Welcome to the first Ask the Alum feature, an exciting new contribution to our Alumni Newsletter. In this edition Kate Herbert (MBA FT2010), sat down with Greg MacFarlane (MBA Modular 2012/13) to find out more about the social impact work he’s been involved with. If you would like to feature in our next newsletter, please contact us on email@example.com.
GSB alumnus Greg MacFarlane (MBA Modular 2012/13), shares details about his involvement with the Mock Interview programme for current GSB students, which was launched in 2014 by the GSB Career Services in partnership with Edge Growth and a NPC called Just Grace. The programme is now delivered through the UCT GSB Consulting Club as one of their many initiatives to support and prepare club members with their job search in consulting. This programme not only prepares students for the case study interview format but also generates much-needed funds for Just Grace.
I’m 32, married and from Jo’burg originally but live in Cape Town with my wife Laura. I have always been interested in volunteering my time but, until I did the MBA Modular in 2012/13, this was limited to weekends or after work hours. The MBA allowed me to pause, reassess and realise I could build a credible career in the social entrepreneurship and impact investing space.
Edge Growth is a SME growth specialist that offers a combination of non-financial growth support (including direct consulting support and workshops such as 10X-e) as well as growth funding that focuses on earlier stage investments in the R1mn-R30mn deal size range and across the spectrum of debt, mezzanine and equity instruments. I manage the investment team based in Cape Town. Overall, Edge currently manages >R700m across the Vumela, ASISA and Edge Action funds and is currently raising two additional funds including an impact investing fund through selection as part of the US based Capria network of global impact fund managers.
I still do volunteer work and in 2013, I joined the board of a NPC called Just Grace, which my wife and her brother Grant Edmond set up some years previously. We help to support schools in Langa, a township just outside Cape Town by providing tutoring in science, maths and accounting. Volunteers also provide 1:1 mentorship to learners as well as support in applications for tertiary study (including financial aid applications) and career guidance.
Many people undertaking an MBA want careers in either top consulting firms or finance houses. But most students on the programme do not have relevant work experience. I noticed this during my MBA year and so in 2014 I helped to set up a programme where I paired people from my network – particularly those working at Edge Growth – with MBA candidates so that they could practice the case study interview format. In support of the initiative, the Careers Centre agreed to donate money to Just Grace for every interview conducted to subsidise the contribution from the student themselves. The number of placements in top firms including Bain, Deloitte and AT Kearney that year was also significantly higher than had been seen in prior years which was a positive sign, although I am not claiming all the credit!
In 2014, there were around 20 interview slots offered and through the generous support of volunteers we have managed to increase this to around 40 slots this year available between May to July for consulting, focusing on strategy, digital strategy and operations. Later in the year, interviews for finance will be set up, focusing on private equity, asset management and investment banking based on student demand.
If you work, or have worked, for a top tier consultancy or finance house, please consider joining the Mock Interview programme. You only need to ‘donate’ one hour of your time for the interview and commit to a second, 15 minute feedback session. A financial donation will be made on your behalf to Just Grace. The class of 2017 is particularly interested in applying to Bain, McKinsey, BCG, Deloitte, Dalberg, Partners in Performance, AT Kearney and Accenture. Email me on GMacfarlane@edgegrowth.com to get involved.
Anyone is welcome to donate to Just Grace directly by volunteering to tutor/mentor or to sponsor a learner – visit the website www.justgrace.co.za for more information.
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