Rector’s eNews – 25 August 2021/ Rector's eNews
It is, perhaps, difficult for parents to imagine where their children will be and what will engage them in their lives and, indeed, what impact they will make on others in years to come. A number of Old Boys have led significant organisations or cared for patients as medical practitioners or influenced people in the other meaningful ways in their lives both within South Africa and internationally.
Recently I was shown an article on an Old Boy, Mark Suzman, who was in Pascoe in 1981-1985 and I wonder if his parents imagined how influential he would become during his lifetime. Like every other Michaelhouse boy, Mark had a laundry number – it was 7198. His parents might have known that or seen it on his clothing from time to time and they would have known that he was a principled young man, that he was awarded Academic Honours and played hockey. But whether they would have known that he was destined for a career on the world stage is doubtful.
Clearly, Mark was an outstanding schoolboy who took his initial degree at Harvard, summa cum laude, and then proceeded on a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford where he attained his doctorate in International Relations. To quote the website entry in his current role, “Mark’s upbringing in apartheid South Africa instilled in him a desire to use the advantages afforded to him to help tackle injustice and inequality. He began his career doing that through journalism, writing for the Johannesburg Star and then the Financial Times, where he covered international trade policy, welfare reform, and political issues, including the historic 1994 election of Nelson Mandela. In 2000, Mark joined the United Nations, where he was part of the effort to implement the Millennium Development Goals under the leadership of the then Secretary-General Kofi Annan.” Mark’s career has seen him hold multiple positions in the United Nations, including some related to strategic communications in the office of the Secretary General and, in 2007, he joined the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as Director of Global Development, Policy, Advocacy, and Special Initiatives. In a number of his roles, he oversaw the development of the Foundation’s offices in India, China, Africa and Europe and managed the Foundation’s relationships with government, private philanthropists, and civil society.
Mark is now the Chief Executive Officer of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which has, as its mission, helping every person to have the “opportunity to live a healthy, productive life.”
Parents have dreams for their children and, amongst those dreams, is usually the hope that they will have a positive impact on the lives of other people in whatever their calling may be. Mark is one of a number of Old Boys of whom we are proud: the various roles which he has played have taken him to every corner of the world and he has clearly enhanced the lives of other people, thus fulfilling the original intent of James Cameron Todd, our Founder, and the important messages contained in the Michaelhouse Code.