Frank Yaw-Owusu is a Technology enthusiast who is curious about how digital strategy, disruptive innovation and technology can transform the ways businesses and people behave and interact within a society responding to continuous change. He believes that digital disruption is becoming increasingly ubiquitous and despite all its challenges, it provides companies with a great opportunity to redefine themselves.
At present, Frank is a senior digital, technology strategy & Innovation consultant at IBM. He also helps startup founders and smaller businesses to leverage emerging technology and apply commercially viable innovations that disrupt their business models and optimise their digital business strategy.
In an exclusive interview with Techpreneur, we find out more about this enthusiastic techie helping businesses and startups thrive in an era of fluid disruption.
What was growing up like?
Growing up has been a fantastic experience because I’ve had so many people who inspire me within my family and I think that really helped me in my formative years, as a teenager and as a young man. I have been blessed to have had a lot of role models to look up to within my immediate family and this has always pushed me to be my best at whatever I do. Moreover, my family also helped me to be comfortable with whatever career path I choose for my life and I believe that has given me a sense of peace and calmness in my own abilities and enjoying the journey or process.
I would say that growing up in London has been an amazing experience. I’ve had an opportunity to meet so many different people, from different walks of life, which has fuelled my learning experiences. Moreover, being relatively close to central London also inspired me to push and strive for more.
You’ve worked with quite a number of ‘A List’ companies, what has the experience been like?
I’ve had the opportunity to work with some incredible companies in my career to date. So far I have worked as a lead research assistant at Imperial College. My role there involved collaborating with Cornell University to analyse the commercialisation of big data and really trying to understand how big data works at present and how it could be leveraged, bought and sold as intellectual property in the future. Moreover, I have had the opportunity to work as an intellectual property and contract governance consultant at KPMG, as well as a digital innovation and strategy consultant within the organisation. During my time at KPMG London I got exposure to a lot of blue chip clients and international experience.
This helped me to understand the complexities behind digital transformation and the types of leadership that it takes to not only manage innovation, but also deliver an effective digital strategy that future proofs an organisation’s business model. Lastly I have worked at parliamentary digital services, which furthered my learning into digital transformation strategy & digital innovation and how it is structured within the public sector. It was great to understand the processes within the organisation and identifying how much of a role culture plays in the facilitation of innovation and driving the digital transformation journey.
At present I am working at IBM where the learning curve has been very steep and extremely exponential. This opportunity has provided me with a lot of insight into understanding: process and the importance of developing and maintaining relationships. As well as, delivering consulting work that is focused around digital strategy and technology innovation.
My experiences to date have really challenged me to help clients to leverage emerging technology and apply commercially viable innovations that disrupt their business models and optimise their digital strategy. Thereby, enabling them to solve their most complex business problems. Given that digital disruption is becoming increasingly ubiquitous and despite all its challenges, it provides companies with a great opportunity to redefine themselves.
What are you most proud of in your tech career so far?
In my tech career to date I am proud of the learning and the growth that I have experienced. London is extremely competitive and I have been very fortunate to advise, build and work in startups. Moreover coupled with my corporate and public sector experience, I am very fortunate to have developed a strong skillset at these organisations and the blend of experiences gained has helped me on my professional journey. Additionally, I am also very grateful to all the people I have worked with who have provided and supported me with opportunities to grow and expand my thinking along the way.
To what do you attribute your success?
God has played a very important part of my life and I attribute all my growth to him. I also think that developing an endurance mindset has helped me a lot. As the hardship and the numerous trials that I have been through in life have and continue to develop my character. However, overall when it is all said and done God is definitely the engine that has kept me going and provided me with the consistency to keep on striving.
Moreover, I would also then attribute my family again to my growth. As I mentioned previously they have been an incredible support. My father, mother, siblings, aunties and uncles, are the foundations that have enabled me to try and give things a go despite of failure or the struggles. My family have promoted my self-growth, development, and travelling, enabling me to expand my perspectives and thinking in the process. I am very fortunate for them as they provided me with an environment to keep on developing to become the best version of myself.
What are your ideals in life?
I used to be a person with a lot of ideals and this played a significant role in my life. However after lots of reading and exploration of self, I have come to realise that ideals inhibit growth at times and they can create dogmas that are very entrenched. I have come to realise that all that really matters in life is kindness, integrity, character, honour, peace of mind and love. Everything else is just ego and hubris.
I believe in values more so than ideals, as values are more actionable and are based on a person improving their internal behaviours. Ideals are ethereal and can limit the growth of a person. However, as a pragmatist I am more concerned and focused on myself development and growth hence why I choose not to have ideals, but rather focus on developing my value system, which is action orientated.
