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7 Questions on Leadership with Odinaka Kingsley Obeta


Name: Odinaka Kingsley Obeta


Title: Executive Director


Organisation: Block Malaria Africa Initiative


Odinaka is a distinguished and licensed Biomedical Scientist whose passion for public health drives his work in various areas, including Health Communications, Youth Development, Policy Development, and Advocacy in Global health. As the Executive Director of Block Malaria Africa Initiative, he leads a pioneering effort to combat malaria among Most-At-Risk Populations throughout Africa.


In addition to his role at Block Malaria Africa Initiative, Odinaka serves as the West African Lead for the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) Youth Advisory Council, working under the esteemed guidance of H.E President Umaro Sissoco Embalo of Guinea Bissau. As a dedicated member of the RBM Digital Youth Workstream on malaria, he holds the esteemed title of #ZeroMalaria Champion, actively advocating for a malaria-free Africa.


Odinaka is also the founder and executive lead at Impact Training Room (ITR) an organisation providing cutting-edge leadership and mentorship to teenagers and youths across Africa through the ITR Fellowship, personal development conferences and leadership events. The organisation is aimed at raising Africa's finest generation of young leaders.


Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!


I hope Odinaka's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Cheers,

Jonno White



1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?


Usually, I would say managing people but then this is no longer a challenge any more. One of the things I have found most challenging as a leader is knowing when to stop sacrificing for a cause or person.


I still don't know if this is really a thing in leadership or not but then, you know that point where you make sacrifices as a leader on behalf of others and yet you keep going even when you're losing yourself in the process? Exactly! The challenge is in not knowing when you're beginning to sacrifice more than you should and this is could be a sacrifice of your resources such as time, finances, emotions and in some cases relationships.


2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?


I always feel like my journey into leadership was predestinated, being the first of four children I had little or no choice than to start my journey immediately my younger sister was born. As the first child, I had the responsibility of taking care of my younger siblings and I also had the responsibility of bearing some of the brunt's of the mistakes they make daily, of course this is typical of an African family.


So, I became a leader from the moment I knew I had to take the responsibility of protecting, providing and caring for others. Ever since, I have not stopped being a leader, these traits just have a way of following you everywhere you go. In primary and secondary school, I was assistant senior prefect. When I got into the university, it wasn't any different I was a student leader from my first year up until I graduated.


Today, I lead in different fronts and I am glad to be enjoying my leadership experience.


3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?


I structure my day into three, wakeup time, work time and post work time.


I wake up at 5am daily and start the day with my daily prayers. Checking my emails and socials comes next after this as I plan my schedule for the day.


I run an 8am - 4pm job, so I have to be at work early and fresh. Mondays are usually unique because it sets the pace for the week.


However, after work I attend to other life related issues and also create time for my family and friends. Just a few calls here and there to keep tabs on the people who mean the world to me.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?


I have learnt most recently that every leader needs to be alive and well in order to lead. As a leader, you must prioritize your health inclusive of all the six domains of wellness (physical health domain, mental health domain, economic wellness domain, spiritual domain, intellectual domain, social domain). I am reminded daily on the need to eat well, exercise and maintain a healthy work life balance, if I want to keep leading well.


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?


The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by Dr. John C. Maxwell remains one of the greatest book ever written. Reading this book was one of the biggest investments I ever made in my leadership journey.


In this book, John explained that growth can only be achieved when one is intentional about the process. He further explained in the second law that growth is only possible when you're aware of the need to grow. These alongside thirteen other laws contained in the book not only made me very intentional about developing my leadership potentials but also enabled me to view challenges from diverse perspectives before arriving at a conclusion. I have read hundreds of books even on leadership but interestingly, my leadership story is incomplete without this book!


6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?


It's simple, focus on adding value and reward will come directly back to you. You must see leadership as a sacrifice and be committed to making a positive impact in the lives of your teammates rather than wanting to prove a point. Be committed to creating change and most importantly make a commitment to always learn from those who have gone ahead of you!


7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?


Five years ago, a friend of mine lost two of her unborn babies to complicated malaria. This painful experience made me think about why malaria affects young people the most and yet they aren't given an opportunity to contribute towards combating the disease threatening their future.


Still an undergraduate at the time, I made a decision to advocate for youth inclusion in the fight against malaria by leading a movement of young people committed to ending malaria in my community.


This movement later mobilized over 500 youths across different communities and grew into Block Malaria Africa Initiative a nonprofit which has provided medical interventions directly to over 2000+ individuals living in economically deprived communities with little or no access to healthcare.


Today, youth engagement in the fight against malaria is a trending conversation globally and the voices of young people are heard!


Looking back to this story, I am reminded of why I started this journey and the impact this decision have made in the lives of thousands of people.

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