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    Monday, February 5, 2018

    In many cases, good communication skills are the only characteristic that will retain a partner and motivate the Regional Administration

    Sharon Georgewill, IYF Regional Director - Africa

    Interview with Ms. Sharon Georgewill, IYF Regional Director, Africa

    Why did you decide to commit your time and energy to the IYF? Describe your passion for the IYF mission.
    Sharon: I committed my time and energy to IYF because I believe in its mission for empowering youth for a better world. While others might have similar answers to this question, my passion for this mission stems from the belief that when youth are empowered, the society becomes a good place for everyone to live in. These youth are the ones that will assist in the economic activities of the society where they find themselves, and in turn, both families and the entire nation benefits. When a youth is empowered they go on to replicate their kind and the ripple effect will create a better world.

    When did your love for NGOs blossom and why? 
    Sharon: My love for NGOs, and I'd say active participation in developmental and leadership activities, blossomed in 2013. However, before then I had also been involved in some community projects and outreaches. This bloom happened when I joined an international youth leadership development organization, AIESEC, which enables young people to develop their leadership potential through exchange experiences to create a positive impact on the society. 

    A few months after joining, I was somewhat convinced that this is what I wanted to be doing for a long time, as it made me feel more connected and responsible towards the issues around the world, and presented many opportunities for me to make a difference and a significant change in the world.

    With all the excitement and obvious self-transformation I noticed at that time, I had an opportunity to attend a national conference with over 150 fellow young people from across the nation for almost a week. Unfortunately, I fell ill and didn't quite attend all the sessions as planned. But, from the few that I witnessed, I could see the hunger for development and change the youth exhibited. It was contagious, and at that moment I had my hopes restored that the future of this planet couldn't be better with this demography around for a long time.

    What are the characteristics of a great Regional Director?
    Sharon: For me, I think there are five characteristics:
    1. The willingness to do more is a characteristic every Regional Director should have. As the director, you must accept the fact that you’re responsible for any shortcomings. After all, you are in charge of micromanaging, delegating tasks, ensuring adequate and satisfactory work output, and in the end the directors are the ones that will have to answer to the superiors. As a regional director, I know that I have an obligation to pick up the slack when my team is underperforming, and I am not afraid to get help and put in some hard work when it is called for.

    2. Diligence and persistence. These characteristics are so closely related that I decided to classify them as one. Diligence is the drive to work hard at whatever you’re focusing on, and persistence is the drive to continue working when things get rough. Both are needed in tandem – diligence without persistence will help you move forward in achieving your goals, and persistence without diligence will have you work harder but not smarter.

    3. Adopt learning and researching skills. No one starts out knowing everything, which is why the ability to proficiently research and learn about new topics and concepts related to the IYF mission and the development space is something regional directors should have. Running the organization at regional level is much easier when you’re able to assimilate and retain information on a consistent basis.

    4. Good communication skills. When it comes to keeping the team/administration happy and their morale high, communication may be the most important characteristic. People want to deal with individuals that are attentive, friendly, well-spoken, and easy to contact. In many cases, good communication skills are the only characteristic that will retain a partner and motivate the regional administration in times of hardship.

    5. Effective leadership. A great regional director is assertive yet considerate, passionate yet logical, persuasive, and inspiring.

    What are you doing to inspire the region that you lead?
    Sharon: I am currently making decisions and engaging in developmental activities that are in the interest of establishing a continent that is better, equitable and sustainable for everyone to live in.

    If you were to choose one SDG that inspires you the most, what would that be and why?
    Sharon Georgewill, IYF Regional Director - Africa  Sharon: All the SDGs matter to me equally. We still have problems, right now: one in six people on earth still live in extreme poverty. One in eight are under nourished, about 14 million boys and girls are out of elementary school. About 72 million youth are unable to find a job, every day we are one step closer to heating up the planet beyond repair, as we can even tell from how hot it gets in many countries these days. With over 9 billion people on the planet in 2050, it's likely there will be shortage of water and other scarce resources. There is a high mortality rate due to the lack of adequate health care especially in Africa. Now if young people do not strive to implement these goals all together and involve relevant partners, who else will?

    Are you dedicated to helping country members grow during your tenure? How?
    Sharon: In the region, as part of building the capacity of the country teams, we hope to develop a virtual hub that will feature resources and opportunities that will assist in their growth. We also have plans for organizational support where member countries will be visited by the regional administration annually to provide on-site assistance where necessary to the country administration.

    What does performance mean to you?
    Sharon: Performance for me means having people who support the goals set and believe in doing well to achieve the organization's mission. It is having people who are completely aligned and on the same page, having people who understand collaboration and synergy to deliver on a set task, having people who can identify risks and opportunities and act quickly. For us, this is kind of culture we want to build in the region.

    What are your plans for 2018?
    Sharon: As a region, we have unique challenges and we believe we can address them accordingly, taking one step at a time. However, the key things we seek to change/enhance are;
    • The mindset of youths to prepare them for future changes
    • Increase youth employment
    • Establish active participation of youths in implementing the SDGs across the region
    • Establish physical presence of IYF in member countries.

    Where do you see the IYF in five years?
    Sharon: I see the IYF being recognized as the best youth empowerment organization in the world.

    Why should young people keep an eye on the IYF?
    Sharon: Young people should keep an eye on the IYF because we have members around the world with a wide network including academics, private sector and civil society. We advocate for young people for a better future. We are committed to advancing youth lives through our ambitious programmes in the coming years as we seek to extend our interventions in new directions.

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