Meet the MBA Class of 2025: Maud Chifamba, Wharton School

Maud Chifamba

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

“I am a Chartered Accountant, here to learn how to make a mark in the finance world.”

Hometown: Harare, Zimbabwe

Fun Fact About Yourself: My family didn’t have money to send me to school, so I homeschooled myself. This made me customize my own learning experience. As a result, I became the youngest university student in the continent, in 2012, on a full scholarship from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority. I started university when I was 14.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Zimbabwe – Bachelor of Accountancy Honors Degree & Msc. in Accountancy from University of Zimbabwe

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Zimbabwe Youth Council – Chairperson/IFRS Specialist at Mazars International Services

What has been your first impression of the Wharton MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best Wharton story so far. One of the main uphill climbs I have had was onboarding. That is, it was moving, not just to a city but a whole continent. It is a lot of work, that came with a lot of its own challenges. I was so positively overwhelmed by the support I obtained from fellow students in my class, second years, and alumni. A Wharton alumni member based in Philly was busy helping me source, find, and store furniture from the graduating class. A 2Y helped me find accommodation (in the midst of co-signer troubles), and a classmate – Fran – helped me pay for the accommodation when I couldn’t process a payment from Zimbabwe due to sanctions. I did not know any of these people before my Wharton admission. When they were helping me, the only thing we had in common – or the only thing they knew – was the Wharton MBA. We had never met! And that is the first impression I have of Wharton – that I had joined a community of people who have each other’s back, and I hope to do my part in pouring into this community. It is an invaluable asset to have #100,000reasons.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the Wharton School’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I have always been fascinated by business. My first memory came when I was 6 years old, selling veggies on the open market with my family. Over the years, I noted how we couldn’t turn a profit, or scale. As a professional many years later, I spent 5 years in audit and I oversaw audits of listed companies, mainly those in the telecommunications, media, and technology sectors. This allowed me to get a bird’s-eye-view of business, reporting, and operations as I verified financial reports. Over time, I knew I wanted to transition to the other side, where I will be providing input into operational, strategic, and investment decisions of companies.

Wharton’s position as a leading global institution focused on finance supports my vision. It is the school that ticked all the boxes of what I was looking for, mainly the curriculum and experience. Majoring in finance with a focus on business valuations and finance-heavy courses, I can expand my knowledge beyond reporting and financial management. Wharton will also give me access to the industry within which I want to end up, facilitating learning in practice.

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at the Wharton School? Right now, AAMBA is the club that definitely excites me. As an international student, one of the things I was concerned with was how I would start building a community in a new city and a new country. But AAMBA had great programming for all of us as the Class of 2025 met before preterm. This enabled us to connect and gave us the high-level MBA survival skills. Even more, it helped create new connections and align some of my fears before pre-term started. As a result, I felt more prepared and had a couple of familiar faces in the room. I am also excited about the professional clubs we will meet later on during pre-term.

When you think of the Wharton School, what is the first word that comes to mind? Why? Collaboration. I think this was made clear early on, when we were asked to work in teams to come up with a response to the prompt. There is no competition there, just a bunch of smart people in a room, brainstorming and problem-solving. Daily, students find ways to collaborate on different interests and projects. I LOVE the teamwork. We are all #WhartonProud and enriching each other’s experience.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: This question is so hard for me to answer because I feel like my career has two vastly different facets. There is the Maud who was born in the rural areas in Gokwe Zimbabwe into a large family. She was academically gifted, but did not have money for schools. As a result, she studied by herself and went on to become the family’s first graduate, the youngest university student in the country at 14 and the youngest chartered accountant in Zimbabwe. That is my biggest achievement as it provided me a platform to occupy the spaces I do now.

However, there is also the impact Maud – the one who was leading the Zimbabwe Youth Council, an organization that represents the interests of the +5 million Zimbabwean Youth. As chairperson, I worked with the amazing team to acquire – for the first time since the council was established by an act of parliament in 1984 – a property which is used as the primary office of the council and as a youth interact center. We also managed to decentralize the council, making it accessible to all the 10 provinces in Zimbabwe – facilitating inclusion of all Zimbabwean Young people in programming.

It could also be the Maud who heads the finance committee and is a trustee at the Universal Service Fund in Zimbabwe. The fund undertakes, every year, projects worth about USD 10 million, targeted mainly at improving access to ICT services to marginalized communities. The projects we get to work on are mind-blowing. They include providing internet connectivity to 1,900 schools in Zimbabwe since 2022; building over 200 computer laboratories; and distributing +6,000 computers to over 200 schools, to facilitate e-learning in marginalized places. With the fund, we have also provided access to ICT through community and village information centers, as well as provided annual fellowships to bright STEM students at university.

What do you hope to do after graduation (at this point)? – I am the cliché Wharton grad. I hope to recruit for investment banking and use the MBA to transition into high finance. I hope to use the skills I have learnt in my accounting background, my analytical abilities, and the new skills I will learn here at Wharton to assist companies with making smart investment and finance decisions.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why?Aside from the class profiles that highlight how amazing your classmates are likely to be, I read Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. I would recommend this book because networking will be a huge part of the MBA experience, and you are better off learning that skill early.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? HBS

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the Wharton School’s MBA program? I would say, don’t self-select yourself out of the process, especially if you come from a non-finance and non-traditional background. The class is truly diverse, and there is space for everyone in our differences. Bring your authentic self and how your presence will enrich the class. And Wharton alumni are probably some of the most helpful people out there. Do not hesitate to reach out for a conversation. They are very helpful in getting to know the school, or answering any questions you might have. See you at Wharton.


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