My R4i Experience: PROF. AYOBOLA MONINUOLA SAKPERE

From Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife

When I became the much awaited ‘professor’, like other milestones, there were no loud drums, no feelings of ‘I have arrived”. I felt I had accomplished something but knew that it was not yet ready. It was just another milestone. I wanted more, to make an impact and leave a legacy. By this time, the economic situation in the country had changed and as a professor, my take home pay could not take me home. I needed an additional source of income.

I started thinking of business. What can I do? Several things crossed my mind. I knew I needed to solve a problem. But, which problem? Can buying and selling be the answer? I didn’t think so even though I am currently engaged in it one way or the other. Then it occurred to me that I needed help.

I attended a goal-scoring masterclass and applied for the Savvy fellowship – a programme that equips entrepreneurs. About the same time, I received a nomination for the Research for Impact initiative and I am grateful to God and my institution, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile- Ife, for nominating me for this life-changing experience.

On arrival at Innov8 Hub, I was wowed by the ambience and aesthetics. The organization and timeliness; the hospitality and welcome. Dr Obichi Obiajunwa started out beautifully and I learnt that – Innovation is different from invention. I need to solve the problems that matter, not just any problem. I need to be able to feel the pain of the people whose problems I want to solve, and to fall in love with the problem. Then comes Engr. Betty Ugona, letting us know that innovation is emotional because it is all about people- its people centric. She encouraged us to use the ‘Triple H-Model’ – Harnessing Head (Vision), Heart (Passion) and Hands (Action). I need to be emotionally intelligent if I want to be a master of research and innovation. Mr. Frank Anwana showed us how organizations create and deliver value to customers, answering the “What” and the “How” questions and the need for continuous creativity. Mr. Precious Nizor Ogbezuode put us through the prototype development process, letting us know the importance of passing across information with diagrams.

At R4i, we were also taught the art of overcoming the fear of public speaking by Mr. Oche Anejo. This fear is real and I am a living witness; a work in progress in this regard. Surprisingly, I was picked to pitch for my team, something that could not have happened a few years ago as I would have been paralyzed by fear. Everything I have learnt cannot be documented in this short piece but suffice it to say that it has been both eye opening and very impactful.

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