JOHN KIDENDA DIDN’T KNOW exactly where he would end up working after college, but he knew it had to involve returning to Africa. Nine
years later, that’s exactly where he is.
“I had a 10-year horizon for planning to go back home to Africa,” Kidenda says. “Part of it was a realization that anything I’m really interested in applies directly to the development challenges that countries in Africa encounter.” Kidenda served for nearly three years as a senior consultant in the Nairobi, Kenya, office for Dalberg Advisors, a global strategy consulting firm that focuses on international development.
He recently accepted a new job as a senior fellow at PowerGen, a Kenyan startup that builds solar-based electrical grids in rural parts of the country and neighboring Tanzania.
Born and raised in Kenya, Kidenda is the first of six siblings in a closeknit family. He initially came to UT to pursue a degree at the Cockrell School of Engineering, but two years later he transferred to the business
school. While at McCombs, he became the first scholarship recipient of the African Leadership Bridge, a network that helps students from Africa attend UT. After receiving his BBA at McCombs, Kidenda completed a master’s in public administration in international development at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
Kidenda says his time in the United States helped forge strong bonds that he still cherishes to this day. “There are a lot of friendships that have stayed,” he says. “And the strong UT alumni community that I meet in far-flung corners of the world continues to remind me that what starts here really does change
For anyone similarly unsure of what their future holds, Kidenda has one piece of advice: Go with the flow. “The world is likely to take you in unexpected directions. Whenever this happens, try to take it as a sign of providence and roll with the punches,”
Kidenda says. “Keep the faith and stay close to your community, and things will probably work out all right.” — Forrest Milburn
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