Transforming Leadership for 21st Century Africa

We live in an era of accelerating change and unprecedented complexity. Organizational strategies today will be obsolete — if not self-defeating — tomorrow. Success requires agile leadership and intelligent communication.

That is why the Graduate School of Media and Communications at the Aga Khan University (AKU GSMC) is proud to offer an extraordinary opportunity to sharpen two of the most vital skills demanded by these challenging times. In September 2019, we will welcome the second cohort of senior leaders — in business, government, civil society and media — to a pioneering suite of courses, Transforming Leadership for 21st Century Africa.

Hosted by the AKU GSMC in Nairobi, this unique offering is comprised of two back-to-back courses.

Adaptive Leadership for Africa: Chaos, Complexity and Courage, delivered by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University (HKS), Executive Education, helps executives exercise leadership amid uncertainty with skill, purpose and effectiveness.

The Voice of Leadership: Inspiration, Influence and Impact, delivered by the AKU GSMC, empowers leaders to speak and act with clarity, vision and authenticity. The fundamental premise: the success of any initiative or enterprise depends as never before on high-quality, maximum-impact communications. Executives who fail to recognize this imperative will be left behind.

If you are a motivated leader – committed to your own and Africa’s future – this program is for you.

Michael  Meyer
Founding Dean, Graduate School of Media and Communications,
The Aga Khan University

Transforming Leadership for 21st Century Africa offers the expertise of AKU GSMC and HKS, Executive Education, to offer you a unique learning experience that will change the way you think about leadership and communication in your professional and personal life. The benefits of these programs include:

Exploring new methods of tackling leadership and communication challenges of contemporary Africa
Developing insights about your own leadership and communication approaches and techniques
Learning how to deploy story-telling to improve your communication to lead and motivate others.
Becoming part of a global network of leaders from a professionally and geographically diverse class and faculty

The program is intended for senior executives in public, corporate and non-profit organizations who meet the following criteria.

You are a proven or emerging senior leader.
You are responsible for leading others and making mission-critical decisions.
You have a personal leadership challenge that you wish to address during this program.
You are looking for a unique experience with the opportunity to reflect, to connect with yourself and to re-examine your leadership in a global context.
You are fluent in English.

What certification will I receive from this program?

Upon successful completion of Transforming Leadership for 21 Century Africa, participants will be awarded the certificate for Adaptive Leadership for Africa: Chaos Complexity and Courage by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Executive Education, and the certificate for The Voice of Leadership: Inspiration, Influence and Impact by the Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communications. To be awarded these certificates, participants must successfully complete the full suite of offerings.

What is included in the program fee?

The program fee includes tuition, course materials, certificates, lunches, coffee breaks and some dinners. Expenses such as accommodation and travel are not included in the program fee.

When is payment due?

AKU GSMC will send an invoice on acceptance of your application to join the course. Payment of the invoice will be due within 30 days of receipt.

What is your refund/withdrawal policy?

The deadline for requesting a full refund is August, 2019, up to 30 days before the course begins. Refunds will not be possible within 30 days of the start of the programme.

What are the scholarship and tuition assistance options?

Scholarship and tuition assistance opportunities are currently not available.

What is the time commitment?

Participants will be expected to attend and participate actively in all face-to-face sessions for both courses. In addition, the class will convene during the interim period with two web-based meetings to expand and deepen the practice of course material. Individuals will practice and document their experience of transforming leadership and small groups meet regularly between sessions to assess progress, provide support, and address any challenges participants may face in adapting and implementing the practice.

What is the course schedule?

A full course schedule will be released over the coming months. Daily sessions will follow a schedule similar to the one below:

7:45 am – 8:00 am  Coffee
8:00 am – 9:00 am Study groups meet to review case material and assigned study questions
9:00 am – 10:30 am Technical Problems and Adaptive Challenges
10:30 am – 11:00 am Coffee Break
11:00 am – 12:30 pm Case Discussion: e.g. Leadership and Strategy
12:30 pm – 2:00 pm Lunch
2:00 pm – 4:30 pm Communicating for Influence
4:30 pm – 5:30 pm Individual study and class preparation
5:30 – 6:00 pm Daily Wrap


Can I bring my family?

