Humbulani Dombo (MBA 2016) was born and raised in a small town in South Africa. Growing up in a remote part of the country fueled her curiosity about the world, and sparked a desire to explore as much of it as she could. After graduating from university, she joined a diversified mining company that would allow her to live and work in three different countries and work across different commodities and disciplines. 

We checked in with Humbulani to learn more about her time at HBS and her decision to attend business school. 

Why did you want to come to HBS?

After five years of working in one industry, I needed some time to refocus on my career goals. In particular, I wanted to use the MBA to fill some of the gaps I had identified in my skill set. I wanted to pursue an MBA in the U.S. because I had never lived or worked in the U.S., and it is also home to some of the best business schools in the world. 

HBS had an incredible reputation and I had three friends who had completed their MBAs here and had amazing experiences. I came to visit one of my friends while he was in his first year and was truly impressed. I started my application as soon as I returned from that trip.

What has surprised you the most about HBS?

I have been surprised at how compassionate people are and how willing they are to help each other. I had heard stereotypes that students were competitive and elitist; this has definitely not been my experience. Instead, I found people to be willing to go the extra mile to help each other, be it searching for a job or helping with difficulties that I was having in certain classes, or just giving me a spontaneous hug when I was having an off day. 

I love the fact that even though I am in my final semester, I still continue to meet new people and make new friends. I had thought that by now, I probably would have met all the people with whom I share common interests or common friends, but it seems that the opportunities to meet new people never ends! What makes this great is that people at HBS have such different backgrounds and interests, and so meeting people is always great for me because it means I continue to hear about different people’s stories and perspectives. Most of all, I have found that my interactions with different people often gives me a new perspective on things.

Are you involved with the Africa Business Club?  

The Africa Business Club has served as a natural home base for me and has enabled me to connect with fellow Africans and people who are interested in Africa. The club feels like a family and it is great to know that there is a ready pool of people at HBS who I naturally identify with. Moreover, the club members are all really passionate about Africa and I think we all feed off of each other’s energy in terms of our pursuing our ambitions for ourselves and the continent. I am really excited to see what people will do on the continent and I expect great things!

How has HBS changed what kind of leader you are?

I am far more deliberate in how I think about leadership than I was before. I think that leadership should be a conscious and active endeavor. When you’re surrounded by over 900 smart and accomplished leaders in their own right, you learn very quickly that leadership is not automatic. Instead, you need to earn the right to lead others and that requires deliberate thought and action.

What is your favorite HBS memory so far?

My favorite memory is from the end of my first semester in the RC year. Our section was completing course evaluations and one of my sectionmates started playing some music. We ended up having a spontaneous dance party in our section classroom for about 10 minutes, before having our final class. I love that memory as it was a fun way to cap off the four months I had spent with the 93 people who had gone from being strangers, to the people with whom I share a very special bond.