A Training Experiment

Throwing Dice

As I have repeatedly stated, I am unimpressed by the product of the Ghanaian universities. I employed grads from University of Cape Coast, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, University of Professional Studies (UPS), and the University of Ghana at Legon.  I’d say only 1 in 4 performed to my level of satisfaction.  Most of my former staff could not type, write, count, nor analyze information.  They read very slowly and seem to do things at a glacial pace.  Furthermore, most of these college graduates do not know much about what’s happening outside of Ghana.  All these deficiencies makes me want to give up and go home.

The optimist in me wants to be part of the solution.

Thus, I decided to keep Mutala, my driver, to run a training experiment.   He’s completed senior high school and he told me he has a certificate in hotel management.  Nonetheless, I regard his schooling as “insufficient.”  I’m paying him about $9 a day or the equivalent of two Starbucks mocha Frappuccinos.  His main job remains getting me food and doing errands.  Since these tasks only take a couple of hours a day, I’m training him during his non-errand time.

In February he finished reading Peter Lynch’s Learn to Earn.  Peter Lynch is a former mutual fund manager for Fidelity Investments.  When he finished that, I had him start reading Lynch’s One Up On Wall Street, a classic value investing book.  I’ve also had him do some “free writing” for 20-30 minute intervals on various topics.  As I expected, his writing skills are — maybe — equivalent to an American’s third grade level.

Unlike the majority of the people I’ve hired, Mutala has demonstrated initiative and diligence.  Back when he was a driver, he regularly pushed the motorbike long distances when it had problems.  I want to determine if he can apply those qualities to building himself up.  So far so good. Last month, he sometimes left work at 5:45pm.  There were times I had to kick him out because he was too interested in the material.

Last week, I had him study a company that makes inputs for fracking companies and told him he would be tested on it.  The next day I had him explain what fracking was to our grounds keeper then had the grounds keeper explain the concept to me.  For his first attempt, it was okay.

Today I introduced him to The Wall Street Journal and Barrons.  I asked him to read the “What’s News” stories of the former.  I’m concerned that because he reads so slowly that this daily assignment will take too much of his time.  This afternoon, I’m having him go through the “Up and Running Excel” lesson on Lynda.  This lesson should take 4 hours.  Lynda.com is a website that provides online video training of computer applications.  It costs $25 – $37 per month.  I’ve used it to learn DreamWeaver, Photoshop, and InDesign.  (The fast Internet enables me to use Lynda.)

My immediate goal is to have him proficient with basic Excel use so he can do daily data entry on tens if not hundreds of companies.  My intermediate goal is for him to provide summaries and complete rudimentary analysis on companies I have put through a screen.

I remind him that it’s an experiment.  For $9 a day, I figure it’s a low risk roll of the dice.  If he fails to perform, then he’s back to sitting in the sun waiting for my food orders.

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