The program is very intensive and is not confined to normal office hours. There are class sessions, study groups, project work and informal group activities that take place in the evenings.

Please click apply now and fill in the application form. Submit to:

Step 1: Review the application checklist
Application Checklist

Personal information Your updated CV
Work information Number of employees in your organization
Number of employees under your direct supervision
Annual operating budget of your organization
Essay responses At your current position, what are your specific duties and responsibilities? Please describe your organization in terms of functions or services provided. If you are an elected official, please describe your committee assignments or size of jurisdiction.

  • Demonstrates professional competence
  • Demonstrates a position of leadership or leadership potential
  • Demonstrates experience with influencing stakeholders and affecting change in complex organizations
Please describe the most significant leadership challenges of your work and how participation in this program will help you to address these challenges.

  • Demonstrates experience with adaptive leadership challenges
  • Demonstrates passion for strong and effective leadership
  • Demonstrates understanding of the distinction between leadership and authority
Describe areas where you would like to strengthen your communication expertise with internal and external stakeholders.

  • Demonstrates self-awareness through reflection on strengths and weaknesses in approaches to communication
  • Demonstrates passion for strong and effective communication
  • Demonstrates thoughtful and introspective analysis with respect to past communication challenges
  • Demonstrates understanding of the link between effective leadership and effective communication
Please describe your immediate and long-term career goals. How will attending this program help to achieve them?

  • Demonstrates self-awareness through reflection on strengths and weaknesses
  • Demonstrates leadership aspirations
  • Demonstrates high levels of ambition and motivation
  • Demonstrates linkage between content/objectives of this program and long term career goals
Please describe the professional development areas you would be interested in pursuing in the future.

Step 2: Prepare information and essay responses

  • GSMC suggests that applicants take time to prepare their essay responses in advance of submitting their application. The application form allows participants to save progress made on the application.

Step 3: Complete your application

  • Please allot approximately 60 minutes to complete the application.
  • Click the “Apply Now” link located in the top right corner of this page.
  • All additional documentation required by the AKU GSMC must be included in the application.
  • Answer all questions thoroughly — the Admissions Committee will only consider completed applications and registrations.

Step 4: Submit your application

  • When your application is complete, click on the “Submit” button at the bottom of the application form.
  • After submitting your application, you will receive an email confirmation that your application has been submitted.
  • The deadline for applications is February 2018.
  • Programs often fill to capacity, so early application is recommended, however, early application does not guarantee admission.

Step 5: Notification of Acceptance

  • Admission to the program is based on the candidate’s depth of experience and range of responsibility. There is no formal educational requirement, but fluency in written and spoken English is a necessity for the program.
  • Qualified candidates are admitted on a rolling, space-available basis, and the program often fills to capacity. Because of the interactive nature of this program, the number of participants is limited. Applications received after the deadline will be considered only if space remains in the class.
  • Once the review process has begun, applicants are typically notified within three weeks via email regarding Admissions Committee decisions.

Step 6: Payment

  • Admission is not complete until payment is received. Once you have received notification of acceptance, you must ensure that payment is received to ensure you are admitted to this suite of offerings.
  • Payment is accepted in KES or USD can be made in the following ways:
  1. Direct Transfer to AKU Bank Account
  2. Credit/Debit Card Payment (at the GSMC premises)
  3. Mpesa Payment
  • The Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communication will not accept cash payments.


If you have any questions about the application or admissions process, please contact:

Apply Now

Transforming Leadership for 21st Century Africa is an exciting new suite of courses designed to equip you with the skills, mindset and communication expertise to better lead your organization – and Africa itself – in our increasingly complex and rapidly changing world.

Hosted by the AKU-GSMC in Kenya, this unique offering brings together two world-class courses: Adaptive Leadership for Africa: Chaos, Complexity and Courage delivered by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University Executive Education; and The Voice of Leadership: Inspiration, Influence and Impact delivered by the Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communications

The two courses offer face-to-face, on-line and project-based learning modules spanning a five-month period.

Tuition: 7,500 USD
2019 Dates: September 16-20; November 11-15

Adaptive Leadership for Africa:
Chaos, Complexity and Courage

The Voice of Leadership:
Inspiration, Influence and Impact