Dennis Ochieng – 2015 East Africa Acumen Fellow

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Dennis Ochieng

In February, Dennis Ochieng, who leads Sanergy’s Sales and Operations Team, was named a 2015 East Africa Acumen Fellow. In advance of the second of five seminars he’ll attend as a Fellow, we took a moment to chat with him about his experience thus far in the program.

How did you hear about the Acumen Fellows program?

Lindsay Stradley (Sanergy Co-founder) encouraged me to apply to enhance my leadership development at Sanergy. It was an exhausting process: a written application, a phone interview, a selection seminar where I presented myself and our work, and finally a panel interview in which I was asked about my passion and the role I would play in the Acumen program. Out of about 600 applicants, I was one of twenty people selected for this year’s cohort.

I received support from Sanergy throughout the application process; David Auerbach (Sanergy Co-founder) was especially helpful in giving me tips on presentation and public speaking skills, in addition to helping me craft a successful fellowship application.

What do you hope to gain from your time as an Acumen Fellow?

I have three main goals for my fellowship:

  1. To have a clear direction of what kind of leader I want to be in the future. After the first seminar, it’s become clear that having a vision of what you want to do and how you want to do it is important.
  1. Figuring out the right questions to ask and developing the tools for answering them: What am I living for as a leader? What kind of change do I want to see? What kind of legacy do I want to leave behind? How do I achieve that?
  1. Understanding myself. Learning more about who I am as a person will help inform how that fits in to my leadership style and goals.

How does this experience fit in to your larger career goals?

This fellowship will set the foundation for having a clear vision of what I want to do. This foundation will allow me to explore a variety of questions: How do I achieve what I want to? How can I improve my leadership at Sanergy? How can I be a better leader at Sanergy? How can I manage my team better and lead as we grow into other areas?

What have you most appreciated so far about the fellowship program?

The content has been the most rewarding part of the program. The Good Society Readings and the discussion led by Jacqueline Novogratz, founder of Acumen, have been incredible eye-openers. They have exposed me to great leaders, such as Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr., and content that has made me reflect on my role as a leader. I’ve also appreciated the opportunity to learn about storytelling. The other fellows and I have learned how to tell our stories in a powerful and impactful way.

Finally, the network of people has been fantastic. Meeting with the other fellows and forming strong bonds has been invaluable. We’ve created long-lasting relationships, and we wouldn’t have had this opportunity without the program.

What are you looking forward to during the next seminar?

It’s going to build on the first seminar and give us more skills essential to developing as a leader. In this next seminar, we’ll focus on financial acumen and management. I’m also looking forward to meeting the team again.

There are a lot of great presenters we’ve interacted with. We’ve learned from the way the seminar has been organized that it is something we can replicate in facilitating our own trainings and workshops. All the seminars are either group activities or roundtable discussions and every discussion is very interactive. I’m looking forward to interacting with the facilitators and learning additional facilitation skills.

Sanergy is excited to support Dennis during this opportunity, and we look forward to sharing more of his insights about his experience as an Acumen Fellow. Watch this space for further updates.

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