Professor Bell Ihua undertook a PhD at Kent Business School 2012. He is currently the Executive Director, Africa Polling Institute (API), an independent, non-profit, non-partisan opinion research think-tank and is considered one of Nigeria’s leading public opinion pollsters. He is also the Founder and Board Chair of SMYLE Africa Group; serves as Principal Consultant at DBI Analytics Consulting, and Board Chair at Dumena Technologies Limited.
“As a black leader who trained in the UK, it is evident that there is an under representation of people of colour in leadership positions. People of colour know we must put in hard work, and it can feel like nothing comes easy. Personally, reflecting on my own journey, I think we must rise to the challenge. On a policy level, institutions need policies that encourage support for black people and ethnic minorities to be given further opportunities and be brought to leadership positions.
“My thesis at Kent Business School focused on the use of supermarket loyalty card data within small food companies in the UK. I worked with over 100 small food companies around South-East England for over a period of four years to investigate how they could use this ‘big data’ to influence their ability to operate in the ‘big league’ with supermarkets like Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencers etc. It was a very rigorous and strenuous piece of research, but extremely interesting.
“My supervisors were Professor Andrew Fearne and Professor Ben Lowe. They both provided me with much-needed academic guidance and support. After leaving I picked up a lecturing appointment at Coventry University’s business school, teaching business and strategy modules, and supervising undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations after which I was headhunted back home to Nigeria to contribute my quota to the country’s development through social research and public opinion polls.
“In the last nine years, I have led and managed over 300 opinion polling and research assignments. I have consulted for major public institutions in Nigeria and presented research findings to the president of my country. I am now leading projects across the African continent – Ghana, Kenya, Somalia, Togo, Benin Republic, Cote D’ivoire, Gambia, Cameroon, Liberia and Sierra Leone. All these couldn’t have been possible without my Kent Business School education and experience.
“So, what lessons did I learn at KBS? My PhD showed me that putting in the hours is a really good grounding for any kind of work. But, as a family man, interested in society and in philanthropy, learning the value of empathy was the best lesson I learnt. KBS was a judgement free zone, and we were encouraged to work collaboratively. As a boss, I have an open-door policy and no member of staff is less important to me than another. Lastly, at KBS I learned not to ever play in the small fields. I was given the confidence to believe that the world is my oyster and to go and out and make significant and robust contributions to society.
“When I mentor young black students or members of staff, I tell them to try to shake off the mindset that has come with years of misrepresentation and being undervalued. Everything starts in the mind and if you believe you can do it then you have a fighting chance. I am proud to represent the black community and alumni of Kent Business School and I hope my story will inspire others wanting to make a difference in the world.”
To read more KBS Alumni stories and find out the ways to reconnect, please visit our KBS Alumni Webpage. https://www.kent.ac.uk/kent-business-school/kbsalumni