2017 Best MBAs: Victor Ojeleye, University of Chicago (Booth)

Victor Ojeleye

University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

“Humble, hard-working and principled leader who drives change, helps and includes others, and models mentorship.”

Age: 28

Hometown: Ottawa, KS (a small rural town outside of Kansas City, Kansas)

Fun fact about yourself: I went skiing for the first time in Breckenridge during winter break 2015 with two classmates

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Kansas State University, B.B.A., Accounting & Finance (2012)

Played Division 1 Men’s College Basketball as a walk-on and captained the team for two years.

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Koch Ag & Energy Solutions, Strategy & Business Development Associate

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Nike, Inc. in Beaverton, Oregon. I worked on two projects (one in sustainability and one in analytics).

Where will you be working after graduation? Cargill, Inc., Corporate Strategy Associate

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I use my extracurricular time at Booth to accomplish 4 objectives: 1) to explore experiential learning and leadership development opportunities to build my professional toolkit as well as my network; 2) to mentor inside and outside the Booth community; 3) to help create a collaborative, exciting and diverse community at Booth; and 4) to promote the Booth brand in the future.

Experiential Learning & Leadership Development

  • Responsible Leadership through Choice Architecture Lab, Richard Thaler and Heather Caruso. This was a new year-long MBA course wherein students explored, in hands-on collaboration with partner firms, how research-driven improvements to choice architecture (i.e., the way in which information is presented to and experienced by decision-makers) can promote more responsible, purposeful, and productive business practices.
  • T. Kearney Global Prize Case Competition (Fall 2015). Competed with a team of four first-year students with diverse backgrounds to develop a strategy for a retail client lagging industry growth. This experience taught me about relevant metrics for retail businesses and how to think about growth in multiple geographies.
  • Leadership Practicum – I enrolled in this program to take advantage of the data-driven survey approach to learning about my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats as a leader. Participants work with a certified leadership coach who helps them reflect on their leadership style and understand which attributes can increase likelihood of success in post-MBA roles as well as which attributes that could create barriers.

Mentoring

  • Booth Mentorship Program – mentor to first year students for career planning, academics and opportunities to get involved at Booth
  • Mentor and panelist, African American MBA Association.
  • YoungLife (non-profit) Volunteer Counselor – Engage, tutor and advise 10 college freshman students who I have mentored for 5 years because I am passionate about the value of educating and coaching youth.
  • Young Alumni Leader, Kansas State University. Serve on leadership council of a newly established young professional network as the co-lead for member engagement and mentor students in College of Business Administration.

Supporting the current Booth community

Student Government

  • Executive Vice President, Booth Executive Council (cabinet of six elected leaders of the Booth student government). Managed budget of $250,000 for Booth student groups and helped create awareness about financial resources at the University.
  • Booth Representative, MBA Peer School Forum. This is a partnership among peer MBA school student government leaders to collaborate on best practices for operations, discuss key issues faced by MBA’s, and foster relationships across MBA programs
  • Executive Council Liaison of the Graduate Business Council (student government) Booth Voices, Winter Formal, Mentorship, Internal Operations and Finance committees
  • Booth Representative, University of Chicago Graduate Council

Academics

  • Course Note Taker, Academic Services. This is one of my most rewarding experiences because I felt connected to helping others succeed in the classroom.

Community & Student Groups

  • RW Leader. Led Random Walk Ireland 2016 (a seven day trip for 12 first years and led by four second years pre-Orientation to help them feel welcome, excited, and prepared as well as make friendships in both classes)
  • Speaker, Booth Stories. Booth Stories is part of Booth Voices, a school-wide initiative focused on building deeper connections among Booth students via fireside storytelling and cultural awareness, topic-led small groups.
  • Small Group Leader, Christian Men in Business
  • Singer, Economies of Scale (a cappella group) and AudioBooth band
  • Active member, Booth Basketball Club

Shaping the future Booth community

  • Student Panelist, Dean Search Committee. Participated and helped select 24 first- and second-year students to advise the Committee on dean selection criteria.
  • Writer, ChiBus. Collaborated and published opinion articles for University of Chicago Booth Business newspaper.
  • Contributing scholarship recipient, University of Chicago Campaign. Helped develop and edit the Booth scholarship funding marketing video for alumni giving initiative.
  • First Day (admissions weekend) Host. Hosted admitted students on tours of Booth, Chicago and community activities

Awards/Honors

1898 Scholarship for admitted students

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of an article that I wrote in the ChiBus newspaper discussing how the pressures to perform as an MBA can create barriers to understanding the needs of other students and building strong connections. At the end of the article, I offer some resolve to MBAs, or any graduate students, on how to break stereotypical molds and uncover the unique gifts that each student has to offer. My article was on the front page of the paper as well as online.

