2022 MBA To Watch: Angela Khakali, Cambridge Judge

“Bold adventurer, passionate about the intersection of tech and finance for impact.”

Hometowns: Toronto, Canada and Nairobi, Kenya

Fun fact about yourself: I’m an adventurous traveler, who is just as comfortable on a beach vacation, as I am off the beaten path hiking through the jungle.

Undergraduate School and Degree: York University, BA Business Economics

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I was the Broadband Strategy Lead for the Ontario Government.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? I spent the summer wrapping up my full-time role with the Ontario Government and 9-month global fellowship with Included VC, as well as working with startups at Shaper Impact Capital.

Where will you be working after graduation? I want to transition to a corporate strategy/development role in tech or investor role in venture capital. More precisely, I plan to join a global firm in North America and leverage my experience to scale high growth companies.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Leadership Roles:

  • Co-Chair, Cambridge Africa Business Network
  • Director, Tech Special Interest Group (SIG)

Community Work: Before arriving at the school, as part of Cambridge Judge Against COVID-19 (CJAC), I led a team of four incoming MBAs to offer consulting services to a small FMCG business that was struggling to sell its product (canned oat milk lattes) through the pandemic lockdowns. The business implemented an online marketing strategy to increase its sales and brand awareness, selling out on its inventory and placing an order for an additional production run of 24,000 units.

Awards: Cambridge Beyond Profit/Social Impact Scholarship, Chevening Scholarship

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Cambridge Judge provides a challenging yet encouraging environment with many opportunities to excel. I was extremely proud to have participated in the INSEAD Product Games, with my team placing in the top 20 out of 115 teams from business schools globally. I had limited knowledge of product management; however, my team worked collaboratively and leveraged our complementary skills to build a product. It was a stretch project and I’m glad I enthusiastically dedicated myself to the challenge.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I’ve worked on dozens of strategic initiatives across government. However, the one that has meant the most to me was leading the complex strategy and policy work to reduce barriers to broadband deployment in the province of Ontario. Through this work, the government increased its investment in the sector from $315M to ~$4B. This investment will impact 700K underserved households, which will receive access to affordable and reliable internet. Through this role, I’ve worked with incredible high-profile stakeholders and learnt from passionate and talented colleagues in the public sector.

Why did you choose this business school? In my pre-MBA role, communicating with C-Suite executives and collaborating with diverse individuals highlighted the importance of business and management skills to drive innovation. I chose the Cambridge MBA because I wanted a top-rated, global, one-year MBA that would provide me with real-world experience in business. The Cambridge Venture Project has been a phenomenal experiential learning opportunity to develop skills in market research and building a commercial strategy. Cambridge is also home to Europe’s biggest tech cluster, with the Business School at the centre of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. With an interest in tech and venture capital, Cambridge is the perfect place for me to pursue my MBA and gain the skills I need to make the transition. On a personal note, I visited Cambridge several years ago and fell in love with its beauty and the richness of its history, culture and traditions. The opportunity to attend an institution that is more than 800 years old has been incredibly exciting.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? One of my best experiences during my time in the MBA was a trip to Spain with thirty other classmates. The Cambridge Judge family come from all around the globe and many peers had never visited Spain. Our resident Spaniards did a fantastic job of organizing the itinerary, acting as tour guides and sharing their food and culture with us. I got to experience authentic Spanish hospitality like no other – Thanks Alberto, Christian & Marta. The trip was an excellent opportunity to bond with my classmates outside the school environment and get to know them on a much more personal level, further building my global community and network.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Time goes by quickly – there simply aren’t enough hours in a day to do all the interesting things available at Cambridge Judge and the broader University of Cambridge. I would strike a better balance of being proactive in schoolwork, competitions, and social/extracurricular activities versus keeping track of the bigger picture. Once I had a moment to reflect on my first term, I was able to re-focus on my priorities so that I could get the most out of the program.

