal, professional and entrepreneurial leadership.
The fellowship, which was founded by veteran tech entrepreneur Bode Pedro, consists of workshops and seminars tailored towards developing leadership skills and fostering personal growth. Participants learn about effective communication, team building, strategic planning and decision-making, among other critical areas essential to successful leadership in the technology industry.
A mission to empower
Pedro, who is also the founder and CEO of Cassava Inc., Nigeria’s first 100% digital insurance company, said in his keynote speech that the event was intended to be an extraordinary moment to pay tribute to the exceptional young Nigerians who embarked on a transformative journey to create value and make a lasting impact on their community.
He explained that Astra Fellowship was established with a firm mission to empower highly accomplished young innovators by providing them with the necessary tools and resources to develop their leadership abilities, embark on purpose-driven journeys, and ultimately achieve remarkable success similar to Uche Pedro’s.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the inaugural cohort of 40 fantastic future leaders who are here today were carefully selected from a pool of candidates, currently being trained by our esteemed partner, Decagon Training Institute.
“When they embarked on a one-month training, which I was so happy and proud to join, guided by distinguished head coach, Dr Bamidele Oshinowo, our assistant coach, Dr Kenneth Ikenwa, both renowned educators and seasoned executives, and drawing from my recent experience as a graduate myself from the Programme for Leadership at Harvard Business School, we painstakingly designed the curriculum focused on three essential tenets, mastering yourself, becoming an authentic leader, and propelling your careers or your venture.
“I dream that in the years to come we will witness the remarkable growth of these fellows as they evolve into the very best version of themselves, making tremendous strides in their journey by creating value for others in achieving their goals and aspirations.
“To our exceptional fellows, the class of 2023, the Astra Fellowship and Leadership Development Programme, I extend my warmest congratulations to you on this significant milestone,” he said.
The essence of the fellowship
He proceeded to share and reflect on his journey, highlighting his impactful career as an entrepreneur. He mentioned that he had built and sold companies, recruited numerous employees, and generated value for both himself and investors.
He, however, admitted that he had also experienced stumbling, losses, underperformance, and failures along the way. According to him, he had encountered many exceptional young visionaries throughout his entrepreneurial journey, including Uche Pedro, Kenneth, the CEO of Kippa, Ebun, the founder and CEO of Bento, Obi Ozo, the founder of 360, Iyinoluwa, the founder of Flutterwave, and Ope, the founder of Jobberman.
He said some of these individuals have been his employees, friends, or business partners, while others he had met during his journey. He emphasized that all of them had discovered their purpose, and executed their plans to achieve success, create value, and empower others.
“Who am I? What are my strengths and weaknesses? What values do I hold dear? As Uche said, and I said about Uche, her purpose is very clear – to inspire and celebrate Africans. So everything she did, the work that she put together, the products that she built, the mission was very clear – it was her north star.
“What is your north star? How do I overcome personal and professional challenges? Some may be genetic, some may be trauma from growing up, at home, or maybe in our communities or maybe from school, or maybe in the workplace. Some of those may seem insurmountable in some cases.
“These questions haunted me during my entrepreneurial years. However, I now understand their profound importance because when you understand yourself and you know who you are, you master yourself; you can start building your true purpose as a person.
“This is precisely what the Astra Fellowship represents, the cultivation of self-aware, purpose-driven leaders who will emerge as technology entrepreneurs, distinguished executives, influential educators, and even public servants,” he said.
He added that these future leaders will leverage modern technology and innovation to make a profound impact on society.
Earlier, Obi Ozor, the founder of Kobo360, counselled the fellows to work for other people for starters so that they can get the experience they will encounter in their startups. He advised that they be on the ground to do their own business, learn how to sell, and learn how to convince investors to invest in their business.
Bode Abifarin of KPMG admonished the fellows to do the difficult things in life and in their careers to step up. She said for you to pivot you need a brain reset, adding that you can’t negotiate hard work.
Relating her experience, Astra fellow, Chikodinaka Ann Anyanwu, a Java Developer, said the program has instilled in her an entrepreneurial mindset that is enabling her to tackle challenges with a solution-oriented perspective.
Kenneth Jejelaye, a .Net engineer, said being an Astra fellow gives him a great opportunity to learn and develop while introducing him to mentors that have inspired him and other like-minded people to share his enthusiasm for innovation and entrepreneurship.
Minminyente Worimegbei, a Node.js developer, said the programme has given her the chance to learn hardcore skills like leadership, management, and conflict resolution master classes that she got free. “I am not taking this for granted. I am practising most of what I’ve learned and will take it to my next job,” she said.
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