Goldman Sachs Engineering Welcomes Young African Leaders from the 2019 Mandela Washington Fellowship Program

On July 16, Engineering partnered with Drexel University to host Fellows from the U.S. Department of State’s Mandela Washington Fellowship.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship represents some of Africa's brightest leaders in civic engagement. These individuals were selected from a pool of over 38,000 applicants for a six-week leadership training program, sponsored by the United States Department of State with partner institutions from among top US colleges and universities. This year, 700 Fellows were selected for the program. Cohorts of 25 are placed at different institutions across the country, and take classes in one of three tracks: Business, Civic Engagement, or Public Management, after which they have the opportunity to continue their professional development in the United States for another four weeks.

The 25 Fellows who visited Goldman Sachs were part of Drexel University’s 2019 cohort. The Fellows hailed from 20 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa, 60 percent of which were women. They were a diverse group of young professionals, including entrepreneurs, engineers, activists, architects, teachers, healthcare professionals, and artists. Still, each shared a common commitment to creating large scale changes and impacting the socio-economic and geo-political landscape of their respective countries. The Fellows met with Goldman Sachs professionals from Engineering and Office of Corporate Engagement. Joel Ruffin, a vice president in Engineering Strategy and Management and an adjunct professor at Drexel University and lecturer for the 2019 NMW Fellowship program, welcomed the Fellows to Goldman Sachs for an opportunity to hear about the firm’s civic and community engagement. He shared the firm’s commitment to community engagement and empowerment, noting the similarities in the mission to positively impact organizations, institutions, communities, and countries. Adele Langton, a vice president in the Office of Corporate Engagement, also shared insights about the firm’s community-based initiatives with flagship programs such as 10,000 Women and 10,000 Small Businesses. Loki Muthu and Sandra Anojulu, both vice presidents in Engineering, went on to share Engineering engagements through the GS Citizen program, which extends technical expertise to non-profit organizations with the goal of fostering STEM education among the youth.

The Fellows learned about the firm’s Africa Recruiting Initiative, which recruits bright engineering students from Africa for analyst and internship positions at Goldman Sachs. The Fellows also shared the various programs they represent and the challenges they face.  Each of them recognizes that change can be effective through both government and private-public engagement and funding, and should be addressed through regulatory and federal policy revisions.

As an adjunct professor teaching Public Policy Analysis at Drexel University, Joel was invited to be a guest lecturer at the 2019 Mandela Washington Fellowship Program co-sponsored by Drexel University's Goodwin College of Professional Studies and the Office of Global Engagement. He continued to interact with the group off-site, through a three-hour lecture and workshop on the Drexel campus in Philadelphia on governance and policy, during which the Fellows gained an extensive understanding of the role and impact governance and policy management has on an organization’s ability to achieve its goals and objectives. The session explored the essential elements of governance, risk management, compliance, and policy management, providing Fellows with insight and tools to help assess their organizational capabilities and develop an initial plan to address any identified governance and policy gaps and risks. Brimming with questions, they left the session filled with passion and excitement to take on the Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit in Washington, DC, where they will reconnect with the rest of their cohort and be exposed to networking sessions and panel discussions with US leaders from public, private, and non-profit sectors.

Anne Converse Willkomm, Assistant Clinical Professor and Department Head of Graduate Studies at Goodwin College of Professional Studies at Drexel University, and the Academics Director for the program, expressed her thanks to Goldman Sachs, noting that the day’s events will be instrumental in inspiring each young Fellow about engaging their communities and countries in larger-scale impact initiatives. Joel echoed her sentiment at the conclusion of the event, noting, “The opportunity to engage with some of Africa’s most prominent and rising civic leaders was a privilege and honor. I can say with a level of certainty, we were all moved and inspired to action”.