Meet our Alumni: Karen at Afren Plc

Karen came to the UK from Nigeria to study the MBA programme at Exeter, benefiting from the £34,000 scholarship from Afren Plc, an independent oil and natural gas

Alongside its core business operations, Afren Plc is committed to supporting the local host communities in Nigeria’s oil rich Niger Delta who may be impacted by its activities, and have in place a number of social investment initiatives that champion this support. Karen had experienced first-hand how the region was impoverished in spite of the oil wealth during her one year compulsory National Service Scheme, and so carrying out her MBA Consultancy Project to evaluate the initiatives Afren Plc had put in place to reduce the burden of poverty by empowering communities resonated with her.exploration and production corporation founded in 2004, operating primarily from Nigeria. The Afren scholarship is one of the many corporate-funded scholarships we offer every year on the One Planet MBA at Exeter.

Linked to the scholarship is an opportunity for a consultancy project scheduled in the summer months at thesponsoring organisation. Linking the scholarship to the consultancy project enables our corporate partners to experience first hand the quality of the students on the MBA, and in some cases recruit them after their studies. That’s what happened to Karen who joined Afren on completion of her MBA project.During her project, Karen developed a bespoke framework for Afren Plc which was successfully pilot tested on two of Afren’s initiatives in the Niger Delta, and a robust monitoring and evaluation framework evolved from this which will be implemented across Afren’s Social Investment operations across twelve countries – a real achievement. Of this accomplishment, Karen says:

I feel fulfilled that I have contributed to responsive and results driven management of social investment programmes for a company that sees investing in a community in a whole different light from the pack of oil and gas companies in Nigeria; a company that is not shy to implement community development projects in remote communities where other operators are shy to go!”

Karen found the field work in the conflict prone Niger Delta region a unique and challenging experience, but one she describes as a “priceless learning experience”. She found connecting with the key stakeholders, programme staff and beneficiaries from remote islands to cities in Nigeria exposed her to a “street wisdom uncommon in textbooks on evaluation”. Karen found the knowledge she had gained from key modules throughout the MBA programme served as a pedestal to leapfrog her framework from theory to an evidence-based management tool.

“It is openness and the one-planet mindset that brings back the rhythm between people and planet which have been the quiet teachers leading me to embrace new perspectives”.


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