“At HBS, I’ve met so many people with interesting backgrounds who have reshaped the way I think and expanded my viewpoint. ”
What’s the one thing you’re most excited about learning at HBS?
It’s the opportunity to make a transition in my career. I’m originally from Nigeria where I spent the first fifteen years of my life. Then I spent six years in the U.K. where I studied engineering; I began my career in Texas, working in the oil and gas industry. Now, I’m excited about ways I can contribute to the economic growth occurring in my home country. This summer, I’ll be working with McKinsey & Co. in a consulting role in Nigeria. I’m looking forward to not being pigeon-holed in the resource industry, and exploring different kinds of industries on the ground, looking at what drives change and takes an economy to the next level. I’ll be able to work with policy makers and business leaders who are expanding Nigeria’s economy and political landscape.
How do your HBS ambitions fit into the big picture of the world beyond?
At HBS, I’ve met so many people with interesting backgrounds who have reshaped the way I think and expanded my viewpoint. Before coming here, the opportunities open to me were in engineering and oil and gas. Being at HBS, I’m able to see a wide range of possibilities outside of that background. My current ambition is to be based in Africa, working in a managerial capacity, in a position of control to make meaningful contributions to the economy. A lot of our Africa-focused cases at HBS are sad – about corruption or pollution or poverty – and it bothers me that these very real problems are still at the forefront of the African story. I can see myself working in a range of capacities, perhaps in public policy or in a large corporation, making investments that directly improve lives and reduce poverty. I’m going to be the co-chairman of the Africa Business Club Conference which attracts about 1,300 people each year. I’m excited to use this network to inspire and work with people who share a similar vision so that the increasing stories of growth and optimism will absolutely displace the negative stories that are too prominent in the minds of the world.
How are you pushing yourself?
I’m taking advantage of HBS’ focus on entrepreneurship to test myself and see if this is a path I’d want to take in the future. With one of my classmates, I entered the New Venture Competition this year. Our idea: a fast fashion retailer for West Africa. (We call it ‘545,’ the number of the apartment where we came up with the idea!) It’s kind of like an H&M – good quality, stylish women’s wear, but for Africa. We hope to bring jobs to a workforce there that is currently underemployed – especially women. The business combines my passion for development with my passion for fashion. We didn’t win the competition, but we’re still going to move forward. Being in the right place with the right people has encouraged me to try something new.
What might people find surprising about you?
I ended up being a chemical engineer, but growing up, I was a very creative person; I saw myself going down an arts route as a writer, a chef, or a fashion designer. Now that I’m at HBS, I’m finding ways to combine my creativity with my business interests – the New Venture Competition for example. But also simple things, like creating new recipes. I pick up interesting ideas from every place I travel to. The key is spice – I spice things up and invite my classmates to try my new creations.