Monday, 12 October 2015

A day in the life of an ABE regional manager

In our series of job profiles, regional manager for East Africa, Aloyo Amateshe, describes his career and how he came by his role at ABE, as well as what a typical day might consist of.

How I started

I did all my studies in Kenya. After successfully completing a Level 7 qualification I topped up to an MBA.  Along the way, I have done many other professional courses.

My parents are both excellent and experienced teachers by profession. As a result, I have always had a keen interest in education. However, my vocational qualifications and first degree were in IT. While working in the IT sector, I was informed of an opening with a UK awarding organisation for a regional business manager. What encouraged me to apply was the fact that a degree in education was not mandatory. I aced the interview and found myself working in education. I enjoyed the work immensely and this served to confirm my love for this sector. I had the task of growing the company’s vocational qualifications portfolio while at the same time protecting their current business through high-level customer care and support. I worked as an International Education Consultant for six years before pursuing different interests and challenges.

Where I am now
I joined ABE in 2015. Having known them from my college days, I was quick to notice the positive changes and campaigns going on, especially on social media.

My overall role is that of helping to increase the visibility of ABE’s qualifications in Kenya and East Africa at large. The most important skills required for such a position include customer care, public relations, negotiation and presentation. I would mention that anyone looking to grow their career in this field must have a sharp focus on public speaking skills.

Here is my typical day

The start of the day
I usually write down my to do list which I fondly abbreviate on a fresh page of my notebook as TTDTD (Things To Do Today). Next, I access my Facebook account to send birthday greetings to all contacts celebrating one on that particular day.  After that, I proceed to the main ABE Facebook page to check any new posts that may have been put up. Should there be any important articles or links I get to read them at that time. This exercise is limited to 30 minutes. Finally, I read and respond to emails before getting on with the rest of my schedule.

Daily tasks
Emailing ranks at the very top of my daily activity, receiving and making calls to our accredited partners is next as part of my customer care. My schedule can, however, be unpredictable especially when I have to carry out an inspection of a prospective ABE partner or perhaps have a meeting with an existing institution.

The best things about my job
I enjoy giving talks to students when I visit ABE colleges. As a mentor, I enjoy imparting some life skills (such as time management, personal branding and leadership) to learners, in addition to useful information such as what ABE is all about and why they have made the right choice to take up an ABE qualification. It’s usually very interesting.

I’m proud of learners who are not shy to ask questions. I’m also proud of institutions that demonstrate good planning by alerting me about upcoming activities early in the day – such as graduation ceremonies where I’m expected to be one of the key guests. Finally, I’m most proud of learners who excel at their ABE qualifications while in the quest for a bright future.

The skills that make a great regional manager
One needs to have excellent knowledge of the market and of ABE’s qualifications.  You need to be excellent at networking, a good communicator and consultative seller.  You also need to be patient, know how to negotiate, have an approachable personality, manage time at every opportunity, and be good at public speaking and giving presentations.

The last task of the day
If time allows, I usually write down my plan for the next day. I then go back to the official ABE Facebook page to check if there are any new postings or perhaps to see the kind of responses earlier posts have elicited. I also try my best to ensure that all emails have been read and responded to before calling it a day. This includes sending out emails to confirm receipt of important information while promising to provide required feedback as soon as possible.

An ABE Business Management Diploma will develop many of the skills Aloyo finds vital to his role.  They offer a great starting point wherever you career takes you.  Find out more…

Monday, 5 October 2015

What makes a website great?

At ABE websites are on our minds.  This is because the time has come for the current ABE site to be updated to something faster, more responsive, easier to navigate and that will, generally, look pretty fantastic!

