When I traveled to the United States to visit Kellogg,I noticed how the students seemed to be such a vital part of the school. I wanted to be a part of that. I was working in South Africa in corporate finance and was an attorney before that. If I truly wanted to know who I was and where I wanted to go, I’d have to rise above the ordinary and immerse myself without distractions.
Moving to the United States with only my South African perspective was a massive change. One of Kellogg’s biggest gifts is deep thinking that considers problems from many angles. Understanding where people come from really adds value to one’s life. Now I’m more patient, less argumentative. I plan to stay on that level.
Recently, I was overall conference co-chair for the 2011 Kellogg Africa Business Conference. We collaborated with the planning committee to identify a theme, were responsible for panel discussions and speaker topics, engaged U.S. and African corporations for sponsorship, and selected and invited speakers and panelists from the United States and Africa.
With assistance from my South African business network and a South African airline, we brought His Excellency Thabo Mbeki, the former President of the Republic of South Africa, to campus as our keynote speaker. His presence generated a lot of media attention and contributed significantly to the conference’s remarkable success. I’ll continue to work to place South Africa more firmly in global affairs and to transform how the world sees and does business with my country.
My prior legal and finance experience will also continue to serve me well when I return home. With my new skills, I’ll be able to collaborate more effectively within any firm, expand its multinational status and make South Africa more visible on the world stage. And I’ll keep practicing what I’ve learned here: the power of self-reflection and the ability to accurately anticipate where I can make meaningful contributions to the world.