This is the second in a series of blog posts from each of the CommonBond members and employees who will join us on our second-annual trip to Ghana to see CommonBond's Social Promise in action. Read posts by each member and employee who is taking the trip to understand why the trip is important to them and what they are looking forward to.
The Wharton School, MBA Class of 2017
What He's Bringing on the Plane
A camera and take-home exams
Before returning to Wharton to pursue my MBA (thank you, CommonBond!), I spent five years working in offshore and subsea petroleum project development and execution, primarily in West Africa. It unfortunately took me the first four of those years to realize that the oil industry and I were not meant to be together. Leaning on the railing of a construction vessel as it rocked back and forth in the waves off the coast of Equatorial Guinea, I looked down at the water dotted with rainbow hues from errant oil droplets and up at the glowing platform flare, burning off streams of excess gas. Back onshore, driving from the heliport to the compound, I scanned the roadside and saw the impoverished people bereft of the riches of the industry that were hoarded instead by the government. I felt uneasy about the work I was doing, and on the flight home I started researching the Wharton MBA.
My motivation for applying to attend the 2016 CommonBond Impact in Action trip to Ghana, therefore, started with deeply unsettling exposure to how an industry can take so much from Africa and give little back. What's more unsettling to me is that I was a part of it. In a sense, this trip is a step forward along my path to make my own positive impact on a continent that I grew so fond of. Fortunately, while an important step, it will not be my first.
This past summer, I interned at Andela, a startup founded on the belief that brilliance is evenly distributed, but opportunity is not. Andela is focused on enabling the people of Africa to lead the propagation of African opportunity themselves by recruiting the brightest software developers on the continent, further refining their technical abilities and interpersonal skills, and pairing them with high-growth companies in the U.S. as full-time distributed team members. Through this arrangement, the Andela developers gain employment, experience and exposure that they can apply to their own entrepreneurial forays at home, while the companies in the U.S. get access to the top 1% of global technical talent. We're in an exciting time where the best new businesses integrate a for-profit model with deep-rooted interests in promoting social good, and Andela is a shining example. While the work that I did for Andela was challenging, interesting and engaging, the real reward was the intangible currency of making a substantive, positive impact on Africa.
As I look to the future, and to my own entrepreneurial ambitions, I aim to embrace that same model and continue to create opportunity for those deserving of it. The CommonBond Impact in Action trip will help cement that ambition in the most powerful way: personal connections with the people of Ghana and a firsthand account of business done right.