In my first articles of 2023, I promised to share great success stories of organisations who have built on their uniqueness to showcase their brand. I started with Opportunity International Savings and Loans whose uniqueness in the microfinance sector has benefitted from 39 awards within four years.
Today I will use my alma mater as an example of how organizations and institutions at all levels can build successful brands and enjoy the fruits of their uniqueness. Success with integrity is also a Risk Management Imperative.
Building on One’s Uniqueness – A Key Risk Management Tip?
Building a strong brand identity is as vital as providing excellent services to your customers. One major risk management tip is to BUILD ON ONE’S UNIQUENESS. Despite the seemingly gloomy economic future of Ghana, I still believe that all is not lost. This is going to be a year of strategies involving innovations, restructuring and most of all REBUILDING ON UNIQUENESS AND STRENGTHS.
Trust and integrity sustains a brand
My career in banking has proven the fact that banking depends on trust. When customers or patrons believe in your brand, they trust you and what you say. An institution that brags and not perform what they claim cannot be trusted. Trust also goes with integrity. Without integrity, some brands have fallen off the way because they did not do what they claimed they could do. An institution that mismanages funds and property of others cannot sustain its brand. The banking crises always proves this.
The Wesley Girls High School Story
Wesley Girls’ High School is an educational institution for girls in Cape Coast in the Central region of Ghana. It was founded in 1836 by Harriet Wrigley, the wife of a Methodist minister. The school is named after the founder of Methodism, John Wesley. One cannot tell the school’s history without the Methodist Mission in Ghana. The Church is always a force to reckon with and has still been the main influence in major decision-making in the school. Some of us were trained by the English missionaries from 1914-1981, (Sister Bellamy, Miss Compton, Miss Garnet) until the baton changed to the Ghanaian Headmistresses, Dr. Mrs Acheampong, Mrs Thompson, Mrs Dzokoto and now Mrs Oppong-Ankomah. These names now brings nostalgia to some of us.
Any successful organization has its vision, mission, core values for its employees to believe in, imbibe and exhibit, in order to project its uniqueness and brand. I believe that an institution’s brand should be such that it is best seen in its service delivery, attitude of its employees and what it stands for in the eyes of the public. Let us take an accountant for example: any professional accountant is barred from practice after embezzlement is proven on him/her. Likewise a medical practitioner. In educational institutions, their school motto projects their uniqueness.
The School Motto
Live Pure, Speak True, Right Wrong , Follow the King
The Wesley Girls mission statement
To nurture God-fearing, well-balanced and self-confident individuals who are capable of taking the challenges of a fast-changing world in their stride whilst making the most of every opportunity for self-development and service to mankind.
The Core values of Wesley Girls
The hard-working staff of the Wesley Girls Senior High School strive to inculcate the core values of Integrity, Respect, Sacrifice, Discipline, Intelligence, Service and Godliness in the girls while both staff and students endeavour to live out the school motto.
There is a saying that we have to let the school pass through us and not the other way round. Despite the reduction of boarding stay from five to seven years to just three years, there is still a constant training of the girls for excellence with integrity.
What is the contribution of old students to the school?
There is no gainsaying that the school’s motto goes through the ladies throughout their lives. This is evident in their life after school. When we are in school, we sometimes rebel against some school directives, strict teachers and non-teaching staff. We also rebel against some security rules because boarders are not supposed to break school boundaries. However, after leaving school, we reflect on these and regret our acts. This is the reason why many old students of schools in Ghana are vibrant and support their alma mater through their benevolent acts. We all know that the government has since time immemorial been giving free tuition but we should supplement its efforts through our old students.
The Old Girls Association (OGA)
The Wesley Girls Old Girls Association, or “WGHS OGA” is really a big name in the history of Old Students Associations in Ghana! At the 186th Speech day of the school on 11th February 2023, the current President, Madam Effie Simpson’s message reiterated the objectives of the Association. This include seeking the interest of all Old Girls everywhere, facilitating aspirations of year groups in Ghana and acting as a channel for chapters abroad to find expression in the school.
Local and global achievement
The facts are clear that in all sectors of the economy, the school’s and individual old girls’ achievements are notable. I do not want to list them otherwise I will not finish this article.
Giving Back to the School
Old girls seriously believe in sharing and giving back to the school. Why not? The reasons are endless. There is a general impression that the students are from affluent homes. Far from it. Many students, even before the free education of the government started were from a cross section of the country. Yes, from poor, middle class and upper class. The bottom line is that the students had decent grades. Even the few students who may come from certain local communities are prepared specially to meet the benchmark. Also, so far as “The school goes through you” the sky is the limit. The motto, which is derived from the Christian roots of the school also does a lot to keep students in check.
Until the school decided on a “The Legacy Project” which is to be sponsored by various year groups, most speech days saw various donations and projects from the old girls. Now we have a recently launched legacy project where contributions and levies from the old girls are aggregated to bring it into fruition next year.
Contributions from old girls are properly channelled through the OGA to the school. The 186th Speech day was sponsored mainly by the 2001 year group, the star “Brainy Beauties”. Other supporting year groups were 1961, 1971, 1981,1991. I still cant believe its 51 years since I wrote my GCE Exams! While my 1971 year group mostly pensioners were able to contribute GHC100, 000, the hottest on the block, the 2001, who left school about 20 years ago were able to contribute about whopping GHC850,000! Yes, that’s the spirit. While we were a meagre 30 active members, they were 347 members. Well done to all old girls.
Aside from the various sponsorship of school projects many year groups have been performing philanthropic activities, mentoring young ladies, sponsoring poor girls within its jurisdiction. All these go to brand the school and prove the school motto as a worthy one. All this were done in appreciation of how far God has brought us.
This article is not to show off my school, but rather to reiterate the fact that whatever an organization, individual, church and any group wants to achieve, it is possible to. Whether one is working in an organization or on one’s own, we must brand ourselves, using our God-given talents, for the world to see and also steer one into success. Wesley Girls is built on a hill in the Kakum forest. We had just the bare amenities to survive three months without seeing the school date, except when we had to go for Inter-Colleges, Debating or when our Teachers took us for excursions to Elmina, Cape Coast and Biriwa Beaches when we behave exceptionally! We still found good purposes to make ourselves happy and proud based, based on Christian principles.
Dear company Directors, 2023 may be tough for you, but with a passionate desire to make it, you will. How? By finding creativity in your uniqueness. Encourage all employees to imbibe your brand, let them feel it, belong to it and they can take your brand beyond your expectations. That is the “can do” attitude, like the “Wey Gey Hey” brand, that is thriving on its motto: Live Pure, Speak True, Right Wrong , Follow the King
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alberta Quarcoopome is a Fellow of the Institute of Bankers, and CEO of ALKAN Business Consult Ltd. She is the Author of Three books: “The 21st Century Bank Teller: A Strategic Partner” and “My Front Desk Experience: A Young Banker’s Story” and “The Modern Branch Manager’s Companion”. She uses her experience and practical case studies, training young bankers in operational risk management, sales, customer service, banking operations and fraud.