Arnaud Niyongabo ’19 has been with Village Health Works in Burundi for the past seven years. As he embarks upon the final weeks of his ALUSB MBA experience, the winds of change are blowing in a new direction.

Arnaud just accepted a job with Kaz’O’zah in Bujumbura, an organisation that works to “encourage artisans to become skilled craftsmen, reach their full potential through skills development, hard work and determination, and then thrive as self-sufficient income-earners”. As Arnaud embarks upon his new horizon, enjoy this week-in-his-life as a husband, father, leader and ALUSB MBA student.

Monday, 21 January starts early in the morning. Arnaud grabs a cup of his favorite Arabic coffee and then takes his two sons, aged 3 and 4, to school. As he navigates the traffic on his way to work, he reflects on the challenges faced by the people of Burundi. Arnaud fully intends to play his part in improving the lives of many.

 

 

At work Arnaud meets with his team, where they discuss the events of the previous week, analyse their objectives and reflect on how they can improve. Arnaud creates a space for his colleagues to voice their challenges, leading brainstorming and problem solving sessions, ending with a clear way forward for the week.

“The MBA’s DBIA [Doing Business in Africa] course has taught me how to be resilient. Sometimes you just have to be ready for what’s coming your way. Expect the unexpected and adjust it to your goals, then keep moving forward”, he says.

Tuesday to Thursday sees Arnaud in the field with his clients, comprised of artisans, women, NGOs, restaurants, farmers and young people. Arnaud and his team are responsible for equipping their clients with the skills they need to become financially sustainable. 

 

On Friday, Arnaud returns from the field, full of new information and progress reports to share with his team.

On motivation: Arnaud has a clear source of motivation for both work and school: “My wife is my greatest source of motivation. She ensures that I keep track of my studies and work”, he explains. This is turn drives him to be a better leader and husband. 

 

On teamwork: Arnaud attests to the learnings from his ALUSB teammates. He is impressed by the diversity and commitment among his MBA classmates. He describes them as “a group of change agents with the passion and zeal for making their communities better places”. 

 

A perfect week for Arnaud is one where he is able to spend quality time with his wife, keep his two little boys happy and healthy, go to church, visit family and friends, meet his professional objectives of the week without roadblocks and submit all his ALUSB assignments on time.

 

Arnaud has a clear message for the newly admitted MBA candidates who will be joining ALUSB:

“Do not look at the MBA as just a tool to learn about business concepts or to help you move forward in your careers. It is also about human connections, about creating a strong network with your classmates, and about how you want to grow as a business leader”. 

As he looks ahead to graduation, Arnaud is committed to continuing the projects that he started with his team mates, and to working to maintain the precious ALUSB relationships that he built over the past 18 months.