Professor Goski Alabi is an academic, total quality management practitioner, and an accomplished entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience in academia, consultancy and regulation. She combines her experiences from the regulatory field, industry, consultancy and academia to serve on several public, private and international boards and committees.
Professor Goski Alabi has many sides. She’s deeply intelligent, insightful and philosophical, immune to criticism, determined to prove doubters wrong, consistently generous and soft spoken too.
These are some of the adjectives that best portray this enigma of a personality that Professor Goski Alabi is. Currently the professor of Quality Management and Leadership and Dean, Centre for International Education and Collaboration (CIEC) at the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), Mrs. Alabi has, nonetheless, had her staunch critics too.
Yet, the critics themselves would have admired and taken notice of the elegant steps that carried Professor Goski to the recent graduation ceremony of the graduate students of the Otumfuo Osei Tutu II Centre for Traditional Leadership.
When she recently took part in graduating students from the Otumfuo Osei Tutu II Centre for Traditional Leadership, it wasn’t the certificates that these students received nor was it the knowledge they acquired and the new friends made, but the smiles on their faces: smiles of fulfilment of having achieved something so critical to their day to day work was what she enjoyed the most.
“For me, looking at this kind of thing [my achievements] it is very fulfilling because when I interact with them [students], there are smiles on their faces and those smiles give me energy to wake up the next day and do more and more and more for this school and Ghanaians,” she told the B&FT, in this new feature as part of the Women in Leadership Series.
Beautifully dressed in a traditional outfit as the chief protagonist of the Otumfuo Osei Tutu II Centre for Traditional Leadership, the soft spoken educationist comes across as an unassuming woman who loves to be in the background and support others hugging the limelight, but Professor Mrs. Alabi is the leaders’ leader.
To understand why she can, easily, be described as the leaders’ leader, albeit quietly: the one and only educational centre for training the nation’s traditional leaders, the Otumfuo Osei Tutu II Centre for Traditional Leadership, is her brain child, just as she initiated and facilitated the Drolor establishment of the Centre for Strategic Leadership also endowed by a US$100,000 by Nene Boso Adamtey, Suapolo of the Se Traditional Area and Chancellor of the University of Professional Studies.
And since 2014, many traditional rulers from the length and breadth of the country have benefitted from short but intensive courses to enhance their preparedness to serve and lead in community development. The school, which is headed by Lepowura M.N.D. Jawula was initially endowed with GH¢100,000 by Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.
Apart from promoting the training of leadership and management for traditional rulers, she was also the founding dean of one of the most sought after post graduate degrees in the country, UPSA’s School of Graduate Studies programme which has nine unique courses and has trained almost of 1,000 students for the job market.
But for decades Professor Alabi has been in the background, either in the field of consulting for companies and institutions, advocating and influencing policies that encourage the development of quality products and services in the country and internationally or building departments that are now schools on their own, she’s is indeed an enigma that continues to baffle critics at her rise to the top.
Professor Alabi, is not just a builder but a real leader who sees and nurtures leadership qualities in others and many students, faculty members and colleagues have attested to the fact that she takes a personal interest in the affairs of people around her.
Women and leadership
Professor Alabi, who was recently promoted to the rank of full professor, believes firmly in the leadership qualities of women. To her by virtue of what society expects of women, they are natural born leaders.
“You realise that women are always working with people, it can be family members like their husbands or to raise their children to bring about change. These activities tend to bring out the leadership qualities of women. They are always involved in leadership.”
Despite stressing on the fact that women are leaders, one of the things she has noticed and firmly believes is that people always misconstrue being in a leadership position and leadership; to her, the two are not the same.
“Leadership is not what leaders do. Leaders are not always necessarily involved in leadership. Leadership is what leaders and members do together to bring about necessary and constructive change,” she says.
But she believes that whatever and however one gets into leadership, the fact that such a person has gotten into that position does not make them involved in leadership, but rather, their ability to work with other people to bring about some change that is needed makes them leaders.
“I have always maintained that what we lack in Ghana and Africa and many other places is true leadership. We are always accusing our leaders but they alone do not make leadership. It is the combined effort of what they do and what we do together that is a measure of the leadership.”
She adds that leadership is not about a position but leadership can take place either from behind, the side or from the front. To substantiate her point, Professor Mrs. Goski quotes the legendary freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela who once said: “The strongest of leaders are those who lead from behind because they have what it takes to pull the strings and make things happen” and this to her is what makes a leader stand apart from someone in a leadership position.
Gender equality in Ghana
Touching on Ghana’s pursuit of gender equality, Professor Mrs. Alabi lauded the country for being a shining example of gender equality. To her, critical positions including the Chief Justice, the head of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Electoral Commission boss and others heading other blue-chip enterprises such as the telcos and banks and insurance companies are women.
