Instead of returning to his native Zambia every year, Aka Akapelwa allows Zambia to come to him. Each summer, he explains, “my whole family flies in from Zambia—aunts, uncles and cousins included. We spend most of our time barbecuing and sharing laughs. A lot of dancing happens as well.”
Ultimately, Aka wants to go back to Zambia for good; that is, to do good. “I hope that, 10 years from now,” he says, “I’ll be deploying capital in Africa, working with some of the best minds to finance great companies, which will in turn create employment and benefit the broader economy.”
That, he says, has been his aspiration all along. What changed for Aka, one year into his career, is that he decided that an MSF would best help him reach those goals.
After graduating from Michigan State with a double major in Finance and Economics, Aka joined Alcoa’s Leadership Development Program. He enjoyed the opportunity to lead various projects, such as a cost modeling initiative—involving plants in Hungary, Mexico and Japan—that helped the company better gauge the true cost of manufacturing aluminum wheels.
“Though I liked my company and what I did, I had a burning desire to enter into investment banking,” says Aka.
He was attracted by Vanderbilt’s rating among the top three MSF programs in the United States. “In addition,” he says, “after visiting. I felt like I fit in very well. The opportunity to work with Blake and the rest of the Career Management Center was also a huge driver for me.” Now, with an investment banking job on Wall Street, Aka is taking the first big steps toward his ultimate career goals.
Fun Fact: Aka likely holds the record as the only Vanderbilt Business student ever to earn his SCUBA license in Zanzibar (or to have been licked on the head by a cheetah).
I hope that, 10 years from now, I'll be deploying capital in Africa, working with some of the best minds to finance great companies.