Project Procurement Consultant
University of Leicester, PGDip Business Administration, Management and Operations University of Calabar/BSc. Economics
My Background prior to Imperial
I started my career in banking and left as the head of customer services, where I was highly involved in the mergers and acquisition exercise of five legacy banks. I developed an interest in project management, took up some globally accepted industry training/certifications and moved into the IT industry, managing the implementation and execution of IT Software Project, developing mobile applications on Androids, IOS, and on platforms, migrated data from on-premises to cloud and revamping of websites. I then transitioned into managing a $350k project for an international oil and gas company, as part of a team to execute an offshore deep water installation project on Exxon Mobil’s Erha Floating facility. I am currently also the project director for Grant A smile, winner of the 2019 Queen’s Award for Voluntary Organisation, a social enterprise offering intervention support services to families with members who have chronic illnesses.
Choosing the Imperial Executive MBA
Finding myself amongst key decision makers spread over EMEA, USA, Canada, and China, and having to make core strategic decisions myself, I realised it was time to have a broad business overview which would provide me with the analytical tools required in the execution of the objectives, goals, and vision of an organisation.
I opted for an Executive MBA at Imperial College Business School, having considered its pedigree as one of the most prestigious universities in the UK and the world. Imperial prides itself as an intelligently innovative business school, the calibre of lecturers and students, and quality of teaching is second to none - especially in a constantly evolving world of technology and business. I wanted to learn from the best and Imperial is the best for me.
I funded my MBA privately, taking a personal loan to fund the pursuit while also receiving a partial scholarship from Imperial College Business School.
A unique and rewarding programme
The Imperial Executive MBA is unique as it sits at the heart of London and relates practically to the business world with a strong focus on the interaction between business, science, engineering and technology. Imperial is highly innovative, some of the lecturers are consultants for corporate organisations who bring a wealth of practical experiences, combined with theoretical concepts.
I now approach business from an informed perspective and give constructive feedback with innovative solutions. I am being more forward and proactive in stating my stances and using the ideology, tools and templates availed to me in the programme to my professional and personal development. I can constructively look at a situation presented to me and determine how to create, capture, and appropriate value to enhance better ways of working.
Highlights and key takeaways
Networking, meeting and working with outstanding candidates from all over the world has been a definite highlight for me. Learning from them and seeing myself becoming more involved in taking leadership roles as a result of improved self-confidence and knowledge in the business of business and technology has been immensely satisfying.
So far, I have been acquainted with eight core modules and they have all been relevant in shaping and broadening my knowledge and understanding of global business ethos and ethics. The one module that ties all eight together and has propelled me to my desired goal of being seated in the C-suite is “Responsible Leadership and Corporate Success”. This module enhanced my perception on leadership; it teaches what it takes to truly be a great leader, the need to be charismatic, ability to give and receive constructive feedback and the constant need to avail oneself with emotional and cultural intelligence, especially when faced with a diverse team in a global organisation. According to Marcus Buckingham, “People do not leave organisations, they leave bad leadership.” So, for me, I am definitely going to take this on board and implement it in my career development and journey.
I am still working on mastering the accounting and corporate finance concepts. I was never involved in understanding company’s financial statements previously, but now feel better equipped with what to look out for while reviewing balance sheets, income statements and profit and loss accounts. I can proudly say, though I might not be an expert, I do have basic knowledge of these concepts and can talk about them. I can engage effectively in conversations and provide the right questions and contributions.
The realities of the COVID-19 pandemic definitely caused the most unexpected challenges. Not being able to take up the full range of networking opportunities that come with the programme is an example. Although we were fortunate enough to have a good few months attending lectures on campus before the COVID lockdown and in between during the easing of restrictions. That was a challenge but the positive takeaway from this was enhanced computer literacy. My online presence and confidence in front of the camera improved immensely. Being on the screen became the new normal which I had to quickly adapt to.
The most challenging part was adjusting to my new life, but the support of the programme team and my cohort has been immeasurable. Another challenge was holding down a full-time job, being active in various voluntary roles, sitting on the board of seven schools as a trustee, and co-founding a company, all while completing my MBA.
The seminars organised by the Business School team were phenomenal, unfortunately Covid-19 robbed us of some of them but two stood out for me and I find myself reliving every word of encouragement and practical experiences shared by these two amazing speakers who have “been there, lived it and done it”. The talk given by Ian Conn resonated immensely with me, particularly so because of my oil and gas background. He took us on a journey of the highs and lows of being an MD/CEO of an IOC, challenges faced, strategic decisions he had to make, the media and the need to develop a tough skin and still maintain a winning demeanour amidst the storms of the industry. Bronwyn Curtis was very impressive and admirable; she used storytelling to take us on a journey of her resilience as a female in her career pursuits. I was motivated and inspired and learned a great deal from her shared experiences. The hurdles, the criticisms, and the will to carry on regardless. She emphasised that women were needed at the decision-making tables and that we should push to be seated there, while warning us that it would not be a walk in the park. In both talks, one common thread was this - as you climb on the leadership ladder, treat people with empathy, no matter their status. Be humble and respectful, build and develop the team, because you will need people in your corner, especially those who are at the forefront of execution and implementation.
Working in diverse groups
My cohort is diverse, both in nationality and profession. Being very well exposed and experts in their fields, they are influential and readily available to render help. We are like a family and have been able to carve out time to network virtually when we are not able to meet up face to face. We have been able to build professional and personal bonds, and benefit from the wealth of knowledge brought in by everyone. The ability to think intelligently and outside the box has helped us create a nurturing environment for our experiences. Information sharing about different aspects of life, career development and profession is predominant amongst us and I am certain it is going to lead to lifelong relationships.
