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Alumna Cikida Gcali talks money, energy and writing a legacy

Cikida Gcali completed a master’s degree in petroleum engineering in the summer of 2017 and returned to her homeland of South Africa. With interests in many areas, such as finance, community engagement and entrepreneurship, she launched her career at a global management consulting firm in its specialist program.

cikida gcaliGcali’s journey from Johannesburg, South Africa, to Tulsa was made possible by way of a Fulbright Scholarship that placed her at The University of Tulsa for specialization in production engineering. Gcali earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at Wits University in Johannesburg and chose to continue her education at TU for its reputation in the oil and gas industry. She hopes to become an energy pioneer in sub-Saharan Africa.

During her two years of Oklahoma living, she explored TU and the city, joining the TU Student Investment Fund and serving as an organizer for 1 Million Cups, a weekly educational program that showcases startups in Tulsa.

“I was able to network with different types of people from other universities backgrounds and ages that lived in the community,” Gcali said. “What I really liked about Tulsa was that it had a lot going on but still had that small town feel where you could get to know everybody, find out what they’re working on and contribute to that.”

Although Gcali was a petroleum engineering student, a faculty member in the Collins College of Business encouraged her to participate in the college’s Student Investment Fund, a portfolio totaling more than $5 million in assets managed exclusively by students.

“I think if I was at a bigger university I would’ve never gotten that opportunity,” she said.

Gcali’s financial experience also includes The Money Fam, a digital publication she created for ambitious millennials. With tough questions about money in her own life, she sought answers from experts and created a blog to share the information. The portal features articles from contributing writers on emergency funds, investment properties, Bitcoin and other topics. Visitors to the website can ask daring money questions to someone with an independent perspective without the influence of digital marketing.

“I established The Money Fam because I realized money is not a topic amongst millennials,” she said. “It’s something we’re afraid to speak about. We don’t know a lot about it, and it’s something we should invest in more. I wanted to provide a neutral source where we can just learn and make the right decisions from that.”

From the energy sector to financial advising circles and entrepreneurial projects, Gcali has established her brand in America and South Africa. The young professional is an avid reader who loves Netflix and good conversation with friends. Gcali’s TU graduate degree is one of the many tools she is applying to become an ambassador for women in the oil and gas industry, but she also hopes to emerge as a leader in all areas of her life.

“I want to be known as a woman of impact wherever I go. That’s the legacy I’d want to leave.”