Name: Kojo Dougan
Title: Digital Finance Strategist and Financial Inclusion Technologist,
Organisation: Kyrios Dougan
Kojo Dougan: Digital Finance Strategist and Financial Inclusion Technologist
I am a seasoned digital finance professional with over 20 years in technology services delivery and 8 years of experience in consulting for firms within the fintech and digital finance sectors. Renowned for expertise, I have played a pivotal role in guiding numerous companies to success, earning both local and international awards for their outstanding contributions to the industry.
As a passionate advocate for digital transformation, my journey has involved leading teams in the digitalization of national health insurance services and implementing instant payment solutions for insurance and investment houses. My strategic insights and leadership have not only propelled these initiatives to success but have also contributed significantly to the evolution of the financial landscape.
In addition to my achievements in the professional realm, I am a multifaceted individual with a zest for life. Outside the world of finance, I enjoy swimming, golf, and exploring new destinations. My commitment to personal and professional growth is evident in my role as a coach, where I have guided teams to develop governance and operations strategies for long-term growth and sustainability.
I have an unwavering dedication to innovation, coupled with diverse skill set and leadership acumen, and continue to make a profound impact on the digital finance landscape.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Kojo's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
I think one of the great leadership challenges is being able to get your team to a place where all can operate and take charge even in the absence of their supervisors. I recognise that different personalities have and come from various different backgrounds and environments so sometimes being placed in an environment where they are expected to take responsibility is lost on them. They seek approval. I tend to often tell them to see the organisation as theirs and take decisions as if the firm belonged to them- they should take the best decisions in terms of action and or inaction that would position them and their organisation in the best possible situation in the future. Having to encourage people to think of clear set objectives and recognizing that there may be a number of approaches and strategy is also challenging sometimes.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
My parents used to give me a lot of tasks, assignments and responsibilities even when I was a youth. I believe that gave me the sense of responsibility and taking charge of tasks and assignments. I was also raised not to be a back-bencher but rather participate and support where I could and had an idea. This trait has remained with me always as I often think of various scenarios on work, encounters etc that somehow help me to visualize and be able to take decisions and actions that I have thought out before. I am also quite a learner , always paying attention to what a professional is doing in my presence and asking questions to understand the reasoning. I remember being able to fix and correct an IV when my mom was sick and the the needle had somehow come out with her blood flowing in reverse. I remember having to let any air bubble out before inserting the needle back. By the time those around me had brought the nurse back the IV was back and flow was normal. I think learning from our youth is very important. The things we truly understand becomes almost 2nd nature and we are able to think of what to do in some situations; whereas this who didn't understand tend to be unsure about what top do while looking for help and advise from some other person. Not that asking for help is bad but in some situations, decisions and actions need to be taken almost immediately to save the situation
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I am usually up by 5am, spending the first few minutes in prayer and then allowing my brain to reflect and bring up new ideas or going over the previous days events that still need to be addressed. I catch up on news and events then try to note down any of the ideas not captured already in my notebook. I get ready to take the children to school on weekdays. I use this as time with them and we talk about almost anything. My ''work'' day then starts around 8:30 with calls to colleagues, and some clients before I get to the office. Breakfast and about 2 cups of moka are good for me for the rest of the morning.
I have 2 ''stop work'' times to take a break; 1pm and 3pm respectively. My 3pm break often leads to a 9, 14 or 18-hole on the golf course; that is, if I did not have an early morning game.
My day winds up by 9pm and its usually again spending time with my children before they get to bed, going over how their day went and then probably catching up on business news on Bloomberg, listening to music or catch up on some reading.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
Strategic Thinking and Continuous improvement are key lessons I have been reminded of.
I have been reminded to:
(a) develop a clear and compelling vision for the future.
(b) Think strategically and make decisions that align with long-term goals.
(c) Encourage a culture of continuous improvement and innovation.
(d) Seek feedback and be open to constructive criticism.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
I would definitely place Relentless by Tim Grover as my top book. Ikigai also ranks high. Third World to First (Lee Kuan Yew) also places amongst my top ranking books on leadership. These books reinforce lessons on leadership that are timeless. Decision making, objectives, purpose, long-term focus, preparation and taking responsibility are key lessons that will always ,good foundations of good leadership
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Do not be afraid to take decisions. Mistakes are a part of life. You will learn the lessons therein and have the experience to help in the next decision making process and occasion.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
I joined a group long after it was formed. They were having issues with leadership and organisation. I suggested a health walk in the neighborhood. I sometimes take early walks so knew the routes quite well. I tasked someone to get music that would be played during the walk. I also arranged for security to position at points to help with directing traffic and serving water along the way. The walk was a successful event. It gave an impetus to the group thereafter to have a sense of unity and ability to be able to push themselves. It was a simple tool as walking but the collectiveness and relaxation approach helped to show that sometimes it does not take planned formal meetings to get on board and to meet objectives.