- Managing self
Modernity is making it necessary for individuals to sharpen their skills in multiple areas. This was my case some years back when I was forced to work on a group project virtually. I decided to enroll for an online course in IT. The primary mode of lecturing was virtual classes. The teacher wanted us to get used to each other and thus, assigned each of the students to groups of three. He noted that he prefers five members per group but it would be more complicated for us since we were working virtually. In our first session, our group was chaotic. We experienced language barrier and persistent group conflicts. I was forced to tolerate my team members who I thought were petty and engaged so much in power struggle. This experience helped me learn the skill of teamwork (Bhagra & Sharma, 2018). Through these challenges, we were forced to work together to deliver a quality assignment.
- Personal organization/Time management
I like it when I live each day with vigor. For that reason, I prefer taking on multiple challenges and pushing myself to the limit. In one situation, I enrolled for an online class while working full time to raise some cash to start a business. Simultaneously, I was to conduct research on the business and have time to myself and family. The main tasks that required prioritizing ranged from studying online, commuting daily to work, doing intensive research on the business idea, meeting a mentor that had proven very helpful, doing house chores, and hanging out with friends once in a week. This experience forced me to develop good time management skills while also exposing me to options of sub-contracting tasks that were less important such as cleaning and cooking.
- Personal strengths
Having a toxic supervisor at work made me master some coping skills that continue to be helpful when am faced with a stressful situation. I felt like I was his typical target since he could overwhelm me with work even when some colleagues were idling around. He often pointed out that he liked my attention to detail and that is why he trusted me with more jobs than the other employees. The problem is that the salary was constant and that he took credit for all the work that I did. Apart from overworking, he could make mean comments in your absence and could cut me off during meetings. He was always right and could not take any proposal or criticism from the employees. Since I really needed the job for the experience it offered, I trained myself to be resilient and remained focused on my goals. Besides, we build a strong network of trusted co-workers who encouraged each other not to give up.
- Problem Solving/Analytic
Writing a dissertation is often a demanding task. The whole process requires a lot of research and fact-finding skills (Bhagra & Sharma, 2018). For me the process begun with searching for a suitable study topic. Most of the topics that I presented for approval were rejected by the professor. This experience greatly affected my morale and made me question my ability to research and find facts. However, with consistent practice and guidance, I managed to come up with a research question and went ahead to write a proposal that I developed further into a dissertation. As part of the report, I was required to collect quantitative facts on the impact of pandemics on the business environment in the USA.
During the online or e-learning scenario, I was required to work in group of three individuals to solve a joint assignment. We hardly knew each other and to make it worse, each of the students had a different nationality. That means that the three of us had varied cultural conditioning. As described in Bruce Tuckman’s model of group development, the forming stage was chaotic (Moraru, Dub & Sroka, 2019). However, I used my interpersonal skills to reconcile the two of my group mates who were constantly engaged in a power struggle. Despite the language barrier, I made them understand that their friction was derailing the focus of the group. I helped them reconcile and defined everyone’s roles in the group. These actions helped us work collaboratively and scored highly in the task.
- Oral communication
I am passionate about environmental sustainability. As a result, I tend to read extensively on any topic touching on business sustainability and environmental issues. The issue of green washing is still rampant among most firms. According to Griese, Werner and Hogg (2017) tackling this business problem requires creating awareness and disseminating information. In response to Griese et al., proposal, I designed a program where I could meet managerial trainees and convince them on the need to embrace both good corporate governance, sustainability and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). The program was so successful since it received many positive reviews applauding its role nurturing a new breed of leaders who prioritized environmental sustainability over profitability.
- Written communication
The corporate sustainability program was further complemented by written documents which educated the trainees on the essentials of sustainability and why the circular economic model was more viable in conserving the environment than the linear economy. To increase the reach of this written document, I created a blog where I shared the content and made it accessible to many people. The posts on the blog have received widespread applause for their effectiveness in promoting a culture of ethical and sustainable business conduct.
- Managing People/Tasks
Apart from coordinating the group of three students during the online IT class, I have in the past been assigned the role of coordinating the activities of the business club at our school. My role as a leader included organizing events for the club members. One of the most memorable and successful projects that I coordinated was a tree planting session where the club members helped plant more than one thousand trees around the school. The administration had allocated us a piece of land where we planted the trees. The project helped restore the lost vegetative cover around the school compound. Since then, the school has partnered with the local government ensures that it leads a tree planting drive annually, around the neighboring communities as a measure to conserve the environment and give back to the society.
