The premier leadership organisation

YPO (formerly Young Presidents’ Organization) is a global network of young chief executives

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YPO (formerly Young Presidents’ Organization) is a global network of young chief executives, which empowers more than 27 000 members in more than 130 countries, diversified among industries and various types of businesses

YPO is the global platform for chief executives to engage, learn and grow. YPO members harness the knowledge, influence and trust of the world’s most influential and innovative business leaders to make a difference in the world through business, personal, family and community impact. Altogether, YPO member-run companies generate US$9 trillion in annual revenues and employ 22 million people.

YPO will be hosting its YPO Edge event in Cape Town on the 6 and 7 March 2019—only the second time the annual event has been hosted in the mother city. Leadership magazine sat with two members of YPO who have just been inducted onto the YPO Board—Hasit Patel, COO of the Ramco Group of Companies and Emery Rubagenga, the CEO of ROKA.

Hasit Patel, COO

The Ramco Group of Companies operates in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. The group of 47 companies can be broadly divided into six key sectors—printing and packaging, hardware and building supplies, office supplies and stationery, manufacturing services and real estate.

A leader who is passionate about business transformation and disruption, Patel is in search of the perfect balancing point where the nimbleness of a family-run business meets the systems and structures of the corporate world—a point he believes can enable business to sharply accelerate in growth and purpose.

His passion lies in technology, systems and processes. Outside of the Ramco Group of Companies, Patel sits on the board of a local school and mentors several young entrepreneurs.

He joined YPO in 2005 and has served in various leadership roles in the Nairobi Chapter and on the African Regional Board, and is currently on the International Learning Committee. He has also day chaired several local and international events.

How has your background prepared you for the position you now occupy with the Young Presidents’ Organization?

My current role in our group of companies is to lead and develop the strategy in the group, whether this is by the vertical or individual organisation. The expectation of this role is to also hold leaders accountable for delivering on their strategic goals and provide guidance and resources when goals are not being met. This is the role of a YPO board member.

How do you aim to make an impact in your new role?

I bring a lot of experience in technology, strategy development and change management. I, therefore, hope that these skills will bring a new angle to the board in terms of using technology to develop and manage strategic goals, whether this is at a global or chapter level.

What are your thoughts on collaboration and innovation?

Innovations are often required when something is failing. Failure often surfaces when teams communicate well and believe they are in a safe space during the communication process, collaboration is the only way to create strong communication and create that safety—thus, innovation without collaboration isn’t possible.

Who do you consider as someone making a great impact in the business world at present and why?

Satya Nadella—in such a short time, he has given Microsoft a new purpose and driven them to innovate and turn around their teams.

What can we expect from YPO as we move into the future?

YPO will cater more to the diversities of business leaders, it will focus on learning what is becoming more important to the modern leader and generate opportunities for leaders to improve their leadership skills in order to excel as a modern leader.

How will your involvement in YPO create change in your specific organisations?

YPO has already had a huge impact on our businesses. In this role, I am hoping to learn how YPO is changing in order to better suit its customers and this knowledge and understanding is what I hope to bring back to my organisations.

What are your thoughts on the upcoming event, the organisation’s second event in South Africa?

Actually, I attended the first event in Cape Town soon after becoming a member of my chapter ExCo—it has always been one of my favourite GLCs—so I am really looking forward to attending again, this time in my new role, and enjoying it as much as I did the first time.

Emery Rubagenga, CEO

Rubagenga is a Rwandan businessman who is passionate about Africa’s development in all aspects and driven by a sincere desire and commitment to make a difference in Africa’s quest for self-sufficiency in this generation.

He is the CEO of ROKA, one of the largest mining companies in Rwanda, and has mentored several young Rwandans to become successful entrepreneurs through his work as the first Vice President of the Private Sector Federation – Rwanda’s Chamber of Young Entrepreneurs of the.

Before joining hands with partners and creating ROKA, Rubagenga served as the Rwanda representative for the Microsoft Corporation in Rwanda, bringing a wealth of networks and synergies that have been enabled by a conducive environment in a country that has successfully positioned itself as an emerging technology hub for the region. For several years, he worked for one of the largest manufacturing companies in Rwanda and conducted several consultancies in the areas of strategic management, investment promotion as well as marketing in the East African region.

