Director of Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies Prioritizes Africa

The WASA leadership team was ecstatic when the Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania announced the creation of a new Africa track to round out Lauder’s five other regional Programs of Concentration – East Asia, Europe, Latin America, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and the Global program. This announcement makes Wharton the first top business school to launch an Africa Program.

We recently connected with Mauro F. Guillén, the Anthony L. Davis Director of the Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies, and Zandman Professor of International Management at the Wharton School.

Wharton 2007 with jacket

He is a member of the Global Agenda Council on Emerging Multinationals at the World Economic Forum, and a winner of the Aspen Institute’s Faculty Pioneer Award. When asked how the administration of Wharton and Penn are thinking about the business opportunities in Africa’s emerging economies, Guillén said:

Africa is a priority for the Lauder Institute. Over the last few years, nearly a third of our students have chosen to travel to Africa for undertaking research or summer internships. Not just the Africa Program students, but those in our Latin American and East Asian Programs are keenly interested. The reason is clear: Africa is the next emerging frontier. Half of the fastest-growing economies in the world are in Sub Saharan Africa. And Africa will be by 2030 the second-largest region of the world in population, overtaking East Asia, and after South Asia (India).

In terms of the vision and value proposition for Lauder Africa, Guillén wants to equip all graduates with fundamental knowledge about Africa, and to offer the Lauder Africa Program students a deep immersion and knowledge about the continent, in all of its diversity.

Guillén says:

We believe Africa is the most important emerging region now. We are the first top business school to prioritize Africa in this way, and to offer a program of concentration. We recognize that there are many Africas, including Northern Africa, West Africa, East Africa, the southern cone, etc. We believe that acquiring experience and knowledge about Africa today will prepare our graduates for more successful careers over the next 5, 10, 20 or 30 years.

As WASA strives to educate our classmates about the business opportunities in Africa, which has some of the world’s most rapidly emerging economies, we are thrilled to see Lauder including Africa in their curriculum. The Lauder Institute has received an endowment fund for Africa-related activities from two alums. Guillén assures us that Lauder is in it for the long term telling WASA that “Africa will be a core region in the global economy in the future, and we want to be a leading educational institution in this respect.”

Guillén offered the following advice for candidates who wish to apply to Lauder’s Africa track:

Regardless of program of concentration, we are interested in candidates who have global leadership potential, passionate about inter-cultural issues, willing to learn a language or to practice their existing language skills, and interested in pursuing an international career in business. Students may join the program with knowledge of at least one language spoken in Africa (e.g. French, Portuguese, Arabic, Swahili, etc.). We also have an English-speaking program for those who are already proficient in a language spoken in Africa. Prior knowledge about Africa is not strictly necessary.

Lauder’s inaugural class is comprised of ten very impressive professionals who have a broad range of professional experience. We received the following insights from incoming Lauder Africa students:

Julia Enyart:

In 2016, six of the fastest growing economies were African. As part of Lauder’s inaugural Africa track, I am part of a group that recognizes the increased attention on a continent viewed as the next frontier for investment. As an international development professional who lived in Ghana and South Africa, I long ago became enamored by African business defined by energy, entrepreneurship, and ingenuity. I am honored to have the chance to merge my passion for Africa and desire to work in social impact with Lauder and Wharton’s renowned dual degree program.

Mona Kadouh:

Having been born in Liberia to a mother who was raised in Sierra Leone, Africa has a significant essence in my upbringing. I am keen to explore possible entrepreneurship ventures in Africa this summer, mainly in technology start-ups.

Lauder Africa Inaugural Class of 2018
Africa Group

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WASA is a student-led club of the Wharton Graduate Association and the focal point for Africa-related activities at the Wharton School. Our members are MBA students from Africa, as well as students interested in the continent. Building on the strengths of its diverse and strong community of members, WASA offers a variety of educational and cultural events, career and networking opportunities, and academic support to its members.