2021 Best & Brightest Business Major: Abenezer Mechale, Wharton School

Abenezer Mechale

The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

“Ambitious procrastinator with an avid appreciation of coffee, travelling, and international development.”

Fun fact about yourself: I had 4 internship/externship experiences during college, each of which has been in a different country

Hometown: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

High School: St. Joseph Highschool (in Addis Ababa)

Major: International Development and Business Analytics

Minor: Psychology

Favorite Business Course: OIDD 291: Negotiations

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Society for African Internationals at Penn (SAIP) – Director of Finance
  • Social Impact Consulting (SIC) – Project Leader
  • Penn Afro-Wellness Initiative – Founder
  • WH201 Leadership Board – Public Speaking TA and Leadership board member
  • Perry World House Fellowship – Student Fellow
  • Honors: Joseph Wharton Scholar, Benjamin Franklin Scholar

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • Bain and Company, Washington DC, Associate Consultant Intern
  • AKO Capital LLC, London (United Kingdom), Extern
  • Social Impact Research Experience (SIRE) grant recipient, Nairobi (Kenya), Project Leader
  • Moyee Coffee Exporter, Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? Bain and Company – Associate Consultant

What company do you admire most?  Currently, it would be Disney because they have managed to maintain a high level of creative excellence while matching it with the operational capability to execute their vision and reach global audiences. Plus, who doesn’t like Disney movies?

Who is your favorite professor? Adam Grant – Beyond being a very accomplished professor and author, Adam Grant was my favorite professor because he made it clear that he was available to connect with each of his students despite his very busy schedule. I have had professors who prioritized their research over teaching, and I found that my learning experience was dampened. That’s why I was glad to find that Prof. Grant prioritized his students just as much as his research.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? Learning what to think will help today, but learning how to think will help for tomorrow.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? A good business education includes both soft and hard skills. There are many technical skills you have to learn to succeed, but learning about yourself and how you interact with others is a crucial part of your development as well. After all, if there’s one thing all facets of business have in common, it’s that you have to work with others.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? The breadth. After four years, if I was asked to define what business is, I would have a hard time. It is whatever you make of it.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? I would have invested more time and energy into developing meaningful relationships with my professors.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? The “Letter to the Vice Dean” project, which I coordinated for two consecutive semesters as part of the WH201 leadership board. I am proud of that extracurricular achievement because it allowed me to bring student issues to the forefront of Wharton’s concerns.

Which classmate do you most admire? Jordan King – I met him in my freshman year, and I have taken at least one class with him 6 out of my 8 semesters at Wharton. He has constantly been one of the most supportive and positive friends I have made at school, and nothing short of an inspiration to always do my best – in my classes, and my relationships.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? “It takes a village to raise a child.” Frankly I don’t have one person to thank for my success. It was the effort of my parents, friends, mentors, and advisors who have been my source of motivation and guidance during such a pivotal moment of my life.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I want to move back home and open my own socially motivated company in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. And to expand that same company to the rest of East Africa and the greater Sub-Saharan Africa region.

What are your hobbies? Photography, tennis, Afro-beats music, jogging, and biking

What made Abenezer such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

It was a real treat to have Abe in class—he enthusiastically and insightfully challenged his classmates and me to rethink many of our assumptions. As one of his peers wrote: “Abe always has unique and meaningful viewpoints on class discussions that are very different from traditional Penn takes.”

Dr. Adam Grant
Saul P. Steinberg Professor of Management
The Wharton School

“Referring to the American playwright, August Wilson, the topic of an Academically Based Community Service class at Penn, Prof. Beavers writes “We loved having Abe in the Wilson class.  He took the class in a year when we had West Philadelphia residents and high school students from Sayre High School. We do a lot of smaller group work over the course of a class and my memory of Abe was that he was always willing to engage and he worked hard to form substantive bonds with young people who were in a college classroom for the first time. Abe totally bought into what we were trying to accomplish and it was a real pleasure to have him in class.”

Dr. Herman Beavers
Julie Beren Platt and Marc E. Platt President’s Distinguished Professor of English and Africana Studies Faculty Director of the Civic House

“With his home country on the brink of yet another armed conflict, Abe never lost his optimism, his can-do attitude, and his community-minded self. He embraced all the opportunities a broad liberal arts education within a business framework provides, and engaged with all around him. It is Abe and people like him that make me confident for our future.”

Dr. Utsav Schurmans
Director, Research and Scholar Programs, The Wharton School


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