Fola Folowosele MBA ‘13
Africa Business Club
Sports Marketing Intern, PUMA North America and Summer Strategy Associate, Grupo Technos S.A.
Corporate Strategy Development, Nike, Portland, Oregon
Why was earning your MBA at HBS important to you?
At Mesoamerica Energy, the wind energy company I worked at prior to business school, I held a cross functional role that straddled engineering and business development. It was through this experience that I realized that I wanted to focus more on developing a business skill set. Given my interest in utilizing business to drive social impact, HBS stood out to me because it is an institution that focuses on multiple bottom lines. I was also drawn to HBS because I knew that I would learn as much from my classmates as I would from the professors. I wanted to hone my ability to crystallize my own point of view after truly listening to other perspectives, which is a skillset that I am going to need as I develop in my career.
How has your overall HBS experience shaped your goals and career path?
The breadth of experiences of my HBS classmates as well as the extensive alumni network gave me the opportunity to learn about many industries second hand. I learned a ton through simply grabbing coffee with classmates, calling alumni to learn more about what they did, and going on company treks - one unique opportunity was a visit to Federation Internationale de Football Association (thanks to an executive education student) during which we learned about the company's business model and operations. My two years at HBS helped me cross off potential career paths that I'm definitely not interested in while helping me crystallize a clearer career vision. However, I've also learned to be flexible and open to taking advantages of opportunities that present themselves even if they are not necessarily part of my original vision.
Prior to coming to HBS, I was told that it was a truly transformational experience. Reflecting on my 2 years at the school, I can state categorically that HBS has infected me with an audacity to dare to dream big dreams and take on challenges that I would have second guessed prior to my time at HBS. By consistently being exposed to others who have raised the bar of excellence, I have subconsciously raised the bar that I set for myself as well.
How has HBS prepared you for your summer internship and long term career?
I split my summer into two parts - I interned at PUMA for the first month before spending the rest of my summer as an internal strategy consultant at Grupo Technos, the largest watch company in Latin America. HBS played an integral role in securing both internships. Firstly, it was while organizing a sports panel for the Africa Business Conference in my RC (required curriculum) year that I met my future boss, who I invited to the conference to discuss PUMA's role in developing the football industry in Africa. The conference gave me a platform to share my interest in using the business of sports to positively impact communities and it was through this interaction that I got tapped to help PUMA develop an Africa focused grassroots soccer initiative. My second internship was a direct result of the executive education program at HBS. I was fortunate to meet the Grupo Technos CEO, who was at the time doing an executive education program on campus. We developed a relationship that eventually led to an internship focused on helping the company evaluate its nascent retail strategy for its principal female watch brand.
In my EC (elective curriculum) year, the experience garnered from both internship roles was vital in securing a full time position at Nike in Corporate Strategy and Development.
What are you most looking forward to in your career?
I am looking forward to the big inflexion points that tend to define a career. In the next couple of decades business models will have to evolve even more quickly than in the past and I believe that my ability to embrace and adapt to change will be a major deciding factor in my success or failure. One important lesson that I learned form an article I recently read is that "the risk not taken is more dangerous than the risk taken," and I hope to utilize this lesson at the critical inflection points in my career.