Think at London Business School
Fiere Habte MBA2023 and co-president of LBS Black in Business Club talks about overcoming obstacles and the importance of representation.
By Hannah Davies
Nehemie Mimbo MiM2023 was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but war led his family to seek asylum in the UK when he was five. Having carved out a successful career as a doctor, he is now studying for a Masters in Management as a Black in Business scholar, hoping to make an impact on people’s lives that extends beyond medicine.
“I believe we shouldn’t just be participants in life; we should get involved,” says Nehemie. In his undergraduate degree at the University of Sheffield, he played basketball, including a year as coach to their second team, leading to their first ever promotion. He was also a Student Ambassador, helping international students settle in, and Admission Liaison Officer for The Medical School, helping to put a strategy in place to directly target people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“It’s very difficult to reach a certain level if no one is pushing you to get there,” he says. “Growing up in East London, I wasn’t really encouraged to go out and do well in life. As long as I got a C grade my school would be happy, but no one was pushing me to go for an A or an A*. A lot of people I grew up with have a mentality of being content with where they are.” This had a big impact on Nehemie. “It’s something that’s always been in my heart, and it’s a big driver for me.”
He started his first post as an NHS doctor in June 2020, at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. “It was manic and I got thrown in at the deep end, but I learned to swim very quickly,” he says. There was a silver lining to the experience, too. “Looking back, I’m actually quite grateful as it helped me to develop a lot quicker than I might have otherwise, although it was a challenge for sure – as it was for people across the world.”
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“London Business School was the perfect place to learn how people work, and also to understand cultural differences.”
After working as a doctor in the NHS for two years, Nehemie decided it was time to take the next step towards his long-term goals. “I wanted to study medicine because I’ve always been driven by a need to make a difference in people’s lives and do something meaningful,” he explains. “In the long term, I want to have an impact that will extend beyond medicine and affect as many lives as possible.” With this in mind, he decided to study for the Masters in Management to increase his business knowledge and boost his skills, as well as give him the opportunity to interact with people from all walks of life and grow his network.
He was attracted by LBS’s diversity, having grown up in East London, attending a secondary school where there were 50 different languages spoken. “The world that we live in is becoming more and more intertwined every day,” he says. “Now, you don’t necessarily need to go to a country to know the culture of that place, because the Internet has allowed us all to become so much closer. Now it’s even more important to be in a diverse space, because you’re always going to work with clients, customers or colleagues from across the world.
“To me, London Business School was the perfect place to learn how people work and to understand cultural differences.” LBS is the only school he applied to. “It’s got a world class faculty, and I knew if I wanted to get a business education, I wanted to get it from the best place,” he says.
He was “ecstatic and over the moon” when he heard that he had been awarded the Black in Business scholarship. “My family came here when I was five and I have seven siblings, so we’re not a rich family,” he says. “Receiving the scholarship was a massive relief and really helpful, as it reduced the burden on me so much. I was really glad and extremely happy to receive it.” He’s also looking forward to meeting the Black in Business (BiB) network soon.
When it comes to the course itself, Nehemie describes topics such as finance, data and accounting as being like a completely different language for him – a real challenge. “But the lecturers explain things really well; something complex is broken down into the building blocks, and then they build it back up,” he adds. “They pitch it at a really good level, so someone like me without a business background can understand it, and that’s a credit to how good they are.”
He’s also enjoying the academic element, describing his experience so far as “terrific”. “I absolutely love it here; I wake up happy because I’m enjoying it so much,” he says. “Everyone is so nice and so lovely, which I think is a typical characteristic of the School.”
He points to the need for more Black role models in education, including those that are close to home. “When I graduated from medical school, it was incredible because my oldest niece all of a sudden started saying, ‘I want to be a doctor as well’,” he recalls. “It made her think, ‘if he can do it, I can do it’. I think that’s something we lack in the Black community; a close proximity to role models from a young age, where we can say, ‘I’m just like you’.”
Nehemie says we should promote more Black leaders, in both education and other fields, to help other people see a clear path to follow their success. “It means that all of a sudden, something isn’t impossible,” he says. “It’s hard being the trailblazer but after that, everyone can walk that path.”
He also highlights the value of mentoring schemes, pointing out that some people might not even know what careers are out there and therefore what options could be available to them. “The way the world is changing and evolving, there’s so much that you can do now, especially with the possibility of remote working,” he says.
The subject of this year’s Black History Month is Black health and wellbeing: “It’s a really good topic. Wellbeing, specifically mental wellbeing, is almost like a taboo; people don’t talk about it that much in the Black community.” He says he can understand why this might be, pointing out that health and wellbeing can often take a back seat to work and other priorities.
“But in the last five to 10 years I think there’s been a massive push into general health and wellbeing,” he says. “There’s also been quite a big push in the Black community too, as people realise that no, it’s not OK to not acknowledge how we are. We do need to take care of ourselves from a health and wellbeing point of view,” he emphasises.
And what are his hopes for the future? “I think there’s a lot more understanding [about health and wellbeing] in the Black community, because of increased awareness, and I think that awareness will just keep on growing,” he says. “Overall it’s going to be a positive thing, because if people take care of themselves, they can go on and inspire others to do the same.”
In terms of his future career, Nehemie plans to go into consulting, so he can get a broad experience of different industries. After this, he wants to transition into venture capital, one specifically focused on Africa, he says, “My ambition is to help start-ups make a real difference on the continent.”