In the second blog in our series on Special Interest Groups for the MBA Class of 2020/1 we focus on the country and region SIGs represented across the cohort.
Coming to Cambridge and being part of a Special Interest Group or SIG is part of the attraction. Combining rigorous academics with a rich extra-curricular experience across the business school, as well as the wider Cambridge University community, will help our MBAs build and foster a strong global network.
‘Before coming to Cambridge, I have followed the annual conferences and I have always been fascinated about the depth and breadth of the conversations. I decided to join the Africa SIG to further the conversations and to advance the actions from the conversations.’ says Gbenga Oyebanji about his leadership in this year’s Cambridge Africa Business Network (CABN).
He continues, ‘I am interested in telling African stories, starting conversations to drive successful reforms and solving problems to show what is possible, and these formed my decision to stand up to co-chair the SIG. My role as a SIG leader will enable me to deepen my knowledge and interactions on the continent and enable me to strengthen my relationships both within and outside this continent.’
For Ezinne Onyeka, together with co-leader Udodirim Offia, leading the Africa SIG was part of her MBA plan,
‘I decided to lead the Cambridge Africa Business Network because I believe that the CABN initiatives will provide valuable opportunities for increased engagement with Africa, particularly in the areas of social impact, technology and education. Through the Cambridge networks, I hope to develop relevant partnerships with individuals interested in working in Africa. To achieve this, myself and the CABN Co-Presidents, in collaboration with the African Society of Cambridge University, are working together to increase African representation in Cambridge – as this is vital for engagement with external stakeholders’.
For the Cambridge China Business Society student-lead Christina Feng,
‘Together with the other committee members, we will strengthen the Cambridge China Business Society (CCBS) SIG’s role as a connector among Cambridge-wide groups that are interested in employment and business opportunities in China.’
She continues, ‘We plan to build partnerships with the Oxbridge network, as well as top business schools in China, hosting online employer events and expert seminars, and sharing information across the whole SIG community.’
Prior to coming to Cambridge, Christina was working in Afghanistan on a private sector development project funded by USAID. She brings eight years’ experience in international development in six countries across Asia, Middle East, and Africa. She also holds an MPA degree in International Development from Columbia University in the New York City.
For Co-lead Deqiang Richard Wang, being part of the China Business SIG fits in well with his career plan. Richard always planned to be an entrepreneur with a high-tech startup and this role, he hopes, will help him as he looks to explore future opportunities.
The Cambridge Latin American Business Association (CLABA) is headed up by students from both the MFin as well as the MBA cohort; MBA student Daniela Riveros, along with MFin students Dominic Karamarko and Luis Francisco Obregon Carceller.
The Cambridge Japan Business Club is led by Hiroshi Kuwata, Hikaru Oikawa and Shinya Kitagawa, all MBA Class of 2020.
Hikaru shares the group outlook for the year ahead;
‘Even though Japan is one of the economically largest countries in the world, there are few opportunities to access a deep knowledge on the Japanese market and culture.
Since the Japanese market has quite unique characteristics, I believe that by planning webinars with Japanese companies and employers, and sharing the cultural background of the country, as well as building and creating networks, this SIG can support those students across the cohort who wish to extend their business footprint to Japan.’
Finally, for the Cambridge Middle East Business Society (CMEBS) we spoke to three co-leaders, Manar Elbatran, a talented Egyptian from the consulting industry, Avi Zolty, a fast-paced American entrepreneur and Gilad Weil, a product manager and consultant.
For Gilad the CMEBS plans to promote business with the region, as well as introducing its culture.
‘We plan to learn together from brilliant Middle Eastern success stories in fields such as smart cities, renewable energy, agriculture technology, seawater desalination, and digital health, not forgetting the state-of-the-art cuisine.’
‘I have stepped up as a leader for this SIG due to my passion to learn from the region’s innovation and creativity.
As an Israeli working in technology and management consulting, I believe that through business cooperation, the Middle East can become a model for growth and prosperity.’
For Avi regional passion also led him to step into the role as SIG leader.
‘Coming from an entrepreneurial background, an MBA was an opportunity to add an academic perspective to my practical experience.
I find the Middle East incredibly exciting – an emergent region ripe with opportunity. As the world focuses on what the future of energy will look like, the Middle East is certain to play a huge role;
not to mention the huge opportunities born as we witness important economies emerging to do business with each other for the first time.
As a SIG, we have a few exciting events planned to encourage cross-cultural dialogue and experiential learning. Getting to know each other as colleagues and eventually as friends, is the first step in building bridges between the countries and their economies.
Our long-term vision is to create engagement opportunities with students and potential businesses in the Middle East.’
Whatever special interest or country/region found represented across the Class of 2020/1 there will always be a vast wealth of cultural experiences and perspectives to share and learn from, in the rich diversity of nationality and backgrounds in any Cambridge MBA year.
For more information on diversity and the Cambridge MBA visit our Class profile pages.