Goodman Lepota is one of African Leadership Academy’s most resourceful and politically inclined alumnus. He joined ALA in 2011 with many accomplishments under his belt such as having interviewed Winnie Madikizela-Mandela on MTV Africa and being selected by BBC Africa World News to share his vision of post-apartheid South Africa. Since then, Goodman has been feverishly carving out his legacy in politics and government, both in South Africa and the US. In June 2017, he was named as one of Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans for 2017, a select group of promising young leaders that are chosen annually for their contribution in various fields such as politics, health, law, science, art and sport.
It was at ALA that Goodman says he came to realize the value of what he had been doing all along. “Before I joined ALA, I used to run a school newspaper and even though it was pricier than the local community newspaper, it got sold out every time. I did this for four years. But I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur then. I think that realization came at ALA; that starting and running a school newspaper is actually entrepreneurial!”
He graduated from ALA with a Gold Prize for Entrepreneurial Achievement, awarded for his success in establishing and running a student-led digital media enterprise, ALAians Media. Goodman believes the benefits of attaining achievements in the type of environment ALA offers surpassed his time spent there as a student. “Perhaps the most valuable experience which I took to heart was this idea of working towards a common goal with people from different backgrounds. It prepared me to enter college-thinking; that although I’d be going to school in New York, I’ll continue to be an equally active participant of a community”.
After graduating from ALA in 2013, Goodman took a gap year to study at Silicon Valley’s top residential entrepreneurship program in California at Draper University, following which he joined Marist College to study Business Administration. He also took on coursework unique to his college called Public Praxis Pathway which seeks to ensure commitment to social transformation by allowing students to engage in ethical, political, economic, and religious analysis and critical reflection.
Goodman’s sophomore year at Marist College saw him making headway in his young career. He earned 1st place at the Mid-Hudson Regional New York Business Plan Competition for an idea to offer tools to support minority university students in the US to run for student leadership positions. That same year, he interned at former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Headquarters in New York during the 2016 Presidential Campaign, where he handled communications between the campaign and press, working on presidential debate transcripts, and tracking news in the election’s contested states. “I believe interning for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign was one of the pivotal moments for me. From an intellectual and emotional stand point…the work and people there challenged and inspired me a lot.” Alongside his internship, he also managed the university student body campaign of his former Kenyan ALA classmate Bradley Opere, who subsequently won the election and became the first African student body president in the University of North Carolina’s 200 year history.
Goodman is currently doing a summer internship as a Corporate Marketing intern at IBM’s headquarters. He is learning about the future of artificial intelligence in marketing and how it’s going to impact the future of work. And while he doesn’t know where he will be in the next 5 years, he knows he wants to continue acquiring such skills that will help him realize his dream of ensuring people are empowered to make informed decisions.