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2009年7月份,我给一个老朋友(Simon FT-MBA,2010春季班)为申请MBA而写的Essay提了几点比较关键的修改建议。后来,她成功拿到Simon的Offer。再后来,她建议我做留学DIY咨询方面的工作,并向我介绍了我的第一个客户。最终,我的第一个客户也成功拿到几个TOP16商学院的面试并顺利拿到Duke Fuqua商学院MBA的录取。 本人毕业于上海复旦大学管理学院国际企业管理系,属于商科科班出身并且做过管理工作、有领导经验的人士。


留学参考:From Tanzania To The Olympics & Stanford GSB (1/2)  

2017-04-30 04:04:22|  分类: DIY留学综合信息 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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留学参考:From Tanzania To The Olympics & Stanford GSB (1/2)



My Story: From Tanzania To The Olympics & Stanford GSB



Benjamin Fernandes was at a fork in the road. The native of Tanzania was weeks away from getting his bachelor’s degree from the University of Northwestern-St. Paul, and he had three good job offers on the table. One involved a lot of money — the most, he says, that anyone in his graduating class had been offered — and a green card. Not only that, but despite applying in round 3, having no post-graduate work experience, and having scored abysmally low on the General Management Admission Test, Fernandes managed to get on the waitlist at both Harvard Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business.

So what did he decide to do? Turn down the job offers and go home.

It was the beginning of a long detour. By the end of it, Fernandes would not only be a Stanford Class of 2017 MBA, he’d be a celebrity in Tanzania, preparing for graduate studies at an globally respected public policy school, and planning a complete modernization of his country’s financial services — and, he hopes, a future in that country’s government.


Fernandes’ declined to start his career in the United States for one simple reason: He “felt indebted.” And he has a point. Tanzania is a poor country; by some estimates, more than a third of its 53 million citizens live below the poverty line. Fernandes, raised in the coastal metropolis of Dar es Salaam, was no stranger to financially challenging conditions. But from an early age, he was fortunate. He and his sister Bernice, one year his senior, were sponsored by a British family to attend K-12 school at a time when public school was not universal or free. Later, he was supported by teachers, co-workers, family, and community in his desire to attend college in the U.S.

In fact, as a soccer-obsessed kid who was a poor test-taker — “When I was a senior in high school,” he says, “I wasn’t a smart kid” — he was fortunate to have the chance to go to college at all. There was just one problem: His grades were so bad, his academic ambitions seemed likely to come to an early end.

“When I was playing sports, it was my outlet, but my grades were sacrificed, so when I was a senior I didn’t do well academically,” Fernandes, 24, tells Poets&Quants. “We were graded on the British system — A-B-C-D-E-F-U. Our teacher told us that a U meant so far below F that you’re Ungraded. I had two U’s and two D’s. So of course when you apply to university with two U’s and two D’s the acceptance rate is not gonna be good.

“I applied to four universities that my sister applied to and got rejected by all four.”


Once again, Fernandes got a break. He struck up an email conversation with the admissions team at the University of Northwestern, where his sister Bernice was attending. And he begged.

“I began emailing back and forth with them asking them to give me a second chance, and they said, ‘We’ll tell you what, we’ll give you one quarter, you do well, you stay, you don’t do well, you’re out.’ I said, ‘I’ll take it.’”

Fernandes didn’t waste his chance. Not only did he do well that first quarter, he got good grades for four straight years.


Meanwhile, each summer, Fernandes was living something of a double life back home in Tanzania.

He had become a national television personality when, at 17, he was noticed for his “animated” play on the soccer pitch and encouraged to translate that enthusiasm to TV. He hosted a handful of sports shows, and then he quit.

He didn’t quit because he was about to embark on his undergraduate studies in the U.S. He quit because of the negative feedback.

“TV is brutal,” Fernandes says. “We didn’t have Facebook, really, or Twitter or Instagram, they weren’t big then, and so it was mainly text messages. People would text in their views and comments, and what I would do is, right after the show, I’d go and read those comments, and as a 17-year-old, it was brutal.

“So I was burned out on the industry, and I said, ‘I don’t like this industry, I’ll never go back to it, I’m out, I quit.’ I was done, and I moved to the U.S. to go to undergrad.”

But it wasn’t long before he did go back — and when he did, television became a bigger part of his life than ever before.


Fernandes had quit his TV gig in Tanzania because of harsh feedback. He internalized negative online comments, and they drove him out of the business. But only temporarily.

In the summer after his freshman year of college, the lure of the camera called Fernandes back. He returned to doing shows on youth and sports in Tanzania, notably English Premier League and UEFA Champions League soccer. And a year later came his biggest break yet, when an anchor at the station was unable to cover the London 2012 Olympics, and Fernandes filled in.

