Building International Community Development Strategies as a Quarterback

As a summer 2013 Quarterback (part of Quarterback’s founding cohort), I helped a non-profit organization in sub-Saharan Africa (BLOOM Africa) develop their strategy and implementation structure for future international development work. It was an extremely rewarding experience for me both personally and professionally.guy_quote

The project was pre-MBA engagement, which meant I had to get up to speed and learn a lot about the organization quickly. During my first conversation with the CEO of the non-profit, I was able to share some of my initial ideas on how to tackle the project. He agreed on a lot my suggestions, but also challenged some of my assumptions and reiterated how critical my recommendations could be for the future of the organization.

It was important to be flexible but also manage expectations in order to prevent scope creep…

Given the relative short length of the engagement, I made sure to constantly update key stakeholders on my progress. It was important to be flexible but also manage expectations in order to prevent scope creep, especially given the plethora of directions the project could have gone onto given the young and entrepreneurial nature of the organization.

In developing the strategy, I focused on delivering feasible/actionable recommendations…

One specific challenge I faced was the lack of quantitative data available on some of the local communities the organization was either already in or planning on expanding their programs and support to. To overcome that problem, I conducted extensive interviews with subject matter experts with local experience, leaders of similar organizations, and researched academic publications on international development in Africa and best practices. The initial analysis helped me get a solid grasp of the problem and generate innovative solutions. In developing the strategy, I focused on delivering feasible/actionable recommendations, given the limited financial and human resources available to the organization.

In the end, the CEO was very satisfied with the recommendations and is planning on sharing them directly with his executive board this fall.

As a result, I developed a database, measurable performance metrics, and a repeatable model with distinctive phases and steps to follow for future international development work. In the end, the CEO was very satisfied with the recommendations and is planning on sharing them directly with his executive board this fall.

For me, it was personally rewarding because I got to learn a lot about a new sector, connect with subject matter experts and leaders of an organization.

Quarterback is a fantastic opportunity for pre-MBAs…

Quarterback is a fantastic opportunity for pre-MBAs to start/keep working on their communication and corporate strategy development skills prior to business school. In addition, you actually get to have a positive impact on an organization that is doing world-bettering work.

-Guy Kamguia

About Guy Kamguia:  Guy Kamguia was born and raised in Cameroon. He spent two years working on a chemical engineering research project at Villanova University before transitioning to Dow Chemical as an Improvement Engineer and Project Manager focused on leading and implementing capital projects for a manufacturing plant. He’s looking forward to putting these critical problem solving skills to work on complex business problems upon graduation.

 Guy joined Quarterback to participate in the ongoing movement of positive change in Africa through his work with Bloom Africa.

 Guy is a 2015 candidate for his MBA at Harvard Business School.

About Quarterback ReflectionsQuarterback, a social enterprise startup building the leadership of the impact economy, is participating in global Pro Bono Week 2013 (#PBW13).  In celebration of the pro bono ethic, alumni of Quarterback’s founding cohort are sharing reflections on their own high-impact, intensive engagements as part of the Quarterback program.

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