Interview: Victor B. Ondiwo on Cytonn Young Leaders Program

/ 15 July, 2024 /        

Cytonn Young Leaders Programme (CYLP) is an intensive 12-week training and mentorship program which seeks to provide the vital work experience to fresh graduates just joining the job market. The programme subjects the graduates to a fast-paced work culture aimed at equipping them with skills and knowledge to launch their careers and thrive in it.

There is no better way to learn about the successes and challenges of a programme than to speak to the person in charge of overseeing its day to day operations. This week on our CYLP interview, we talk to the soft-spoken CYLP Coordinator, Victor Ondiwo and discuss the objectives, achievement,  and challenges of the CYLP program.

Tell us about yourself and what you do

I am a liberal minded individual who believes in giving the first two chances before busting out. Two is quite a lot of chances right? ;-) Meet my expectations and we will be good friends. In other words, I loathe disappointments. I appreciate a cool place with music playing in the background. Did I say I am a staunch Manchester United follower? Now you know.

I currently work in the Human Resource Department and also as the Cytonn Young Leaders Programme Coordinator where I am mainly in charge of recruitment and ensuring that the programme is objectively run.

How did you join Cytonn Investments?

In my wild adventure on job boards, just like any other campus graduate who is job hunting, I met Cytonn and I was attracted to its core values which I personally share in. I made applications to the internship positions that were open at that time and I qualified for two. HR internship aptitude test came first and that’s what I ran with. The rest is history.

What are the main objectives of the Cytonn Young Leaders programme?

There’s quite a lot that the programme aims to achieve including but not limited to:

  1. Learning and development of everyone that goes through CYLP.
  2. Exposure of individuals to the working environment through a comprehensive and practical experience.
  3. Exposure to the culture of team work, excellence, innovation, accountability and integrity.
  4. Talent acquisition for the company: getting the best of the best talent in the industry for our human capital.

In a nutshell, the programme aims at exposing fresh university talent to the office environment and culture in addition to a challenging and fulfilling career while at the same time provide Cytonn Investments with the best talent.

How does one join the CYLP programme?

Joining CYLP is as simple as 1, 2, 3…

  1. Identify the opportunity that suits your career aspirations and make the online application. Of course you have to meet the minimum requirements.
  2. An online aptitude test will follow the shortlisting where you will be required to attempt 60 questions in 105 minutes.
  3. The final stage is an oral interview for those that meet the aptitude test pass mark. We gauge various skills such as; people skills, team work, leadership skills, entrepreneurial skills and technical skills and if you are a good fit, you get an internship offer.

What would you say has been the programme’s greatest impact to society?

The programme is the fastest way of bridging the experience gap with the right skills required in the job market having already acquired the classroom experience. There exists a mismatch between what is learnt in a classroom environment and what is required by most employers. Whereas many employers look for a refined candidate with 2+ years of experience, CYLP gives graduates the opportunity to gain this experience and become professionals in the various fields; just as our slogan states, CYLP is ‘’A SHARP START TO YOU CAREER’’

How do you ensure the programme remains objective and success purely based on merit?

The programme is quite intensive with a clear laid out structure where participants are evaluated on 3 main criteria namely:

  1. Weekly assignments - The participants undertake a weekly assignment on a research topic revolving around areas of the business and present it to a panel. Each individual is expected to do a minimum of 8 weekly evaluations during the 12 weeks. The evaluations measure the intern’s understanding of the topic assigned, data analysis, quality, flow and relevance of the presentation as well as their presentation skills.
  2. Daily work and qualitative skills - The participant’s performance on daily tasks is also evaluated. Other qualitative skills taken into consideration are team work, communication skills, responsiveness and dependability.
  3. Daily perspectives - The objective of perspectives is to ensure that the participants think outside the box and exercise their minds. We therefore expect every individual to have a view or a perspective of each day at work, for the entire 12 weeks. We look at the participant’s creativity, writing skills and thought process and rate them accordingly.

All these are coordinated under the CYLP management where scores are given according to the efforts a participant puts in undertaking the 3 areas. Scores are then accumulated and reviewed on a daily basis to ensure that each class is on the right track. It is important to note that these 3 areas ultimately come into play in the individual’s daily deliverables whether they receive an offer and work with the firm, or they decide to instead seek for employment opportunities elsewhere.

What are the main challenges experienced by the CYLP programme so far and how have you managed to overcome them?

Getting the right talent that will endure the intensity of the programme to the end is a challenge. The universities keep churning out a lot of graduates into the job market and it becomes a task sifting through the right people for the company. Not so many of them are patient and most give up easily.

We are in the process of signing MoUs with top universities in the country. This will be key in identifying and mentoring top talents early in their undergraduate programmes so that, by the time they’ll be joining CYLP, we are assured that we are getting the right candidates.

What do you think the programme would do better as it seeks to develop young leaders?

I would appreciate more dedication from the experienced staff in nurturing, guiding and participating in the evaluation process rather than letting all the burden lie with the class supervisor and the coordinator. Otherwise, so far so good.

Would you recommend the programme to fresh graduates out there and why?

I would definitely recommend the programme, but only to those who can endure the intensity and are patient at witnessing growth in their career. There’s no better foundation that an individual can get in their career path than the CYLP experience. The kind of exposure and learning you receive as the programme participant is invaluable. After the 12 weeks, one feels like they have gained the 2 years’ experience sought by the most employers.

Final word to fresh graduates?

There is no place where the 2 years’ experience required by employers is harvested. Never let an internship opportunity go by, and when you are privileged to get one, give it your best and you’ll never regret it. Are you smart, entrepreneurial, intensely engaged, with strong moral principles and ethics and thinking of an internship? Think Cytonn Young Leaders Programme!


You too can become a part of the Cytonn Young Leaders Program. Apply for available internship positions on and launch your career, the sharp way!