Meet London Business School’s MBA Class Of 2021

Frederika Pardoe

London Business School

“London-trained Chartered Accountant who switched suite and city career for hardhat and African mining venture.”

Hometown: Johannesburg, South Africa

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have swum in an open-cast diamond mine … twice.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Cape Town, Economics, Politics and French

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Amulet Diamond Corporation, CEO. I managed the restart of mining operations for a sampling programme at a previously shutdown mine in Botswana.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Working with an incredibly talented team to restart operations at a mine was a big accomplishment. We had a tight budget and timeframe, but managed to construct a new processing plant and sample over 100,000 tonnes of ore to reassess a mine’s economic viability. In a short period of time, we grew our workforce to over 100 people and developed a company culture that encouraged safety, accountability, and teamwork.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Dynamic and diverse; in just a few days, I have met people from all over the world, from a variety of industries and job functions. There is great energy and excitement for what awaits us and a real sense of purpose. There is also a feeling of camaraderie already as we help each other settle into this new phase of life.

What is the best part of coming to London to earn your MBA? From a professional point of view, I think the access to world-class organisations and business leaders that comes with being situated in the heart of London really sets LBS and its location apart as a place to earn an MBA. From a personal point of view, London is this huge melting pot of different cultures and nationalities, it is home to some of the greatest museums, historical sites, and cultural and sporting events, which I think makes it a very enriching place to live.

Aside from your classmates and location, 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? The flexibility of the LBS MBA was a key factor for me. An MBA is a big investment and I felt that the different options for structuring the second year would provide a unique opportunity to get the most out of the programme – to do multiple internships and get involved in a variety of projects. This is of particular interest to me, as I am looking to broaden my industry knowledge through this experience.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am looking forward to getting involved in the Africa Club and the Social Impact Club. I am a keen skier, so I would love to join the Snow Club too.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? I found the optional essay topic challenging – “Is there any other information you believe the Admissions Committee should know about you and your application to London Business School?” I thought it was a good opportunity to add to my application. However, the broad, open nature of the question had me a bit stumped. I must have written over 10 different versions of this.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? The majority of my career, to date, has been spent in the mining industry. It is an industry that I have loved being involved in, as I have seen the positive impact that it can have on its surrounding communities. However, I feel it is important to broaden my industry experience now. I have also been incredibly fortunate to have had a steep learning curve over the last two years, but a lot of this learning has been by trial-and-error. I feel that I went from steps one and two in my career to steps five and six without doing steps three and four in between. An MBA will help me fill in some of these gaps and give me an opportunity to hone my management and leadership skills.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Said Business School, Oxford

How did you determine your fit at various schools? When thinking about the MBA, I had my long-term personal and professional goals in mind. I tried to use these to assess my fit at various schools. Given my focus on doing business in Africa, it was important to me that a school had good ties to the continent (through its student body, clubs, and activities). Similarly, my interest in responsible business meant that I focused on schools that encouraged social impact. I didn’t focus solely on the courses, but on extracurricular opportunities too. There is a lot of information online about the various schools (like Poets and Quants), which I found very useful. I also found webinars in which current students spoke of their experiences and speaking to alumni helpful in terms of understanding culture and fit.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My decision to move out of professional services in London and return to Southern Africa at the end of 2016 has had a significant impact on who I am. At the time, I was not 100 percent sure what I was going to do, only that I wanted to work in an entrepreneurial environment, get hands-on experience and make some kind of positive impact. It was a risky decision, but it led to my involvement at Amulet Diamond Corporation, where I had the opportunity to work with a wonderful team to manage the restart of operations at a mine. It was a most enriching experience, personally and professionally.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time? Being from South Africa, half-Zimbabwean and having spent the past two years of my career in Botswana, my long-term goal is to start a company that invests in, supports and grows businesses in Africa. I am particularly interested in businesses that are developing innovative solutions to some of the challenges we face on the continent. I hope that in 10 years’ time, I’ll be doing this – working with a variety of different businesses and entrepreneurs to drive positive social change in a commercially sustainable way.

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