UPS Africa President: Africa Leap-Frogging the Developed World

Paul Horsfall, the UPS President for Africa, discusses the power of mentorship and Africa leap frogging the developed world. Below is an extended excerpt of his discussion on leadership with Africa Advisory Group.

UPS is the world’s biggest package delivery company and a global leader in the provision of specialized transportation and logistics services. UPS manages the flow of goods, funds, and information in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide each day.

What I like about Africa is that it’s leap frogging a lot of the technologies and processes that other countries are still sitting with.Paul Horsfall, UPS President for Africa

Q: What does leadership mean to you?

It can mean almost anything. I think leadership is, those that will follow a leader will generally succeed in life because they become leaders themselves. If you have a mentor or someone that will train you to be a leader, that’s when you will really become a successful leader in time. It’s going out there and establishing new thoughts and new things. A mentor really teaches people to think rather than to just accept. And I think that’s the success of our continent.

Q: What do you look for in a leader?

One of the most important things UPS looks for in a leader is a sense of someone that can ask the question ‘why?’ and not be frightened to do so. In an organization like UPS, that’s very much an engineering company as much as it is an innovator in the world, I think it’s those that take towards the why and come out with those questions that succeed in our organization. You can’t have leaders that just follow. They’ve got to lead, take people with them.

Q: What are the biggest challenges of leading and managing a business in Africa?

One of the biggest challenges in Africa quite frankly is the fact that many people outside of Africa don’t trust Africans just yet. It’s an emerging market, an emerging area. I think that a lot of Western leaders are still nervous about whether Africans can lead. But the more and more they get involved in Africa, the more and more they taste Africa, they realize African leaders are there.

Q: What is the most exciting trend coming out of Africa?

What I like about Africa is that it’s leap frogging a lot of the technologies and processes that other countries are still sitting with. So, if you take mobile technology M-Pesa in Kenya, if you look at things happening in the B to C business in Nigeria, it’s leap frogging what the developed world are still trying to establish in their own countries. And that’s exciting to see, that there’s a lot of innovation and new things happening on the African continent well ahead of what’s happening in developed markets.

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