The MBA community transcends school borders, as many programs host conferences or events that welcome students from different schools. In this edition of Fridays from the Frontline, two Dartmouth Tuck MBA students (aka Tuckies) recount their experience attending Harvard Business School’s Africa Business Conference.
Reflections from the 2022 HBS Africa Business Conference
Takunda Ndoro T’22 and Seare Kidane T’23 discuss their experiences at the HBS Africa Business Conference and key takeaways from its theme “Reimagining the Road Ahead.”
Takunda Ndoro T’22
One of the best things about my second year at Tuck has been the freedom to interact with other top professionals and MBAs in ways that were nearly impossible last year due to COVID. The African Business Conference at Harvard Business School was an event that capitalized on this feeling, bringing together Africa’s most talented and ambitious students, pundits, and business practitioners for a two-day extravaganza of a conference that, I believe, had something for everyone.
For someone like me, a second-year MBA interested in African venture capital and consulting, Harvard’s 18 panels—featuring distinguished speakers like TLcom Capital’s founder Maurizio Caio and African FinTech legend Dare Okoudjou—were the main highlight, as they helped add real-world context to Africa’s ever-shifting and growing business environment. Receiving firsthand accounts of other similarly educated professionals who have blazed paths of success in various industries was worth the entry fee alone.
Similarly, being in proximity to keynote speakers like H.E. John Dramani Mahama, the former President of Ghana, and Hakeem Belo Osagie, one of Africa’s premier business leaders, was an obvious pleasure and learning opportunity. Indeed, when I wasn’t nodding furiously to or clapping in approval at a speaker’s keynote address, I often found my eyes casually wandering over the audience in awe of the excellence around me. Putting myself in these positions has not only given me an idea of how success on the African continent can work, but it has also increased my confidence as a (future) professional—as I found myself interacting with many people I have cause to admire. Additionally, the timeliness of the content being presented at the conference, whose panel topics ranged from intra-African trade to cryptocurrency, made many of us feel like the future of the continent was unfolding in front of us right then and there.
With all this in mind, it feels like the great social aspects of the conference, like Saturday’s Afrobeats-inspired gala (which was undoubtedly the main draw for many MBAs), were just the icing on an enormously fulfilling cake. I find it funny and telling of the quality of the conference, that the great parties thrown during and after it felt like welcome embellishment.
I thank Tuck for sponsoring our trip, as both the networking and the learnings of the conference will stay with me as I move forward with my career.
Takunda Ndoro is from Harare, Zimbabwe, and has lived and traveled all over the world. He received a B.A. in economics from the University of Maryland, College Park before working in financial services at an investment bank. He hopes to pursue a career in marketing and sales after Tuck.
Seare Kidane T’23
The HBS Africa conference was an amazing opportunity to learn more about business opportunities within Africa and represent Tuck’s close-knit community. The theme of the conference was “Reimagining the Road Ahead” and many of the panel topics centered on how MBA students can transform the perception of doing business in Africa. There was one panel where a guest speaker discussed how MBA students can help fight the single-story view of Africa as one country by including the continent in business discussions in a thoughtful manner, similar to other regions. This made me feel very liberated given my FYP, which focuses on Africa diaspora engagement, and my long-term VC goals to invest in EdTech within Africa.
In addition to programming, this conference gave me the opportunity to reflect on how strong relationships are amongst Tuck’s minority students, despite the program’s smaller size. I always value quality over quantity and Tuck’s representation at these conferences demonstrates how inclusive our community is.
The conference allowed me to also build bonds with other MBA students from diverse backgrounds and I hope to take some of their diversity best practices to add to the intimate fabric of Tuck.
Seare Kidane was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia to Eritrean refugees who taught him the importance of intellectual curiosity and resiliency at an early age. He received a BBA in Business Economics from Georgia State before pursuing a career in banking. He hopes to leverage his experience at Tuck for a career in venture capital investing.