As Innovative as a HELP Fellow

Being someone who thinks empathically about scholarly memories of the past, it seems almost impossible that I forget those statements of simile that made my elementary school come alive. And though these memories still give me the joy of knowing, I dare to say they were incomplete!

Innovation is derived from the Latin word, “innovare” which loosely translates to mean “to renew.” Innovation management is the planning, decision, organizational and central tasks about the transfer and implementation of new ides to commercial solutions. Innovation, therefore, is inimical to the sustenance of any system that yearns for survival.

However, the inevitability of innovation has often been overlooked. In fact, Africa has not presented her people with enough opportunities to lead a more innovative life. Even the resources, materials, and facilities aren’t readily available.

A generational thinker, Dr Obichi Obiajunwa, saw this need, knew Africa deserved better and birth this panacea called THE HELP FELLOWSHIP. The Hutzpa Excellence and Leadership Programme (HELP) Fellowship is a four-month annual leadership immersion programme designed to empower young professionals to attain their ultimate career dreams and inspire innovation in their spheres.

The fellowship began with the first in-person gathering which held 25th – 28th July, 2018. It had youths coming from different parts of the country to Lagos, the economic capital of Nigeria. The scenery, that first evening by the pool side at the delectable Pelican Hotel was epic; people basking in intelligence and warmth, an environment of grandeur, organizers who spelt excellence. It was so beautiful that all I wanted to do was just look, and in turn, breathe in what my eyes afforded me.

Lectures began the following day. The speakers that came on board gave such a smooth ride that we didn’t want to arrive at our destination. From leadership in Africa to data innovation to innovation in leadership; it would take an epistle to fully express what I learnt.

What I found even more fascinating were the innovation lectures proper. Our Israeli tutors really dug into wells of knowledge. And the manner in which they passed this knowledge across is one I’m still in awe of. Our main tutor, Yahav, complained about how he thinks we were too serious. If only he knew we were used to lecturers who tie the world to their chest—tutors who judged seriousness by how gloomy you looked in class.

We were put in five teams to work on five capstone projects. My capstone project, ‘Accessible, affordable and appealing next generation of nutrition’ made me feel on top of the world. Nutrition is a field I am highly passionate about. To be given this opportunity to work on a project in this field brought no little joy and fulfillment. The selection of team members seemed to be just perfect; an economist, a physiologist and a computer scientist. What a perfect put-together!

The practicality of this programme exceeded my expectations, really. Our tutors took us through a step wise training. I found this intriguing. Our educational system preferred to muddle up things and still expect results. So working under pressure was something we were used to. But this was graciously different! Each team always got a feedback after each assignment. And when it began to look like fatigue was setting in, we would take a break, do games. It was a brand new experience!

Nemesis won’t judge this article as just if I didn’t mention the expertise put towards organisation. The accommodation was exquisite. The meals not only stung the palate with delightful flavor but gave the stomach some melody to dance to. Not once did we have to wait for the bus that conveyed us to and fro the venue. The time management that was practiced made me feel the need to challenge the cliché, ‘African time.’

In gatherings of great minds like this, it would be unwise if networking isn’t maximized. The fellowship provided a good platform to leverage on that. More so, I realized that it wasn’t just a gathering of intelligent people, the attitude that was depicted by participants was immaculate. I just knew I had made friends for forever.

Now, I will write about what I know for sure. I know for sure that it will be impossible to follow through the entirety of the HELP Fellowship programme and not emerge excellent and innovative. For even if it be the kingdom of animals, the animal which is made a HELP Fellow among them, would be the most innovative.

So in this our generation and the next, when our children recite the same recycled statements of simile, tell them about its incompleteness. And when they pester, just tell them to add, “AS INNOVATIVE AS A HELP FELLOW!”

Written by: Folakemi Jolaoso, 2018 HELP Fellow