Africans of Booth

When I first got admitted to Booth, a lot of people were excited for me but most of that excitement was followed by “are there any Africans there?” In the spirit of the holidays and because a lot of recent admits might be getting the same questions while prospective applicants may be asking those questions, I’d like to present (some of) the Africans of Booth. I’ll start with myself:

Oma: I’m Nigerian; born and raised. I had my undergraduate education at Covenant University (Nigeria) and joined PwC immediately after my NYSC year. Part of the motivation to get an MBA was my need for fundamentals, I was good at BS-ing my way through everything but needed to be sure my foundations were strong enough to carry me through to my long-term goal of agribusiness entrepreneurship.

The most surprising part of being at Booth has been the extent to which people have been willing to help and share. I experienced this very early on while searching for an apartment in Chicago from Lagos. I continued to experience it even now and it still amazes me; from 7am interview preps so that the Boothie helping me could get to a 10am meeting at the other side of town, to Boothies cooking and sharing Jollof rice to celebrate the end of a quarter, to another Boothie picking up my luggage after my internship so I could travel to London. Boothies are amazing people and I’m glad to be part of them.

As a second year student, I get a lot of opportunities to be part of the community and to give back to a community that has given me so much. I co-chair several clubs including the Africa Business Group and I have been thrilled with the growing African community both in numbers and in interactions. I also get to give back by helping first years prepare for interview season, which is a personal favorite for me because I get to see people grow & improve over time.

I’ve had several trips with Boothies and I’ve enjoyed every one of them. I recently got back from Mexico (that’s where this picture comes from) and I’m looking forward to several more trips in the coming months including a “readtreat,” which promises to be introvert heaven.

Max: I’m from Cote d’Ivoire. I majored in Accounting as an undergrad in Temple University. Before coming for my MBA at Booth, I worked at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co, Goldman Sachs & Co, and KPMG, LLP.

I remain most impressed with the quality of the Booth education, the extensive research behind the frameworks we have learned, and the ardent desire of Boothies to learn and immediately apply these frameworks to situations we face in/out of the classroom. Personally, learning “how to think” has empowered me to quickly analyze any situation and built my confidence to discuss my views with grounded logic and intelligence.

I am very pleased with the growing African community at Booth and the support we provide each other to achieve our personal goals and those related to the African continent. I also hail the school’s commitment to expand its network of Booth-trained African professionals to successfully lead various African administrations and consolidate the economic momentum we are already witnessing in the region.  The outlook is definitely bright for students at Chicago Booth that are of African descent or interested in doing business across Africa.

Lola: I was born in Lagos, Nigeria and grew up in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. I am a dual MD/MBA student at Chicago Booth and Pritzker School of Medicine. Regarding my time at Booth– I used to think that there were “types” of Boothies, but daily I’m surprised by the stories and experiences classmates share with me about their lives. I’m currently working on a social impact consulting project through a class here at Booth, and had the opportunity to participate in a field visit to the community with which we are working in India–a once in a lifetime experience.

Wole: Before learning to watch baseball, before coming to Chicago, and before resuming at Booth, I was a medical doctor training in Lagos, Nigeria. As a doctor, I had a front row seat to experiencing the challenges in the Nigerian healthcare system. I also noticed that a lot of these challenges were created by a lack of the business skills required to manage a heavily constrained healthcare system. Motivated by a passion to increase the quality of healthcare in Africa, I came to Booth to learn the necessary business skills required to elevate the healthcare system in Africa.

So far, Booth has been both exciting and challenging – exciting for nights like TNDC but challenging because I am a career switcher with a non-traditional background. Even with that, it’s difficult to pick only one thing I love most about Booth, but I’ll say the flexible curriculum and my classmates. The flexible curriculum means that I get to customize my program as I please – something I find important being a career switcher. The diversity of experiences, thoughts and cultures represented in my classmates have added a personal and enlightening perspective to the education, thereby enriching the entire learning experience.

Where next after this? In Robert Frost’s words ‘The woods are lovely, dark, and deep. But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.’  Yes, I like poetry and I’m in search of a book club in Chicago.

Vera: My traditional name is ‘Ugoeze,’ which means ‘Glory of a King.’ I am from a state called ‘Anambra,’ which is in the eastern part of Nigeria, but grew up and worked in Lagos. An accountant by profession; my career has taken me from the Central Bank of Nigeria to PwC, where I spent the last 4 years working as an auditor focused primarily on the Energy industry.

I came to Booth because I wanted to stretch and refine myself, expand my business and leadership skills, and ultimately build up to be an impactful leader for my community. There are a number of things I love about Booth, especially the community of people I now call friends, but one I thing I was impressed by is how much Career Services invests in helping you succeed in the path you choose.

I am looking forward to trips with friends & afro parties, more interesting classes and taking on leadership roles at Booth.

Ijeoma: I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria before moving to the US 13 years ago to pursue my studies in Electrical Engineering. Before coming to Booth, I worked as an Engineer in the Automotive Industry for 5 years and did a stint in brand management. I have always been passionate about education and it has always been my dream to build a STEM school for girls back in Nigeria someday. So, when considering MBA programs, I was very focused on finding schools that had a huge focus on Entrepreneurship and Social impact and Booth fit these criteria clearly.

So far life at Booth has been much more than I expected. The curriculum is so flexible that I can take any classes I am interested in, regardless of my concentration. While the curriculum is flexible, believe me when I say, at Booth “you work hard.”  This is no joke. On a lighter mode, I have met so many amazing people from diverse backgrounds. From building close relationships during my Random Walk experience in Morocco to having daily banter with the rest of the first year African crew on “WhatsApp,” it is adequate to say that my journey so far has been both enlightening and worthwhile.

Right now, we are in the heat of prepping for the recruiting season and I am looking forward to acing interviews and getting that internship offer from my dream firm. In my 2nd year, I’m also looking to spend a quarter abroad at IESE, Barcelona where Social Entrepreneurship and Social Impact are a big part of the school’s curriculum.

Like every journey, there will always be obstacles or distractions but a mantra that has served me well is to “be true to myself.”  We can only be the best versions of ourselves, not anyone else. So find what’s unique about you and live to the fullest.

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