Inspiring the Next Generation of Leaders

Sanergy teammate Michael Lwoyelo
Sanergy teammate Michael Lwoyelo

This week we shine the limelight on teammate Michael Lwoyelo, Engineering Operations lead at Sanergy, who is one of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative Fellow. Michael has just returned from 6 weeks in the US in Washington DC and the University of Wisconsin. Two weeks ago, we featured Eunice Likoko who was a former Sanergy fellow and also a YALI Fellow.

We had a brief chat with Michael about his YALI Fellowship experience and his leadership role at Sanergy:

How was the YalI fellowship experience?

In a word, transformative! The fellowship comprised of academic coursework and executive leadership training. Through a series of lectures at University of Wisconsin-Stout, which focused on business and entrepreneurship, I was exposed to innovative business and entrepreneurial approaches including those that address social issues. There were also site visits in which we got to meet leading industry leaders such as 3M. I also had a chance to network and establish vital contacts that I will carry throughout my life.

What key lessons did you learn from the fellowship about leadership?

Leadership goes beyond positions and titles. It is important to build relationships with my junior teammates and nurture their confidence. I was particularly intrigued by Tom Rath’s work in the book The Strengths Finder 2.0. He focuses on evidence that people who have the opportunity to focus on their strengths every day are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs as people who do not. If, as a leader, I am able to primarily focus on people’s strengths, then I am more than likely to be able to engage my team. In fact, Rath estimates that they have a very slim chance, 1%, of being disengaged!

Second, I learned that I need to work on my own ability to build a trusted inner circle. Right now, I take on a lot of responsibility, but I know that I have a great team of managers. How do I empower them and get the most out of them? There is no easy solution to this, but the fellowship made me much more self-aware of where I can improve.

Finally, I also learnt the importance of failing in order to find the best possible answer. In my day-to-day work, I realize that we can do this more, particularly when it comes to developing young talent at Sanergy. I won’t always be right though and have to learn from those experiences.

Michael who is a Certified Six Sigma Black Belt with a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, Manufacturing and Management from the University of Manchester UK, oversees all of the technical operations at Sanergy. He manages a diverse team of over 75 young people across teams spanning manufacturing, waste management logistics, waste processing, quality assurance, inventory control, fleet management, capital projects, asset maintenance and research & development.

You can read more about Michael here.




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