2020 MBAs To Watch: Cebo Mayekiso, Warwick Business School

Cebo Mayekiso

Warwick Business School

“Pan-African, purposeful, and solutions-oriented servant leader motivated to bridging inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Hometown: Mthatha, South Africa

Fun fact about yourself: Might not be deemed as a conventional fun fact – but I lectured CIMA students on Organisational Management on weekends, which was fun!

Undergraduate School and Degree:

BCom Accounting University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

Post Graduate Diploma in Management Accounting – University of South Africa

Chartered Global Management Accountant (ACMA, CGMA) – CIMA

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Absa Bank Group (Formerly Barclays Africa Group), Assistant Vice President (AVP) Finance

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? During the summer of 2018, I was a full-time employee at Absa Group, driving the implementation of a new costing framework within the retail and business banking unit.

Where will you be working after graduation? No firm role yet, however, I hope to be an Associate within an Impact Investing firm that focuses on alleviating poverty in Africa.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Warwick Africa Society member
  • WBS MBA Impact Competition committee member
  • Chevening Scholarship scholar & community volunteer

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? A key personal achievement was entering the Patagonia Case Study competition with three other bright MBA students and collaborating to write a report that recommended a practical solution to Patagonia’s textile waste challenge within their ecosystem. This experience allowed me to understand the severe implications of textile waste on our planet and challenged me to think critically about solutions geared towards tackling critical global problems.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of my work at Toyota South Africa Manufacturing Group, leading an extensive cost management project in the component’s division. My involvement in the project led to an 11% decrease in operating costs in 9 months. I am proud of this achievement because I was given the opportunity after only 6 months with the organization and I had felt completely out of my depth at that point. I was stretched and experienced exponential growth as I went from knowing nothing about the problem to being trusted by leadership to give my recommendations. That experience also highlighted the relative importance of leadership skills over functional expertise in driving a project with multiple stakeholders to completion. It was an experience that I believe was the catalyst in my obsession to pursue experiences conducive to developing my capacity for leading teams.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? It was Associate Professor Hossam Zeitoun, who taught me the Strategic Thinking: Strategic Evaluation & Analysis module. He provides real-life examples of strategy across varied markets and industries and teaches by engaging and challenging views in a nuanced manner. Being a part of his classes has shifted the lens to which I view strategic solutions.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? The annual Strategic Thinking company assessment presentations done by syndicate groups was indeed a highlight for me. The critical thinking involved in analysing a firm holistically and charting its path by recommending what the group believes is the best course of action (given its respective business challenges) was a favourite experience for me during my MBA. Months of hard work and due diligence that culminated in an exhilarating 15-minute pitch will forever be etched in my memory.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Warwick Business School (WBS) for several reasons, chief amongst them was the ability of the school to attract Change Makers – individuals who actively want to leave a meaningful imprint on the world. Secondly, the leadership and innovation provisions the school offered. Throughout my career, I felt I had accumulated critical business and commercial acumen, but I felt I needed to grow my ability to lead effectively and think innovatively about business challenges. WBS’ strengths lay in its entrepreneurial mindset and providing participants’ tools to be innovative and creative in solving the most complex issues on a global scale.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? To simply be authentic. The school values diversity in perspectives and backgrounds, being yourself throughout the application program while demonstrating your unique personality and expertise. Do not feel the need to conform to what you think the school is looking for. You are enough and with adequate preparation which demonstrates your key values and purpose, you’re sure to be a strong applicant.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Warwick Business School (WBS) doesn’t attract the attention of the best companies in the world. This myth was quickly dispelled, as WBS MBAs represent some of the most highly sought-after talent by the best companies in industry. This is evidenced by the caliber of organisations that invite the school for information sessions during the respective treks. They represent some of the largest companies in the world, such as Google, J.P. Morgan, and Aston Martin just to name a few. The caliber of the faculty, courses, and students is world-class.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I wish I had Influenced more of my peers to attend the Warwick Africa Summit. I truly believe Africa presents such a unique and compelling business case, as the next frontier for growth. My classmates represent future captains of industry, and I feel I could have influenced more of them to take a more vested interest into the nuance and dynamics of doing business on the continent. They will ultimately need to do business on the continent at some point in their illustrious careers. Hopefully, after they read this, even more of them will take a keen interest in the continent.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Kathryn Heppinstall is a classmate I have the utmost respect and admiration for. She truly embodies the attributes of what a servant leader is. She also served in the British military and her dogged quest for knowledge and improvement is truly admirable.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My mentor, who is an Executive at a large banking group in my native South Africa. Throughout our mentorship relationship, he has always encouraged me to think bigger, to think global and to always believe in myself. Although I always knew from an early age I would go to business school, he certainly planted the seeds to pursue it earlier “because there will never be a right time”. Therefore, I have adopted the mantra of always betting on yourself and reveling in discomfort in order to reach transformative growth.

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

  • Traveling to all 54 countries on the African continent – I still have a long way to go!
  • Watching an NBA play-off game before turning 30.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? A critical thinker who challenged conventional thinking!

Hobbies? A good read, basketball & seeing different parts of the world.

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

“Cebo is an outstanding MBA student. He has so much drive and ambition it is not surprising he was chosen for a Chevening Scholarship, which is a very competitive process with just three percent of applicants gaining a scholarship. They are only given to candidates who show the potential to be future leaders, something you can definitely see in Cebo. He has a presence, intelligence, and charisma that makes people want to follow him, plus he is very likable. His leadership qualities really came to the fore in the LeadershipPlus module.

“Cebo is passionate about Africa and its potential for growth. He has injected real enthusiasm in the Warwick Africa Network, organising the Warwick Africa Summit, which was a great success. And because of winning Chevening Scholarship Cebo is determined to make the most of this opportunity, you sense he feels a real responsibility to give something back to his country and Africa as a result of being here.

“He is a people-focused student and with a strong background in finance and accounting, this gives him a great set of skills and knowledge to forge his own path. He is one of those students that has set his sights on his career goals and will go all out to reach them. Cebo was a brilliant member of the Patagonia Case Study team and I think that has given him a real passion for sustainability and building companies that can alleviate inequality.”

Catherine Wiggins
CareersPlus Coach


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