Apart from being fantastic, designers and developers asked us if there is anything the new site absolutely must (or must not) do. Like many businesses we have many stakeholders with widely varied requirements and the new site needs to be brilliant for everyone. To ensure we achieve this, we created our top 10 checklist of what we think makes a website great: 
  1. It starts with clever design – a well-designed homepage will link you straight to what matters most to you and the business
  2. It’s fast - no one wants to sit around waiting for information to load
  3. It's about you – it has useful, relevant and more importantly updated content so you find the exact information you are after
  4. Location, Location, Location – it delivers content to you based on your location, such as upcoming events in your area
  5. It tells you everything – you will know who the company are, exactly what they do and where they do it so you’re not left with half information and unanswered questions
  6. Connects you with the rest of the world – like it, share it, follow them
  7. You don’t need to read (much) – unless you require detailed technical specifications the best websites are those that provide you with punchy, at-a-glance information with the minimum amount of reading required
  8. It has a clear call to action – if you have gone onto the website to achieve something, such as make a purchase or become a member, then you should be guided to a simple and fast process to complete your objective
  9. It’s responsive – it goes without saying that nowadays a great website should remain great on all devices
  10. It looks awesome – design is a subjective thing, but clever use of imagery, graphics and layout can take a website from the functional to the exceptional. This makes visiting it a pleasurable thing.  

We have another 100 (or a million..) things on our wish list, but these ten are the most important and the new ABE website is being designed to meet this list. But what do you think makes a website great?  If you have some other suggestions let us know…

Monday, 28 September 2015

A day in the life of a Marketing Director

Have you every wondered what it might be like to be a marketing director or, if you are one, how your job compares to others?  Here in the first of our job profiles relating to ABE subject areas, our marketing director, Kate Winter, describes what her typical day might comprise of...

How I started
I started in marketing after working in an administration department for an events company. Marketing looked so much fun – the team were rushing off to exciting events, creating new collateral and organising press trips. When an opportunity came up for an assistant role, I applied and was put through a thorough assessment to see if I was the best candidate. One of the tests was reading through a research report and writing an article in three different styles. This was something I loved doing and still do to this day.

How it is now

From here I built on my marketing qualifications at the same time as working to build my career.  Now I head up my own team and I have the same passion for marketing that I had when I first started. I enjoy the variety, the pressure, and the creative aspects of the role. I really enjoy discussing opportunities and ideas with my team, and their dedication and enthusiasm brings great results as well as a lot of laughs on the way.

Here is my typical day:-

The start of the day

Mornings are taken up with emails from our partners, issues raised overnight on social media – for example students who want to know their exam results or who have forgotten their membership numbers – and urgent matters raised by my team or the business. We may have to change something on our website or provide a centre (college) with lots of collateral (flyers and branded giveaways) for an event. Every day is different.

Daily meetings
We have an informal team meeting once a week where we discuss what we are doing that week, where our dependencies are and any issues we have. As the head of the department it is my job to help resolve those issues where I can. For example one of my team might be going to an event and needs a laptop or phone so they can keep up with their emails or post messages on social media.

Right now we are going through a re-brand so that involves everyone on the team. We will look at a new piece of collateral that one of our designers has been working on, discuss what we like about it and what we want to change. That could be anything from colours used, to fonts, to application of our logo, right through to formatting, styles and where the piece we are working on will be used. We often eat breakfast together and the meeting will usually overrun by around an hour so that everyone can share their views.

Some days are full of meetings so I might be called into a Leadership Team meeting or into an interview.  I have one to ones with my team members every other week and I also have my own one to one with our CEO. I need to be super prepared for that meeting, so I note down all my team’s achievements for the week, and get my list of requests or queries ready.

There are often external meetings to attend – the last one was at the House of Commons in London.  Next month I will be heading off to Africa to meet our area managers and our centres. We also attend industry events so we can network and keep up to date with the latest trends.

IT & social media
Marketing is responsible for websites so we have a lot of interaction with IT.  Fortunately I have had responsibility for websites prior to my current role so I am used to technical terminology and function. I think this is absolutely necessary for today’s marketer – the tools and techniques for web and social sharing are just as important as the content.

