Serena has seven years finance experience at Fidelity Investments in the USA and an MBA from Cass Business School, London. She has expertise in Financial Services, Change Management, Leadership, Relationship Management, Strategy, and Risk Management. Serena worked with Samuel who runs an agricultural input business in Malawi.
“I volunteered because I thought it was an incredible way to help less-developed countries and equally a great way to put my new MBA skills to good use. Our first phone call was unfortunately not good as the connection was very bad. t proved difficult to hear and understand and the line dropped a number of times."
"When I started I took a very careful approach, I wanted to make sure Samuel trusted me and believed in the business. I then asked a lot of questions to really understand the business and show him my interest in seeing his business succeed. In terms of preparation I spoke to people in the agriculture industry, researched the topics we were discussing including accounting, finance, HR and strategy. Our main focus was to improve the competitive advantage of his business. I was not fazed by not having been to Malawi and found that believing in my business skills, asking the right questions and relying on Samuel to describe his situation worked well. In terms of cultural differences, at first to get Samuel to answer the questions I asked. He would either ignore them completely or only answer using one or two words."
"In terms of professional benefits, I was able to use the skills and knowledge I acquired in my MBA to a real business that I really cared about and in terms of personally I really felt that I was able to help an entrepreneur grow his business and, in turn, impact the country in a positive way. For Samuel I was able to help him think outside his comfort zone to find opportunities he had not considered previously."
"If you have the time commitment and you care about making a difference, this organisation is an amazing way to use your business skills to help someone grow their business."