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Why firms are absorbing creative talent

By Benjamin Obegi | July 31st 2015
President Uhuru Kenyatta (centre) and his US counterpart Barack Obama (left) engage panelists in a discussion during the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi last week where they encouraged ingenuity among young people. The panelists from left are: Judith Owigar, Jehiel Oliver and Shadi Sabeh. [PHOTO: ANDREW KILONZI]

NAIROBI: More corporates are recruiting talented and creative staff in their ranks to up their competitive edge. The move has eased employability of graduate students with exceptional skills - changing the modern workplace dynamics.

This was exhibited by most entrepreneurs and business moguls who attended the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Nairobi last week. The event was attended by the US President Barrack Obama.

As you position yourself for employment, ask yourself: Are you an intern or entrepreneur? Do you think a potential employer will be attracted by your entrepreneurial skills?

According to Justus Mong’are, the founder of Start-Up Africa, employers are now focusing on hiring employees who are bubbling with ideas which may sound crazy on thought. “This important summit points and underlines new career directions not just in sub-Saharan Africa but globally,” said Mr Mong’are, adding that at play is the ability to think of an idea and make companies sell or build influential brands. “The most important thing is that it should point to graduates the new development in the job market. Employers are no longer bringing on board just graduates but those who are able to think freely.”

He noted that most employers are now keen on independent thinkers who are experimental and can widen creativity as opposed to theory, armchair conformists.

 Financial muscle

Drawing attention and analogy to the GES summit, Mong’are said that the big names at the summit were interested in getting the spark and fire in young people. “Can you pitch an idea? An idea is crucial before factoring in the financial muscle,” he observed. This is exactly what employers are now looking for in new graduates.”

“For instance, how do you intend to move a brand within the context of diminishing marketing budgets and changing media platforms and advertising channels? Thinkers are in demand.” Start-Up Africa targets at nurturing the seed of entrepreneurship among high school students through idea incubation and funding.

Millennial Branding (US) Managing Director Dan Schawbel encouraged graduates to re-package their entrepreneurship content in tandem with the changing employment landscape, arguing that employers are looking for key entrepreneurs.

“Companies need innovators in order to stay relevant. Employers, especially the ones I have spoken to value entrepreneurship experience over internship experience because you learn more about business,” said Schawbel. “A lot of internships are unpaid and you do clerical work whereas entrepreneurs get their hands in sales, marketing, product development among others. Student entrepreneurs are seen as leaders, innovators and have a good sense of personality accountability.”

Speaking on the sidelines of the pre-summit in Nairobi, Miss Lavendar Seko, an online fashion entrepreneur, said the trend of companies seeking goal setters and achievers is taking root on a large scale.

“One of the cherished hallmarks of an entrepreneur is the ability to set clear goals of where you want to be in a given period. Employers are also keen on those who have a clear vision of where their departments or products will be at a particular date. This helps companies to set their goals and realise maximum market potential,” she says. “Unless you spell this in clear terms when entering the company, you may lose the vacancy. Employers are shifting from the traditional norm of just filling their ranks with fresh graduates.”

A business incubation expert in Nairobi Nicholas Waithaka, concurs that graduates with entrepreneurship skills have the advantage.  He says experience has shown that such graduates have soft skills that all employers look for when hiring. “Such graduates are able to coherently communicate what they want and highly embrace the spirit of teamwork, which is crucial in realising the company’s vision and goals,’’ said Mr Waithaka.

He calls for graduates to sharpen such skills in readiness for a new job and business environment.

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