If the day is lighter on meetings that is good but it will mean phone calls. I receive lots of calls from people wanting us to buy advertising.  Mostly I say no to these because we are focusing on digital initiatives.  Facebook is our most popular channel. We get great results using it – just recently we asked for alumni to share their stories with us. We received around 300 responses.

International communication
We are an international organisation so we have colleagues working all over the world and we have international partners including colleges and universities. Colleges often need promotional materials so we keep a stock of items that we think students will like. We also create posters for them which we make available in printed format as well as digitally.  There is lots of interaction with people from all over the world and we try to be as responsive as we can.  We use  skype, Google hangouts and go to meeting as well as tools like Whatsapp to keep in touch.

One of the things I like about marketing is that there are always new projects and initiatives.  At present we are working on a new website so there is a lot of interaction with the web development agency. They will come to us to present their ideas on the structure and style of our new site. I like to consult with my team and other areas of the business about what will work best.  When I have a clear idea in my own mind I will give them a call, note down all my thoughts and share with them.

Almost every day will encompass some copy writing in one form or another. It could be a press release, an announcement for LinkedIn, a new brochure, website copy, advertising or social media posts.  I usually need it to be quiet to write, which is hard in a busy open plan office. Lunchtimes or later in the day are good times to get that done.

Home Time!

At the end of the day if I am in the office I will change into my cycling gear and ride four miles home. I need that bit of time to think about the priorities for tomorrow. Then it’s dinner and early to bed before the whole thing starts again.

If you fancy building a career in marketing an ABE Marketing Management qualification is a great starting point.  Find out more.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Alumni profile: Dennis Oriaku, Nigeria

Dennis has completed the ABE Level 6 Diploma and has found it has supports his successful career as an HR supervisor.  He has also found he feels well-equipped to develop further academically and become a business leader.

My name is Dennis Oriaku. I am a level 6 graduate of the ABE Business Management. Since 2012 I have been working with Provast Limited, Nigeria, as the Human Resource Supervisor. I enjoy every bit of my working life which has been filled with achievements; I have won the best staff award consecutively since 2012.
I chose to study for an ABE qualification because of its worldwide acceptability and the depth of knowledge the programme offered. Also, its seamless progression into degrees and Masters programmes in various countries around the world.

I started out with International Study Centre at Ikeja in Nigeria and later opted for self-study. It was not easy studying on my own and I had to devote time to research on the internet, studying my textbooks and the study packs provided by ABE to advance my knowledge.

ABE qualifications are still in a growth stage in Nigeria. At first some employers didn’t see the need to hire an ABE graduate but that has changed as ABE students have proved by achieving excellence on the job. All my friends who started this great path are working with their ABE qualifications and succeeding in their various jobs.

I wish to continue to a BBA and MBA at Northwood University in the United States of America this year (fall 2015).

ABE helped me to be equipped for the workplace. It was easy for me to fit into the  working environment and it also made me a top performer! ABE studies have also contributed to my professional and career progression and I’m happy to have joined this great organisation.

Through ABE I have been able to understand business and the impact of the environment on businesses. I have also been able to manage my private businesses and I am working on diversifying and partnering for expansion purposes.
Part of my plan is to become a business mogul and shape the world of business. I see a great Africa economy rising and I want to be a part of this future. I also operate two businesses and am planning on diversifying into other areas as soon as possible.

It’s been a worthwhile journey and I tell you all (members and intending members), “The ABE journey continues……”

Monday, 14 September 2015

Where is your business idea taking you?

If you are thinking of starting a new business, could it be the next disruptive force in the marketplace? Read this article by ABE’s digital marketing manager, Maria Koukou, for some great examples of how new business ideas can disrupt the established marketplace.

Business models are subject to rapid displacement, disruption, and, in extreme cases, outright destruction according to McKinsey Global Institute. Since 2000, more than half of the companies in the Fortune 500 have either gone bankrupt, been acquired or ceased to exist due to disruption.

But what is disruption? Clayton Christensen, Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, first introduced the Theory of Disruptive Innovation to describe companies which shake up industries by discovering new segments of end users until the established competitors are displaced.

