MBAs on the Move

From IBM, the White House, and FBI to New America: Computer Engineer Finds Niche in Tech Strategy

Afua Bruce, Director of Engineering, Public Interest Technology, New America

Alumna of University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business (MBA, 2011) and Purdue University (BS, 2005: Computer Engineering)

Afua Bruce has always loved technology. As a child, she liked to tinker with computers, and both her parents worked in the sciences so it is no surprise that she studied Computer Engineering as an undergraduate. Although she began her career in coding, Afua decided to attend the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business after discovering an interest in strategy. Afua has applied her engineering and business skills to a breadth of roles at some of the most iconic organizations in the U.S. – including IBM, the FBI, and the White House. In her current role as Director of Engineering for the Public Interest Technology Program at New America, Afua uses her unique skillset to leverage technology for social good. She gives back outside of work, too – as a volunteer for her local National Society of Black Engineers chapter, working with K-12 students; as a community garden manager, which distributes fresh produce to families in need through a local food bank; and as a participant in Forté’s “MBAs on the Move” campaign, Afua is someone all women can look up to. As she says, “There are not a lot of people who look like me in the industries I have worked in,” and being a mentor is Afua’s commitment to changing that.

Words that define her: Unshakeable
Book recommendation: Why We Can’t Wait, by MLK Jr.  The time to make a difference in the world is now.  Don’t make excuses for why you can’t make an impact – even if only in a small way with a small amount of time.
Role model: Oprah Winfrey. She worked hard in her chosen field, but she didn’t limit her possibilities; as she grew personally, she expanded her work to match her growing skills and interests.
Song that makes her turn up the volume: Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys
Business lessons: Having a close group of friends and family who encourage you when you are down or doubting yourself can make all the difference. If you’re lucky, they will also keep you humble by telling you when you’re out of line.
What she wishes she’d known 5 – 10 years ago: I wish I had known it was okay to relax. My MBA classmates and I spent hours stressing over the perfect job that would set us up for the perfect career. I gave myself the freedom to change my career plans, and focused on doing my job well, adding value, and accepting opportunities that challenged me. I’m pretty happy with where my career has taken me!

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