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‘Development Finance changed me as a person’ – Adwoa Opoku-Nyarko

  • Oct 22 2019
  • Tags Alumni, journey, MDev

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Adwoa Opoku-Nyarko has always believed that Africa is rich with history, culture and potential. But it was only after completing her MPhil in Development Finance (MDevF) that she began to realise her role in contributing to Africa’s development.

Here she shares how she discovered the key to unlocking a prosperous future for the continent:

Learnings

Since completing the MDevF I can definitely say that I am a completely different person to who I was prior to completing the programme.

“The MDevF taught me how to think critically about what it will take to effectively contribute to the development of the African continent.”

I have always believed that Africa is rich with history, culture and potential. However, it was only after completing the MDevF that I began to “connect the dots” in terms of how I could practically do my part with regards to contributing to its development. I now see how entrepreneurship (both on a small and large scale), financial inclusion of the poor, infrastructure development and responsible investing are some of the keys to unlocking a prosperous future.

Effective time management is definitely a skill that I credit to the part-time study route, as clear prioritisation and focus are paramount to successfully completing on time. It was very stressful at times, but the programme also enabled me to take a long term approach and work towards an end goal. I had to realise that the strict deadlines were only for a season and that it would be worthwhile in the end.

“Working within a team always comes with its unique set of challenges. However, it can also develop you as a person.”

Working with individuals from different industries and countries also taught me some key lessons. Working within a team always comes with its unique set of challenges. However, it can also develop you as a person – making you reflect on how you can improve for the sake of achieving collective goals.

Highlights

Sitting in a classroom filled with students from across the continent was a definite highlight. Not only did it enrich the classroom discussions, it provided insights into how the practical implementation of theory differs depending on specific country context. Over and above this, it provided me with an opportunity to form some amazing friendships with like-minded people.

“Another key highlight for me was the exposure that we had to the “softer skills” needed in order to achieve development.”

Another key highlight for me was the exposure that we had to the “softer skills” needed in order to achieve development. Some of my favourite modules were Microfinance, which focuses on financial inclusion of the poor, and Governance and Ethics. I found such modules to be very enriching.

Career path

The MDevF has had an undeniable impact on my career development. It developed my critical thinking skills and I have really seen the value of this within the workplace, as I am now better equipped to make decisions that consider all angles. I am currently working for USB Executive Development (Pty) Ltd (USB-ED) as the Customer Experience Brand Manager, and this ability to think critically about situations that I face has served me very well. In addition to this, I following my completion of the programme, I have been very privileged to work alongside the Institute for Futures Research (IFR) and USB on some development, governance and ethics-related projects.

“The MDevF has had an undeniable impact on my career development. It developed my critical thinking skills and I have really seen the value of this within the workplace.”

Final thoughts

I can honestly say that doing the MDev has changed my life for the better. I didn’t realise, at the start of my journey, the impact that the programme would have on my life. I am truly grateful for the opportunity that was granted to me. If you are passionate about growth and development, I would definitely recommend this programme.

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