What is the biggest myth about your school? A smaller cohort means there are fewer offerings than in larger schools. Quite the contrary, the administration has provided a breadth of electives and concentrations tailored to a variety of interests that can help further student’s unique goals. From the more traditional concentrations in Finance, Strategy and Marketing to niche interests in Culture & Arts and Healthcare, there is a world of opportunity at Cambridge Judge.

What surprised you the most about business school? It was how collaborative my classmates are. Cambridge Judge Business School brings together a diverse cohort with a wealth of experience across many industries and sectors. I have been pleasantly surprised by how generous my classmates have been with their time and effort. The Corporate Finance WhatsApp group sticks out as an initiative to support students with zero business knowledge to understand some of the more complex concepts in finance. In addition, throughout recruiting season, the collaborative culture at Cambridge Judge has seen classmates work together in teams to achieve individual and collective goals. Through my Cambridge experience, I have grown and learnt so much from my classmates and gained a new perspective on how to approach ambiguous problems and develop innovative solutions. 

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? It is crucial to be able to clearly articulate a coherent personal and professional narrative during the application process. During the application process, I did a lot of research on the business schools I was interested in applying to and spoke to current students and alumni to understand all the amazing experiences on offer. This research enabled me to focus on my story: I spent quite a bit of time reflecting on why I wanted an MBA, why Cambridge was the best program for my goals and the specific skills I hoped to gain. I had a clear vision for my post-MBA career and made a plan to get the most out of my MBA experience, down to the clubs I would join, the electives and concentration I would take, and the companies I would network with. This type of planning demonstrated my self-awareness and understanding of the effort required to make a successful career pivot. Being thoughtful and intentional will not only help you succeed in the MBA application process, but also during the job search post-MBA.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire the members of my INSEAD Product Games Team – Fani Tsantsaraki, Jorge Velasco Azonos and Vedika Agrawal. We were able to go from strangers to building something more than a high-performance team, a family. Although we came from different contexts (Canada, Greece, India and Mexico), we were able to learn about each other’s backgrounds and leverage our complementary skills to work together as a team. They included Fani, the creative thinker with ideas flowing at a mile a minute; Vedika, the calm and collected quiet force that kept us on track; and Jorge, always injecting humor during all our sessions. They are all leaders in their own right and have the right attributes to be successful: intelligence, hardworking, humility and empathy. These three I always want on my team.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My mother – I wouldn’t be at Cambridge if it wasn’t for her. As a fellow #CambridgeWoman she has always encouraged me to dream big and never to settle. Though she may not quite understand the investment management world, she sees in me a business leader, who after the Cambridge MBA will have the skill set to have an even bigger impact on the world.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? The advantage of the Cambridge MBA is that the possibilities are endless. I believe the Cambridge MBA will serve as a platform to transition my career to a corporate strategy/development role in tech or an investment role in venture capital. In the short term, I plan to utilize my Cambridge community and MBA experiences to support high growth companies to be successful and ensure that the startup landscape is more equitable and inclusive. In the long term, I hope to come back to Cambridge Judge as a speaker and sponsor a student to access the quality education available.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? Purpose and impact have always been central to my career. Working in the public sector enabled me to have an impact. The pandemic has further reinforced this view. It has challenged me to think about how I can scale my impact within my career to the global stage. I hope to continue to do work that is intellectually challenging and contributes to solving the greatest challenges we face (inequality, climate change etc.) at an organization that is aligned with my values.

What made Angela Khakali such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“Angela is a star of the Cambridge MBA. She is a high performer who provides great insights and engagement with a strongly collaborative spirit. Her journey through the MBA and her thoughts about her career illustrate the great potential of the MBA for a person of high talent and energy. Her focus on impact is inspiring and she has achieved this with her strategic work in the public sector and now she is moving towards making a big difference in innovation and investor roles in the private sector. If that were not enough, she has also found time for extracurricular activities such as the INSEAD Product Games and a memorable trip to Spain. Angela thus is an outstanding role model for an MBA student and it is a pleasure and an honour to know her.”

Philip Stiles
Associate Professor of Corporate Governance

 

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