And how do companies thrive in the age of disruption?

A key response to disruption is to constantly innovate business models.
Professor Serguei Netessine from Singapore, revealed that only 5% of companies practice business model innovation and those that do not focus enough on their business models are more likely faced with disruption. For example, companies should be more aware about their customers’ behaviours and needs, otherwise someone else is going to directly address pain points matching the gap between customers’ wishes and what is being delivered to them.

Spotify offers the value of on-demand and interest based music that disrupts radio and Amazon wouldn’t have launched the Amazon Web Services if it didn’t believe that companies did not want to own their infrastructure. Airbnb uses the shared economy model finding a home for everyone around the world while on holiday, reframing the idea around accommodation; it took Airbnb four years to build an inventory of 900,000 rooms when Hilton Hotels after 93 years has reached 600,000 rooms globally.

Now.. how disruptive can your business idea be?

Suggested resources:

ABE’s Business Start-up and Entrepreneurship qualifications can give you the know how to turn your innovative flare into business success. Click here to find out more.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Why I love being an ABE area manager

Kereesa (far right) with Pride Sinkala ABE Zambia and
Lyndon Jones ABE Founder.
Hi there,

I am Kereesa Carrington-Nunez and I hale from Trinidad and Tobago. ABE has made an invaluable contribution to my success. I opted to pursue the ABE programme after I found that enrolling directly onto a degree programme was both costly and challenging. ABE was the stark opposite of that. It proved to be a quality professional programme at a comparatively low cost with unconventional flexibility. It was perfect for juggling family commitments and a budding professional life.

The rewards

Opting to study ABE had far reaching ripple effects on my life. Following completion of ABE I became an ABE Lecturer, the skills and knowledge that I amassed put me in high demand to deliver university level programmes on an international scale. 

In July 2015 I was awarded Educator Par Excellence by the Tobago Cultural Committee and voted one of the top 10 Young Achievers of Tobago.

The successes of ABE further evolved as I became an ABE Ambassador in my country. As the Country Manager my networks mushroomed as I represented the awarding body to perspective students, alumni, colleges, accreditation agencies and numerous other stakeholders. The position awakened a deep passion in me of wanting to pass the education I had to others and it brought me closer to self actualisation. Not only did it carry intrinsic rewards but it was a paid position.

The team

Being able to work with a competent team of professionals from a global perspective with the support of  ABE's Founder Lyndon Jones made the journey even more fulfilling. The staff in the UK - Kabilan, Emma, Gill, Vanda, Stephen, Kenneth and Kerry - have been at ABE as long as I can remember.  They are most amiable, competent and above all patient and willing to share and receive ideas. What would seem the arduous task of conceptualising and implementing a globally coordinated strategy would become a learning experience that yielded immeasurable successes in Trinidad.

I am now the Regional Manager to the Caribbean for ABE, still an ABE Ambassador and even more privileged! Today I operate under the auspices of a poised visionary in our CEO Gareth Robinson and an expanding team with a contemporary flare  including Sue, Kate, Linda, Lisa and Mark among others. The collective experiences of ABE Head Office staff coupled with localised perspectives of the Area Managers makes ABE a relevant, dynamic education provider whose qualifications are adaptable to any context.

Could this be your story?

So if you think you have the drive and passion to be an ABE Area Manager what are you waiting for? Come join us! You shape your destiny, you choose your starting point - a student or an ambassador; the bottom line - exponential learning and earning potential!

To find out about becoming an ABE Area Manager click 
here for more information.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Why I chose marketing

ABE's new marketing assistant, Michelle Mejia, talks about how she fell into marketing through a mixture of luck, being in the right place at the right time and being able to communicate her experiences and what she could offer ABE to gain the right job for her.