His profile skyrocketed. So did the online negativity. But this time his boss convinced him not to worry about the trolls, and he stuck with the job in 2013 and again in 2014, covering the World Cup 2014 after getting his accounting degree.


Late in his final semester in Minnesota, as Fernandes mulled his future plans, he got some unexpected advice.

“One of my professors, Richard Elliott, came up to me and said, ‘Hey you should apply to business school,’” Fernandes recalls, “‘and you should only apply to two schools, Stanford and Harvard.’” Fernandes had never even considered graduate business school. But even though he had mere weeks to take the GMAT and put together his application materials, he followed Elliott’s advice.

“I didn’t even know what an MBA was,” Fernandes says. “I remember doing my GMAT the day before my Stanford application was due. Terrible score, still submitted it. I remember what it was but I wouldn’t like to share.”

Fernandes submitted his applications to Harvard and Stanford and a few weeks later was surprised to be told he’d qualified for interviews. He was just as surprised to find a bit later that he’d been waitlisted at both schools. And that’s when it clicked. “Then I started to look up stuff. I had a Tanzanian friend who went (to Stanford) for undergrad, and I asked him to connect me with someone in the business school. The guy told me it took him six years to get into the school. “You have no years of work experience, a lousy GMAT and you applied in round 3 and you got waitlisted? You have to stay focused and push and make this happen!”

“That was when I really started to realize, ‘I could potentially go here. This is an opportunity. I’m knocking on the door and it’s kind of open but I still have to do some work to get it fully open.’


Then the door closed. After all, Stanford accepts just over 6% of all applicants, and Harvard fewer than 11%. But the door wasn’t slammed shut, and it wasn’t locked. Fernandes was turned down by both Harvard and Stanford, but he learned about an opportunity at Stanford that might reopen the door.

It was an opportunity, but it was also a longshot. Fernandes was told of Stanford’s Africa MBA Fellowship, a program that offers full tuition for about eight recipients — out of the 2,600 or so who apply every year. Moreover, if he applied, he would have to reapply to the school — basically start over.

He went for it. And on a memorable December day in 2014, he got the call that dramatically changed the trajectory of his life. Two calls, actually.

“I got back from work, just about to have dinner, see my phone ringing and it’s a 650 number,” Fernandes recalls. ‘Hi, this is (former dean of admissions) Derrick Bolton calling from Stanford Admissions, is this Benjamin Fernandes? Is now a good time? First of all I’d like to congratulate you on acceptance to Stanford Graduate School of Business’ — and I had no words. I was lost. And then the call drops!

“I told my dad, and his first question was, ‘So did you get the fellowship?’ I said, ‘I don’t know yet but I got in!’ And my dad says, ‘Well you can’t go if you didn’t get the fellowship!’ And Derrick calls about 20 minutes later: ‘Oh by the way you’re an African MBA fellow, full tuition funding,’ and that’s when I lost it, I was all in tears, my mom and dad and I were in tears and that right there was a very powerful moment that I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.”


Benjamin Fernandes was the youngest African ever to be accepted to Stanford GSB. But even after two years in the exclusive company of the academic elite, his foremost desire, he says, is to give back to his country. If anything, the MBA experience fueled it — and gave it shape and purpose. Now, he has a plan.

Fernandes is deciding between public policy school or working on a fintech startup he has dedicated the last year and a half to building in Tanzania. He’s been accepted to both the Harvard Kennedy School and the Oxford Blavatnik School of Government, and he’s leaning toward Oxford — after all, if you plan to go into government in a certain former British colony, you want to study the parliamentary system. It helps that Oxford partners with the Africa Initiative for Governance, a program that aims to make a transformational impact on governance and public policy on the continent. Exactly what Fernandes himself plans to pursue.

Eventually, he will return home to launch the new, as-yet-unnamed fintech company and a highly ambitious venture: the overhaul and modernization of Tanzania’s financial services industry. His aspiration is no less than the total transformation of his country.

“Financial inclusion is a huge passion of mine,” Fernandes says. “I believe in allowing people to access financial services, and I believe that’s especially important in a country like mine which is growing very fast, with a very youthful population. Today I’m the youngest guy in my class at GSB, 24 years old, and today I’m older than 70% of my country’s population. Sixty-six percent of 53 million people in my country are under the age of 24 — it’s a very youthful country.

“So I believe the next four or five years is going to be a transformational period for my country, especially in the workplace, especially in business and industry. This is an important, vital period that we’re going to come into very soon, and who’s going to be leading them for it? Most politicians are age 55-60, so I believe there is an opportunity for the young people, and that’s what I care about.”








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