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A group of talented, innovative African professionals are determined to leverage their learnings from IE Business School to transform this emerging market.

5 min read

When you think about Africa, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it its people and its music? Exotic wild animals or the stunning savannahs that have become synonymous with the continent? Considered by many as the cradle of humanity, Africa is slowly becoming a bigger part of the global story.

A new era for Africa

It’s hard to overcome years of news reports highlighting scarcity, poverty, crises and conflict. But a new generation of change-makers is transforming the narrative about Africa, harnessing the power of socially focused business to alter fortunes and change lives.

Since 2018, IE Business School has dedicated itself to finding and nurturing these trailblazers, as well as showcasing the continent’s value in the global marketplace. This initiative is part of the university’s decades-long ongoing efforts to not only promote diversity in its student body but also support sustainable development in the region.

As a result, many African students and scholars have passed through IE Business School’s doors on their way to meaningful change and sustainable impact. These alumni paint a unique picture of the IE Experience and how it has transformed their own lives, both personally and professionally.

Building upon her natural skill set

“It’s important to recognize that one’s purpose extends beyond their career.” – Judy Wairimu

Meet the Africa network, IE Business School’s vibrant mosaic of change-makers

She is turning to technology to address the systemic challenges present in her corner of the world. Despite growing up in Nairobi, Kenya, her parents always encouraged her to study hard and travel extensively. They knew she would seek not just to see the world but to change it. That unwavering faith is probably why they named her ‘Wairimú’, which in Agĩkũyũ—one of the most prolific local languages—means “of giants.”

Needless to say, Judy Wairimu has certainly lived up to her name. Recognizing her deep empathy and flair for problem-solving early on, she’s managed to craft a unique professional profile rooted in her natural abilities. Today, she works for Microsoft as a senior program manager, leading the company’s Technology for Social Impact initiatives in Africa.

During her International MBA, Judy Wairimu focused her attention on learning about strategy and innovation. One of the most memorable parts of the MBA was a course on supply chains: it revealed that success in the tech industry relies not only on technical expertise but also on effective planning, resource management and mobilization strategies. After graduation, the mentorship she received through the IE Alumni Women’s Network motivated her for the journey ahead, helping her understand her personal and professional goals while imparting a fresh view of success.

I focused my MBA studies on Strategy and Innovation, which provided me with valuable insights into tackling business challenges from multiple angles and creating a structured approach to problem-solving.” – Judy Wairimu

“The nature of my work enables me to have a meaningful impact, particularly in the realm of technology sector development.” The most poignant example of this is when a proposal she prepared for the Red Cross led to immediately tangible positive results. “I find great satisfaction in knowing that my interactions with clients consistently demonstrate my ability to make a positive difference for them,” she explains.

Seizing the opportunity for a fulfilling path

After Paul Kent completed his Global Executive MBA, he went on to co-found Adumo, the largest independent payments processor in South Africa with a presence in 11 countries throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.

For Paul, there was no “aha” moment that clarified his professional path. Instead, it was a continuous process defined by consistent hard work, his learnings from the program itself, and a touch of pure luck that helped him get to where he is today.

Meet the Africa network, IE Business School’s vibrant mosaic of change-makers

“I was very fortunate to be at the right place, at the right time.” – Paul Kent

Paul not only had the support and guidance of his former bosses to fall back on but he also recognized a viable business idea and grabbed the opportunity to make it a reality.

However, that’s only part of the story. “A personality trait that has greatly contributed to my professional success is being inherently competitive,” notes Paul. With the know-how gained in the Global Executive MBA, this ambitious alum leveraged his natural talent to launch and grow his business. In fact, he credits the program with refining his tact and diplomacy, both of which have been invaluable assets when tackling complex challenges or meeting his professional goals.

Serving 70,000 customers across such a vast geographical region is no easy feat. But Paul explains that instilling a coherent vision was central to Adumo’s success. “I have a belief about being purposeful when it comes to creating and defining a culture within an organization,” he says. Excited to make this a major part of the company’s journey, Paul is already gearing up for a future of expansion and progress.

Shaping her own trajectory

Dr. Beatrice Murage is fueled by her passion for the greater good. “It’s the little things that count, like when I see someone finally getting the healthcare or education they need, or when a struggling entrepreneur gets the financial boost to kick-start their business,” she says, adding, “Those moments fill me with a sense of fulfilment. It’s like a chain reaction of positivity.”

A lifetime spent watching her mother, who she calls one of her “most significant role models,” working in public service in the East African country of Kenya helped plant the seeds that inspired her work with underserved groups. She’s worn several hats throughout her career, including board-certified physician, accredited project manager and, now, Global Senior Manager of Group Sustainability (ESG) at leading multinational Philips.

“I think that purpose is like a journey, not a fixed destination,” Beatrice states. She sees it as something that’s constantly evolving as we adjust to the world around us. “The important thing is to always stay connected to our ‘why’ and make sure it lines up with what we value and want in life.”

Her own path—both before and after her Dual Degree International MBA + Master in Business Analytics & Big Data—reflects this simple fact. According to Beatrice, the only way to identify or refine your life’s mission is by gaining more knowledge and experience. But doing this effectively requires a heart for continuous learning, as well as an open mind.

“The key is to keep in touch with what motivates us deep down and make sure our actions and goals match our changing sense of purpose,” she adds.

Meet the Africa network, IE Business School’s vibrant mosaic of change-makers

Africa at IE Business School

These pioneers represent the impressive professionals that make up the university’s extensive alumni network in Africa. They are committed to transforming their communities, both on the continent and further afield, starting a chain reaction that ensures sustainable development. Through various innovative programs, partnerships, clubs, labs and scholarship opportunities, IE Business School has built an invaluable ecosystem to support their work, facilitate networking and maximize the potential of Africa, the next frontier for growth.