Driven by a passion for helping people and knack for debating, Taona Wayne Nyamakura ‘21 pursued a budding career in law in Zimbabwe. He currently works at The Chambers – Advocates of Zimbabwe as an Advocate of the High Court and Supreme Court of Zimbabwe. We caught up with Taona, nearly halfway through his ALUSB MBA programme, to find out more about his decision to pursue an MBA degree as a law professional and how the programme impacted his career up to this point. 

Q. What inspired you to pursue a career in law?

A. The law allows you to make a change. Being a law professional in Zimbabwe puts me in a position where I can be part of the change that I want to see.

Q. You’re a successful law professional with a lot of years of experience under your belt. Why did you decide to get an MBA degree?

A. While working with different businesses and assisting organisations with business-related transactions, I identified an opportunity to accelerate my career. At the same time, I was at a place in my leadership journey where I was interested in understanding leadership better, especially in the African context. The ALUSB MBA offered an opportunity to hone my leadership skills while mastering doing business in Africa, and this prompted me to join the programme. The focus on leadership made ALUSB very attractive to me.

“The ALUSB MBA offered an opportunity to hone my leadership skills while mastering doing business in Africa.”

Q. What has been the highlight of your MBA journey at ALUSB so far?

A. I spent my whole life avoiding numbers so going back to exploring, and understanding numbers has been fascinating. Additionally, I have thoroughly enjoyed learning to break down leadership through the V^3 Leadership Model. 

Q. Are there any lessons or skills from the ALUSB MBA programme that have been particularly applicable in your day-to-day life? 

A. I’ve been able to apply what I learned in the ALUSB MBA programme to several aspects of my life. For example, I work with young people, especially those interested in pursuing a law profession. I have used what I learned to guide them through understanding their motivation to pursue this profession and exploring whether it is a good fit based on who they are. Secondly, I have become more vocal in my expectations of leadership, now that I have a better understanding of it. Lastly, conversations with my friends have shifted, and we continuously find ourselves talking about things that matter and how to make a positive impact.

Q. How has the business education at ALUSB impacted your law career so far? 

A. The lessons from the program have been very practical. Recently, I won a tax case because I was able to understand it beyond the law. As I was taking instructions in meetings, I had a full understanding of the dispute between my client and the regulator. I can say that my knowledge of accounting that I have acquired during the programme played an important role in the articulation of my arguments.

Q. You recently made a big career move. Congratulations! Can you tell us more about your transition to Advocate of the High Court and Supreme Court of Zimbabwe? 

A. I have been fortunate to have a rising career since I left college. I found myself still quite young and managing a sizable commercial practice in Zimbabwe and rising through different ranks until I got to be the managing partner at the firm in which I worked. When that happened, I took a moment to reflect on my initial career goal, which was to be an advocate. This opportunity is another step in this great journey. My life philosophy is “never settle”. I’m not afraid to dream beyond the horizon.

“My life philosophy is “never settle”. I’m not afraid to dream beyond the horizon.”

Q. What’s next for you in terms of applying your legal and business background? 

A. My immediate short term goal is to expand my network in the business sector. In the long term, I want to set up a consultancy that provides a variety of services ranging from business, legal, tech and strategic advice needed to do business in Zimbabwe. Currently, we do not have this in Zimbabwe, and I see it as an opportunity. 

Q. What advice would you give to other law professionals contemplating getting an MBA?

A. My first recommendation for someone who wants to accelerate their career is to do an MBA. Having an understanding of law and business makes you more useful to your clients. I would specifically recommend the ALUSB programme because we currently have a significant shortage of good leadership in Africa. Anyone doing an MBA needs to do an MBA that teaches the practicality of leadership.

“Having an understanding of law and business makes you more useful to your clients.”

We also asked Taona to share his experience coping with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic both personally and professionally.

A. As a consultant for legal practitioners, the total lockdown meant that if they could not function effectively, I too would face stagnation. Consequently, I made necessary adjustments, such as working from home and leveraging technological tools such as Zoom. On the positive side, I was able to read books. Over the years, I had accumulated books which I would buy when I travelled to different places, but I had never had the time to read them. The lockdown allowed me to read the books, especially those that were non-law related, and this was a positive experience.

As we concluded, Taona shared some tips for working from home, which he believes have helped him through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • Make adjustments to accommodate the new lifestyle.
  • Create a workspace.
  • Develop a routine that allows you to take care of your mental and physical health.

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Author: JerryLynn Kariuki, Intern, ALU School of Business