Obakeng Ngwigwa: "I am learning a lot since I deal with 54 African countries"
Obakeng Ngwigwa from Botswana was part of RIOU’s inaugural intake on the Master of Sport Administration course. He graduated in 2014, and today Obakeng is the Technical Director of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA). In an interview with RIOU Herald he spoke about his new position and advised the current MSA students to manage their time well.
At the start of our interview, could you look back at the time two years ago when your course at RIOU was yet ahead? At that point you had rich competing experience as a sprinter behind you, and you were looking for opportunities to continue your life in sport as a manager. Please tell us about that period in your life.
-To what extent were your expectations of RIOU met? How did you benefit from the course?
- My expectations at RIOU were fully met as the course related well with my lifestyle as an athlete, and it was addressing administration and management issues that I did not understand and was not aware of as an athlete. I benefited in many ways, more especially that I was in a class with students from different countries, with different backgrounds and experiences and also learning from well experienced professors, sports managers and administrators from all over the world. The course was offered at a time when Russia was hosting the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, and I also benefited by learning about the organization of the Olympic Games from the bidding process, preparation of venues to the hosting period and closing of the Games. We visited different departments involved in hosting the Games and shared information and presentations at the round table.
-After completing your studies in Sochi and returning home, what steps did you take to move ahead in your career?
- After my studies I returned home and started a marketing campaign, looking for jobs in my country in different sports organizations and entities. I was doing this in line with my qualifications, where I knew I will be relevant. It was a difficult period for me as jobs were not readily available in sports in my country. I even opted to volunteer so I could apply the skills and knowledge I had learned in RIOU. I wanted to give back to my country and sports entities which supported me during my athletics career. When I realized I could not get a job in my country with my qualifications since our sports industry is small, I changed my marketing campaign strategy and started to search outside the country through the Internet, and I was visiting different sports organizations’ websites, mostly the IOC and IAAF.
-You were recently appointed the Technical Director of ANOCA. Could you tell us about your new position, the scope of your responsibilities and the specific features of the job?
- The position of Technical Director is exciting and challenging at the same time, but with the administration and management skills I learned in RIOU I am able to execute it well. I am learning a lot since I deal with 54 African countries which are French and English speaking. My main responsibilities are:
*To monitor Olympic solidarity programmed entitled to the 54 African
national Olympic committees (NOCs)
*To monitor the uptake of the Olympic solidarity programmed by African NOCs
*To encourage such uptake by communicating with relevant NOCs
*To ensure that member NOCs are accessing the programmers offered by
*To follow up on offers for training of African experts by partner
organizations and NOCs
*To always look for ways African member NOCs may exploit
opportunities provided by, and not limited to, the IOC, Organizing
committee of Olympic Games, international organizations and the
Olympic family as a whole
*To keep in touch with and provide constant reports about OlympAfrica
and the implementation of the project
*To act as secretary and adviser of the ANOCA Games commission
*To provide all necessary technical reports
*To represent ANOCA as when required to or assigned by the president
of ANOCA or the Secretary General.
-What areas of management, and other fields that you studied at RIOU, do you find most relevant to your current workplace? Which of the skills gained at RIOU have proved to be especially useful?
- All the management and administration areas that I covered in my course in RIOU are relevant to this post. Communication and presentation preparations skills that I gained in RIOU are proving to be very useful in my post; addressing people, marketing and branding skills are also useful.
-How would you assess the quality of internships that you undertook at the 2014 Olympic Games and the Sochi Olympic venues? How useful were those placements to you, also in terms of your current work?
- The internship during the Sochi Games played a very important part in my career, and it helped me in many different ways because it gave an insight and deep information about management and communications strategy during Olympic Games venue preparations. I gained much knowledge on what really goes on even on the back and behind the scenes during the Games. I got to understand how SOGOC worked in collaboration with other organizations and companies in preparing for the Games. This was a wonderful experience.
-Do you keep in touch with your fellow graduates?
- Yes I keep in touch with fellow graduated and we plan on visiting each other.
-Looking back at your own experience, what wishes would you give to the current MSA students?
- To the current MSA students I would say give your studies a priority and try by all means to learn and understand material offered by professors and use all the opportunities available to you. RIOU’s MSA has a busy schedule, so make sure you keep up with the studies, get plenty of rest on free days and in between classes, socialise and create good relationship with fellow classmates, advise and help each other, and consult with your teachers. Also, respect your professors and university staff members, learn from each other and manage your time well. You can’t go wrong with that.