Global Fellows Export Leadership

A new program attracts global MBA candidates.

July 01, 2015

Jeff Skoll and Kudzi Chikumbu

A gift from Jeff Skoll, MBA ‘95 (left), helped launch the Global Fellows Program, which supports Stanford MBA candidates from Africa including Kudzi Chikumbu, MBA ‘16. PHOTO: Stacy Geiken

As an undergraduate student in South Africa, Kudzi Chikumbu, MBA ’16, dreamed about studying business in the United States. The Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) was his top choice, but he wrote it off as an impossibility. “I thought the dream might be too big and the financial burden too high,” he says.

He worked for some time as an accountant in Johannesburg but wanted to have a greater impact on the economy and future generations in Africa.

Chikumbu is now on the path he’s long imagined. He is benefiting from Stanford GSB’s new Global Fellows Program, which pays tuition and fees for MBA candidates with demonstrated financial need from Africa and other global areas of priority. As part of his fellowship, Chikumbu will be required to return to Africa within two years of graduation and work for at least two years in a professional role that contributes to the continent’s development.

Early investors in this program include Dominique Mielle, MBA ’98, and Juan Carrillo, MBA ’98. The couple chose to create a named endowed fellowship fund to support students selected as Global Fellows.

“I’ve always had an interest in developing economies, and the Global Fellows Program provided the perfect opportunity to help our school make a difference in some countries,” says Mielle.

“I am confident that the Global Fellows, in addition to benefiting their countries or regions of origin, will significantly enrich the learning experience for all Stanford GSB students,” adds Carrillo.

The Global Fellows Program also received initial support from Jeff Skoll, MBA ’95. The founding president of eBay, Skoll has inspired and shaped social change as founder of the Skoll Foundation, Capricorn Investment Group, Participant Media, and the Skoll Global Threats Fund. Skoll received the 2015 Ernest C. Arbuckle Award sponsored by Stanford GSB, which recognizes excellence in the field of management leadership.

“There are Stanford GSB students in the room who will be at the podium one day teaching us how to do this better,” Skoll reflected at the award dinner in March, which also celebrated fellowship donors and student recipients. “Together we can achieve a sustainable world of peace and prosperity.”

During the 2014–15 academic year, the Global Fellows Program supported eight first-year MBA students and two second-year MBA students from Africa. The program uses an integrated strategy to target and help recruit top MBA candidates from all over the continent. Last year, thousands of applicants were able to connect with and apply to Stanford GSB through a unique social media outreach campaign. Fellows are selected on the basis of intellectual vitality, demonstrated leadership potential, and personal qualities and contributions that add to the class composition.

For Chikumbu, the experience is helping him build the skills and professional contacts he’ll need when he returns to South Africa. He plans to focus his entrepreneurship on media and entertainment that will help young people develop self-esteem and a sense of belonging.

“In Africa, most of our media is from the United States, and young people don’t have a lot of positive images of people who actually look like them,” he says. “I want to help move society forward in that way. I think it’s important to have an impact on my community, in my country.”

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