Change must come from within
"I took a chance.  I spent a year in Malaysia and decided on a whim to fly back to London.  Upon my return, I spent two weeks inside acclimatising to the 30 degree difference in temperature.  It was only six degrees outside and my body had to adjust, so I spent these two weeks sending my CV to various recruiters.  I like to keep busy and on the move, so I undertook a project to declutter the house whilst keeping warm and looking for employment.  I needed a new start.  Next step was to get out there and find a job. 

One of the best things I did to get my life moving was to find an open day at a recruitment agency.  I was offered roles including team assistant, administrator and receptionist lasting a day through to a week.  One of the reasons for temping was to get myself into the routine of work, to see what was out there, to figure it out and have the freedom to choose where to work. 

I was offered a temporary assignment at ABE working on reception.  Entering this organisation from the bottom, being able to wear lots of hats meant that I got to learn more about the business and who’s who.  I found myself drawn to marketing because I wanted to help get the message out for the brand.  It’s for a good cause that supports learning and development and I could use my experience which spans a broad range of sectors.

My new role at ABE as a marketing assistant entails supporting the marketing team with a focus on digital marketing, ensuring that social media channels are vibrant, informed, well populated and utilised.  I also monitor and schedule posts on Hootsuite and Twitter and write blogs for relevant themes, as well as creating infographics. Currently  I am overseeing the staff, directors and area managers’ photographs to go on the new website.  Each day is varied, and it means being open to new experiences and learning as you go along.

Experiences are what define you
Various experiences that have stood me in good stead to bring forward into this present role are:

Research – research is knowledge.  Knowledge is power.  It is important to learn new things such as people, events and topics.  Researching your competitors, knowing who they are, what they like, who they follow gives you great insight.  It’s important to get to know new staff so you know who does what. Even something like finding a decorator can be an opportunity to find a good service at the best price. Research is fundamental to the lifeline of the business if you want to get a few steps ahead and make informed decisions both in your professional and personal life.

Analyse – this falls under the remit of research - to be able to compare and analyse data to put into charts and to interpret into infographics helps enhance your critical thinking skills.  It’s important to be able to ‘feel’ someone out using your gut instincts. You need to look at the bigger picture as well as the little details and weigh up what would be the best outcome.

Create – this can range from assisting in the re-branding of a company logo, taking photos of staff for their profiles,  freehand  illustrations to be scanned and used to design and live trace into Photoshop for invitations.  I’ve used  Adobe software to create an annual InDesign publication to send out internationally.  I like to visit galleries and museums; I draw and paint when I can.  This keeps ideas flowing.

Volunteer – I firmly believe in giving without expectations. When you have this mind-set the universe will give you back tenfold.  Teaching children art in a charity, getting my hands dirty, mentoring and giving some of my free time to them, enabled me to share my experiences and cultural aspects which helped them to develop their creativity, expression, identity, imagination and vice-versa.  Empowering others helps empower you.

Read – reading has taught me how to be better at things I wished to be better at.  Again this falls under the research remit, but without reading, I wouldn’t be as good a writer or have set up my own blog.  I work for an education company.  By bettering myself, I can help others.

Having no marketing qualification as such, the experience I’ve acquired in various jobs and sectors has proven invaluable.  For example,  I worked as a research coordinator, an art teacher and am now learning the tools of digital marketing in-house.  These experiences will help round out my approach and working with different people who have a wealth of knowledge is an added plus.

Getting the job is the just the start of your journey
What persuaded me to join ABE was having the option to study and have a ‘second chance’ to start again.  ABE is going through changes; no two days are the same. It is also great to be involved in something that enables you to unleash and manifest your creativity and talents – even ones you didn’t know you had! 

Some of the courses I am thinking of taking are Business Management or Entrepreneurship and Business Start-up.  As I have creative experience, it would be good to learn the practical side to broaden my skill sets.  Even though my work history is not from a marketing background, my perseverance, determination and experience of various backgrounds and cultures has given me the ability to utilise my skillsets into something worth monetising for the company’s benefit and my own, both personally and professionally. 

Now I plan to use the qualifications ABE offer to help me take my career to the next level."