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The spikiest pictures exhibit my passion for cricket, my accomplishment in distance running, and my zeal for public speaking & improving the community.

I held a cricket bat even before I went to school. Growing up, I always watched cricket with my father – a sports enthusiast – and often emulated techniques of my favorite cricketers when playing with my friends.  In Class XI, I was selected to play for my school team in Saudi Arabia (photograph 1). The team taught me the importance of team work, perseverance and hard work. Though I started as the slowest among my teammates, I was diligent and never missed a single 2-hour practice. I fine-tuned my techniques by spending extra time with my coach and pursued speed and mobility drills to improve my reflex and agility. My hard work paid off.  My performance in the league tournaments earned me an opportunity to represent the city – Dammam – in the intercity tournament. Unlike the school team, the city team included players from different nationalities – Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Afghanistan. Among the many challenges to play for a team with such diversity, the language barrier was the biggest. Nevertheless, I took lead and used an amalgamation of English with other regional languages to communicate with my teammates. This helped us break barriers and strengthened team trust. I learned to respect different cultures, their perspectives and their modus of operandi under demanding match situations. Interacting with team members with different styles – diplomatic, calm and assertive – I also developed openness to perspectives that has led me to always listen and understand before pushing my own ideas.  As for cricket, my passion for the sport has grown over the years, and I grab every opportunity that comes my way to play.

Five years after my cricket experience, a busy schedule and poor diet led me to gain 25 pounds. Weighing over 230 pounds and with a BMI of 32, I was crowned “OBESE”. The doctors warned me of a plethora of ailments to come. A physical transformation was needed, and after weeks of deliberation, I began my journey – strict diet, consistent sleep, and a rigorous hour-long workout daily despite working full-time. I lost 20 pounds in 5 months. Unfortunately, following the same routine, I no longer observed visible improvements and was tempted to fall back to my bad habits. To motivate myself, I read fitness blogs and realized that the physical transformation required a committed mind. I took this challenge to learn to be more disciplined. Nine months later, I was overwhelmed with a transformed physique – losing over 50 pounds in the process. The joy, however, was short-lived as I encountered my second setback – a lumbar injury that deprived me of any physical activity for 1 year. A sudden lifestyle change without exercise was challenging to avoid any weight gain. But I was resolute and resorted to a balanced diet and relaxed walks to maintain my weight.  Post-recovery, I aimed to take fitness to the next level. My friend, a renowned nutritionist and triathlete, motivated me to join the city’s distance runners’ group. The weekly 3 days of group runs combined with 5 days of gym training helped me increase my endurance. The elite runners of the group taught me recovery and stretching techniques to avoid injuries.  In 2016, I completed my first 10Km hill run (photograph 2) and subsequently a half marathon. The journey instilled in me a stronger need to spread fitness in the community and to lead an active lifestyle. What brought more joy to me was when 3 of my colleagues took to fitness after my transformation. I helped them with their diet plan, encouraged them to join the gym and suggested exercise regimes.

My desire to contribute in the community was further deepened when I joined Toastmasters, a nonprofit organization focused on public speaking and leadership. What began as an opportunity to network and improve my public speaking skills eventually turned into a passion. The chapter, which consisted of members of different ages and backgrounds, allowed me to learn in a forgiving environment. Over the next 2.5 years, I assumed leadership positions from Treasurer to President. I structured new member orientation programs through classroom and virtual modes, organized monthly education sessions based on members’ needs, and strengthened mentor-mentee interaction through formalizing coffee chats. Subsequently, our club doubled its membership base, increased member retention and claimed the prestigious Diamond Club Award, awarded to the best clubs across 7 states. Simultaneously, I honed my public speaking skills and participated with zeal in my first Speech Contest, only to be eliminated at the club level. Discouraged, I questioned if I should participate in future contests. However, my mentor thought otherwise. Her feedback helped me realize that every contest is about improving ourselves and that we are our biggest competitor. Four months later, I entered the Evaluation Speech contest and progressed to become a District finalist – among 746 contestants across 7 states (photograph 3). Humbled by the learning process, I decided to coach young toastmasters, like my mentor has helped me.  Recently, I coached and motivated my mentee to work on a pitch to her CEO to change her role in the organization. Her pitch was successful, enabling her to change roles and improve her work satisfaction.

Recently, I met with Mr. Chris Jones (Assistant Director of Admission) at an MBA fair. Through him, I realized that Rotman values several traits that I have learned and demonstrated in my life, and I am eager and excited to continue my journey there.  The emphasis Rotman puts on self-development, combined with its strength in strategy and consulting, makes it my top choice to achieve my career goals and continue to make a difference for my community.

