Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Rutendo Chikuku, Emory University (Goizueta)

Rutendo Chikuku

Emory University, Goizueta Business School

“Healthy sense of humor, competitive, collaborative, documentary nerd, scrabble enthusiast.”

Hometown: Harare, Zimbabwe

Fun Fact About Yourself: My favorite snack growing up was “madora” which in English means caterpillars. (And no, they were not alive, they were boiled then sautéed!)

Undergraduate School and Major: Lindenwood University, Chemistry emphasis in Biochemistry

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Palouse Specialty Physicians, Clinical Audiologist

Aside from your classmates, 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? Goizueta’s small, intimate class size was most important. I believe in community, being seen, being known, and being connected are critical components that help students to flourish.

What excites you most about getting your MBA at Goizueta? What makes you most nervous? I am excited about getting to know the other students in my cohort and learning from the incredible faculty at Goizueta. One of the goals that I have for myself during my two years at Goizueta is to be out of my comfort zone as much as I can. That makes me nervous to be in uncharted territory but also excited because of the growth that follows facing new challenges.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In my previous position, I was the pediatric lead for audiology services. When I started at Palouse Specialty Physicians, the need for pediatric services was relayed to me. I was able to attain advanced coursework in evaluation of infants and toddlers and build a strong and dynamic pediatric service line.

We had hospitals, primary care physicians, schools, and other specialties referring to us for peds. Families that previously needed to travel four hours round-trip to obtain services could now do so in half the time. This was significant because it reduced the loss to follow up rate and kids who needed early intervention could receive it during the critical window. Seeing the results of what our pediatric services meant to families ─ that their kids could hear better, they were doing better in school, and their speech was improving ─ was a big deal for them. Knowing that I championed something that has had that kind of impact is a gratifying accomplishment.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I had reached a professional growth ceiling and wanted to transition into business because I felt there were opportunities for impact on a greater scale inside companies and organizations. I saw an MBA as a vehicle to help facilitate the career switching process.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? None.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? I thought the questions were straightforward. This was perhaps because I had spent a lot of time really reflecting on where I had been, where I was, where I wanted to go, and what I needed to do to get there. Most of the questions seemed to revolve around those ideas.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? Fit can be a very nebulous thing to try to articulate because when it clicks it clicks – and when it doesn’t you know. When determining fit, I found it imperative to have a deep grasp of self, beginning to have some answers to the question of “Who am I?” Then the question of “Is this school a good fit for me?” can be answered from a place of greater authenticity. Following my own introspection, I wanted to be a part of an MBA program that emphasized leadership, diversity, and community. I listened to current Goizueta students and alums share their experiences and there was a recurring theme of a Goizueta culture that I connected with and wanted to be a part of.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? I cannot turn to one moment in particular, but instead to a series of moments that have had a cumulative effect in shaping who I am continuing to become. I think one of the things that I have learned through these cumulative experiences is resilience and that it is something I will need in business school.

What is the most important attribute that you are seeking in an MBA employer – and why is that important? It would have to be a tie between organizational culture and opportunities for growth. The culture component is critical for engagement and buy-in, that employees are a part of something meaningful. Opportunities for growth are motivators that keep momentum and productivity in the forward direction.

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