Meet The MBA Class of 2022: Linda Nkosi, University of Minnesota (Carlson)

Linda Nkosi

University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management

An easy-going introvert that enjoys riveting conversations about anything; sports, international development, or business strategy.”

Hometown: Manzini, Eswatini

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am from a country that officially changed its name in 2018 from Swaziland to Eswatini.

Undergraduate School and Major: Wartburg College, a double major in Finance & Economics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Clinton Health Access Initiative, Inc.; Program Manager, Public Financial Management

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? Usually, when you make the decision to go to business school, you are resigned to the fact that you will spend 22 months out of the workforce except for a 3-month reprieve where you have to put one academic year worth of theory into practice through a summer internship. This is NOT the case with Carlson. Carlson’s focus on experiential learning was a big draw for me. The opportunity to actively practice the theory I learn in class – solving real-world business problems that affect business’ bottom lines – was too large to ignore. I get to show what I’ve learned, flex my professional work-muscles and build connections with professionals in the Twin Cities. A huge win!

At Carlson, you are part of one of the most dynamic business environments in the country. What has made the Twin Cities such a great place to live and learn for you? It was not lost on me that Minnesota is home to about 16 Fortune 500 companies working across a myriad of industries, with the greater Twin Cities being home to many of those companies. The career opportunities in the Twin Cities are innumerable for any MBA student. Although the winters can be brutal, the quality of life in the Twin Cities is great. There are miles of trails and lakes to visit, which is great for someone like me who enjoys hiking. For a city in the interior of the US, the Twin Cities is home to a diverse culinary scene, giving you a taste of multiple cultures. Lastly, thanks to COVID, I haven’t had the opportunity to explore the breweries here but as a lover of good IPAs that’s definitely on my bucket list when the weather and COVID conditions improve.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Action-oriented. Carlson students get things done! I have been thoroughly impressed by my classmates’ passion, intellect, curiosity, and the voracity with which they tackle business cases and issues. I was both impressed and proud of my classmates who took part in the Elite 8 Brand Management Case Competition and brought home the gold. It was the first time for an all First Year MBA team, and the first time in 14 years that a team from Carlson has won the competition. That sort of energy and action is evident in every class I’ve shared with Carlson students.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I’m proud of the many opportunities to work on high-impact and transformational projects through my work with the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI). I’m particularly proud of my work on Vaccines Procurement.

My role as an Associate at CHAI was focused on increasing fiscal space for health by finding cost and process efficiencies in Eswatini’s health system. Pharmaceuticals represented 25% of the country’s budget for healthcare, the second largest budget line, and a low hanging fruit for efficiencies. I conducted a market analysis of vaccines procurement in the region and quickly recognized that Eswatini was procuring vaccines at significantly lower prices than other countries in the region. At the same time, Eswatini was consistently de-prioritized in delivery, resulting in the country receiving late-stage vaccines that would consistently expire on the shelves, negatively affecting the country’s vaccination targets. I worked to identify a different procurement modality with which Eswatini can procure vaccines at a cheaper price with better early to mid-stage delivery.

My research brought me to UNICEF’s Supply Division which procures vaccines and other pharmaceuticals for developing countries, pooling volumes for a number of countries thus guaranteeing sufficient volumes for pharmaceutical firms to sell at reasonable prices. The switch to procuring through UNICEF’s Supply Division led to savings of approximately $1 million. Those savings were earmarked by the country to increase vaccine service delivery by introducing the HPV vaccine, a key intervention in a country that has the highest incidence of cervical cancer in the world.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? It’s still early on in my MBA career, but I am particularly proud and excited about two opportunities to leave a footprint at Carlson and in the Twin Cities. I was elected to the Board of Mosaic, a student club that advocates for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) MBA students. The Twin Cities and the world were moved by the death of George Floyd; there have been calls for justice and increased visibility of the realities BIPOCs live through. I am excited to work with Mosaic and be a part of raising the profile and visibility of BIPOC students at Carlson and the University of Minnesota. Secondly, I will be spending some time in the spring semester as a Graduate Volunteer Consultant, working closely with a neighborhood association in the Twin Cities to revise their strategy and outlook as they work to strengthen their community ties and increase safety for ALL its residents.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I was doing well at the Clinton Health Access Initiative but after four years there I felt I was beginning to hit a ceiling and my curiosity about working on high-impact projects in the private sector began to peak. In order to pivot careers from non-profit to the private sector, I knew I needed to buttress my skills in strategy and management and build a network. Everything pointed towards getting an MBA, a special key in making a career pivot. I knew I needed a great program that would build the skills I was looking to gain, strengthen the ones I already had, and build my network to give me the best chance of building a career in Corporate Strategy or Corporate Finance.


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