Authors: Brian Lau (MBA’17) & Sonja Hiemisch (IMBA’16)

In March this year, Schulich alumnus Brian Lau (MBA ’17) attended the MBA World Summit in Cape Town, South Africa with Schulich alumna Sonja Hiemisch (IMBA ’16). Below, they share their experiences and recap of this momentous event.

What’s the MBA World Summit?

Sonja and Brian, reunited!

The Summit, founded in 2014, seeks to create a global MBA leadership community by encouraging attendees to debate the most relevant and pressing topics of today’s business landscape. It has previously been held in Hong Kong, Barcelona, Miami and Berlin. Over 2500 applicants globally compete in two qualifying rounds where the selected cohort is named as the World’s 100 Most Inspiring MBAs. Attendees travel from business schools all over the world, each possessing unique backgrounds, life stories and experiences in addition to representing top employers. “This year, about 5% of attendees were from Canadian schools, so it was an honour and privilege to represent both Schulich and Canada at the Summit,” says Brian.

Sonja first attended the MBA World Summit in Miami in 2016 with fellow Schulich candidate Nidhish Nair (MBA ’16). The rewarding experience led them both to attend in Berlin as Summit alumni the year after. She later met Brian in Jonathan Hera’s (IMBA ’10) Social Purpose Investing and Finance class at Schulich, where they bonded over their interest in social impact and sustainability.

“I remember Sonja told me in class one day about her experience attending the summit in Miami and encouraged me to apply,” Brian recalls. “I owe this experience to her.”

The delegates and organizing committee
Source: MBA World Summit

 Both alumni share their personal highlights and perspectives on the event below!

Brian’s Highlights: Summit Lab Sessions (SLS)

A key component of the Summit is the SLS – a day devoted to various delegate-led sessions on topics they’re passionate about.  I was selected to lead a session on the future of education, where I spoke about the changing education landscape, the future of work, and the responsibilities of future business leaders for continued employee learning.

The city view after a hike up Lion’s Head

The session sparked interesting debates among the participants, some of whom were former teachers currently pursuing their MBA. Preparing my talk leading up to the summit was also a unique experience, as I got the chance to collaborate with my colleagues in the areas of social impact and leadership development at work including Alan Booth, Learning Leader for the Americas and Dean, Deloitte University (MBA ’85).

Opportunities like this are what I believe an MBA experience should be all about: building relationships, sharing ideas and discussing topics on a global scale.  I came away not only with new perspectives on fascinating topics like education and career development (particularly for the African market), but have also observed the comradery from members of my cohort as they quickly jump in to help when asked for input, tools or even introductions, to tackle any particular initiative.

Sonja’s Highlights: Reflections From Three World Summits

I attended three MBA World Summits (Miami, Berlin and Cape Town) and while each one was unique in program and city, they all had one thing in common: inspiring people in a great location and endless opportunities. As an alumna of the summit, it was a really refreshing experience this year to come back and meet new people but also reconnect with fellow alumni and bonding further. Looking back now, I can say that it was definitely one of the best parts of my IMBA experience.

At the top of Table Mountain
(Represented: Columbia, Stanford, IIM Bangalore, Oxford, Harvard, Michigan, York)

Why should you consider applying to the MBA World Summit 2019?

  1. Get inspired by a diverse range of incredible people while also expanding your global network
  2. Meet top company representatives in a casual setting
  3. Have the opportunity to become part of the GLC (Global Leadership Community) which comprises of inspiring leaders from all the previous MBA World Summits (members are invited to participate in the future Summits)


Did we mention doing the above all while exploring a new city? Check out details for the next Summit below:

Photo Gallery: Summit Highlights