Ugandan student overcomes barriers to win international MBA award

A student from the University of Bath has won the prestigious title of MBA Student of the Year 2010. 

Susan Mawemuko completed an MBA (Master of Business Administration) at the University’s School of Management, and was the only finalist from a UK business school. 

Susan is from Uganda and had a traditional African upbringing: her grandfather was a village chief. 

Before starting her MBA at Bath, Susan was a Programme Officer at Makere University School of Public Health in the capital Kampala. 

In spite of having no formal degree in business she successfully led the financial management, human resource and administrative functions for an HIV/AIDS programme and related contracts. 

She managed the institution’s grants to support scientists in research and programmes for HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, malaria and tuberculosis and led a team to develop tools and mechanisms for monitoring and running programme resources and facilities. 

Susan said: “For me, this award is a phenomenal life achievement which should inspire and motivate all other students, and especially women, who struggle to overcome barriers to get to where they want to be. 

“It means I can mentor students who are interested in the MBA and its associated careers globally with greater confidence and influence. I can now support health research scientists at home and abroad with greater knowledge, exposure and skills. 

“As an ambassador for the Bath MBA and the School of Management, this award will take me places and to greater heights. The Bath MBA has given me the opportunity to unlock and utilise my potential to the greatest ability. I have acquired life skills that I would not have gotten anywhere. 

“I have now returned to Uganda to offer support and guidance in grants management, strategy and operations management for the Makerere University School of Public Health related programs as well as to build the capacity of others to gain the same skills that I have gained.” 

Susan received her award at a gala dinner held in London on 4 November, watched by staff and academics from the University. 

Dr Eleanor Morgan, Director of Studies for the Bath MBA (2009/10) said: “Susan’s success in winning the award is a great cause for celebration, both for Susan and for the Bath MBA. 

“Susan was up against very stiff competition from the other three finalists and this emphasised her real achievement. She made outstanding contributions to all aspects of her MBA programme. She has a very strong academic record and demonstrated impressive individual and group skills throughout the course, encouraging other international students, in particular, to realise their potential. 

“She brought valuable insights from personal experience to her MBA studies, to the benefit of other students and lecturers alike - a truly reflective practitioner with a great career ahead of her!

“In the short term, Susan is returning to work for her previous employer in Uganda who partly funded her MBA. She plans to play a mentoring role to young women in her home community and, in the future, will be an excellent ambassador both for the MBA and the University of Bath.”

Susan won a scholarship to study at Bath, funded by alumnus and honorary graduate, Dr Steve Huckvale, President of the global company Moog International Group. He was present at the award ceremony and said: “Susan is a special person with some exceptional talents. To have reached the final and to have been awarded the MBA Student of the Year prize is a stunning achievement. It has been a privilege to know her.” 

Dr Huckvale and his wife Carol have provided scholarships to Bath MBA students for several years. Susan was the recipient of this year’s scholarship for African students, winning on academic excellence and leadership ability. 

Bath student Rick Chaplin also won the MBA award in 1998. He is now CEO of Canadian General Tower Ltd, Canada.  

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