Hiking Webster Falls

I became interested in hiking after moving to Canada, and Gatineau Park was my favorite destination when I lived in Ottawa. Relocating to Toronto presented an opportunity to find a new hiking destination, so my friend and I gave Webster Falls a try last summer. Hiking through the woods to the plunge pool was challenging but mostly enjoyable; the scenery and time spent with my friend made for a beautiful experience. After spending some time at the plunge pool we had two options for returning to the top of the cliff – either hike back through the woods or climb the rocks using ropes. The hike was the safer option but would require a longer time, while the climb was less than 10% of the hike time and would be a new experience. Despite never having climbed before, and not knowing what lay ahead, I decided to give the climb a shot!

Half way through, the difficulty of the climb and my inexperience at making the required maneuvers dawned upon me. I became anxious and my instinct was to return to the bottom and hike back instead. I told my friend how I was feeling, and he provided some useful tips, but I could not shake off the fear. Just as I was about to decide to resume hiking, the fear of quitting prevailed. I had always prided myself on being tenacious, having scaled more daunting challenges, and I decided that I was not going to become a quitter now. I decided to see it through, watching my friend’s maneuvers and learning to apply them. Once I made the decision not to quit, a significant portion of my fear subsided, and I became more comfortable climbing. I completed the climb and overcame the challenge, even if it took a little more time than anticipated.

As I reflected on the climb, I realized that overcoming a fear of the unknown is the first step to expanding one’s horizons. If we do not venture into the unknown, we will never discover anything new. I have since imbibed this in all aspects of my life, never hesitating to try new things that would help me develop new skills. With every challenge I face, I remember how I overcame Webster falls and I put these principles to play in achieving my goals.

Arriving in Canada

In September 2015, I arrived in Ottawa, Canada – my first time out of Africa and the first time any member of my family had left the country for a long duration (2 years). I moved to Canada in pursuit of a higher education and an opportunity to explore the world beyond my home country. Despite having read about cultural differences between Nigeria and Canada, and how to bridge the gap, the reality of the experience was different. The cold was harsher than expected, and the social norms and expectations were much different than I had anticipated.

To experience Canada beyond my education, I decided to volunteer with EnviroCentre – a chance to merge my passion for the environment and interact with different people. However, despite my enthusiastic efforts, my sign-up numbers at outreach events were low. I conveyed this concern to my supervisor and her recommendation was to slow down my speed of speaking. I had not realized that most people struggled to understand my Nigerian accent, made more difficult by my pace of speaking. Determined, I practiced speaking slowly and rounding my syllables– a change so fundamental that it took me conscious effort for many weeks. The sign-ups started increasing; I became a better presenter and was soon invited to lead the volunteering team!

I realized that adapting to a new culture provides immense opportunities to engage with other people and share one’s culture and experiences but often involves changing some very fundamental things about oneself. Reminding myself to speak slowly also made me observe other facets of my personality from the perspective of a new culture, and I was able to transform several aspects about myself to truly imbibe the Canadian culture. Soon, I secured an internship with the Government of Canada, and the country and its culture became even more dear to me – now my true home.

Winning the Service Award at Guaranty Trust Bank

After graduation, I joined Guaranty Trust Bank in Nigeria for its superior professionalism and top-notch service that made it the biggest bank in Africa. However, I soon realized that the culture of the department that I joined was not positive. My team was considered a cost center, so in spite of a heavy workload, long hours, and poor work-life balance, we had a much lower rate of promotion compared to profit centers.

I saw this as an opportunity and decided to challenge the status quo. I started thinking out of the box to see how we could add value by improving turnaround time and automating some processes – aiming to reduce costs so that the ‘cost center’ became exciting to senior management. Over multiple conversations with the technology team, senior team members, and my manager, I demonstrated a sound ROI analysis to convince them to invest in automating over 50% of our processes by showing the savings we could get thereafter. This led to 25% faster turnaround, saving $10M for the bank – and I won the prestigious annual service award for that year.

My manager decided to increase my responsibilities, and I became accountable for the quality assessment of our entire department. Once again, I followed the same principles of challenging the status quo, and going back to basics by redesigning several processes and protocols, thereby achieving high quality results and faster turnaround time with lower resources. I won the annual service award for the second time in a row and was promoted 2 years ahead of schedule.

This experience taught me to always seek opportunity amidst adversity and to be audacious in imagining bold solutions. It increased my confidence to always share my ideas and to be brave in execution.

