London Business School
“Status-quo challenger passionate about using business as a force for social and environmental impact.”
Hometown: Toronto, Canada
Fun Fact About Yourself: I’m a bit of an adventure nut and don’t have the best awareness of safety, including trying to cross Victoria Falls during rainy season, wandering too close around the open Erta Ale volcano in the middle of the night, and eating unusual things that have gone on to make me horribly sick.
Undergraduate School and Major: University of Ottawa, International Development and Globalization
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Open Capital Advisors, Senior Project Leader
Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? One key aspect of the LBS MBA programme that I was attracted to was the flexibility – I’m using the MBA as an opportunity to explore and pivot, so wanted a programme that would allow me to tailor my time to gain as much hands-on experience as possible with a variety of project and internship opportunities. I knew I wouldn’t be able to have this flexibility and time with a 1-year MBA programme.
What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? Curiosity and friendliness. Fellow students I’ve had a chance to interact with so far have completely blown me away with their openness to new ideas, but also their willingness to dive in and get to know you on a deeper level. I can already feel how effectively our class is going to bond and build friendships despite the obvious pandemic challenges of having to do more virtual interaction!
What makes London such a great place to earn an MBA degree? I think London is really a city that has something for everyone. There are a few niche pathways around circular economy and sustainability that I want to explore during my MBA, and based on the research I’ve done so far, I know there are already exciting entrepreneurs and investors working in these spaces in London to learn from. I don’t have to worry about feeling like I pursued an MBA “in the wrong city”.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: The biggest accomplishment in my career so far was when I co-founded Pollen Group, a development consultancy based in Uganda. I remember the moment my co-founders and I looked at each other and asked, “Are we really going to do this” and it was a resounding “yes” all around. It was a big risk to take considering we were all ~24 and at the beginning of our careers. But we were so passionate about trying to crack the nut of how aid projects could be better designed to deliver lasting systems change and inspired by the first set of innovative programmes we signed on to support. We knew it was what we wanted to dedicate our time.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? After seven years of working in East Africa, I felt ready to take a break to reflect on my past experiences and what I want to do next. I had been thinking about doing an MBA for a few years. I knew it would be a great tool to help me not only adapt my experience in Africa to a new geography and sectors, but also refine and upskill the management consulting skills I’ve built.
My original plan was to actually leave my most recent role at the beginning of 2020, apply to MBA programmes for 2021 entry, and spend all that time in between traveling and doing some consulting work. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic quickly changed these plans – in March, I was touring Japan when I was suddenly back living with my family in Toronto when global travel stopped. Luckily, with all this free time and with extended business school application deadlines, I was able to bring my plan forward to do an MBA this year instead. While I’m a bit sad for the plans I lost, I am extremely excited to be starting my MBA!
What other MBA programs did you apply to? Oxford SBS and Cambridge CJBS. All the schools extended their last round deadlines at different times – so while I initially only applied to one, I ended up applying to all three as I subsequently learned about the other schools’ extensions.
What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? In writing my applications and preparing for interviews, I found the most basic questions to actually be the most difficult – ones like “tell us about yourself” and “where do you see yourself in 5 years.” I think anyone about to embark on a career pivot would feel the same. I have such a varied and unique background and a few different pathways I want to explore in the future. It was definitely a challenge to try to distil this into the most important elements and into a coherent story that my audience could appreciate and understand.
How did you determine your fit at various schools? Determining my fit at an MBA programme-centred around three main aspects. First was programme flexibility, as I needed a programme that would allow me the space to explore for my next career move. Second was programme diversity – coming from an emerging markets impact-focused background, I knew I wanted to be surrounded by classmates and faculty with different sector experiences and perspectives on business that would really challenge my way of thinking. Third, I wanted to attend a school in in my post-MBA city of choice – I plan to settle in London after the MBA programme, and going to a school located right in the city made the most sense for this life and career transition.
Based on this, I talked to many current students and alumni at the three schools I applied to, to better understand their perspectives and experiences to help me understand which school most aligned with my criteria. All in all, LBS fit my criteria to a T and I couldn’t be more ecstatic that it worked out!
What have you been doing to prepare yourself for business school? I’ve actually been trying to not prepare too much for business school. Instead, I’ve been spending a lot of time with friends and family, doing activities that I enjoy and picking up new hobbies, and traveling (safely!). Nearly all of the current and former MBA students I spoke to recommended this given that when the MBA programme starts, it will be extremely intense from start-to-finish.
However, having just gone through the MBA application process a few months ago, including thinking about my goals, what I want to get out of the MBA programme, and reflecting heavily on my past experiences, this is all still top-of-mind and I think has really helped me feel ready to jump into the programme in August.
What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? After graduating from my undergraduate degree, I decided to permanently move, alone, at 22 years old, to Uganda to start my first job – despite having never set foot on the continent. I was extremely passionate about the work Engineers Without Borders Canada was doing, as they focused on systems change development work, which was very different than the conventional aid programmes I encountered in university.
My first engagements were working in agricultural sectors that had little data and few examples of successful NGO-driven market interventions. This experience prepared me for business school in two ways: first, l mastered the ability to work effectively with people from different cultures and backgrounds. Second, I gained the ability to quickly adapt to new and ambiguous situations or projects, where there was little precedent or data to rely on, and having to hustle and “make things work” in very creative ways!
DON’T MISS: Meet London Business School’s MBA Class Of 2022
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