Participant Story

Darshan Chandaria

Darshan Chandaria

Sparking Innovative Ideas

  • Role

    Director and Group CEO, Chandaria
  • Industry

    • Manufacturing

I am now able to consider outcomes through a clearly articulated and structured process.

Director and group CEO of the Kenya-based Chandaria Group, Darshan Chandaria, explains how his experience in the Senior Executive Program—Africa (SEPA) exceeded his expectations and sparked innovative ideas he plans to take back to his company.

What value do you think SEPA provides to participants?

This program is not just based on theory, theory, theory. Because the cases are centered on real-world businesses, the discussions revolve around strategies, innovations, and critical points that can make or break companies—or propel them into a new era of success. The best part? You have a chance to debate your opinions with senior executives from all over Africa (and the world), who bring their own ideas about environment, culture, and global involvement to the table.

How do you think the program's ideas apply to Africa?

I was able to evaluate Africa's strengths—the growing middle class, increasing rates of GDP, and disposable income—see how the U.S. and Europe addresses these trends, and then apply those lessons to my own business. We examined financial performance, innovation designs, and team building—winning strategies that apply across contexts and geographies. I was also able to compare notes with people who are doing similar things but in different industries.

What did you think of SEPA's modular format?

The three-part format is great! Being in Rwanda was amazing and full of inspiring moments. We even met the president and learned about the country’s history. After the first module, when we were back at our day-to-day jobs, we tackled the online module. The timing was invaluable, because we could catch up but still stay in touch. The icing on the cake was being back at Harvard for our final "crunch-time" week.

What was your biggest takeaway?

I am now able to consider outcomes through a clearly articulated and structured process and, when setting goals, to balance reality with ambition. Moving forward, I'll be asking myself: What is the plan? What are we going to do differently? What are we innovating? In what way is the new product or service we are developing relevant or useful? And are we looking at the right financial measures?

What was one unexpected benefit of the program?

Through this program, I met people from all over the continent—South Africa, North Africa, and West Africa—and built a powerful network in the process. Their perspectives are so rich—something I know I'll never get anywhere else. To be able to sit with 49 other senior executives from all walks of life has been incredible, and I think we'll be lifetime friends—both in business and pleasure—forever.

Featured Program

Senior Executive Program—Africa