Zambian Economist Dr Dambisa Moyo marries billionaire Jared Smith
Arts & Lifestyle Opinion & Columnist

Zambian Economist Dr Dambisa Moyo marries billionaire Jared Smith

Dr Dambisa Moyo, a world famous Zambian economist and a 4-time New York Times best selling author, got married on the 28th December, 2020 to Mr Jared Smith, billionaire and co-founder of Qualtrics. Dr Moyo is the daughter of Dr Steven Moyo (Vice-Chairperson, Anti-Corruption Commision and the former Director General, ZNBC) and Mrs Orlene Moyo (former Chairperson, Indo-Zambia Bank). She is also the sister of the renowned late artist, Ms Marsha Moyo. Dr Moyo has earned more than 20 accolades and awards for her brilliance, including a place in TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People”(2009) and a place in GQ’s “100 Most Connected Women in 2014”. Mr Smith is the co-founder of Qualtrics, a data analytics company which was recently sold to SAP for $8 billion. He is the son of Professor Scott Smith and Dr Nancy Smith Hill. 

How does Dr Moyo impact lives?

Dr Moyo has released four books in the last 12 years. The first was “Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How there is a Better Way for Africa”. I personally remember reading this book shortly before my A2 Economics and thus becoming the class foreign development policy expert. The book displays how in most cases the structure  of foreign aid from developed nations has actually hindered the progression of poorer countries. This was a revolutionary book to my young mind as it contradicted the mainstream ideals of leading economists of the time. She proved that despite more than $1 trillion dollars of aid to Africa in the last 50 years, “poverty in Africa grew from 11% to a staggering 66%”. This book had a profound effect on global development economics and to this day could be regarded as one of the most important books ever written by a Zambian. Her second and third books “Winner Takes All” (2012) and “How the West was Lost” accurately predicted the rise of China and the fall of America while “Edge of Chaos” criticized the effects of democracy on economic growth.

For her contributions, Dr Moyo is considered an icon amongst international academia. It’s no wonder her education exemplifies a higher standard for every young Zambian to aspire to. After initially starting her Bachelors degree in Chemistry at the University of Zambia in 1991 she obtained a scholarship to America within one year. She completed the degree at the American University in 1993 and later obtained her MPA from Harvard and a MPhil from Oxford with a thesis on ‘The Determinants of Components of Savings in Developing Countries’. Her stellar credentials proved strong when she ably dismissed Bill Gates for his comments on her book  (Gates is the owner of Microsoft and Chairman of the Gates foundation, one of the largest charities in the world). She is also a proven success in the corporate world as Dr Moyo’s experience includes working at Goldman Sachs as a research strategist and economist and at the World Bank as a consultant. After gaining international attention, she utilised her public image to focus on influencing macroeconomic decisions globally. She currently sits on the board of the Chevron Corporation and the 3M Company, and formerly sat on the board of Barclays Bank.

A Public Figure 

Dr Moyo has more recently been known for her inspiring public speaking. In her Ted Talk ‘Economic Growth has stalled’ she considers if the modern world has shifted the paradigm of capitalism at the expense of economic growth. Additionally she has begun promoting diverse economic proposals such as the ‘A Marshall Plan for Africa’  in the economist magazine. The original Marshall plan  allowed the US to loan $130 billion to weak European countries after World War II. The inflow is credited with preventing the collapse of some of the largest European countries (France for example received 18% of the loan). This is all part of more recent COVID-19 economic coverage that has included appearances on Times and CNBC to name a few. 

Who is Mr Jared Smith?

Jared Smith and his family are the founders of Utah-based Qualtrics, a world leading data analytics company specializing in customer survey software. He started the company with his brother (Ryan) and his father (Scott) in 2002 in his hometown Provo, Utah. His brother Ryan had returned home at the time to assist his father through his chemotherapy treatment. They had worked on the project as a hobby in their basement for over two years gaining a small customer base.  Jared who was working for Google at the time and eventually joined his family in  the Qualtrics team. Thereafter the company grew from strength to strength but maintained a quiet profile, rejecting offers of articles and venture capital investments to maintain generic growth.

Beyond the company little is known about the billionaire. In the few interviews he has done he speaks of productivity and implementation strategy. After leaving Google for the company he managed to hit $30 million in company annual revenue with just 4 engineers working on the software. His brother Ryan has stated that Jared’s effectiveness drives the company’s growth . When the company was started every conversation they had was about the first goal ‘first 250 customers’. His hard work ethic is evident in an interview where he advocates for a  ‘7  day work week’ building a reputation as one of the hardest working executives in the tech industry.  In a short presentation for the company Mr Smith details his focus on “X Data”. X data is an in-depth analysis of user experience, this form of evaluation is attributed to the success of the company and why they rarely lose a customer. The feedback focuses customer and employee retention and experience maximization. 

Last year Qualtrics was acquired for $8 billion in cash by German software giant SAP. Ryan Smith owned 14% of the company and was therefore entitled to a $1.2 billion payout (For context, the value of Zambia’s total outstanding bonds is currently $3 billion). Recently he stated he will still be involved in the management of the company. Qualtrics has over 11,000 customers and $289 million in annual revenue. Last week it was announced that Ryan Smith (Jared’s Brother) had purchased the Utah Jazz basketball team in a $1.6 billion deal. The team features superstars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. 

What can we all learn?

At a time where many people are looking for appropriate role models, we can find the stories of these two exceptional people an inspiration. Dr Moyo is a Zambian citizen who has reached the top of her career breaking barriers for women internationally. Mr Smith shows that it is possible to build an empire with enough determination. At the core we can identify key values we all can strive for when pursuing our dreams : hard work, intelligence and focus. We certainly wish the couple well in their new lives as a formidable force as they continue impacting lives and changing the world for the better.

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