A business degree has proved an invaluable foundation for Zia Manji's career. Starting out in his family's food manufacturing company, he has since moved into consulting, helping to build the first executive search firm in Kenya.
|Year of Graduation||1995|
Your time at the University
I visited the University on an open day in 1991 and fell in love with Edinburgh on arrival. Spending the day in George Square meeting friendly students and faculty made the decision easy for me. My memories are full of a rich experience of immersive learning, exploration, self-discovery, reward and awards for my studies. Balancing that was my time at Pollock Halls where I chose to become a Senior Resident after my first year and finally the first undergraduate Sub-Warden at Brewster House in my final year.
Living in a close community with fellow students was great fun and created long lasting friendships. I have fond memories of organising annual balls at the Caledonian, barbeques on the beach in North Berwick and the ritual of throwing people into the Scottish Widows pond on their birthdays! The community at Pollock Halls was very special for me as it gave me the opportunity to learn and become close to the Edinburgh folk who made up the administration and support staff. In particular Marion, the house supervisor, David Brown, the porter, and Rev Dr Fiona Douglas, my warden. They left a lasting impression on me.
During my Edinburgh days I had the opportunity to travel around Scotland, and I became mesmerised by the beauty and drawn to the warmth and humour of the Scots. I vowed to keep coming back, and almost every year since I ensure I visit. I have always been a keen photographer, and I have found that the landscape and atmosphere continues to enchant and inspire.
Although I met my future wife, Madeleine, as a teenager in Kenya, it was at the University that we fell in love and began our long lasting bond with the city.
Your experiences since leaving the University
Unlike most of my fellow students, I knew what I wanted to do after University, as my destiny was predetermined. As the oldest son and the third generation of a family business in Kenya, I returned after graduating to work in the family food manufacturing business, working up into general management.
My business degree proved an invaluable foundation, and although I knew my future remained in business with a strong entrepreneurial passion, I exited the family business to explore a career in consulting. I joined my wife, Madeleine, who had begun a talent assessment firm five years prior, initially to build the first executive search firm in Kenya.
Over the last 16 years, leading a consulting business, Career Connections, in East Africa has provided tremendous scope and opportunity to work with multinational and local organisations across a spectrum of talent, whilst leveraging my entrepreneurial skills in developing a leading consulting firm in the region.
I wished I had taken more interested in psychology at the University, but over the years I became interested in the area of talent assessment, development and executive coaching, and formed partnerships with global consulting firms.
In 2014, I formed an alliance with Korn Ferry which has widened the scope of my work across the continent in c-suite hiring, and aligns with my passion for helping people and businesses in Africa to thrive.
In 2015, I completed my Executive Master in Consulting and Coaching for Change at INSEAD, which has provided me with a unique perspective and skill set that combines business experience and a consulting specialisation to help leaders and businesses understand complexities to bring about change.
When I am not working I continue to photograph with a focus on monochrome waterscape photography and hold exhibitions to raise money for charities in support of wildlife conservation.
Over the last 16 years, leading a consulting business, Career Connections, in East Africa has provided tremendous scope and opportunity to work with multinational and local organisations across a spectrum of talent [...]
Your time at university are some of the best years of your life, but they also prepare you for life and training in craftsmanship. At this stage it is worth reflecting on what you want out of life. What is work for? What is money for? Who do you want to be? Who inspires you? And who do you want to inspire?
Life beyond University can focus on work to the detriment of leisure and the things that really matter – friendship, family, hobbies and volunteering.
Career Connections (external link)