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Pascal Mensah T'18

“Whatever you are passionate about and want to do, it’s here for you to take on.”

Read My Story

My family migrated to the States when I was 13 and settled in the Bronx. My mother worked two jobs, and so did my father. They worked really hard to bring me to the U.S., and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity they gave me. I was really good in math, and the teachers at my high school encouraged me to think big, beyond community college. I applied to NYU Stern for my undergraduate degree in business and got in. I worked on Wall Street for a while, then took a trip back to Ghana with my mother that changed my life.

It was so eye-opening. I hadn’t been back to Ghana in 15 years, and I saw that people there were in so much need. Electricity and water supply was erratic. Global warming was taking a toll and severely affecting food supply. I wanted to do something to help, so I packed up my life and moved to Ghana for three years. I started a few businesses, one in the food industry, but I found it really tough to raise money. The government had not created a strong environment for businesses to thrive. Country infrastructure was in poor condition and interest rates were between 30 and 40 percent. Really good businesses and startups were dying because they could not raise money cheaply. That’s when I decided that I wanted to go back to business school to build my network and help businesses in Africa get access to cheap capital.

I knew when I set foot on campus that I made the right decision. Tuck has been a great blend between academia and real-world experience. In one of my GEM classes with Dean Matt Slaughter, we discussed currency risk and the issues that might arise when your costs are in one currency and your revenue in another. I was thinking, “Oh snap, this kept me up all night when I used to run my business. Where was this class when I needed it?”

Starting my business was an isolating experience because I didn’t have connections to tap into. Now my network is much larger. Here, you know everybody by name or by face. You can’t put a price on that. The community is what makes Tuck really unique. I know I can call on a professor or a fellow student for guidance at anytime. As someone who grew up in New York City, when I was doing my summer internship at Bank of America in New York, I found myself hanging out with other Tuckies more than my New York cohorts. When you leave Tuck, you yearn for it.

Being at Tuck has challenged me to ask the right questions. I loved Vijay Govindarajan’s course, Implementing Strategy. Having an idea is one thing but being able to execute it is another. Even if an idea sounds great, you still have to really challenge it to make sure it will work.

Developing a sustainable business strategy is a daunting task for many businesses in the face of fierce competition and theft of intellectual property but implementing that strategy once it has been developed is a whole different ballgame, which in itself can be extremely difficult. Professor Vijay truly challenged us to go against conventional wisdom to find creative solutions to help solve these problems. Yes, businesses should think about their bottom line, but they should think about their people, too. There can be a business solution that addresses both.

Whatever you are passionate about and want to do, it’s here for you to take on. I helped plan the first Global Insight Expedition to Ghana for 26 students. One of my goals is to recruit more students from the continent to be here. I’m helping implement a strategy so that Tuck can have a dedicated recruiting presence in Africa. I’d like to see the youngest and brightest minds come from the continent to become part of the Tuck cohort.

I’ll be leaving Tuck with what it takes to be an entrepreneur. After graduation, I’ll be working for Bank of America in investment banking. This is the gateway to my ultimate goal, which is to go back to Africa and get a startup going. Access to cheap capital is an essential key to economic growth in Africa, and I hope to start a fund that will help small businesses raise money on a seed level and link them to investors so they can scale their business. That’s my true calling.

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