Wiza Jalakasi: VP of Global Developer Relations, Chipper Cash
Getting the timing right during career transitions, managing pan-African scale-ups, and building a personal brand online
The Everyday Leader podcast features inspiring individuals building and leading teams across Africa. Listen to episodes on your preferred podcast platform here.
About our Guest
This episode’s conversation is with Wiza Jalakasi. Wiza is an international business development expert specialising in the setup and operations of high-performance technology startups across Africa, often sharing moments from his journey on Twitter @wizaj. His career experience spans 11 years and 16 African countries, founding and building tech startups across industry verticals in the B2B and B2C space. Wiza holds an honours degree in Information Systems Technology from the United States International University - Africa and is currently VP of Global Developer Relations at Chipper Cash - a cross-border mobile money service with over 4 million users. He is a Venture Partner at two early stage funds, Rally Cap Ventures and Sherpa Africa Partners. He also scouts for two Africa-focused early stage venture funds, Ventures Platform and Microtraction.
Everyday Leadership in Action
Here are a few highlights from the conversation with Wiza:
Navigating the journey from self-employed to employed doesn’t need to mean a loss of autonomy: In fact, for Wiza it presented one of the first opportunities to hire and manage others, and work across several countries. It pushed him to more intentionally build empathy and share the right information at the right time with others.
Hire team members that will help guide you through your next stage of growth, not the other way around: When Wiza hired a team to help Africa’s Talking expand from 6 countries to 20, he selected individuals that filled his experience and skills gaps, which made his job much easier.
Timing is crucial in making career transitions: Wiza shared that “I like to measure my growth through the rate of new mistakes that I’m making.” When he realized that he was getting too comfortable in a role after building out a team and operations structure, he made the decision to transition out. Sometimes it’s better to leave earlier, rather than later. But of course make sure your exit is graceful, with enough notice and a smooth handover plan to ensure their continued success without you.
Don’t be afraid to share your point of view on where you think your industry is headed: Wiza credits luck and good timing, but also his consistent commentary and intentionally thoughtful point of view on his blog and Twitter have opened doors for him over the years, including receiving a job offer over a Twitter DM that he accepted. And he says that he still has important new contacts reach out to him about articles he wrote many years ago.
Ultimately you can’t replace in-person, face-to-face engagement with your team, but tools can help make hybrid work more effective: Wiza describes how building a culture of consistent and clever use of loom, notion, and slack can help make hybrid work arrangements more seamless.
If you want to do something at scale, you need to build your managerial muscle: There’s a limit to how much one person can do on their own. At the beginning of his career, Wiza felt that he needed independence to fully achieve his creative vision without distractions, but through his experience, he has seen for himself that a great leader understands their own skill gaps and knows when to find the right people to support. For this reason, he is actively investing his energy into being a better manager.
The Everyday Leader is a podcast featuring conversations with leaders from across Africa’s companies, organizations, and governments about their experience managing teams and projects throughout their careers.
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