The impact that you can have comes through leveraging your knowledge, networks and skills

3 minute read

There’s a ripple effect that you don't notice until you graduate and you start to leverage some of the knowledge and networks from the programme.

You are so much more articulate about your purpose and you’re clear on what you don’t want to do, or at least I was. And I wasn't afraid to say no when offered opportunities that were not right for me, because I was sure about the road I wanted to be on.  

The MBA application process forced me to be reflective about my personal purpose. It’s very easy to talk about your purpose at a superficial level, but the questions that Oxford Saïd asked, even at that very early stage of the MBA journey, made me think carefully about what I wanted to do – which is to use my technical and soft skills to have an impact on the economic development of the African continent. I didn’t know exactly what that would look like at the time, but I had an idea that taking my existing financial expertise into private equity venture capital would be a way to enable entrepreneurs and improve the economic development of Africa.  

I was able to start solidifying these ideas while on the MBA programme, particularly through the Entrepreneurship Project. A couple of classmates and I developed a plan for starting an investment fund to help entrepreneurs on the continent, which was an opportunity to soft-launch what I thought would be my immediate next step after graduation. And it was a fantastic way to experiment: there was good leadership all around me; amazing classmates; access to leading professors not just in the Business School, but also in the wider Oxford community. It brought together the theory we had learnt, the soft skills, the practicality, the network that we had started building. And that had a strong impact on me in refining what I thought I was going to do in terms of fulfilling my purpose.

Since graduation I have gained so much through being part of the Oxford alumni network, which is active across the whole African continent. That was the gold nugget in the heart of the Oxford MBA that I underestimated going in. In fact, my first job as an MBA – with an incredible Private Equity fund that invested all along the food value chain in sub-Saharan Africa – came out of a conversation with an alumna. She was also a product of the MBA programme, a product of the Africa programme, and a product of the Saïd Foundation Scholarship. And she connected me and that's how I got my first job, which led to amazing experiences that have now led to my current job.  

I'm now leading a corporate venture capital fund started by Tiger Brands, which is one of Africa's largest listed food producers. I couldn’t have asked for a better way of combining my skills to have a positive impact on the continent. We’re working in partnership with innovative companies producing plant-based products, creating new routes to market, and servicing the bottom of the pyramid – all with an eye to sustainability as well. What is more, every day I’m still using the tools from the MBA, like the venture models that Professor Thomas Hellmann armed us with in the Entrepreneurial Finance course!

The ability to seize an opportunity like this and use my skills from my career pre-MBA, post-MBA, and from the MBA itself has been really, really impactful for me. I may not be all the way there, but I'm definitely on the right track in terms of fulfilling my purpose. 

Oxford MBA