Takura Chimbuya




South Africa





By Takura Chimbuya

Get to know Takura Chimbuya, Class of 2020-21

Tell us about yourself: Mechanical Engineer by training, amatuer photographer, workout enthusiast, intrapreneur and entrepreneur -Founder and Non-Executive Director of Brothers Beard, a beard grooming startup that manufactures and distributes beard grooming products in South Africa.

Sector/Industry you worked in pre-MBA: Financial Services (Digital Innovation)
Sector/Industry you are hoping to work in post-MBA: Economic Development (Agribusiness, Consumer Goods, Education)
Country of residence before coming to Oxford: South Africa

Social Media: 

Twitter: @_takura
Instagram:  @_takura and

Q1. In one word, how would your best friend describe you, and how would your manager describe you?  
Best Friend: Calm
Manager: Diligent

Q2. Tell us about where you have come from and what has led you to Oxford, and more specifically, the Oxford MBA.
I am from Zimbabwe. This is where I grew up and schooled until my secondary education. The first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Zimbabwe is the political turmoil that the country has gone through and the infamous “Bob”. This is where I grew up and a country that has been part of my many fond experiences. During my A-Levels I took up what  we refer to in Zimbabwe as ‘the sciences’ – Maths, Physics, Biology and Chemistry (MPCB) in my case I took Maths Physics, Technical Graphics and Design & Technology. Following my secondary education I pursued a Mechanical Engineering degree at the University of Cape Town, South Africa and it is here that I was exposed to new cultures, experiences and diverse perspectives. In my final year my research was on Explosive Blast Performance, research to understand Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and how we can build better protective structures to mitigate the effects of blasts, whether intentional or otherwise. This was my first experience in building solutions that will bring a positive impact to the world.

After completing my university education, I sought a career in the field I had been trained for, however, this was far from reality. After months of job hunting and navigating the employment landscape, I got the opportunity to join Standard Bank Group’s Corporate and Investment Banking Graduate Program. Joining Standard Bank, Africa’s largest integrated financial services and credit provider, after completing an engineering degree was certainly not an easy transition nor a transition easily understood by many. On the surface this transition seemed to be part of my plan, but this was far from the reality brought about by the challenges of the immigrant job search. My biggest challenge in securing an engineering role was on the basis of my non-citizen status in South Africa.

Compared to Zimbabwe, South Africa’s STEM and technical industries are highly functional, however the flow of skills into these industries has led to policies and measures that are meant to ensure only citizens obtain first preference during university career recruitment fairs for a majority of their engineering graduates. As a non-national wishing to apply my skills to a functioning industry, my pursuit to participate was brought to a halt.

Without letting company recruitment policies deter my employment ambitions, I decided to take on new challenges. With my transition, I focused on learning, adapting,  obtaining new skills and interrogating systems and processes. As part of this graduate program I had the opportunity to be seconded to Namibia for a half year stint, where I assisted the CIB team to implement a weekly revenue attenuation model as well as grow my network and credibility within the bank. Following this, I became an intrepreneur in the organisation, joining the bank’s New Business Ventures & Innovation team as a Business Manager. In this role, my mandate was to design, launch, manage and evaluate new technology and service ventures, pilots and proof of concepts (POC) that aimed to solve key business and knowledge related challenges for the Corporate Investment Banking Digital unit.

In this role I ensured that as a team, we followed human centered design principles. These principles in-turn ensured that my team was innovating collaboratively with not only a wide range of knowledge, technology and operational stakeholders but also bank clients in order to identify both disruptive as well as incremental innovation opportunities.

It was also  in this role that I was a Lead for the Bank’s first rural smallholder farmer agriculture credit lending  facility. It is through this, as a proof of concept, we provided to a group of 400 rural subsistence farmers in Kasese, the Western region of Uganda that borders Rwanda and the Demorcatic Republic of Congo, loans in the form of seed, fertiliser, pesticides and ploughing services. Though the circumstances were challenging, managing 400 farmers, the success of this work was through the managing of 1 agronomist and 15 village agents and ensuring that they work collaboratively in fulfilling services to the smallholder farmers.

