Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Isaac Mungai, Harvard Business School

Isaac Mungai

Harvard Business School

“Curious and proudly African. I love two things: exploring new cultures and investing in businesses.”

Hometown: Nairobi, Kenya

Fun Fact About Yourself: I’m am amateur guitarist but if I were to change my profession (in another life), I’d probably be a rockstar!

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Nairobi, BSc. Actuarial Science

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: International Finance Corporation (IFC – World Bank Group), Investment Analyst

What has been your first impression of the Harvard Business School MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far? Tell us your best Harvard Business School story so far. HBS students and alumni are very approachable and dependable. Shortly after my acceptance into HBS, I was scouting for scholarships and came across the Fulbright Scholarship. I reached out to the first HBS alum on my LinkedIn feed who was a Fulbright scholar and he was super responsive in providing resources on the scholarship and sharing his experiences, which was instrumental in figuring out if I wanted to pursue the scholarship. This attribute is also more than evident in the HBS slack channel where fellow classmates were so responsive to each other’s queries ahead of matriculation.

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? I’ve always believed that the best way of learning is by doing and I found the practical nature of the case method very intriguing. The case method provides a safe space for students to hone their decision-making skills. Here, you put yourself in the shoes of the protagonist. In the midst of conflicting views, you need to make a call. This is what every manager faces in the workplace and it couldn’t be more relevant in today’s world.

Aside from your classmates and cases, what was the key part of Harvard Business School’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? One thing that stood out for me is the experienced and renowned faculty. I recall breaking the news of my admission to a former colleague and his reaction was “Wow, bet you can’t wait to learn more about Porter’s Five Forces from Michael Porter himself!”. I really look forward to interacting with the professors and all the amazing guest lecturers from the corporate world and tapping into their wealth of knowledge throughout the MBA.

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at Harvard Business School? Black Investment Club – I’m super passionate about investing in Africa and playing a part in addressing underrepresentation of the black community in the global investment space. I’m also very keen to join the Africa Business Club to promote the African business community alongside other like-minded individuals who are keen to advance further integration of African businesses to the global economy.

When you think of Harvard Business School, what is the first word that comes to mind? Why? Excellence – HBS embodies excellence all the way from the application process, pre-matriculation and through to the classroom experience. The rigor employed in the teaching and case experience, coupled with students’ commitment in extracurricular activities in and outside of school really stands out in HBS.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Receiving a Corporate Award at IFC for exemplary performance in one of the most innovative, high impact, mobility investments structured by the institution in Africa.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? With my background in management consulting and impact investing, I had acquired the technical skills I required to excel as a junior team member. However, I had limited managerial experience and I felt that the MBA would adequately equip me to be a leader and drive decision making wherever I work. Immediately post-MBA, I plan to join a private equity firm focused on emerging markets. Later on, I hope to raise an infra-tech focused fund to invest in African businesses operating at the nexus of technology and infrastructure.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? The Art of War by Sun Tzu. I found it an interesting read particularly on how to think about strategy in a competitive world, drawing lessons from ancient Chinese military strategists.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Stanford GSB and Wharton School.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Harvard Business School’s MBA program? Dare to dream and be as authentic as possible. Looking through my fellow classmates’ profiles, one thing is clear – there is no ‘right’ candidate profile for HBS and everyone has their own story.



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