Learn more about the 2017 recipients:
Emzingo, Johannesburg, South Africa
Originally from Moscow, Russia, Alexandra has always been attracted to travelling and strived to be a worldly person. She aspires to pursue a career in management consulting, and is thrilled to apply her knowledge, as well as gain invaluable experience this summer in Johannesburg as a part of the Emzingo Global Impact Fellowship. She is eager to have a profound impact on local community, as throughout her life she has sought out challenges in both academic and leadership environments.
Reach Alexandra a.zybinova [at] hotmail.com (here).
My name is Alexandra Zybinova, and I am a third year student at McGill Desautels Faculty of Management, pursuing a major in Strategic Management with a minor in Russian Literature and concentration in Entrepreneurship. I am passionate about helping businesses develop sustainable and achievable strategies, especially in emerging economies.
Emzingo is a BCorp, whose mission statement is to help developing communities as well as prepare responsible leaders who utilize their knowledge and Human Centered Consulting both during the internship and after it. Emzingo ensured that we have an understanding of South African context as well as provided us with support system including excellent mentorship related to our project. Emzingo formed us in diverse groups and matched with organizations that needed outside consulting on a specific problem. Often however, the issue was not what originally presented, as underlying causes arrive with thorough research. Being an Emzingo employee working for another organization simulated real consulting environment, as you have an outsider perspective and great autonomy. The organization I worked with is TEACH South Africa, an NGO that placed over 250 top performing university graduates from STEM and English fields as teachers in impoverished communities.
My two colleagues and I were faced with limited resources and the ambiguous task of creating an impact measurement framework. In order to do so, we had to navigate the political and cultural landscape, as well as challenges faced by the impoverished communities our client, TEACH South Africa, worked in. By the end of our fellowship, we established a simple yet effective system to gather, analyze, and quantify qualitative data, formalized the reporting system, and created a roadmap ensuring projects’ future success. Most importantly, we provided our client with a product that was put to an immediate use and empowered TEACH SA to instill change in South African schools.
My team had eight weeks to accomplish everything from research and scope definition to completing a manual and risk and mitigation guidelines, making time a major constraint. While having a fresh perspective on the issue at hand, caused us to generate multitudes of ideas, we realized that our primary goal is not to create a fascinating plan, but to enable the team to identify where we can really help them to improve. We conducted thorough research, interviewed employees, and visited 5 schools that TEACH SA works in. Not rushing with settling on the strategy until we are sure of the constraints was a critical part of our project’s success. It was crucial for us to sit down with the client and ask them probing questions to help them synthesize the problem statement and requirements, instead of diving in on our own and solving the wrong issues. Despite the time pressure, with careful planning we were able to not only complete the project, but also facilitate training of the employees at TEACH SA and launch a pilot.
After interning in Johannesburg, I have a more clear picture of what I want to pursue professionally. While I am still interested in Management Consulting, I realized that having a social impact is a key factor for my future career. Working with TEACH South Africa reignited my passion for education and working with children, which used to be a significant part of my life in high school. Being surrounded by inspirational, dedicated employees at TEACH SA reminded me how much joy I used to get from mentorship, working with children, and having impact on my community. I want to keep pursuing these passions outside of my academic career.
Moreover, it gave me confidence to take on bigger challenges and I am determined to push myself to learn and grow as a person and a professional by setting goals and going outside of the comfort zone. I was able to develop my analytical, teamwork, and writing skills during the summer with Emzingo, preparing me for a future career in consulting. Before the summer, I was seeking an internship where I will not only be able to excel professionally, but also expand my skill set and worldview. I believe at TEACH SA I achieved exactly that as well as had a profound impact on the community.
Because of the generous donation from Mr Joseph Schull and Ms Anna Yang I was able to be a part of Emzingo Global Fellowship Program. Being a part of Emzingo program allowed me to challenge myself, meet lifelong friends from all over the world, and gain unique experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.