2020 MBAs To Watch: Bruh Ayele Terfie, INSEAD

Bruh Ayele Terfie (Pr Eng, PMP)


I am passionate about infrastructure, Africa, and with a love for traveling and new experiences.”

Hometown: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Fun fact about yourself:

  • I was number 1 student in Namibia in high school/university entrance exams (HIGCSEs).
  • My name Bruh means “Bright” in Amharic and “Bro” in all others.
  • I have lived in Ethiopia, Namibia, and South Africa for about a decade each, my father was exiled from Ethiopia when I was 5 years old.
  • I have built over 100km of roads, 150km of water and sanitation networks and provided municipal services for over 9 000 affordable homes.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Cape Town, Bsc. Eng Degree in Civil Engineering (graduated with First Class Honours and as Top Student)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Octagon Construction, COO and Director: Engineering & Operations

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? No internship yet, 1-year MBA and internships are in June/July 2020

Where will you be working after graduation? Octagon Construction potentially as CEO.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Just started at INSEAD in Jan 2020.

Led my section’s (70 students) Splash Community Project challenge, constructing a play area for handicapped children at IME Clairefontaine, an organisation under the Red Cross (classmates graciously chose me and my study group to lead due to my construction management background and we had a very successful day out).

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Just started, so far it is just the successful completion of our community project above.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career?

I am most proud of scaling Octagon Construction from a 1-year-old construction company with less than 50 people when I joined, to having over 220 employees, creating several functional departments, establishing its reputation as a member of the Top 5 construction companies in Namibia and receiving an award by the Development Bank of Namibia as the “Best Emerging Enterprise.” Was also pivotal in quadrupling revenues in this time to 10 million euros.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? I liked all the lessons so far with all Professors emphasising the real-world connection and application of their concepts.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? The networking sessions in launch week were really enjoyable. I got to meet so many interesting classmates from such diverse backgrounds. I learned so much in a week.

Why did you choose this business school?

Impeccable reputation, excellent curriculum, and diverse student body (over 90 nationalities), which gives one the ability to learn from and have lasting relationships with people from across the world.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Start preparing early, get to know yourself, and reflect on why you really want the MBA.

What is the biggest myth about your school? That study periods P1 (20 Jan-11 Mar) and P2 (16 Mar – 5 May) were a lot of work in this condensed 1-year MBA. Turns out to be very true, no exaggeration!

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? It was my brother-in-law. I saw what a successful career he had in both the private and public sector. He worked at Booz Allen Hamilton, the World Bank, and as a minister in the presidency in Senegal. Very inspiring and impactful career specifically focused on Africa, which I am equally passionate about.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  • Magnifying impact across Africa
  • And leaving a lasting legacy

 In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As a fun, compassionate colleague who worked hard but could play hard as well.

Hobbies? I am a football fanatic. I watch my favourite team Arsenal whenever I can and play as often as I can as well. I plan on catching some UEFA Champion’s League games in Paris!

What made Bruh Terfie such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“The Admissions Committee was touched by Bruh’s childhood as he grew up in Ethiopia but had to experience exile to Kenya for political reasons. His medium of instruction at school changed at a young age from French to English. The Committee also valued his Civil Engineering studies in South Africa and his work for a large consulting engineering firm there after graduation as well as his experience in a start-up in Namibia. Bruh offers a well-rounded personality as he also holds a leadership position in the community and is captain of a football team.”

Valerie Mahe
Associate Director, INSEAD Admissions


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