Angela Mwanza, MBA ’00
A Global Journey to Wall Street
Every now and then, Angela Mwanza says, she pinches herself in her office at UBS Private Wealth Management on Park Avenue in Manhattan, where as a senior vice president, she advises clients of substantial wealth.
It’s a career she finds “somewhat surreal,” since Mwanza was born in Zambia, one of the poorest countries in the world. Though her father, Jacob Mwanza, PhD ’73, who became Governor of the Central Bank of Zambia, grew up in a village with no electricity or running water, Angela Mwanza had a different type of childhood and was sent to boarding school in Zimbabwe at the age of 13. “I was very lucky because I was provided access to good schools,” she says.
Her educational journey took her to Germany, where she earned a master’s degree in linguistics at the University of Konstanz and hoped to become an interpreter for the United Nations. But after working for a group of clothing brands in Germany, the world of business opened up for her, and she enrolled at Johnson to pursue her MBA in 1998. That’s where a classmate suggested another option: ‘Angela, with your accent, you should be a private banker,'” Mwanza recalls. “I guess she felt that my British-like accent made me sound sophisticated.”
After graduating, Mwanza followed her classmate’s advice and began her career at J.P. Morgan Private Bank, moving from there to work at Fleet and then at Lehman Brothers. In 2008, she joined UBS Private Wealth Management, and along with her business partner, Bonnie Richards, she formed the Richards & Mwanza Group, leading a team that works with 42 families of substantial wealth.
Mwanza begins her days with an early morning run of up to eight miles (she has already completed five marathons and climbed Mt Kilimanjaro), is at her desk by 8 a.m., and spends the next 12 hours managing her clients’ investments, helping them to achieve their philanthropic goals, advising them on sustainable investing, and mentoring their children on career choices. Many of her clients are self-made entrepreneurs who generated their wealth by building companies and selling them.
“I don’t look like your typical private banker on Wall Street,” Mwanza says. “But my clients seem to get my story. They realize that for me to get to where I am, I had to work harder than most people.”
While Wall Street is far removed from the villages of Southern Africa, Mwanza has not forgotten her roots. After her sister Juliet and Juliet’s year-old son died from AIDS in Zambia, Mwanza became involved in several charitable foundations that do work in developing nations in Africa and elsewhere. She serves as vice chair for reproductive health for the MDG Health Alliance, which creates partnerships to help attain the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals. She also serves on the boards of Grassroot Soccer, which leverages the popularity of soccer to prevent the spread of HIV/ AIDS, and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, which supports causes ranging from environmental conservation to medical research. She was also a founding member of the United Nations Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council, which focuses on innovative solutions for global problems.
A 2007 recipient of the Wilbur Parker Distinguished Alumni Award, Mwanza also serves on Johnson’s Advisory Council and on the Entrepreneurship@Cornell Advisory Council.
Mwanza’s volunteer work not only fulfills her passion to make a difference, but also helps her to more effectively advise her clients on how they might want to achieve impact based on their values and goals. “For people who have built and sold companies, once they have provided for their families, the next chapter is often to leverage their wealth for the greater good,” she says. “That can be just as an important an achievement as their investment goals, and for some clients it is even more important.”