“It is inspiring to have women in some of the most prominent positions in the country,” she says with a smile.” To her, women in Ghana are doing quite well, and it is inspiring.
But then, at her philosophical and deep thinking best, Mrs. Alabi believes that career women must been seen in a context and not generalised to only women working in corporate institutions or the typical ‘9 to 5’ job.
Citing an example of what she meant, Professor Alabi, who was born in Nungua, a suburb of Accra, and grew up with her grandparents, fish mongers, in a fishing community, she believes the daily routine of these women, from the beach to the oven to the market within a space of 24 hours is more than a career.
“When I was growing up I lived with my grandparents in Nungua and in the community where we lived there were fish mongers. These women hardly had any sleep. They wake up at 3:30am, go and sell smoked fish at Makola market, come back by 6am, do all the accounts, check their children and by 10am they go to the fishing harbour to buy fresh fish and during the day and night, they are smoking the fish. Sometimes you wonder how they sleep.”
With these careers, these women were able to educate their children to the highest levels. “I grew up from such a community. When we say career women these women are career women too. This conversation must be looked at in context.”
Improving more female involvement in academia
On what needs to be done to improve female involvement in academia, Professor Alabi calls for not just education but equitable education.
The current education system does not allow students with a ‘D7’ in English Language, Integrated Science and Mathematics to be enrolled in any tertiary institution. And this policy is what Mrs. Alabi is questioning.
“There must be equity and social justice in education. We see a lot of young women who are not able to enter into the university because of an E or D7. It is not because she is not capable for advanced education but simply because our regulatory system restricts access.”
She went further to ask the rationale behind classifying a grade D7 as a failure.“So if you make five ‘A’s and one D7 you cannot access higher education? But someone will pass through with six ‘C’s?” She believes, as a nation, there is the need for proper introspection to correct some of these issues.
“Do we have substantial evidence to suggest these people are not capable of going to school? Such policies are restricting access to higher education and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals 4 which talks about access to quality education including open and life-long learning,” she says.
As an entrepreneur, Prof. Goski was co-founder and Consulting Director of Pravda Radio 93.5 fm, an Accra based radio station in Ghana, Now Vision1 Radio.
Goski has vigorous background involvement in national and international policy and has participated in several International Policy and Standards meetings including, Several ISO technical meetings, Four (4) times National Delegate to World Health Assembly, Twice (2) delegate to Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses, in Germany
Prof. Goski also sits on several international, national, corporate and public boards and committees with the following as some selected few, she is Vice Chair of the African Network for Internationalization of Education (ANIE); Member Executive Board of The African Council for Distance Education (ACDE); was Chairperson of Interim Council of the Accra College of Education (2009-2015); Board Member, National Board for Professional and Technical Examinations (NABPTEX) 2009-2012, Ghana; Member National Codex Committee; Ghana Standards Authority, July 2014 to Date; Member, ISO Technical Committee on Consumer Policy (COPOLCO) July 2014-Date; GSA-National Cocoa Mirror Committee; Certified Member of the Europe – Africa- Caribbean Liaison Committee (COLEACP) Inter Professional Association; Member, Board of the Centre for Local Government Accountability, September 2014 to date; and President and Founder, Consumer Advocacy Centre and Member of the Board.
Challenges as a woman
Despite enjoying the world of academia, Goski’s challenges are numerous, not just because she is a woman but also because she is the wife of the out-going Vice Chancellor of the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), Professor Joshua Alabi.
She acknowledges that despite her age, her young looks makes her less appreciated by those who meet her until they speak to her or work with her before they know who she really is. “I am always in my husband’s shadow and for me that is the biggest challenge I face,” she says.
But to underscore how she doesn’t allow criticism and challenges define who she is, Mrs. Alabi says she doesn’t listen to what people say and even though she knows there are numerous gossips about her she forges on without fear or favour.
“I say this is sheer envy and they wish they were like me but they can never be me because I cannot be them. The fact is that I don’t allow people’s opinion to define me. What people are not aware of is what makes me tick and that is when people talk about me and that gingers me to give them something to talk about. I am always looking for something to give people to talk about. Whether it is the way I dress, the work I do or the way I talk, let me give them something to talk about. It’s their problem, it’s not mine.”
Professor Goski is also associated with the advocacy for quality education including open and life-long learning,” to promote and support the achievement of Sustainable development Goal (4) she says.
For the past four years, she has been working on this project. It is, according to her, one of the long term goals and very soon, I believe this project will provide access to quality education in Ghana and beyond, she adds. .
With two children, Professor Mrs. Alabi academic profile and works which include publications in some of the most credible publications across the globe is impressive and should inspire anyone looking to rise through the ladder of academia.