Getting to Know AIB Bishop Gideon Titi-Ofei
A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of sitting down with Bishop Gideon Titi-Ofei, President of Ghana’s Almond Institute for a chat about his recent collaboration with the Australian Institute of Business. We had a great conversation about his background, the education situation in Africa, and how he hopes the introduction of AIB programmes in Ghana can contribute to a better generation of African leaders. See below for our discussion:
Could you please tell me about your role?
I am the President of the Almond Institute, formally known as the Graduate School of Governance and Leadership (GSGL). Basically my role is to provide leadership, direction and strategy for the organisation. I am ably assisted by a very strong team of very highly competent people.
What is your personal educational background?
I hold a Master’s Degree from the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration. It is a very recognised global centre of excellence. Before then I obtained qualifications in theology and a professional qualification in management.
How important is the support of your family along this journey?
I am very blessed with a good family – my father was an educationist and a priest and was very particular about sending us to school. I remember when we had to move from one region of our country to the capital city, where education was more advanced. I had difficulties trying to learn and consequently I wanted to leave school. Instead of allowing me to do that, my father got up early every morning and walked me a very long distance to school and made sure that I went. When I couldn’t read well at a young age my mother taught me how to read. I had extremely supportive parents when it came to education. In pursuing my career I have had tremendous support from my family. The greatest support that I have had however has been from my wife – she has been incredibly supportive in the last 20 years of our marriage.
You are a Bishop, a professional speaker, an entrepreneur and a best-selling author – is this always what you set out to achieve?
Yes – I have always said that I have become what I always wanted to. I remember when I was in primary school I told my teacher that I wanted to be a priest, and I am. In secondary school my nickname was Chancellor because I believed I was going to own a university, and I own a university now. I have always loved sharing information and encouraging people and that is why I am into public speaking.
What inspired you to build the Almond Institute?
I built the Almond Institute in an attempt to redefine two things. The first is to redefine leadership. We believe that the greatest need of Africa is leadership – not aid – leadership. We need a new breed of leaders who will take leadership from the top of the pyramid to the base of the pyramid, affecting and transforming people’s lives. Currently, leadership in Africa means position, possession and power. Also African children are not going to school so that they can learn how to solve problems; they are going so that they can get position, possession and power. The Almond Institute wants to change that.
The second thing that we want to redefine is education – in many schools education is informing the mind, but at the Almond Institute we believe that in both informing the mind and transforming the heart. When the heart is transformed a wise person is born, and we need wise people. A wise person is one who knows how to use knowledge rightly. We want people to use information for the benefit of the ordinary person.
Why do you value education so highly?
Information is crucial because it determines decisions. So the more you know, the better decisions you make. I think that giving people the right kind of information is essential, and that is why our major mission is to collaborate with world-class institutions such as AIB to bring the best practices to Africa for the transformation of our continent.
Why did you choose to collaborate with AIB in particular?
Essentially, if you look at most people doing very well in Africa, they have had exposure to the Western world. They come back with ideas and concepts to try and transform the nation. The issue is – everybody cannot afford to go overseas to study. So, we want to bring it to the people and offer it locally. That is why we are talking with AIB – we believe that AIB has the kind of information that Africa needs and we want to take it to Africa.
Which AIB programmes will the Almond Institute deliver?
We are starting with the MBA programme, in particular the generic MBA, Human Resource Management and Marketing Management. We will soon introduce Finance which is a big thing in our country, as well as the BBA programme.
What do you think makes the AIB programmes so unique?
I think that AIB’s work-applied learning approach is tremendous. Its educational philosophy is in its own uniqueness and class. Secondly, AIB’s adult accelerated MBA is also unique – I am yet to see a 12 Month MBA in my country. AIB’s insistence on having industry leaders as teaching staff also places the MBA in its own class, and I think that is what attracted us to AIB.
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