Second Mauritian to graduate from USB Cédric Azémia says the “MBA was a unique and enriching experience”
29-year old Cédric Azémia became the second Mauritian to graduate from the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) in April this year. Here he shares why he chose USB to pursue his studies and more on his MBA journey:
I’ve been working in the manufacturing sector for the past five years in Mauritius, where I am from. I have an undergraduate degree in Manufacturing Engineering and I decided to pursue a postgraduate degree at USB (Blended MBA) because I wanted to invest my money further into my education – an investment that is not only worth it but also one that will bring me more than just monetary return but also values.
“I learned about empathy, which is really important in terms of leadership and creativity.”
I also decided to choose USB because of the Triple Crown accreditations, which indicates its high education standard and international recognition. But above all it was the blended mode of the MBA that was the most significant aspect in my decision towards pursuing my MBA at USB. The blended mode allowed me to keep my job and study at the same time. I could attend all my lectures online from Mauritius. Due to the importance of contact time with lecturers, I was also required to travel to the USB Campus in Northern Cape Town three times over two years. It was a great opportunity for me to discover the beauty of South Africa through Cape Town and to meet new people which eventually became very good friends.
There is a plethora of key learnings I took from the programme. One key learning is from the leadership module from which I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I am a resilient person with high emotional intelligence. I learned about empathy, which is really important in terms of leadership and creativity. I also learned a lot in my International study Module at Bentley University in Boston. It was the first time I had so much fun while learning in my life.
“During my MBA, I also learned what I really wanted to do in my life, which is to become an entrepreneur.”
Design thinking was a real discovery to me and which I will certainly use a lot in the future. Learning other cultures and perspectives was very enriching. During my MBA, I also learned what I really wanted to do in my life, which is to become an entrepreneur. I did my electives in Strategy Business Model and Start Ups, which I found very practical and from which I learned a lot. Although it has been a very hard journey for me, I truly enjoyed my MBA and I am very glad I learned so much from it. I am now equipped with the tools and developed key values for my future.
The major challenge I came across during my MBA was managing both work and studies simultaneously. I had to strike the right balance between my job requirements, keeping up with the continuous pre-readings and quizzes, meeting assignment deadlines and preparing for exams.
The weekly quizzes not only ensured that we did the mandatory pre-readings, but also helped to a great extent with our lecture preparation prior to class, leading to a much better understanding of the topics.
Online learning required strong time management skills and self-motivation. Another significant challenge I faced was adaptability; switching from the traditional classroom to online made the learning experience different. The online exams proved to be quite hard for me initially given I was well-adapted to the conventional method of writing examination papers. Online learning requires a comfortable knowledge of software and hardware. I had to practise and improve my typing skills in order to finish my exams on time. Furthermore, connecting and communicating with classmates were essential for group assignments. The major challenge was to set up and schedule group meetings depending on each member’s availability to share ideas and allocate tasks. Since we could not meet each other in person, we used Google Hangouts and Skype to conduct our group meetings. In a similar context, I used Skype to hold weekly meetings with my research supervisor to discuss any queries and issues regarding my research assignment and the way forward. My supervisor was readily accessible and approachable, so this method worked out well.
“I am now equipped with the tools and developed key values for my future.”
Coming from a different background, the language barrier was another challenge I came upon during my MBA. I was sometimes unable to understand some specific South African terms the professor used during lectures. I overcame this issue with the help of a fellow classmate who informed the professor that I was an international student and requested to explain these key terms again.
Overall, I believe this blended mode MBA degree was a unique and enriching experience, and it forms a valuable part of modernised education. With such offerings, I was able to gain a reputable postgraduate qualification while being afforded more time for my work commitments and personal liberties.
During my MBA, I made an application to participate in the National Innovation Challenge of Mauritius. It is a competition organised by the Mauritius Research council under the aegis of the Ministry of Technology of Mauritius. This competition aims to nurture and spur entrepreneurs in Mauritius for sustainable business growth. I pitched my idea, which is an emergency app for Mauritius. The name of the mobile application is MAUSAFE, which also means Mauritius Safe. It is a mobile application that would rapidly connect a person who finds himself in danger or as a witness to ask for assistance from the local service-providers such as the ambulance, firefighters, police and clinics. Moreover, it will also connect the person at risk to his relatives in cases of peril.
To my surprise I was the winner of this challenge and I won capital as seed funding for the implementation of my project. I will officially launch my company sometime in 2019 and eventually aim to grow it quickly. This type of competition can be very useful if one is seeking for seed funding for start-ups. I continuously encourage my friends and colleagues to make proper use of the opportunities that are offered in their countries.
“I am realising both of my dreams – building my own company from scratch as an entrepreneur, while gaining business consultancy experience.”
Plans after graduating
After graduation, I decided to engage myself full-time to creating my start-up MAUSAFE. In addition to my start-up, I am working part-time as a business mentor for SME Mauritius to assist and advice entrepreneurs in solving specific problems within their companies to foster sustainable growth. Lastly, I am currently undergoing the PMP (Project Management Professional) Certification, one of the most important industry-recognised certifications for project managers. I am realising both of my dreams – building my own company from scratch as an entrepreneur, while gaining business consultancy experience.