A Lifelong Friendship: From Classmates in Cameroon to Roommates at HBS – MBA

What is your story?

Gana: I grew up in Cameroon, in a city termed Douala. My grandfather manufactured the great importance of education and learning and how it impacts your lifestyle entrance and centre. My moms and dads never spared an opportunity to reiterate that to me and my siblings. I achieved Kevin at a nursery university in our community (PNEU Douala). We were 2 a long time aged then and have been close friends given that. Immediately after PNEU, we attended Sacred Coronary heart Higher education, an all-boys Catholic boarding college five several hours away from house. These were some of our most formative years discovering how to reside absent from moms and dads at the age of 10, waking up at 5am every day, ice cold showers, taking care of our time, funds and food materials above a semester with incredibly little access to the outside earth … a lot of enjoyable! For 7 yrs we constructed our friendship expending 9 months a calendar year collectively, from time to time in the exact same dormitories. When we graduated, we established our sights on researching in the US and -as your typical nerds – we the two went into engineering. I researched Electrical Engineering at Georgia Tech, and Kevin went into Chemical Engineering at the University of Minnesota.

Kevin: Certainly, as outrageous as it seems, Gana and I have recognised each individual other most of our life. We share lots of of the exact same lived ordeals, which includes our to start with organization enterprise in significant school renting out venues to arrange parties around the holidays. It is in all probability not a surprise to these who realized me back again then that I am Social chair of my segment at HBS. I grew up with two operating mom and dad. My father is a civil servant and my mom is an entrepreneur and tiny business enterprise owner. One particular of her firms is a farm that is nonetheless functioning 20 several years afterwards. Viewing the hustling spirit of entrepreneurship in motion through my mothers and fathers confirmed me the worth of difficult function and determination. They usually inspired me to have massive, daring desires and to price my instruction as one thing that no a person can choose absent from me. I am the oldest of 4 siblings and loved ones indicates every little thing to me. To me, household intended escalating up extremely near to first, 2nd, and third cousins. It was very popular to have relatives gatherings of 50+. Shifting to the U.S. in 2010 was challenging, but simply because I experienced attended boarding school, I was prepared for the new problem.

What introduced you to HBS?

Kevin: I was at an inflection level in my career. My time as a chemical engineer took me on an incredible journey from doing the job in refineries to launching new chemical products and solutions in the U.S. and Canada. I worked in several functions ranging from Income to R&D to Advertising in huge corporations. However, I preferred to enhance my engineering expertise with a reliable managerial toolkit. In addition, I truly preferred to choose time to believe about building a significant contribution to the African continent. HBS was the ideal place for me to develop as a leader along with unbelievable classmates from all above the entire world. As an engineer, the scenario method has pushed me to think in new means with incomplete facts, which can be not comfortable, considering that I was employed to possessing all the parts to address for X in the equation.

What has HBS been like so considerably, like the Africa Company Club?

Gana: The virtual mother nature of the software has been attention-grabbing. I completed a graduate method whilst I was working and had some publicity to digital education, but I have been genuinely amazed by the scenario process. I was a small far too severe at the commencing, sporting a costume shirt for the initial 7 days of course, but Kevin stored laughing at me, so I stopped. Other than that, it is been remarkable! I do enjoy the versatility to get classes from any location in the environment, but the draw to staying bodily on campus has been about my classmates. Conference so quite a few remarkable and variety people today from all around the world has been the ideal portion of the knowledge. The Africa Organization Club has been foundational in how we knowledgeable HBS. Through club instructional and social events, we’ve gotten the prospect to genuinely grow our network of individuals who are passionate about contributing to improving upon the continent.

What are your strategies for the long run?

Kevin: In the quick expression, I will be operating as a administration advisor. I’m seriously enthusiastic to aid clear up some significant difficulties at the best ranges of organization. In the lengthier expression, I want to work on deploying renewable electricity belongings across emerging economies to deal with electricity poverty and local climate transform. I am also really passionate about advancing Variety, Fairness and Inclusion in company The united states. Gana and I started off an group known as Blackminds to glow a light on the tales of good results from day-to-day black and brown people today across the entire world. We’re looking to deliver to life tales like the evolution of African songs into Afrobeats and the entrepreneurial successes of Hispanic immigrants in the US.

Gana: I will have a improved quick-term reply soon after I check out management consulting this summer time. As Kevin described, we introduced Blackminds to aid share black tales – that is some thing I’ll be focused on. I devote a lot of my time outside of class working on an entrepreneurial enterprise and functioning with two undertaking cash firms, one targeted on U.S. corporations and the other on African startups. My extended-time period designs are to use these experiences to make investments in tech infrastructure and transportation startups in Africa and perhaps in other rising markets. I certainly consider that the younger kids expanding up in Africa currently will establish remarkable providers, and I’d enjoy to assistance them on that journey.