Meet UCLA Anderson’s MBA Class of 2018

UCLA's Abdulkamal Abdullahi in the Class of 2018

UCLA’s Abdulkamal Abdullahi in the Class of 2018

Abdulkamal Bolutife Abdullahi

UCLA, Anderson School of Management

Assistant Dean’s Scouting Report: “One of the most poised MBA students I have run across in quite some time.  Someone who will make a difference when he graduates.”

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Ex-engineer with a desire to excel and make positive changes, who sometimes plays complex characters.

Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria

Fun Fact About Yourself: For five years, I was a stage actor in Nigeria with a drama group called The Rays

Undergraduate School and Major: Illinois Institute of Technology — Chemical Engineering (BSc., MEng.)

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

2012-2016: Exxon Mobil, Process Engineer (Lagos, Nigeria); 2014-2015: Exxon Mobil, Flowline Coordinator (Lagos, Nigeria)

Describe the biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Last year, close to the conclusion of a $2.2 billion expansion project in Exxon Mobil’s most profitable Nigerian asset, we identified a long-standing issue that would have put the entire project in jeopardy. This triggered a system-wide evaluation, which I coordinated, of the entire deepwater offshore facility to assess the root causes of the issue. Working within a very narrow time frame for an evaluation of such expansive scope, I assembled a great team and subsequently formulated and stewarded the successful execution of a multifaceted restoration project to protect the investment. Additionally, I set monitoring and training programs in place to ensure that there would be no repeat incidents.

Looking back on your experience, what advice would you give to future business school applicants? Three things:

  1. Try to be scientific when going through your school selection. Working with a ranking spreadsheet with all the criteria important to you will be very helpful, particularly when eliminating schools from your list.
  1. Start your GMAT prep early, especially if you have been out of school for a while. The earlier you can get the exam out of the way (with a score that is good enough for your target schools), the better.
  1. None of my recommenders had ever written an MBA application recommendation, so be sure to prep yours as needed and give them enough time to write thoughtful and powerful recommendations. After doing some research on typical recommender questions, I made a 15-page binder (customized for each recommender) with a very detailed version of my resume, achievements, and leadership experience from college, etc. My recommenders found this to be very helpful.

(Well, four):

  1. For the admissions interviews, practice, practice, practice so that you can flawlessly articulate your story and sell yourself to the admissions officers. In addition to showing them what you will contribute to the program, you also need to demonstrate why you will be a good fit for their program. Be sure to do your research — attend informational sessions, visit the schools (if you can), and, most importantly, talk to alums and current students.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? As a career switcher, it was important that any MBA program I’d seriously consider attending would have a framework in place to help me make the transition from engineering (in the oil and gas industry) to management consulting. UCLA Anderson’s Parker Career Management Center is one of the best of its kind in the world. That, coupled with the Anderson Career Teams, the purposefully structured first-year curriculum, and the compulsory Applied Management Research program — which will give me the opportunity to experience analogs of exactly what I want to do with my MBA — convinced me that Anderson would be a very good choice.

Although Anderson was one of a few schools I was considering to attend, I was sold after my admissions interview. Many programs advertise their collaborative culture; at Anderson, that culture is real — and you feel it and live in it every day. I think Anderson attracts a certain type of applicant who shares the school’s values of thinking fearlessly, driving change, and sharing success. For my interviewer, a second-year, “collaboration” clearly wasn’t just a buzzword — it was the Anderson way.

Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life. One of the main reasons I have chosen to pursue an MBA at this point in my life is so that I can transition to a new role and, potentially, one of several new industries. My dream job right out of business school would entail developing strategy and executing projects across different geographic locations, industries, and corporate cultures.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? I would like them to say that I matured professionally and personally, that I contributed meaningfully, and that I completed the program successfully — with no regrets.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.