MBA Stories: Richard Kamp

 Richard Kamp was born in South Africa and after his undergraduate degree, took a gap year to explore South East Asia. He then got a job as a management consultant before applying for an MBA at HEC Paris. He really values his MBA experience and talks in detail about what he has done since starting the programme.

Life has taken me on a few twists and turns and I have never shied away from doing something off the beaten track. My time at HEC Paris is an opportunity to consolidate everything I have learned, upskill and prepare for the next stage in my career. I dream of a global career in business and my experience so far tells me that HEC Paris was the right place for me to prepare to achieve this dream.

Six years as a management consultant exposed me to clients and industries across Africa, the Middle East and the UK. My experience supporting private equity funds and international development agencies has entrenched my belief in the power of the private sector and capital to grow economies and uplift the base of the pyramid. I have worked for some of the world’s largest investors, as well as small and mid-sized businesses, but always from an external standpoint. My dream is to harness all that I have learned and lead a company from within. The natural step to achieve this dream was to pursue an MBA at HEC Paris.

I was born in South Africa and studied for my BA in Psychology and English Literature at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Following my undergraduate degree I took a gap year to study German in Leipzig, Germany and complete a sailing course back home. This qualified me to join a crew of four to deliver a newly built catamaran across the Atlantic Ocean from Cape Town to the Caribbean, an experience that I will always treasure.

My introduction to business came through the Wits Business School in Johannesburg where I completed a Post-Graduate Diploma in Management. It was here that I saw how building and leading teams as well as the communication of strategy were closely tied to my original undergraduate studies. I loved the creativity that came with solving business problems and the immediate impact that could be made with strategic decisions.

With my passion for business ignited the next step was management consulting. I was fortunate to land a job with the then Monitor Group (now Monitor Deloitte) at their Johannesburg office. My first two years with Monitor and then Deloitte were transformational; exposing me to economic development projects across sub-Saharan Africa. However, after meeting my wife we decided that we were still young enough for an adventure and took a year out to teach English in Bangkok, Thailand and explore South East Asia. Travel has always been my best teacher and this year was a masterclass rich with new experiences.

Upon our return to South Africa, I continued consulting for another four years this time with a local firm, RAND Strategy Advisors, that have a strong focus on private equity transaction support. The insight I gained into this rapidly growing part of the investment landscape was invaluable. It is a great lesson to see how the use of targeted capital with clear strategic focus driven by highly motivated teams can unlock value.

With all that I had been exposed to and learned along the way I was itching to be part of something that I could build and grow over the long term. This spurred me on to apply for an MBA.

Its only five months in and my time at HEC Paris has already been life changing. My highlights have been my classmates, the TEC On-Campus programme, St Cyr, running the Paris Marathon and organising the annual MBA Tournament. The environment provides constant challenges and opportunities to learn both through theory and practice. I have built up an international network and know that I will always have someone to contact from Madagascar to Japan, and Australia to Brazil.

Our class recently attended a leadership seminar at St Cyr, the French military academy, where we worked in small teams mentored by experienced military personnel and each of us were given the opportunity to lead physically and mentally challenging scenarios. In the space of two days I had to both lead and follow, constantly shifting my perspective of team interactions and their outcomes.

As part of the TEC On-Campus programme I have the privilege of meeting with a different CEO each month and spending a day with them and eleven classmates. The insights that these exceptional men and women share in this intimate setting, particularly about their personal development and the challenges they have faced is an education no textbook could replicate.

The MBA is filled with opportunities, far more than my calendar has space, but the one I knew I wanted to be part of was the MBA Tournament (MBAT). I am currently vice president of the MBAT and as I am writing we are expecting almost 1,500 MBA candidates from around the world to descend on our campus in just two days for a three-day festival of sport and parties, capped off with a gala in Paris.

Rest is not something that I have factored into my 16 months at HEC Paris and I will be using my summer break to join a major pharmaceutical company for a 10-week internship in Sydney, Australia, an exciting opportunity to learn about a global business, a new role and in a new location.

I am grateful for the opportunities that have been made available to me this year and for the support I have received from my wife, family, friends and classmates. Looking back on the last five months I did not expect to be where I am right now and I am excited to see where I will be eleven months from now.