South African, Master in International Finance
23-year old Andile Dyonase, South African, is a scholarship student in BSL’s Master in International Finance program and one of BSL’s Kofi Annan Fellows to benefit from the school’s affiliation with the Kofi Annan Business School Foundation. Andile started his studies in September 2013 and is expected to graduate in February 2015.
The first things you notice about Andile are his mature persona and the “sparkle in the eye”. Both were in fact among the key selection criteria for his admission to the Tertiary School in Business Administration (TSiBA), Andile’s choice for his Bachelor studies. TSiBA is a not-for-profit business school in Cape Town whose mission is to be an innovative learning community of entrepreneurial leaders who ignite social change. Andile explains that the school grants full scholarships to carefully selected students who are not required to pay it back, but rather encouraged to “pay it forward” – by engaging in meaningful community development initiatives.
Andile humbly admits that he went through a rigorous selection process which included multiple tests, several rounds of interviews, and a 3-day assessment camp where his behavior, attitude, and social competences were evaluated. All this, and the “sparkle in the eye” successfully granted him a place in the program.
Andile’s means of “paying it forward” started with his volunteering at SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) – an international student organization dedicated to nurturing the entrepreneurial skills of university students in a way that is both effective for them in developing their future careers and meaningful to the community. At 18, he was already heading SIFE at his university as the President of the local chapter. Under his leadership, fifty student volunteers worked on various community projects – from empowering women’s entrepreneurship to mentoring high school students from disadvantaged schools, to building networks for better access of students to employment opportunities.
The leadership experience at SIFE revealed the power of passion and commitment to Andile – he realized that “the lack of resources should not be a constraint when you really want to achieve something. It’s enough to have an idea which you are really passionate about, and it all comes together. As students, we had nothing, but we were able to drive change.”
Besides his SIFE involvement, Andile volunteered as a tutor and participated in a number of local community projects. During summer vacations at university, he sought an internship to support his finances and gain practical business experience. He worked as an intern at JP Morgan Chase, Coronation Fund Managers, and the Association of Savings and Investments South Africa.
Following Andile’s story, it is not surprising to learn that he was shortlisted amongst the 40 South Africans nominated for the prestigious Mandela Rhodes Scholarship 2012 in recognition for leadership. I ask Andile what values he sees most relevant for today’s leaders. “Integrity and trust,” he declares firmly without dwelling on the question. “Because of crises, historical scandals in firms and other events in politics around the world, there seems to be a decreasing level of trust. Whether it’s insurance companies and banks to non-financial corporations and government, people are critical about who to trust. I think as a leader it is very important that you have integrity and your team members are able to trust you.”
The Mandela Rhodes Scholarship would have given Andile the opportunity to enroll in any post-graduate program in South Africa with a fully covered tuition. At this time, he came to realize that gaining international exposure would allow him to be better equipped for facing the challenges in his own country. “In one of my mentorship session with Simon Susman, he highlighted that African leaders do very well within their leadership roles, but tend to lack global citizenship. As I questioned the meaning of his statement, I realized that he was referring to ability to think globally while acting locally.”
In one of my mentorship session with Simon Susman, he highlighted that African leaders do very well within their leadership roles, but tend to lack global citizenship.
Andile began researching options for studies abroad, and the opportunity arose: he came across the Kofi Annan Business School Foundation (KABS), a network of leading European Business Schools that offer practice-oriented study programs to talented students from developing countries. As the official representative of KABS for Switzerland, BSL is listed as a school providing full tuition scholarship for its master’s programs. For Andile, one of the fundamental reasons for choosing BSL was the school’s entrepreneurial approach and “social-responsible component”, and so made his next move: he enrolled in the master’s program in finance and began his studies in September 2013.
Half way through the program now, Andile already sees the benefits of studying abroad. “When I go back to South Africa, I will be able to apply business ideas and best practices that I picked up abroad and are relevant to the rest of the world. International experience also helps establish connections with other countries.” For him, the highlight of the program are the regular visits of guest speakers who are real practitioners and who give a relevant overview of what’s happening in the world at the moment. He’s also fascinated by the different approach BSL takes in educating students on how to make decisions, taking into account the social, environmental and economic considerations.
When I go back to South Africa, I will be able to apply business ideas and best practices that I picked up abroad and are relevant to the rest of the world.
Full-time studies occupy most of Andile’s time, yet he still finds ways of “paying it forward”. He is part of “Friends of TSiBA Education” in Switzerland and helps raise money for the scholarship fund of TSiBA in South Africa, allowing more students to access free, high-quality education. He also gives motivational speeches to high school graduates of underprivileged schools in South Africa. In order to do so, Andile has to raise funds for his tickets to Cape Town and he achieves this by campaigning various airline companies willing to support his initiative. In Andile’s world, this is not an obstacle; it’s merely a learning experience in finding ways to initiate change despite the lack of resources. “You learn continuously how to be street-smart, how to mobile yourself through constraints. The more you get into all these “stumble boxes”, the more you develop your personal tools to cope.”
So far, he has talked to more than 5000 students in South Africa. “They really need high level of motivation to outperform in their space. And it’s not easy in that space too. There are a handful of students who eventually make it, they outperform and start change, but the vast majority is not getting there. They need young people and success stories they can relate to.” Andile is not alone in this venture – he was able to realize his project with the help of another BSL student, Andrii Kardakov, and a few fellow South Africans living in Switzerland.
Andile plans to go back to South Africa upon his graduation in February 2015. “There’s a lot of work than needs to be done back home. I must do something that takes people from point A to point B – seeing people grow is where my passion lies.”
There’s a lot of work than needs to be done back home. I must do something that takes people from point A to point B – seeing people grow is where my passion lies.
If there is one significant change he could accomplish in the world, it would be to make adequate basic education more accessible. “I know in a country like Switzerland and most European countries this might not appear to be a problem, but I think in some developing and underdeveloped countries, proper basic education is still experienced by the fortunate and not the broader population.” Andile says, with that sparkle in the eye appearing.