This work allowed me to better understand the behavioral and societal influences of low income individuals in rural communities, learning that can be applied to any institution whose goal is to provide services to the base of the pyramid or last mile  Though the circumstances were challenging, these loans made a difference to the lives of these farmers. These credit advances directly supported 1300 school going children and in one season, helped farmers increase their growing and land production capacity by over 100% with farmers utilising their full acreages compared to only 20% in previous season’s land usage.

Today I understand the behavioral, cultural, and societal influences of low income individuals in rural communities and the process to make decisions, innovate, and deliver products that directly affect these individuals’ livelihoods. It is all these experiences that have led me to pursue an MBA at Oxford Said Business School. An MBA program that embeds Africa focused initiatives, case studies and business electives whilst promoting a culture of curiosity and committing to ensuring Africa is represented in it’s learning pedagogy. Said Business School provides pragmatic business principles and approaches to build financially sustainable enterprises that target the non-consumption markets.  Lastly,  I’m eager to draw from a diverse class of individuals and lecturers, focused on creating meaningful, scalable change and shared value in their work. I also seek to contribute my knowledge and skills to my MBA class and with them,  drive inclusive prosperity and solve the pervasive challenges facing the world.

I am extremely passionate and motivated by the promise that technology and innovation holds in helping millions of Africans leverage their entrepreneurial energy and how business will affect and in turn affect developmental change on the African continent and the world.

Q3. What have you done to prepare yourself for the MBA?
Over the last couple of months I have taken some time to firstly deliberately reach out to SBS alumni to gain as many perspectives on how to prepare as possible. I have also taken the time to connect with my fellow incoming classmates and get to know their diverse backgrounds. A large part of my preparation was to take some time to reflect on my past career, my influences and experiences in order to intentionally approach my next career. This has been the hardest part of preparing for the MBA but it has been fulfilling as I get to understand my motivations better.

Q4. What do you hope to gain from completing your MBA?
In the past, I have not had extensive training on business subjects in my secondary or tertiary education. This has been one of the gaps i had identified for myself whilst I was navigating my career and as a startup founder. I hope to obtain pragmatic and responsible business principles from the Said Business School as well as learn from the professionally diverse cohort that I will be joining.

Q5. What is the best advice you received before commencing your MBA?
The best advice that I received was to make sure that when I take co-curricular activities, I’m deliberate about what I choose and that  each of them separately should cover, mind, body and soul. I hope that I stick to this advice as my mantra for the MBA.

Q6. Do you have any advice about the Oxford MBA application process for candidates thinking of applying?
The first step is believing in yourself and believing that you can get in. The GMAT is the first hurdle to tackle and the GMAT tests more of your resilience and not your intelligence. It’s the first point that one gives up and abandons the process entirely. My advice is that it all gets better after the GMAT. Following this step, do your research into the program and understand your past experiences and how they fit into the school. Lastly, speak to alumni and speak to any mentors that you may have around your decision. Often, they may be part of your reference list and its important to walk the journey with them so that when they submit their reference its a true reflection of you by them.

Q7. What part of the programme are you most looking forward to? 
I’m looking forward to understanding different perspectives, being challenged on my own perspectives  and shaping new ones. Secondly, I’m looking forward to how responsible business and social  impact are integrated into all our courses. Lastly I also look forward to being a regular at the Entrepreneurship Centre and the various initiatives that they run

Q8. What do you think will be the most challenging part of the programme?
The most challenging part of the programme for me will be making sure that I don’t overcommit because of FOMO Another personal blind spot is navigating how now not to miss out on the right opportunities because of FOBO (Fear of Better Options)!

Q9. How do you plan to take the learnings from the MBA to influence positive change?
The Africa our generation deserves is possible, it can be attained and it exists. I want to be part of that generation of leaders who will drive the change to drive transparency, access and credibility to the African institution.

Q10. Are there any sport teams, societies, or clubs you’re hoping to become a member of?
Because the Africa that I dream of is possible, above all, I plan to be a part of the Oxford Africa Business Alliance – this is an opportunity to connect with some of the brightest minds from Africa. I also look forward to the Impact Lab and how I can translate my experiences into tangible solutions.

When it come to sports and staying active, I  want to be part of a soccer team and find a new gym I can go to regularly in the small amount of time I will have.


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