DLD Summit Delegation

Discovering a world of opportunities: Zibusiso and Filleile’s trip to the DLD forum.


In January, something fun and unpredictable happened.  Fred, already slated to speak at the Digital Life Design (DLD) Conference in Munich, decided to take two students along for the experience.  

After a highly competitive process, Fred selected two third-year students, Zibusiso Mtunzi & Fileille Naberwe, to accompany him for the 3-day conference in Munich. In a post on Medium, Zibusiso described his feelings when notified of his selection as: “Overjoyed and thrilled.” And for good reason.

It can take professionals years to receive an invitation to this invite-only conference—hailed as “one of the two most important innovation conferences in Europe” by The Economist. With a conference theme of “Optimism and Courage,” our students embarked on the DLD Conference with hopeful expectation.

No Strangers To Digitization…

Fileille and Zibusiso both had prior skills and experiences using digitization as a tool for innovation. Fileille’s involvement with Project Umbrella, a mobile application her team developed to share accurate sexual and reproductive health information with women, led to their award of a $10,000 grant to launch the application to empower women.  And Zibusiso’s team took first place in ALU’s 2017 Hult Prize Competition with their prototype design to harness a sufficient level of energy to change a million lives by 2025.

These two engineering students were no strangers to digitization, making their participation in the DLD Conference not only a point of curiosity but also – and more importantly – an opportunity to mingle with global digital innovators from across industries.

And one of the most valuable lessons our students experienced during the summit affirmed the significance of their ALU education. They saw, in real time that….

Problem solvers don’t need an industry; they need a problem.

Innovators, the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, and Paulo Coelho, graced DLD Conference stages.  And DLD will soon welcome innovators ranging from celebrity personality Lady Gaga and online news mogul Arianna Huffington to Shai Agassi, the creator of Project Better Place, a large scale framework for rapid transformation of transport system away from fossil-based energy into non-polluting oil-free solutions.

With speakers from every industry— from the music to the space industry and everything in between—DLD is not industry specific. It’s a convergence of skill and the ability to use digitization to innovate, making it the perfect place for two third-year engineering-focused ALU students to mingle with influencers from a variety of industries.

As ALU students, Zibusiso and Fileille—unlike their peers from other institutions— have a tangible set of skills that they can leverage to solve problems in any industry, making them the perfect addition to any team.

For instance, Zibusiso, met fashion designer Samuel Ross and entrepreneur and scholar Okendo Lewis-Gayle. He engaged both of them at the problem level, adding value and navigating the conversations with ease. And since the DLD Summit, he’s maintained contact with several of these individuals, creating opportunities in the form of summer internships in Europe as well as ongoing dialogues and mentorships with executives.

Fileille also experienced the opportunity to create similar connections at DLD and is excited about her future prospects for this summer and next year.  

After chatting with both students, it’s not a stretch to say they both had life-changing experiences at the DLD Conference in Munich, and everyone at ALU is excited to see what additional opportunities they create.

About ALU

ALU provides higher education for a higher purpose. Our students declare missions, not majors.

They develop the real-world skills to take on the world’s most pressing challenges. And they take ownership of their learning from day one through our peer and student-led approach – because ALU believes in the power and agency of young people to start shaping the future right now.

Together with a world-class faculty and staff, our students are igniting a ripple of positive impact across Africa and the world. Join us


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