Frances Rousseau, from South Africa, was awarded one of the two Forté Foundation Scholarships for Women, and will be joining the IMD MBA 2021 program.

Hello World! My name is Frances, and I am from South Africa. I have a background in behavioural and development economics and have worked in management consulting and investing in Africa for the past four years. I am passionate about key development issues facing Africa and the developing world, including poverty, inequality and food security, and the past few years have taught me about the power that convening stakeholders – with different backgrounds, ideas, strengths and weaknesses – can have in solving these problems.

I was fortunate to receive first-hand accounts of the IMD experience from two alumni – one from the 1990 class, and the other from the current 2020 class. I had always imagined an MBA as part of my future, particularly the more interactive and international courses, but it was the commitment to diversity really sealed the deal for me in my choice of IMD. Coming from a country with such a deep legacy of social and economic segregation, and institutionalised inequality, I have always felt that one of the most important skills that I need to develop is to become truly comfortable with and revel in the differences of others.

IMD really understands the value of diversity, in a way that I believe many organisations, especially in the corporate space, are still struggling to grasp. Statistics show the positive impact that gender diversity, for example, has on the bottom line. But beyond this, diversity in almost any organisation or team is likely to deliver more inclusive solutions, that have a broader and more significant impact on society as a whole.

What really stood out to me during the application process, is that every person I spoke to, whether from the recruitment team, selection panel and even other applicants, had a genuine interest in getting to know who I was beyond the professional. COVID meant that all interaction, including the assessment day, was completely virtual. This was very challenging, particularly trying to really connect with people over Zoom, but I was pleasantly surprised at how determined everyone was to make the best of the situation, and it gave me a great ‘taste’ of what classes and assignments would be like day-to-day at IMD.

IMD really put their money where their mouths were when they offered me a Forté Scholarship for 2021. I had expressed concerns around financing previously, coming from a country with a weaker and more volatile exchange rate, and this really demonstrated their commitment to inclusion. I am incredibly grateful to have been offered this opportunity and, after reading up on Forté Scholarship winners from previous classes, feel I have a responsibility to use the opportunity to create the impact I want to see in the world.

Frances Rousseau

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