With group projects, I have found that working as part of a team has helped me in breaking complex tasks into manageable deliverables, setting up timelines and adhering to them to meet strict deadlines. By holding one another accountable and developing the ability to give and receive constructive feedback, I have a clearer understanding of my strength when it comes to giving ideas and my viewpoints. I have enjoyed being able to develop approachable ways to resolving varying opinions and to also challenge assumptions that I hold. Perhaps most importantly, I have found effective peers to emulate.
I am part of the team for an initiative run by Imperial called “What the Tech” as a technical support specialist, providing a digital literacy program aimed at teaching digital skills to the elderly living around the south Kensington district. We help them with basic technological needs to reduce isolation within that age group and get them connected with friends and families. Due to the pandemic, we have had to render this support to them virtually. I am also a member of the Imperial Cinema Discord Server, a movie club.
The faculty is very apt in keeping students up to date with relevant happenings; the programme team and pastoral care is particularly very supportive of the individual needs of their students. The lecturers are passionate about teaching and are very knowledgeable in their field with top-notch skills in transferring information. The partnership with Scale Space avails the Executive MBA candidates the opportunity to use this facility and network with the right people to offshoot their innovative business ideas. The blended approach based on live industry case studies makes learning very practical.
Being part of the Imperial Community
I have an improved and diverse network thanks to being part of the alumni and the prestige that comes with it. Even though we are still on the programme. I am equally mindful of the increased employment opportunities through affiliates of the College, which comes on the back of the general ethos of the College in striving for excellence.
I have learned first-hand from key industry leaders and experts on their own experience, challenges, motivations, and problems solving in real life business situations. The executive leadership sessions create a bridge between classroom learning and application of acquired tools in the real life, which gives an in-depth analyses or viewpoint of the facts behind the figures.
Working with Careers to achieve my goals
My career goals are akin to my personal development goals which includes a continuous enhancing and honing of my leadership skills in whatever capacity our world challenges me with, and I believe I have moved a step further to achieving that since being at Imperial.
The numerous one-to-one sessions with various senior executives and industry experts have been of particular interest to me. The meetings usually involve sharing their views and advice on accessing jobs, career path, futuristic outlook in my field of interest and how best to position myself. I also applied for work through the job board and received assistance with my interview skills and CV.
Life after the MBA
While female involvement in top, high level managerial positions is still minimal compared to the male counterparts, I strongly believe that I am armed with competent skills and able to hold down a position in this capacity and my Executive MBA provides competitive edge in the employment market.
Outside the professional world, I involve myself in various projects to give back to the community. I am passionate about empowering women and children who are the most vulnerable members of the society. I have been involved in and provided financial support to various projects to help empower vulnerable women and children. The influence and network that comes with being part of the wider alumni, I intend to use this to leverage on financial support and create more impacts in the lives of the less privileged while offering my leadership skills in the corporate business world. I am confident that skills acquired in my Executive MBA will help shape the vision of these companies in achieving their goals as well as any personal business I intend to add to my portfolio.
The London Factor
Location played a key factor in my decision to opt for Imperial College Business School, especially as it offers easy access to transport links that makes going to work or home from school less stressful. It’s also useful to have access to local amenities including restaurants and bars, hotels for accommodation when I need to stay over for school, and shopping as well as many other top attractions.
Some of my personal highlights include: the high-rise buildings (the Shard is one of my favourites), a leisurely stroll in the streets of the Mayfair area. The Connaught bar is amazing for a drinks meet up. Harrods for shopping. The School is within proximity to renowned museums (Victoria and Albert, Science and Natural History museums) and the numerous parks - particularly Hyde Park which is just round the corner from the Business School. It is my go-to place to unwind and clear my head. I love bird watching and I take up this opportunity whenever I am in the Business School on our once-a-month weekend of lectures. Regents Park and Kew Gardens are other interesting parks to visit, but London is generally adorned with loads of beautiful parks.
Juggling family life with an MBA
My friends and family have been very supportive. I had a long and hard discussion with my sons about this pursuit and to a large extent, it made coping a lot easier, although, I do get occasional distress calls and text from them whilst in class, which automatically calls for the need to put on my mummy duties hat. My advice for someone with children - just breathe, work with your children, affirm them, let them know you are setting a standard you want them to emulate, love them and love them some more and make out time for them no matter how busy you may be Get help from friends and family, have a structured itinerary and factor your school calendar and that of the kids into a plan. Being a mum to three teenage boys who I have not been able to see since the start of the pandemic because they live in another country is a full-time project even in want of time and I have had to devise ways of parenting virtually. There are times I wonder where I get the strength from, but I am determined to see this to fruition and I am indeed grateful for the challenges because they have shaped me into becoming insightful, dynamic, and resilient.
Advice to future applicants
Just do it - you have everything to gain (outstanding network, global industry business and technological knowledge, a lifetime alumnus of the Business School, and a world-renowned name to carry with you), but first carry out your research and be mentally, emotionally, and financially prepared because it is quite challenging. Speak with your friends and family about it and get their support because you will need every bit of it. Approach it as a 23-month project, set your own plan with buffers and go for it.
As someone who is in full time employment and very active in various voluntary roles, I would advise being very open-minded and willing to make calculated risks; there is a need to be highly organised, focused, resilient, disciplined to a fault and results-oriented, with a keen sense of time management. Your ability to effectively delegate and trust in others to execute tasks will be put to the test. However, occasionally do let your hair down to unwind. Any business can profit from the wealth of knowledge, information and experience that Imperial’s Executive MBA offers and so can you.