We love it when our alumni keep in touch with us to share their recent achievements and career highlights, so we were thrilled when an email arrived in our inbox from Kofi Adu Labi, MBA 1992.
Kofi has had a successful career in the legal, banking and management consulting fields, and as an author, in his native Ghana. Most recently, he has seen his 10th book published which is titled ‘Memoirs from the HillTop: Stories and Lesson from the School of Life’. The book shares exciting details his life and career, and three chapters that are devoted to his time spent studying for his MBA at the University of Bradford.
We had the great pleasure of catching up with Kofi to find out more about his book and his time in Bradford.
By way of introduction, I live in Accra Ghana. I am a lawyer by profession and served as an Advisor to two Governors of the Bank of Ghana before retiring in 2011. I am a proud Akuapem, from the small town of Abiriw on the Akuapem Ridge, which in my view is the most beautiful part of Ghana. I have been married to Elioenai since 1978 and we have five adult children and three grandchildren.
Now tell us about your Bradford experience – what brought you to UoB for your MBA?
I tell my Bradford story in detail (Chapters 21-23) in ‘Memoirs from the HillTop’ so don’t want to give too much away! Suffice it to say that my coming to Bradford was not something rehearsed, if I should put it that way, and the events that led up to me applying to study at Bradford unfolded quickly.
The experiences I had at the University of Bradford, in and outside the University, have enriched my life and perspectives to no end. It was great to study my MBA at Bradford as it had (and still has) a superb reputation internationally.
Do you have any special memories from your time in Bradford that you can share, or do we have to wait to read about this in the book?
Yes, there are many memories, and again I don’t want to give too much away! However, one that always stands out to me is the “culture shock” of the weather when I first arrived. I had not anticipated the cold, which could apparently be severe in the north of England at that time of year. At a welcome party for new arrivals, organised by the Student Union, I was intrigued to hear a student from Dublin (Ireland) tell the gathering that she had always thought Dublin was the coldest place on earth. . . until she arrived in Bradford. It definitely took some getting used to!
This book deals with various aspects of my life, right from infancy, and I believe that the lessons from some of my experiences will benefit my readers, especially the young ones. For older ones as well as my contemporaries, you may well identify with many of the stories and experiences encountered.
I have shared details from my early and formative years. The stories from my secondary school and university years may be intriguing and revealing, in parts, to many of my young readers. So many things have changed since then. Yet, I am convinced that the trips back to memory lane will provide direction and encouragement to many and help to change perspectives to life.
I also believe that the aspects of my professional career mentioned in the book will have many learning points for others, and reinforce the need to maintain diligence, character, and networking as one serves the needs of customers, country, and other stakeholders.
The same motivation has been behind my nine other books. I use the tool of storytelling to drive home the points I make in all my books. I have come to realise that my readers identify with that style, judging from the feedback I keep receiving from all over the English-speaking world.
Are plans to write another book already underway?
Yes. Incidentally, I thought I was done with writing after my first three books. Writing a book is such a back-breaking undertaking which literally consumes you. I thought I had had enough, but I was wrong!
It has been such an encouragement receiving messages from my readers (most of them total strangers) telling me how they have been blessed by my books. They would then invariably ask when the next one is coming. This has been the motivation to keep on writing, in addition to my daily messages on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram, read by people all over the world.
So, I have more books in the works, at least two for the moment. I have been approached by a family to undertake a biography of their matriarch, a huge name in industry in Ghana who died in 2002. The centenary of her birth was marked in 2019 at a thanksgiving service at which I was Guest Speaker. The event attracted national attention. I have written about this eminent industrialist (Esther Afua Ocloo of Nkulenu Industries) who started with nothing, in chapters in two of my books. The family now wants me to do a full-blown biography.
What one-piece of golden advice would you give to younger alumni who are making their way in the field of business and management?
Work diligently at whatever you find yourself doing and establish a reputation for dependability and creative innovation. Be genuine in your relationships and thereby build long-term networks that will come in handy in future.
Pay attention to detail. Enjoy the moment and absorb the lessons from both the good and bad situations. Create memory banks to fall on. Write a little “nonsense” each day based on your experiences, do not wait to get a perfect manuscript. One hundred pages of “nonsense” on your laptop can produce a few pages of “sense” when you start editing.
I believe that each of us has a story to tell so break free from the fear that you do not have anything to share or that you will not find the time to do it. One page a day over a period of say 12 months will see you with a huge draft that will surprise you. You will then be motivated to move on to edit to see what comes out of it.
Discipline, consistency, and routine are sine qua non if you desire to be a writer.
Get your hands on a copy: If you would like to read Kofi’s book in full, or see what others are saying about it, please find out more here.