Bright Simons honored as 2021 AACSB Influential Leader
February 16, 2021 | 3 min read
Bright Simons, an alumnus of the TIAS Full-time MBA, is one of 25 business school graduates honored by AACSB International (AACSB)—the world’s largest business education alliance—as the 2021 Class of Influential Leaders.
The annual initiative recognizes notable alumni from AACSB-accredited business schools whose inspiring work serves as a model for the next generation of business leaders. Bright Simons, who was in the 2017-18-class of the TIAS’ Full-time MBA, is founder and president of mPedigree.
In 2007, Bright Simons founded mPedigree initially as an NGO to harness user-friendly technology and enlist partners to protect his fellow Ghanaians from drug counterfeiters. The concept quickly became popular in neighboring Nigeria and other countries, and attracted global giants like HP and Xerox. It grew into a social enterprise that spans three continents, partners with more than three dozen telecom operators, and builds broad capabilities, from sensors to software, in health and food security, transparency, and governance.
Entrepreneurship, invention, and social activism
Simons’ consumer protection systems now cover a plethora of products, ranging from vaccine quality control to seed systems enhancement. The partnerships of mPedigree with regulators, industry, and consumer activists in Nigeria have contributed significantly to the two-thirds reduction in counterfeit medicines. Furthermore, its system for validating the seed quality of more than 80 percent of the major staple crops has contributed remarkably to food security in the region and protected the livelihoods of smallholders in East Africa and elsewhere.
Simons unites the strongest elements of entrepreneurship, invention, and social activism. His work in securing communities and protecting supply chains for legitimate enterprises to flourish impacts the lives of over 100 million people globally in more than 15 countries.
After years of helping mPedigree scale across Africa and South Asia, Simons and a new team of young innovators started a new company that has successfully prototyped a novel form of sensor. Built entirely from smart polymers, the sensor can track critical physical conditions in delicate supply chains, such as the optimal temperature range for transporting vaccines.
A whole new ecosystem
In 2017, mPedigree became a strategic partner of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, in the scale-up and delivery of these types of products to the last mile. In the process of incubating this novel enterprise at the Harvard Innovation Labs, Simons built a whole new ecosystem of business actors from radically different cultural backgrounds, culminating in patent-pending technologies and a broader network to advance business prospects internationally.
As a leading member of the IMANI Centre for Policy and Education, one of Africa’s most active think tanks, Simons has been a beacon for business professionals in Ghana and beyond, helping them comprehend their role in the broader context of development, social transformation, and civic engagement. Through his role in Ashoka, the Aspen Global Leadership Network, the African Leadership Institute, and the World Economic Forum (WEF), Simons has been an enthusiastic supporter of multiple mentorship programs, including the Global Shapers Community, the WEF’s young change- makers support program. He is also a mentor in the Thee Dot Dash initiative of We Are Family Foundation, which provides mentorship to the next generation of transformational entrepreneurs.
“We are inspired by Bright’s efforts and influence,” says Jenke ter Horst, Dean & Director of TIAS. “By combining leadership, collaboration, innovation and business models, Bright creates system change. It is precisely this sort of transformation that TIAS aims to achieve. We are proud to see him putting this to practice, both through his own business and as a mentor of young entrepreneurs. This is the kind of responsible leadership that we seek to promote and strengthen among our participants, so that they can truly make a difference in business and society.”
Established in 1916, AACSB is the world’s largest business education alliance, connecting educators, learners, and businesses to create the next generation of great leaders. With a presence in more than 100 countries and territories, AACSB fosters engagement, accelerates innovation, and amplifies impact in business education. Now in its sixth year, AACSB’s Influential Leaders honorees include nearly 250 business school graduates who have made a lasting impact in business and society. All honorees have earned an undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral degree from one of the more than 870 AACSB- accredited business schools worldwide.
Assets for moral change
“The TIAS MBA is unique in its overwhelming emphasis on how "business leadership" can respond to society's most "chronic" challenges'', says Bright Simons. ''From the very first statistics class to the overseas learning module towards the end of the course, TIAS faculty makes it very clear that the goal is not merely the mastery of management techniques to make organizations effective. After all, "effectiveness for what?" The real goal is to mold business leaders into allies for true social renewal so that they can deploy their organizations as assets for moral change."
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In this video, Bright Simons tells you about his TIAS-experience >>