Aug 30

7 career insights from African homecomers

Innovation and a Sense of Purpose are among the key reasons why skilled African professionals are returning to the continent.

This is according to pan-African executive recruitment firm Homecoming Revolution. The company, which specialises in headhunting and placing global African talent on the continent, has noticed a common trend emerge amongst the high-level executives they have placed in recent months from Lusaka to Dakar to Nairobi.

Below are 7 key career insights from African homecomers:

  1. Global Uncertainty

Socio-political events such as Brexit, ‘Trumpism’ and lacklustre global growth have resulted in a substantial increase in inquiries from Africans living abroad on career opportunities back home, says the company’s CEO Angel Jones.

She says South Africa’s recent local elections has caused another wave in inquiries.

“Since the local elections, we have decided to return from Italy to Cape Town.  Seems SA always pulls itself back from the brink, with way more than 9 lives!” Matthew Chersich.

  1. Innovation

The ability to offer creative solutions to challenges is another pull factor for African professionals living abroad.

“When you return home, you almost have to ‘relearn’ about the African way of doing business. Here, one has to come to grasp with processes and procedures that are often more manual than where they would be elsewhere. You have to do things yourself and that involves a lot of creativity in how you approach problem-solving,” Yacine Diagne returned to Senegal to work for Thomson Reuters in their Governance, Risk & Compliance department after attending Homecoming Revolution’s New York event in September 2015.

  1. Origination

Faye Tessendorf, Director of Homecoming Revolution, says in Africa, people have an opportunity to get involved in transactions at ground level that will change the infrastructure of our continent.

 “The attraction was to build a high performing team from scratch. Since then my team has doubled in size and our aggressive growth is flowing through into the numbers,” Michael Awori returned to Nairobi last year as Regional Head of Debt at Barclays after attending Homecoming Revolution’s London event in March 2014.

  1. Purpose

Having a sense of purpose and the opportunity to make a tangible impact is another core reason why people are attracted to the idea of returning home.

“I want to make a tangible difference to my community through financial literacy projects,” David Chansa, returned to Zambia as Chief Risk Officer for FNB Zambia after 25 years living away from home. Homecoming Revolution facilitated his return through its executive recruitment services.  

  1. Unpredictability

Life in South Africa is a constant rollercoaster ride of highs and lows, one minute the country appears unstoppable and the next everything seems like it could come crashing down. Angel cites this unpredictability as one of the factors pulling people home.

“As with everything, coming back to SA has its highs and lows. We’ve even had deliveries stolen from our mailbox!  But we have continuous access to our family and we’re happier than we’ve been in a very long time” Lerisha Kissoon-Higgs. She and her husband returned to Durban after attending Homecoming Revolutions London 2015 event.

  1. Pan-Africanism

The organisation cites that in addition to the increase in skilled Africans returning to the continent, there has also been an increase in intra-African mobility. A growing number of African professionals are returning to the continent, but not necessarily to their home countries.

Angel says this is owing to the AU passport which has reignited interest amongst highly skilled pan-Africans who are interested in greater pan-African collaboration.

 “Africa is our continent; and we the people have all it takes to nourish it”, says Kenyan Vivian Onano who returned home from the US to Johannesburg.

  1. Network

Relationships are critical to the success of any business on this continent. Over the years, Homecoming Revolution have had face to face contact with 17 000 African Professionals across the world and have leveraged these relationships, helping us leapfrog as a business and grow our presence across the continent.

“They say there is nothing like doing business in Africa and it’s not what you know, it’s not who you know, but rather who knows you, concludes Faye.