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It Is Never Too Late to Continue Education - The Inspiring Story of Gabriel Mpezamihigo

By Elyse Habimana

The starting point of all achievement is ambition.

Education can play an important role in fostering this ambition. Gabriel Mpezamihigo, Audit Director at the Office of the Auditor-General in Rwanda, offers a great example of someone who developed his ambition through education after nine years without studying.

In 1995, when Gabriel was 15 years old his family was forced to leave Democratic Republic of the Congo to Rwanda. By then, he had completed the first class of secondary school. He continued with his studies over the next two years in Rwanda but eventually had to stop as security issues necessitated that he moves with his family to Uganda. From 1997 to 2006, he was unable to continue his education.

"At this time, I was married and had two kids,” he said. “Despite being 26 years old, I was determined to start my advanced level in secondary school in Rwanda with an aim to become a professional accountant."

Gabriel was studying with much younger classmates than him, but this didn’t bother or deter him as he was focused on his goals. He finished secondary school in accounting and graduated first in the class.

“I am grateful to my family, especially my wife, for assuming all responsibilities when I was at school,” he said. After finishing secondary school, he earned a government scholarship to continue his university studies in accounting sciences. He earned his degree, graduating in the top five among 130 students.

In 2013, after completing his bachelor’s degree and still focused on pursuing his goal of being a professional accountant, Gabriel considered studying the ACCA course: Association of Chartered Certified Accountant, a UK-based program.

"It was very expensive and I couldn't afford it, but if I thought if I ever could get means for this course, it would be an amazing experience," he said.

Fortunately, his dream came to a realization after completing university. He got a job in the Office of the Auditor-General of State Finances - Rwanda that eventually sponsored his ACCA education.

“When I started the job, the Auditor General encouraged audit staff to undertake professional courses to be equipped with skills that will enable them to perform their daily duties,” he said. “I immediately chose to study the ACCA even though my workmates were scared to undertake this course as it is too difficult.”

He succeeded with this course, demonstrating his brilliance to his colleagues in the process.

Putting his education into practice, Gabriel continued to flourish in his role. The Auditor-General recommended him to support another institution as Commissioner for Finance with the Rwanda Revenue Authority. Gabriel spent almost one year there.

Now, Gabriel is an Audit Director at the Office of the Auditor-General. His job entails participating in the preparation of the annual audit plan through identification of assignments, monitoring the execution of the audit plan by ensuring completion of assignments within the budget through proper planning, coordinating and supporting the audit team to execute assignments. He aspires to continue his studies and pursue an MBA to further increase his skills.

Key Lessons

I was happy to hear Gabriel’s advice to the younger generation and became motivated after listening to his career journey. Some of this advice includes:

  1. Start with a future dream. He said that your efforts are directed by your dream. “With this, whatever you do is for achieving your dream,” he said.

  2. Determination. “You will take actions based on your vision. You will know where you need to go and avoid distractions.”

  3. Time management. Goal-driven people must know how you utilize their time. You have to set your to-do list to help you to measure your daily performance, as well as to avoid doing useless things.

  4. Self-motivation. Don’t want to wait for someone’s motivation. Instead, you have to motivate yourself by considering the future.

  5. Hard work. When you want something, you have to work hard. It eventually pays off.

My Takeaways

For sure, everyone who has a goal can learn from Gabriel’s story. For this story, I learned that self-awareness is a key point for success. Imagine returning to school after nine years and studying with students who were so much younger. I appreciated his adaptability in every situation and I hope to do the same in my future career in management. It is important we are adapting to what happens in our ever-changing world.

When I was young, I thought that working hard can help you to achieve your goals. Additionally, after talking to Gabriel, I was able to see that taking smart risks can be the best way to succeed. In Gabriel’s case, it was studying while with a family. As I have a goal of working in the management field, I am doing what I can now to reach my vision.

Lastly, I learned that success does not depend on one’s family background. When you set a goal and work for it, you set yourself up for success. Gabriel’s story shows this. He started from nothing, but today he is Audit Director at the Office of the Auditor-General.

For more information about Gabriel Mpezamihigo connect him on LinkedIn. Elyse Habimana is a student at Southern New Hampshire University who is pursuing Management with a concentration in Logistics and Operations. Connect with him on LinkedIn. He wrote this story after going through Global Innovators Academy's Interview an Innovator experience.

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