My ultimate goal is to work closely on integration of technology in the automotive sector as VP Strategy of an automotive firm such as Ford. Collaborating with on-demand transportation companies such as Uber, Lyft, Chariot, and investing in Electric Vehicles and AI technology, I will devise strategies to alleviate the transportation issues to help customers commute in a convenient, safe and environment-friendly way.

Serving as a foundation, my experience at _____ has helped me gain automotive industry knowledge focused on the after sales channel operations. While working on the workshop automation project to provide real time service updates to customers, I witnessed the growing use of technology and digital platforms to meet the after sales customer expectations. The increasing number of vehicles on the road, however, has caused traffic congestion, an aggravating global problem that costs India alone a loss of $22 billion annually in only 4 metro cities. Additionally, 50% of the air pollution in many countries is caused by the exhaust gases emitted from cars. The future of mobility is the intersection of automotive, technology and transportation companies working together to combat the traffic & pollution issues while meeting increasing customer demands. These challenges present opportunities that pique my interest and boost my passion to contribute to this rapidly evolving mobility ecosystem.

My short-term goal is to work as an automotive consultant in a consulting firm such as PWC. On the strategy team at PWC, I will work with major automotive clients to help formulate strategy and develop business models to adopt emerging technology – Electric Vehicles, Autonomous Vehicles and on-demand mobility services such as ride sharing. Apart from gaining knowledge about the analytical tools from PWC’s agent based modelling and AI techniques, I will also learn about the ongoing automotive industry trends and assess strategy implications from Autofacts – PWC’s global team of 5100 automotive professionals. In 3-5 years, after gaining better insight on the ‘strategy to execution’ challenges from the projects at PWC,  I intend to move to a senior strategic position in Corporate Strategy at Ford to help the company tackle upcoming mobility challenges.

My industry knowledge, familiarity of after sales channel operations and understanding of customer’s needs will not be sufficient achieve my goals. The disruptive automotive industry is global and multidisciplinary, and thus necessitates the need to garner business acumen in strategy, finance, marketing, operations and mergers & acquisitions.

An MBA from Rotman will be the ideal first step to gain the required skills. Rotman’s location – Toronto, the world’s most multicultural city – is a technology supercluster and also has one of the highest start-ups in the AI space, which will be core to connected and autonomous vehicles. During my interaction with alumnus Raghav Mohan (MBA’15) , I also learnt that Toronto’s proximity to major automotive manufacturing plants of GM, Ford, Toyota, Honda and Chrysler offered intriguing opportunities. This will grant me unparalleled access to industry experts in automotive & AI, providing multidimensional perspectives to help me broaden my knowledge about the market.

I will leverage Rotman’s strong focus on strategy by taking courses such as Network & Digital Market Strategy, Corporation 360 and Corporate Strategy, which was regarded one of the best courses by alumnus Athreya Upadhya (MBA’18). Engaging discussion with Professors Mr. Ajay Agarwal & Mr. Brian Silverman , whose research focuses on economics of AI and competitive technology strategy in transportation, respectively, will be paramount to my goals. Along with strategy,  innovation and customer centric approach will be crucial to evolve in the rapidly changing mobility space.

As I march towards my destination, I am committed to leverage technology and use cleaner modes of propulsion to have a smaller environmental footprint, helping consumers reach their destination in a quicker, safer and economical mobility system.

I’ve always been intrigued by numbers and especially by the financial world. This led me to pursue my dual degree in law and business administration, concentrating in finance and risk management. For the past 10 years I’ve been an active investor in both the American and local stock exchange, analyzing companies and trends, and I’ve also contributed to my family’s real-estate initiatives totaling ~ $5,000,000 and spanning 4 countries: Israel, US, Cyprus and France.

As a business aspirant, I now want to pursue a career in finance. In the short-term, I would like to join a Private Wealth Management Department at either Goldman Sachs or the Royal Bank of Canada as an Associate. Advancing within the firm, I hope to become a Managing Director of such a department.

I am searching for a rigorous MBA program to provide me with the finance knowledge and toolkit I need by complementing course work with diverse hands-on opportunities. Courses such as “Financial Institutions and Capital Markets” with Susan Christofferson and “The Management of Private Wealth” with Tom McCullough will deepen my theoretical knowledge of management and finance. Rotman’s specialized facilities, including the Self Development Lab, MBO Financial Group Finance Research and Trading Lab are precisely the experiential learning experiences I seek to put my knowledge into action.

Talking to some Rotman Alumni, I got a great feel of both the invigorating student life and the enriching academic programs Rotman has to offer. For the above reasons, I’m sure Rotman will be the best fir for me.

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