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Unexpected Opportunities Lead to Growth in Africa

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“All adversity in life can be a catalyst for your next success—if you choose to see the opportunities it presents.” 

General information:

  • Name: Fadzai Chitiyo
  • Home Country: Zimbabwe
  • Job Function: Consultant
  • Industry of Work: Consulting
  • Name of Company: Dalberg Global Development Advisors
  • Degrees:
    • Bachelor of Social Science in International Relations and Economics, University of Cape Town 
    • Honors in African Studies, Concentration: Regional Economic Integration, University of Cape Town
    • Master of Commerce in Development, Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town

Is there something interesting about your background that led you to where you are?

I grew up in Zimbabwe and was born in a small town to parents from humble beginnings. In 2007, my country was on its way to the worst financial crisis in its history, so my parents decided to transfer me to the International School of South Africa to complete my studies. It was at that point that I recognized that all adversity in life can be a catalyst for your next success—if you choose to see the opportunities it presents. My experiences in South Africa awakened my desire to become a leading influencer and a continent shaper with global relevance. This one, unplanned move in my final school years shaped my journey to where I am today. 

Why did you decide to get a business master’s degree? 

Before getting my master’s degree, I dreamed of a career in international diplomacy or public policy research, with the ultimate goal of becoming an influencer in the public sector. I recognized that my lack of expertise and experience would impact my ability to be influential in the development sector overall. I also realized that I wanted to learn how to interpret or influence political issues, as well as the commercial business acumen and financial insight to cater to the profit concerns of private businesses. My business master’s degree helped shape my career path; to be an advisor to governments, institutions, and companies interested in positive impact and growth across Africa. 

Were there any obstacles to your business master’s degree? 

My biggest obstacle was figuring out how to finance my master’s degree. At 23 years old, with an entry-level salary as a graduate assistant, I had to find a way to pay for my education. I took an unexpected turn into the world of executive recruitment, which was one of the best financial and career decisions I made in my journey. Head-hunting taught me a lot about engaging with executives in different sectors across the continent as well as sales, professionalism, and self-management as I worked and studied full time throughout my master’s degree program.   

What was the most valuable thing you learned from your graduate business degree? 

My program helped deepen my knowledge and understanding of Africa’s development issues, whilst exposing me to industry experts and leaders across the private, government, and NGO sectors. I learned how to absorb content and grasp concepts quickly, and to apply them to creative problem solving. Beyond the amazing learning environment, speaking to people in the industry I am passionate about was encouraging and gave me the grit and confidence to pursue a career in the sector I’m in today.

How have you applied your business master’s degree?

I now work for Dalberg Global Development Advisors, a global consulting firm that partners with and serves communities, governments, and companies throughout the world. As a consultant for the firm, I specialize in strategy development, research, market entry and product design, monitoring and evaluation, and financial modeling. 

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Follow your passions. It’s the only true path to being successful, authentic, and gaining financial freedom. Stop comparing yourself to others—it’s a waste of time and erodes your confidence. And be willing to trust your instincts and move into the unknown more—your growth has come most from unanticipated (and unexpected) opportunities that have given you life skills and career experiences that set you apart and teach you who you really are!

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