Meet IESE Business School’s MBA Class Of 2020

Leila Areff

IESE Business School

Hometown: Johannesburg, South Africa

Fun Fact About Yourself: I know the lyrics and dance moves to every 80’s pop song.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Johannesburg BCom Accounting Honours

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Rand Merchant Bank, Deal Transactor Principal Investments, Investment Banking Division

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: The biggest accomplishment in my career so far has been being part of the team that won the prestigious Financial Mail Analyst of the Year Award for equity research in our sector.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Being based in Johannesburg, South Africa, I have yet to meet any of my future classmates. But if the Whatsapp group interaction is anything to go by everyone seems extremely helpful and supportive of each other. Some people also have a great sense of humor and well-developed GIF skills. I also like the fact that the student body is so international and diverse.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? I appreciated the fact that the course duration is longer than most European B-Schools. I’ve heard a lot of MBA graduates say that their programme was like a whirlwind, I am looking forward to having ample time to cover all the course material and do a summer internship.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I’ve been wanting to join a Salsa club for years now, but my work schedule has not allowed it. It would be great to finally find out whether time or lack of rhythm is the true constraining factor. I would also like to join the responsible Business Club.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? At this point in my career, I feel more confident in my current skill set and feel the MBA could provide me with more general management perspective and enhance my entrepreneurial skills. I also feel I am more mature, focused, and motivated than I have ever been.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? I did a lot of research and spoke to a lot of MBA graduates and international hiring consultants. Everyone I’ve spoken to has said their MBA was the best thing they’ve ever done and has afforded them invaluable skills. Also, besides the benefits for one’s career I look forward to making some life-long friends; priceless.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? London Business School

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I was looking for school with a focus on diversity, a programme which considers itself a global MBA, had an entrepreneurial focus and of course was highly ranked.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? I don’t think I have one defining moment, I am a product of all my experiences and interactions. I do feel however, that growing up in a country like South Africa with such a unique political and cultural background has influenced me greatly; being known as the Rainbow Nation embracing diversity is who we are.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? I’ve always had a passion for investing and understanding value drivers and I would like to explore venture capital roles with a focus on impact investing.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Hopefully I will be back home in South Africa after having gained some international experience and skills which I can apply to our local market, which is rich with opportunity and thirsty for innovation.

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