Home Region

Johannesburg, South Africa

Undergrad Education

University of Natal, Electrical Engineering, 2011

Previous Experience

British Petroleum; ArcelorMittal

“HBS challenged all the prejudices I had and proved them to be wrong.”

Midway through his third year of medical school, Tariro Goronga came to a critical realization: “I just didn’t like sick people,” he says. “You have to be patient—and I don’t have that kind of patience.”

Suddenly, the Zimbabwean native was thrown into crisis. “I wasted three years of my time—now what? Do I hang in there and do something I don’t like for forty years, or do I cut my losses and start all over again?”

Tariro chose the latter path, but made sure to build flexibility into his career plan. “I was looking for something that was much more versatile,” he says, “and found it in engineering.” His first post-university assignment as an electrical engineer gave him the variety he sought. “I did pretty much everything: power supply and generation, motors, electronics.” But after two years in a steel mill, Tariro “started to look for a bigger challenge, something new in a different dimension.”

His engineering background proved to be the bridge. At British Petroleum, Tariro was assigned to a finance team to bring the engineering perspective they needed. As his colleagues considered potential investments, he evaluated the underlying assets. “How old were they? Was the technology up to date?”

Taking an open-minded approach

Tariro’s BP experience awakened an interest in finance. To expand his business skills, he turned to HBS—and discovered even deeper lessons than he had expected. “Before I came to HBS,” Tariro explains, “I had preconceived ideas of what a smart person is, of the kind of political views they might hold. I’ve become good friends with people who hold opposite opinions. HBS challenged all the prejudices I had and proved them to be wrong.”

Overall, the section experience, Tariro believes, is “a good balance between intimacy with 90 people, and the opportunity to network with 900 other people.” A more open mind has led to more open ventures. After graduation, for example, Tariro will visit section mates in Georgia (Eurasia), a trip that “would never have crossed my mind before.”

Upon graduation, Tariro will move to Toronto where he will work with a private equity group making infrastructure investments on behalf of a pension plan. For Tariro, “the skill sets I acquire as part of an investment team will be very valuable when I go back to Africa.” His future remains very much open-ended, but he’s currently interested in energy and emerging markets. “I’m a results-oriented person, so the idea of starting and operating a company appeals to me,” says Tariro. “But with my experience and education, I might be better positioned as an investor.”