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Black History Month: Scholarships Provide Vital Opportunities For The Underrepresented – Linda Masibo

Linda Masibo
  • Name: Linda Masibo
  • Programme of Choice: MBA
  • Country of Origin: Kenya
  • Job role: Safety Consultant

Please could you give us a brief overview of your background and career so far, and what your role is now?

I started my career in Kenya after graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. After two years working in Kenya, I moved to Belgium to pursue my master’s degree in Transportation Sciences. During my master’s, I began working in road safety advocacy mobilizing fellow students to do the same. After graduating, I worked in project management in the events and communication space. I currently work as a safety consultant, with a focus on transportation projects in emerging markets.

How do you expect your experience at business school will help you with the next stages of your career?

I hope to acquire a structured education in business fundamentals and improve problem-solving and leadership skills. In my advocacy work, I often communicate the value of measures and policy changes to decision-makers. I would like to be better placed to do this work and achieve meaningful change.

“Be confident. If you are in the room you are qualified to be there. You may occasionally second guess this fact but trust in the judgment of the institution about your capabilities when you falter.”

Linda Masibo

Additionally, I would like to make new connections and meet like-minded professionals who can offer support and new perspectives and become part of my journey as I begin the next path in my career.

Can you tell us about your experience as a Black student at business school and subsequent career.  What are the challenges you have faced and how have you overcome them?

As a black African woman, I am often aware of my accent, and the potential for people I meet to have preconceived biases about me. I have felt challenged to prove my competence and capabilities to overcome any misgivings colleagues may have. While I was a student, I wanted to demonstrate my potential after admission into the program with a scholarship. The pursuit of excellence served me well. I graduated first in my cohort, and I have had the opportunity to work on interesting projects since.

What do you think needs to be done to create a more inclusive environment for Black people in business and management education?

I think organizations can be more intentional in their recruitment and outreach efforts. People only know what they know. They may lack the awareness of paths to entry for opportunities both academic and work-related. Institutions can create specific initiatives, particularly targeting first-generation students or graduates from diverse backgrounds 

What will be an indicator that we are achieving racial equality in business?

Having diverse staff at all levels of seniority is a good indicator of achieving racial equality. My perception when this is the case, is that talent from various racial backgrounds are supported through every stage of their career facilitating retention. Such organizations therefore have representation at all levels in the organization. Targeted staff mentorship programs where senior staff engage junior staff in their professional development can be a great help in realizing this.

Can you name an initiative or an individual who is helping to create a more inclusive environment for Black professionals?

I would highlight the GMAC Talent and Opportunity Scholarship! The scholarship supports underrepresented groups in their business school journey. The resource package provided to winners is comprehensive in the aspects needed for a good business school application.

What advice would you have for other Black business people and students at the start of their careers?

Be confident. If you are in the room you are qualified to be there. You may occasionally second guess this fact but trust in the judgment of the institution about your capabilities when you falter.

Embrace discomfort. You will experience discomfort a number of times in your career. Often it means you’re growing in your professional or academic life. This is a good thing.

Importantly, find mentors whose careers and professional life you admire and want to emulate. It may be difficult to identify a mentor as an individual, in which case look for organizations that match aspiring mentees with mentors. I, for example, have participated in the duoforajob and female factor mentorship programs that matched me with incredible mentors doing amazing things in their careers. Fortunately, many of such programs are free, and therefore exempt from the cost barrier.

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