Joyce Aghahowa

Executive MBA
Undergraduate education
Master’s in International Relations, University of Benin
Job after graduation
CEO & founder of Grant A Smile
Year of graduation
Joyce Aghahowa EMBA 2021-22
Joyce Aghahowa, Executive MBA
“Imperial College Business School’s Executive MBA often attracts candidates from diverse nationalities and I wanted to be part of that innovative and collaborative community where I can sharpen my analytical skills and be a more confident entrepreneur.”

Read Joyce's story

What was your career experience prior to studying this programme? 

When I was a little girl, my dream was to become a teacher and that dream was achieved and was truly rewarding for me. However, a few years ago, I had a mindset reset and my view of the world evolved. What I want now is to leave my footprint in the sand and impact lives on a global level. 

Prior to joining Imperial College Business School, I worked as an expat senior teacher and ran the company I founded alongside my job. However, since joining Imperial, I have been fully focused on growing the organisation and am now a full-time social entrepreneur. 

I am the CEO and Founder of Grant A Smile Community Interest Company. We are a UK registered social enterprise offering practical home support to parents/families battling chronic or terminal health conditions. We have recently extended our humanitarian aid to countries like Myanmar and Nigeria and are fully operational in those countries. We were the proud winners of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in June 2019. In August 2018, I was honoured with the British Citizen Award for our outstanding services to humanity. In October 2019, I received a special recognition award from the organisers of the prestigious Proud of Africa UK Award and many more. In May 2021 I was honoured to receive the British Empire Medal. We are changing lives and very grateful to be recognised for the amazing work we do both at home and abroad. 

Why did you choose to study the Executive MBA at Imperial College Business School? 

I am a social entrepreneur who is on a mission to implement solutions that promote social, cultural and environmental well-being. In today’s ever-evolving world of business, my skills and background as an educational leadership professional were not enough to help grow the organisation faster and smarter, so investing in an Executive MBA programme was the best way to learn, grow and connect with the right people and organisations. 

I am very strategic when it comes to investing in my growth and how I spend my hard-earned money. I researched the best business schools in the UK and did an in-depth comparison with the rest of the world, and it was a no-brainer to go with Imperial College Business School. For me, it was the Imperial brand, the breadth of the network, the quality of the teaching, the flexible blended learning approach and the structured and rich curriculum that Imperial offers. Imperial College Business School’s Executive MBA often attracts candidates from diverse nationalities and I wanted to be part of that innovative and collaborative community where I can sharpen my analytical skills and be a more confident entrepreneur. 

"Imperial College Business School’s Executive MBA often attracts candidates from diverse nationalities and I wanted to be part of that innovative and collaborative community where I can sharpen my analytical skills and be a more confident entrepreneur."

Did you receive a scholarship?

My MBA is partly scholarship-funded and partly self-funded. I am one of the two recipients of the Inspiring Women – Executive MBA scholarship sponsored by the 30% Club. Outside of my role as a CEO and founder, I spend most of my time supporting and training women who want to start their own social enterprise. I strongly believe all businesses need to be social enterprises and positively impact people and the planet. Getting the 30% Club’s scholarship has provided me with the opportunity to support more women and help them achieve their goals of becoming a social entrepreneur. The value I get from Imperial College Business School trickles down to the women who come to me for support. It is a ripple effect and it’s all about educating, inspiring and empowering women to take the leap in their personal development and dream. 

What has been a highlight of the programme?

A group of supportive, talented and genuine individuals from different background and that is what makes this cohort very special. We share knowledge, collaborate and have fun together. Without the rich diversity we have this year, the journey will not be complete. I am ever so grateful for the opportunity to get to know some of my classmates on a deeper level and make lifelong friendship along the way. 

What are you enjoying learning about the most? 

My favourite module so far is Marketing Management. This is a crucial part of my business and I have already started applying the marketing concepts and skills that I have learned so far in my business. In the past, we relied heavily on hiring experts to manage the marketing side of our organisation and often had no input. Now that I have the opportunity to study the concept of marketing in-depth, I find it fascinating and intriguing, and it feels amazing to be able to initiate the conversations and drive some of the changes we are currently working on. I have a sudden confidence boost in my leadership and management style and that is priceless. Above all, I feel better positioned to lead my team to success. 

Taking on modules like Accounting and Corporate Reporting Analysis and Managerial Economics was not a walk in the park. At the start of each module, it sounded like Greek and Latin, and I just couldn’t grasp the concepts, nor did I see the value of studying these two subjects. To make matters worse, I didn’t come from a financial background and so I struggled for a while. I found myself dedicating so much time to studying just these two subjects and that was frustrating. However, the blended learning style here at Imperial means that I have the support of my syndicate group and now I don’t find these subjects as daunting anymore.  

We meet weekly, buddy up and study together, break down complex tasks for better understanding, share knowledge, collaborate and shine together. A few weeks into the programme and with better time management and organisation, the workload that I found overwhelming at the start become lighter, the heavy weight that rested on my shoulders was lifted, and now, I can confidently say, bring on Accounting and Corporate Reporting Analysis and Managerial Economics! 

What advice would you give to someone who’s considering applying for this programme?  

When you get a chance to apply to Imperial College Business School, don’t overthink it, just do it! The Imperial brand speaks for itself. From the stunning campus, high-tech facilities, rich curriculum, outstanding teaching and learning, to the student support, events and networking opportunities, the list is endless and worthwhile. The Business School promises a well-rounded, world class education and without a doubt, that is exactly what you get and more. 

Related blogs


Company sponsorship: top tips for submitting a successful business case

Creating a strong, well-researched business case will show your employer that you are serious about your MBA journey. In this blog, we provide our top 5 tips on building a successful business case.

Read more
EMBA Funding Blog Title

Funding your Executive MBA: sponsorships, scholarships and more

Discover the different funding options for the Executive MBA at Imperial.

Read more
Hong Kong trip
Student blog

My Executive MBA International Residency experience: Doing Business with China

Stuart Beards, Executive MBA alum (2023) reflects on his experience on our one-week residency in China. The purpose of this residency is to enable students to appreciate what it takes to do business there, to work with Chinese companies and to develop supply chains.

Read more