Kathryn Zealand

“It’s very rewarding work and I genuinely feel like we are improving lives and supporting local economies.”


Why did you study maths and statistics?

I enjoyed maths and physics at high school so became involved in UQ’s Enhanced Studies Program that allows school students to study and gain credit for university courses. I found the courses I took through this program really engaging, and the students and Faculty very supportive, even though I was a few years younger than most. So UQ seemed a natural choice for finishing the degree.


What was the best part of your time at UQ?

I particularly liked 3rd year and honours courses where the classes were small, and we had some great professors who would talk about things that interested them in the field and encourage a much more self-exploratory approach to learning and research.

It was also great to be able to take courses outside my majors. I’ve always been interested in our world, and was able to take a few courses ranging from anthropology to law, which was a nice break from science and really helped round out my education.


What kind of things does an enterprise developer do?

The foundation aims to find solutions to poverty that are self-sustaining – that is, they are commercially viable without a continual influx of charity money.

I look after a pipeline of a dozen potential enterprises all across Africa, build business cases, source co-investors and set up the start-ups.

Typically I try to find areas where smallholder farmers struggle to get good prices for their produce. We then start a business that provides fertiliser and technical assistance to farmers; buys their crops directly; sorts, aggregates and sometimes processes the crop; and then sells to large companies who want to sort locally but don’t want the hassles of thousands of individual contracts with small farmers.


What advice would you give to anyone starting their career?

Don’t worry too much about what you study – what I’m doing now is nothing like what I imagined when I started a maths and physics degree – but it is worth studying hard enough to get good grades in whatever you choose.

You can always study more, later! I’m currently taking a break to study for an MBA at Stanford and an MPA at Harvard.

Be unafraid to take risks, do unusual things and forge your own path.

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Kathryn Zealand

Kathryn Zealand

Job title
Enterprise Developer, Clinton Foundation, Nairobi

Bachelor of Science (Honours) (Physics)

Profile published 2016

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