What’s your take on Africa’s tech ecosystem today? What can we do to improve the space?
I think the African tech ecosystem today is absolutely amazing, it’s buzzing with the youngest global demographic and the enthusiasm and energy within this space holds a lot of promise. I am very confident that Africa is a continent that will house the most profound disruptive innovative ideas in the decades and centuries to come.
Entrepreneurship in Africa is inspiring so many young people to come together and look at their country with renewed introspection to see how it can be improved and the value they can add to it. As well as the role they can play in improving their country for the future.
However, despite saying this I’m aware of the challenges facing African entrepreneurship. The challenges are multifaceted and governments need to do more need to provide co-working spaces, provide grants and financial support/assistance to startups in sub-Saharan Africa. More needs to be done in Africa to facilitate the growth of startups as they are the enablers of change that mobilize the workforce to do more, contributing to the country’s economic development growth and the overall betterment of society.
With all the experience you’ve garnered, do you plan on doing some mentorship for Ghanaian tech startups?
I’m a massive fan of Techpreneur and I have seen the work that Clement has done which is providing great coverage for the tech scene in Ghana. I have also read, and spoken to founders within the Ghanaian tech community and it is inspiring to meet and know so many ambitious, passionate entrepreneurs doing great work within this space. I definitely would like to get a lot more involved in mentoring Ghanaian startups.
I am currently an advisor for Doctoora a Nigerian healthcare startup and I am also working on Jendaya an e-commerce based retail business. Which is a business that’s looking to disrupt retail ecosystem as well as inspire more young African women and men to get into entrepreneurship. As this is the best way to challenge their countries to be better, add value to their countries and really make Africa the continent to be.
I believe in Ghanaian entrepreneurship and I firmly believe that Africa is a continent that has so much capability, so much creativity and so much talent, with amazing people to deliver on the promise for a better future. I am excited to be a part of this journey, supporting and working with African startups to scale and improve the lives of people in the process.
Tell us what your deepest fear and greatest motivation is in life.
It may sound cliché, but I don’t believe in fear. Fear is the process of when we move from what we know and understand into areas that we don’t understand and we can’t control the variables.
Personally I don’t give energy to, nor believe in fear. On the other hand, one of my greatest motivations is just to have an impact on the way people think. I desire to add value and better people’s lives, as this is what matters most when everything is said and done. Many great people and many wealthy people have come and gone. However, given how temporary the human experience is, I believe that everyday we have an opportunity to help people and support people. Thereby, facilitating our own personal growth in the process, whilst giving back.
What advice would you give to young people who are aspiring to be like you?
Understand who you are. It’s really important to understand what drives you, and whether these things provide one with peace of mind and contentment. If young people take time to do this they can understand themselves better, find their passions and deliver excellence in all that they do everyday.
I would also tell young people especially in the digital age that we live in, please don’t look at Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and social media and think that your life is not successful when you compare yourself to others. We live in an age whereby people like to promote the lifestyle they live (the highs) but never show the lows. Furthermore, even if people are in a more privileged position than yourself it’s important to understand that the lifestyle that they live doesn’t devalue your life and more importantly ‘comparison is the thief of joy’.
One of the people that I really look up to is Albert Einstein. He coined a term that I always remember in all my endeavours which is that we should strive not to become just people of success but rather people of value. Young people need to know themselves, not compare themselves to each other and focus on adding value to society, as that’s where the magic happens.
Any final thoughts
Regarding my final thoughts I just want to say something that my dad, mum and grandmother have always been telling me. Reading articles, newspapers of value and books every single day is so important to develop an expansive mind and a breadth of thinking. For anyone who is trying to build a business, a writer, fashion designer or anyone, you never know where your next inspiration will come from and it’s very important to have a breath of reading because that makes you divergent. Whereby, you are able to drawn on concepts from a variety of fields and this will aid in making you more creative, more innovative to help you develop better concepts of products and services.
Lastly I just want to say thank you to Clement and Techpreneur magazine for this opportunity and I look forward to also writing some interesting articles as well as contributing to the Ghanaian entrepreneurial ecosystem in the near future.
Where can people find out more about you?
People can find out more about me via either Instagram or LinkedIn. I enjoy travelling and learning about new cultures a lot so I leverage my Instagram quite heavily when abroad. However, of the two platforms people can find out more about me on my LinkedIn. I engage quite a lot on the platform, discussing in groups, sharing content and writing articles around technology, business and innovation.
My handles are:
LinkedIn: Frank Y. Owusu