MBA Europe

IE MBA Students On Life-Changing Mission In South Africa

Written by Harriet Murdoch | MBA Europe | Monday 26th September 2011 11:16:46 GMT

Trading Madrid for South Africa was like trading a crush for a relationship, for MBA student Andrea Carrow

2011 Emzingo fellows in South Africa. Photo by Raffaele Breschi

2011 Emzingo fellows in South Africa. Photo by Raffaele Breschi

Andrea Carrow, an MBA student at IE Business School in Madrid, spent seven weeks this summer working on consulting projects with non-profit organisations in South Africa. She went to South Africa on the Emzingo NexGen Fellowship Program. We asked her more about what she did there.

Andrea, 24, from Minnesota, USA was one of 16 fellows enrolled on the summer 2011 program, IE Business School's third round of partnering with the Emzingo group.

Set up by IE Business School MBA alumni, Emzingo is a global leadership and development organization established to inspire, prepare, and connect the next generation of MBA leaders to responsibly seize sustainable global opportunities.

The fellowship focuses on three main areas:

The first was consulting projects. Emzingo assigns IE Business school students to work on two separate consulting projects over the course of the program. Both project assignments are conducted in Johannesburg, South Africa, for local NGOs or small businesses. One project is conducted in pairs (eight projects total) and the second project is done in teams of four students (four different projects in total). Both of the assignments challenge the MBA participants to strategically develop obtainable and sustainable solutions, specific to each client’s ability to implement the recommendations.

Secondly, consulting mentorship. Emzingo assigns each MBA-consulting team to mentors from major global consulting firms to act as mentors and resources throughout the consulting assignments. Andrea and her partner and were assigned to two mentors from two different firms—a mentor from Monitor Group and a mentor from Bain & Company.

Thirdly, personal development. Throughout the consulting assignments, Emzingo incorporates program elements that develop individuals professionally and at the same time, push personal growth. The personal development components include: individualized professional coaching sessions, organized cultural immersion activities, relevant lectures by global companies, and insightful classroom sessions facilitated by South Africa’s prestigious WITS Business School.

For Andrea, the Emzingo Fellowship was an amazing experience. As she describes it, “Abandoning the idea of the summer MBA session in Madrid, several classmates and I moved to Johannesburg to embark on a consulting fellowship. Although we missed out on some of the MBA life in Madrid, interning in the emerging country of South Africa was to studying in Europe as a relationship is to a crush: dustier, often more frustrating and taxing, but indefinitely more real.”

“We were 16 MBA students from 12 different nations and we set out for Africa’s business hub like pioneers and pilgrims—perhaps not quite as desperate and cognate that we would have far fewer historical consequences—yet jammed-up with the same combination of hope and anticipation, with the same simultaneous feeling of running-away and running-toward, with the same audacity to discover…”

“In addition to learning how to scope and execute consulting projects in an emerging market, through emersion experiences such as visiting the deeply disturbing Apartheid Museum, a rugby match in Ellis Park, and kickin’ it in local shebeens, we experienced pivotal moments of clarity as to understanding why this country was divided, how this country is still struggling, and the current, desperate efforts to progress.”

The highlight of the fellowship was “participating in the local events of South Africa’s National Youth Day in the township of Soweto, where the poverty felt, to suggest the best, bottomless. Even from the safety of our issued car, the abrupt reality of the grinding urban landscape did not fade in as much as it faded everything else out until… forget about the Blackberry, forget about the evening’s plan and the five- year career development plan. Seeing such poverty faded everything out until it was just us and the abyss, until it was just us and the little HIV-positive hands that reached up to hold ours. Spending time in a place where electricity was still just an election-time promise should probably not have felt so good. The day was beautiful and will be remembered forever.”

IE Business School

Read more stories about students, alumni and programmes at IE Business School.


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Monday 26th September 2011, 15.11 (UTC)

Miguel Suarez

Loved the article, it is very interesting and seems to have been a great experience for all the people involved. Congratulations!

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