According to a Bloomberg survey of economists, emerging economic markets in Asia and more specifically Africa are at the forefront of global growth. The survey revealed that Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy was projected to expand by 4.9% in 2015 and a 6% growth was predicted for Kenya in the same year. With this new found energy, a sense of possibility and dynamism of business on the continent, the South African based School of Etiquette has expanded their service offering through the launch of a new division, AfroProtocol, which will primarily focus on the African market.
Research conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute found that the business environment in Africa is still dominated by English speakers and western culture.Courtenay Carey, co-founder and director of The School of Etiquette cites this as reflective of the continued suppression of local customs and the reported lack of social interaction between people of different backgrounds. She adds that it has created the ideal environment for AfroProtocol to serve a mediatory role for all parties to meet on an equal playing field. This is as African countries grow more aware of the need for professional business conduct and strong social skills in bridging relationships, which will ultimately result in bigger contracts and higher profits.
A Zimbabwe delegate B. Marambire, Head of Internal Control, at one of pan-Africa’s leading banks was recently in one of our executive finishing school courses. He commented that ‘you can be the best technically proficient person, but without the right etiquette tools, all those skills amount to nothing, if you do not know how to carry yourself and interact professionally.’ It was a telling moment for us. We realised there is a lot of opportunity to develop professional interaction skills to ensure that our African business students are as confident as their international counterparts,” she continues.
The reality is that the international business protocol is not a skills set you are born with, but rather one which you acquire through training, on–the-job experience or by learning from your mistakes. “Those who do not speak this ‘business language’ are considered ill-prepared and unprofessional. The perception is that they cannot perform their job correctly, regardless of their technical skills. The way you portray yourself is believed to be a reflection of your level of achievement and success,” continues Carey
Unfortunately Africa’s education and knowledge systems are still only based on technical knowledge acquisition. This is in direct contradiction to studies having proven that your people skills are the most important skill for financial success. By assisting African professionals in increasing their confidence and business proficiency, they are more likely to build strong business relationships, broker more successful deals and more confidently handle tough negotiations.
“Acquiring these skills and getting over the nerve wracking fear of social embarrassment or social rejection is one of the human races’ greatest opportunities for growth. Through attending our courses participants are armed with the tools to ensure that they behave according to the acceptable norm as well as with confidence,” concludes Carey.
For more information on these executive level courses please visit www.etischool.co.za