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Faculty Feature: From a Missioner to an Academic

  Apr 30, 2015

Dr. Fredrick Ogola, a Senior Lecturer and Academic Director at Strathmore Business School is an excellent academic. Passionate about teaching and research, Dr. Ogola has attained great strides in his education and work despite having spent a great number of years at Mill Hill seminary. Driven by the fact that he derives satisfaction from what he does, his work in strategy and sustainability is very informative and timely.

Background of yourself

I am a middle child in a family of 11 children. My father was a catechist, and my mother a teacher and leader in church. I recently just got married. My family background is so humble that some of my siblings are not as educated as I am, therefore I take the mentor role often.

As a consequence of my father being a catechist, getting into missionary work or becoming a priest was almost natural for my elder brother and I. Though my community does not support the eldest son becoming a priest, we chose to support my brother with his decision to join priesthood and I am so proud of him.

Education background…

I studied at St. Mary’s Yala, this was dominantly catholic and as a result I learnt a lot about the catholic faith. When I completed High school, I joined a senior seminary to be trained as a missionary. I studied philosophy and social science degrees while there and also started the theology course. However, 3 months before completion I was dismissed from the seminary; I believe my time there was God’s will for me because it prepared me for the future. Now, when I have time, I easily carry out domestic chores like cleaning and sometimes cooking which I learnt in the seminary, especially when my wife is busy with work and school.

When I left the seminary I decided to take up an MBA because I already had degrees in social sciences. I particularly chose to do an academic MBA so that I could venture into the world of academia. I randomly chose to take a GMAT exam and from my very impressive scores, business schools such as ESADE Business and Law School and SAID Oxford Business School contacted me for PhD scholarship opportunities. I took up the ESADE scholarship in Barcelona. In this school, which operates under Bologna system, it was compulsory to undertake a Master of Science in Research and Innovation. My MBA thesis therefore focused on Sustainability Strategies in Developing countries.

In October 2009, I began my doctorate course and completed all requirements by 2011. After handing in the requirements, 3 years before the scheduled finishing time for this program, I travelled to India to learn more on microfinance. I particularly focused on India because at that time, India was grabbing media attention due to high suicide rates, this was thought to be related to microfinance repayment rates.

After gathering all the information, I returned to Barcelona to defend my proposal in April 2012 thereafter I returned home.

My supervisor was called Josep Maria Serrano.

Research Findings

In India, many people were committing suicide because of microfinance; people would take loans and find it difficult to repay hence commit suicide. This posed the big question; how were financial institutions managed? My research angle consequently focused on; Sustainability Strategies of Financial Institutions in Developing Countries.

While in India, I learnt that the country was facing issues such as: firstly difficulty in access to finance, this led to high demand on currency reserves in the economy. Secondly, lack of financial literacy, this is why I am currently conducting a research on ‘unbiased financial education’. Lastly can lenders provide information on what the financial product looks like without withholding information?

I came up with a framework that can be used to rank financial institutions and establish how socially responsible they are. With this framework, I highlighted on the fact that corporate organizations do not carry out CSR for the love of society, rather for marketing purposes. Example Coca-Cola’s CSR spending across all markets is negatively correlated with their market share. This means that, where they have low market share they spend more money on CSR and where they have more market they spend less. The budget spent on CSR carried out in Kenya is minimal compared to Egypt because they already captured the Kenyan market as compared to Egypts’.

Benefits of the research

One of the benefits of my research is that I did a compendium publication instead of a monogram publication to complete the PhD. This meant that I worked on articles, journalled them, and presented them in books. This was an advantage because once papers are published you can easily defend your research work.

Because of my research, I quickly moved from a lecturer to a senior lecturer when I got employed at Strathmore.

I also wrote some cases which I use for teaching. This gives a source of credibility to the faculty. When you have your own publication it enhances the teaching.

Challenges faced…

While researching, the scientific community always wants you to venture into something new that has not been researched on. In this regard, to get people interested in your new topic is difficult, some people even find it hard to understand what you’re talking about. If they don’t understand you it means your research is wrong. Therefore you must write your proposal clearly and in a way that is easily understood.

Receiving feedback on one’s article from the different scholars can pause a challenge if you don’t receive the feedback in a manner that’s understandable.

Your next plans …

I would like to fulfill the requirements of becoming a professor. The only remaining requirement is to supervise a PhD candidate, this I am currently doing. Once that is completed I will become an associate professor, then I will apply for full professorship.

I also want to venture into entrepreneurship so that I can teach better from experience.

Advice to Aspiring PhD students

Doing a PhD is quite easy if you focus on why you want to do it. Don’t do it because you want to be called a doctor, that’s the wrong way to go about it. Do it because you have a goal set in place. If you are in academia, you obviously go the whole mile and become a great professor in your field.

Supervision is key, when it comes to the quality of your work. Know what you want from the supervisor, and what you do not. You may get supervisors who are good dreamers and some who are good at giving feedback. Go for the one who will help you grow. You also do not need to choose a high flying supervisor, because they may not have time for you. Choose one who has a vision with the work you are doing, so that your success is their success too.
The school where you study for PhD matters.

What do you do with your spare time?

I watch football or play it. Am an Arsenal fan. I also go to the gym to keep fit. When I have more time I spend it with my wife and my siblings.

I rejoice in following Christ because He is the only person we should aspire to be like.

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