Rubagenga has received the highest Junior Chamber International (JCI) honour as the only JCI Senator (a unique tribute paid to an individual for dedication and outstanding service on a national level). Rubagenga has spearheaded various international events promoting foreign investments in East Africa and has facilitated the region’s visibility in Dubai, London, Hong Kong, Toronto and Washington, D.C. to mention but a few.

Rubagenga serves on several boards in Rwanda’s private sector as well as international corporations ranging from technology companies and breweries to energy and education. He is the local representative of PUM Netherlands (a Netherlands management cooperation programme), an organisation that aims to empower the private sector through connecting entrepreneurs in developing countries and emerging markets with senior experts from the Netherlands who devote their knowledge to mentoring and coaching.

Rubagenga is well-recognised as a great entrepreneurship development supporter for the youth in Rwanda and has been called upon to serve on the advisory boards of Skol Breweries and the Innovation Prize for Africa (a non-governmental organisation empowering young graduates to become entrepreneurs).

Rubagenga is also the Chairperson of the YPO Rwanda Chapter.

How has your background prepared you for the position you now occupy with the Young Presidents’ Organization?

I have been extremely lucky to have gotten involved in the leadership of business organisations at an early stage in my professional career in Rwanda. I assume important roles, both at the Private Sector Federation and Junior Chamber International. I have developed such a strong passion for entrepreneurship-related matters, which I will be very excited to share with fellow board members while learning from everyone’s experience.

How do you aim to make an impact in your new role?

I keep my mind on an extremely high-alert mode when it comes to unpacking how business leaders can contribute to improving the world we live in. One of my recommendations would be to find innovative technological tools and plug them into the YPO App in order for members to exchange the best practices amongst themselves while learning from each other’s experience on impact investing.

My emphasis will also be focusing on:

  • Driving membership growth, especially in emerging markets aiming to create a powerful network of agents of change for a faster and more inclusive socio-economic development of the world.
  • Creating member awareness of the impactful potential YPO has as the premier leadership organisation of chief executives in the world and, therefore, the responsibility that comes with it.

What are your thoughts on collaboration and innovation?

YPO has been a wonderful organisation for many of us, I have personally learnt a lot and made lifelong friends from all over the world.

This geographic diversity of business leaders and a worldwide presence can give YPO a very unique competitive edge in terms of forming strong partnerships with other platforms, such as the United Nations, World Bank, World Economic Forum et al., and not only for attending each other’s events but also for the development of practical joint programmes.

Who do you consider as someone making a great impact in the business world at present and why?

Though philanthropists like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, George Soros, Jack Ma and many others are magnificent examples of generosity and impact; I would like to highlight a particular initiative called B The Change that has developed a certified programme, which has enabled more than 2 500 companies to tackle the hard work to make measurable, positive impact improvement.

Each of the more than 2 500 Certified B Corporations declares, upon certification, to be committed to continuous impact improvement. Most notably though, in my context as a Rwandan and also as a global citizen, there is no doubt in my mind that someone who has made the greatest impact, not only in the business world but also in social and economic development, is Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda. For someone who inherited a country on the verge of extinction, him turning its ashes to beauty in only 25 years is nothing short of a miracle.

Through his system of inclusive governance and thoughtful leadership, Rwanda has, in the last few years, been ranked respectively: sevent most efficient government globally (Global Competitive), the third fastest-growing economy in the world (World Economic Forum), the most improved country globally in human development since 1990 (Human Development Report), the second-best place to do business in Africa and 29th in the world (The World Bank’s Doing Business report).

I can only imagine the ultimate worldwide transformative impact on the business and investment world if the same type of business-oriented thinking and pragmatic business reforms were to be applied everywhere else across the globe.

What can we expect from YPO as we move into the future?

To remain that marvellous lifetime learning experience provider, while adding a more purposely driven agenda.

How will your involvement in YPO create change in your specific organisations?

YPO has tremendously empowered me as a leader.

I’m extremely thankful for it and as a giving-back response, alongside a great friend and fellow YPO-er, Steve Shallenberger, a best-selling Leadership Author, we decided to build a leadership and entrepreneurship Centre to empower Africa’s youth.

What are your thoughts on the upcoming event, the organisation’s second event in South Africa?

I’m very much looking forward to attending the GLC and Edge event in Cape Town in a few weeks time. It will be a wonderful opportunity to further emphasise the impactful YPO 3.0 strategy.

There is no better place than Africa to kick-start and endorse this transformative and visionary, forward-thinking mindset and find ways of practically implementing the learnings in our daily business lives. 

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