As a team captain of a local soccer club, I was responsible for putting together a team that would help win the tournament. The team was at the verge of an elimination match since it had lost the previous two games. This was the only chance to redeem its slot in the semi-finals and probably merit to the finals. One of the team members was my best friend. He was in the first team yet his performance had greatly disadvantaged us in the past games that the team lost. Despite being the best of friends, I made a split second decision to have him substituted and the team won and proceeded to the semi-finals. The team failed to qualify for the finals but at least, my decision helped it record one of the best performances ever.
The decision made in the previous example further elaborates my leadership skills. As team captain, I had to lead the school soccer team and ensure that all the players were comfortable and properly motivated. The whole experience required taking initiative. For instance, the decision to substitute my friend evidences my initiative to ensure the good performance of the team. In line with the leadership roles, I had to constantly motivate the players and at times, punish them to get the job done. For instance, in the qualifying game, my decision to substitute and cheer up the team facilitated our qualification to the semi-finals.
- Managing conflict
Conflicts are prone to emerge in any work environment. During my internship, I worked with an organization that was not so tolerant to cross-cultural employee. The firm was filled with people from a certain ethnicity and this made it hard for the minority ethnicities to cope. Thus, there were constant conflicts bordering discrimination and feeling of alienation of the minority groups. The situation became worse over time, and it demoralized most of the employees. I decided to act swiftly and mediate the conflict by making a proposal to the HR manager that the employees be taken to a team building seminar. During the event, we were assigned into groups with diverse ethnicities and asked to engage in group tasks competing against other groups. The only way to win in these competition was to be united and to work collaboratively. After the event, there was a reasonable level of tolerance towards the minority groups, thus the workplace became more inclusive.
- Planning and organizing
As a team captain, I acted as the intermediary between the players and the coaches/ management. At one time, the team members requested that we go visit a local museum as a team building and relaxation exercise. The event required planning and organizing since we had to look for ways to finance our travel and other expenses. I made sure that I involved the team in estimating the costs after which I coordinated the process of making contributions. I then liaised with the management to offer us a financial grant. We managed to have a successful event due to my planning and organizing skills.
- Mobilizing Innovation/Change
- Ability to conceptualize
Before starting a business, it is advisable to conduct a market research to establish a market gap and determine the consumer behavior in addition to prevailing market trends. With this understand, I was faced with the challenge of coming up with a business. It has been my dream that I own a successful and innovative start-up. Therefore, I had to collect all the useful information on the business of waste management and recycling. My idea was to use waste plastics especially the worn out tires to manufacture roofing tiles and pavement blocks. I had to gather diverse information not only on the market gap but also on how to source for the technologies to facilitate the conversion of the wastes to a useful end product. The results of the research are yet to be seen as I am still researching on the business idea.
Most local governments are grappling with the challenge of waste management. As an entrepreneur I acknowledge the need to provide solutions to societal challenges. For this reason, I looked at the problem of waste management from a different perspective and decided to convert the plastic wastes into useful building materials. Given the housing boom in the country, it is certain that pro-environmental consumers will be convinced to purchase the products as they are environment friendly and contribute towards reducing disposal of non-biodegradable plastic wastes. It took extensive research to identify the problem and offer a viable solution. In this cases, the new perspective solves the issue of waste management as it helps convert the wastes into glue that holds together sand to form roofing tiles, building blocks, and pavement blocks.
Funding the start-up discussed in the previous question has been a major challenge. Collecting the initial capital outlay for the project has been challenging. This is the reason I opted to work part time while studying so as to raise cash to kick-start the project. Personally, I consider the whole entrepreneurship as a risky exercise since it carries a number of hazards such as possibility of business failure in the early stages. To be honest, I am yet to be certain of the outcome of the project, but research has justified its viability. In the past year, I have met two venture capitalists but both insisted on a 50-50 equity. I risked by rejecting their proposals yet I am unsure when I can raise the amount needed to start the business.
My experience with the start-up is a vision that I have set too high and believe that I will achieve it once I get the needed funding. Currently, my actions are directed towards pitching the idea to venture capitalists and also, fine tuning the business plan to make it more practical and convincing. I am certain that these efforts will facilitate the realization of my vision as an entrepreneur.
Bhagra, A., & Sharma, D. K. (2018). Changing paradigm of employability skills in the global business world: A review. IUP Journal of Soft Skills, 12(2), 7-24.
Griese, K. M., Werner, K., & Hogg, J. (2017). Avoiding greenwashing in event marketing: An exploration of concepts, literature and methods. J. Mgmt. & Sustainability, 7, 1.
Moraru, R. I., Dub, T., & Sroka, M. (2019). Group Development Process in Management of Work Teams. Quality-Access to Success, 20.