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Ross Gave Me the Skills to 'Sit at the Table'


By Nnamdi Maduagwu, MBA ‘15

I recall asking a Ross grad during the admissions process what her biggest benefit from the Ross MBA was. Now, as I prepare to graduate, I would say that I share her same sentiment; above all, Ross has equipped me with the skills to ‘sit at the table.’

I’ve spent the majority of my career working as a product engineer for a Fortune 500 automotive supplier, and I have a background in mechanical engineering. But, having grown up in Nigeria and only moving to the US for school, my long-term interest has always been to find a way to be reintegrated back into the Nigerian emerging economy. I just need to be involved in helping to propel it forward in some way or another.

So, even without knowing exactly in what capacity I wanted to return to Nigeria, it was clear to me that I needed solid business acumen if I was going to thrive in such a dynamic business environment. That’s what led me to Ross - but, I was not prepared for how quickly and effectively Ross would take me through that transition.

In the fall of 2013, during my second term at Ross as a Weekend MBA student, I approached my business group vice president on his way to lunch with an idea for sponsoring one of Ross’ famous MAP projects.

Being a Ross grad himself, he was very receptive and willing to talk further about such an opportunity. I recall sitting in his office, discussing the impact such a project could have on the company’s EBITDA and bottom line, terms I wasn’t familiar with prior to business school, and thinking about how long it could have taken me to be in this same position, if I didn’t have the Ross backing.

In the end, we were able to submit a proposal for the project -- which was approved -- and I ended up working on it during my own MAP experience. The project involved benchmarking my company’s sales and operations planning process to those of other similar companies and industry standards. In the end, we provided recommendations on how to close any gaps between my company’s current performance and its target performance. The leadership was so pleased with the outcome, I was transitioned from my previous job to a new role involving me implementing my team’s recommendations.

Furthermore, my reintegration into the Nigerian economy is coming far sooner than I had expected. Going into business school, I had a goal to be able to build the necessary skills to return to Nigeria within the next five years.

However, during the recruitment process, I had gotten in touch with several African companies to test the waters and gauge what sort of relevant experiences they required for such a transition. Much to my surprise, I ended up interviewing and accepting an offer with one of them: McKinsey & Company in Nigeria. I couldn’t be more excited to start this next chapter in September of 2015.

From transitioning my role within my original company to something more business relevant, to accomplishing my long-term goal of being reintegrated into the Nigerian economy, I have benefitted tremendously from the Ross MBA program. Where Ross stands out for me is in providing a direct link between my interests, and the skills and network that could make that happen.

My transitions may have outpaced my original timelines, but I am confident that I now have the necessary skills to ‘sit at the table.’

Nnamdi Maduagwu is a 2015 graduate of the Ross Weekend MBA Program. He begins working with McKinsey & Company in Nigeria in September, 2015.

This is just one in a series of #RossGrad posts from students graduating this Spring.

Click here to see the entire collection

Image: John Branch, faculty director of the Weekend MBA Program, welcomes students to Ross.