To Stick with or Challenge the Status Quo?

Kogod School of Business alumna returns to her alma mater during commencement weekend to address the graduates and receive the honorary degree of doctor of humane letters.

Dambisa Moyo Hero

Kogod alumna Dambisa Moyo


Last weekend, Kogod alumna Dambisa Moyo shared her wisdom and thoughtful words of advice with the Kogod School of Business graduating class of 2022. Moyo has a prolific career as a renowned economist and author. Currently, she serves on the board of several companies in which she imparts her knowledge of macroeconomics and global affairs—she turns economic insight into investible ideas.

“Investment and public policy are often siloed, but I can closely examine and understand both areas with my background. This helps me make more informed business decisions,” explains Moyo.

Moyo holds several degrees—a BS and MBA from American University, MPA from Harvard University, and a PhD in economics from Oxford—but education is an ongoing pursuit for her, as evidenced by Moyo receiving the honorary degree of doctor of humane letters from the Kogod School of Business at spring commencement 2022.

My time at AU, particularly at Kogod, served as a springboard for me, so returning and receiving an honorary degree is really full circle."

Dambisa Moyo Quote

Dambisa Moyo

Kogod Alumna

Even with her storied career and earning a spot on several esteemed lists such as Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World and Oprah Winfrey’s “O” Power List, Moyo believes that education is a key driver of prosperity and growth, not just for the individual, but as it reflects favorably on the economy.

“Higher education creates a more educated labor market, increasing the wages of all workers,” says Moyo. “Higher education stimulates entrepreneurship and technological breakthroughs."

As a professional in business, the educational journey is never complete.

The value in holding multiple degrees is continued knowledge expansion."

Dambisa Moyo Quote

Dambisa Moyo

Kogod Alumna

“Education continuously shifts with the times. Being exposed to advancements in education and your field helps professionals remain evergreen,” says Moyo.

Education has also evolved over the years, placing greater importance on experiential learning—something that Moyo has always appreciated. She advises all students and alums to travel to extend their personal and professional views of the world. 

“I have had the privilege of traveling to over 65 countries across all continents,” says Moyo. These global experiences have provided Moyo with a broader perspective, refining her world views and highlighting how interconnected we all are.

“These opportunities have helped me make important business investments and public policy decisions. I’ve seen first-hand how our choices have real consequences worldwide,” she says.

Kogod students have unparalleled access to policymakers right here in the capital of the US while also having the chance to participate in global immersion programs.

Kogod put me at the center of the world."

Dambisa Moyo Quote

Dambisa Moyo

Kogod Alumna

Business students and professionals—more than ever—have the ability and responsibility to create positive change. “Business success was once measured solely around financial metrics, such as profit and loss,” says Moyo. “Now, business integrates culture, sustainability, and societal considerations when defining corporate success.”

Keep your mind open to educational opportunities that are all around you. Moyo uses distance running as a means to not only ground herself before a busy workday but also as a form of education. The successes and challenges of marathon racing offer lessons that can translate into Moyo's professional life.

“Of all of the awards I’ve had the pleasure of accepting, the ones that mean the most to me are from my marathons,” says Moyo. “When I ran my first marathon, it was below 30 degrees, bad weather, and I had to work hard to finish, but I did.”

Moyo explains that running is very mentally stimulating. You may train in a group, but at the end of the day, it is just you and your thoughts during the race. In her own article, Moyo explains how athletics helped her overcome her own limitations and develop her strengths, making her a more well-rounded businesswoman and board member.

Expose yourself to as much education and opportunity as possible—earn new degrees, travel, and find a personal hobby that grounds you—be observant, and apply what you learn from the world back to your professional career, urges Moyo.

Will you guard the traditional and narrow view of business? Or will you help reassert the important and broadened role and purpose of business in society in the 21st century?” Moyo asks the Kogod School of Business 2022 graduating class—a question all present and future business leaders should consider. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo and make a difference.