This article made me feel proud because I was able to share some of my personal experiences as well as make an impact on my peers and many other readers. I received multiple personal notes and emails from students who identified with the problem of constantly feeling the pressure to prove their capability, and not being able to speak openly about the real challenges they were facing. They also told me that that they appreciated the way that I articulated the problem and provided some simple solutions.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Founding Koch’s “Be the IMPACT Day” program, a corporate immersion program for African American and Latino students, focused on providing real-world experiences for young professionals and bridging the gap between academics and practice to prepare them for successful career starts. This program was a subset of an undergraduate scholarship program already in place at the company.

I am proud of this program because it is a solution to an unmet need for professionalism training, career coaching, mentorship and workplace immersion that is often missing (based on research) from the experiences of under-represented student groups. I partnered with top executives, marketing and training consultants to develop the program. I also built strong relationships with faculty fellows at the partner institutions, strengthening our pipelines for hiring talent.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Booth because of its culture, curriculum and reputation. From the first time I engaged Booth students and faculty before getting admitted, I knew that the values and beliefs of the people at Booth were down-to-earth and hard working. Students I spoke to discussed how they gave back to the school and professors took the time to ask me about my background when I visited campus. The academics were also a key factor because I saw that I could choose my own path and focus on building skills in areas I found interesting to me. I also knew that the expertise, practice and research of the faculty was highly regarded and would give me access to the latest industry findings and future trends.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I love the diverse environment in terms of my peers and their perspectives. I credit the quality of my Booth experience to my classmates and the diversity of their experiences, expertise and insightful questions. I have learned so much from those with more years of work experience than I have and those from non-traditional backgrounds. However, the presence of my peers was not only felt in the classroom, but it was also so present in student groups and social gatherings where I gained a greater appreciation for unfamiliar cultures and hobbies.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be true to yourself and know yourself. Often times I see people entering business school with the belief that they have to live up to everyone’s expectations. I was guilty of this when I started. It is true that business school is competitive environment, but it is also true that you earn this opportunity because of the experiences than accomplishments that have shaped who you are. So I challenge applicants to be authentic and know what you don’t know, staying true to your core tenets and challenging yourself to a new adventure (yes, take risks) every day as you rely on your past experiences to empower you to contribute to Booth.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Andrea McPike (Class of 2017) – She attended University of Chicago for undergrad, is a respected and active member of student government, founded and operated the inaugural mental health and wellness week at Booth, and is an active member of Chicago Women in Business and many other impactful groups in the Booth and University of Chicago community. She is an advocate for women’s initiatives, Booth Voices (an initiate to deepen connections among students), and social impact. She is passionate and caring for others and I respect her for the difference that she has made at Booth at the institutional, student group and individual levels. I really admire what she has accomplished.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized that some of the business leaders and mentors in my life had strong networks, industry expertise and unique leadership skills.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…working in at Koch Industries.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would create a program that allows every student the opportunity to study abroad to gain international perspective of how business differs around the globe. I think this is very important to preparing students to think differently about problem solving as we enter our careers.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate goal is to become the President of a multinational company in either agribusiness, durable goods, or technology industries. These industries are tangible to me and I believe that each one lends itself to creating opportunities to make people’s lives better in developed and developing nations.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My mom and dad. My dad immigrated to the U.S. to become a doctor so that he could create a new life for my mom, older sister and me. My dad was a resident at the University of Kansas during the early 1990’s. Homeless during part of his early years as student immigrant, my dad demonstrated to me what it means to be resilient and to work hard to achieve your dreams. He is now a successful doctor with his own practice in Ottawa, Kansas. My mom taught me math and helped me with my English speaking skills. She coached me through personal, professional and athletic situations and I still call her every day to ask for her amazing advice.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Victor was a generous, humble and principled classmate who went out of his way to help other students make the most of their MBA experiences.

Favorite book: Winning with People by John Maxwell

Favorite movie: Top Gun

Favorite musical performer: John Legend

Favorite vacation spot: France

Hobbies? Singing, guitar, board games, mountain biking, hiking and cheering for my brother at Southern Methodist University basketball and Kansas State University sports

What made Victor such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“A Nigerian-born accountant, Victor’s global outlook, calm patient style and wise insights place him among the most respected members of Booth’s Class of 2017.  While at Booth, Victor was a member of the Executive Committee of student government and played a key role in advocating for graduate student rights across the larger UChicago campus. He will transition from the energy sector (Koch AG & Energy Solutions) to Cargill Inc.”

Stacey Kole
Deputy Dean, Alumni & Corporate Relations, and Full-time MBA Programs
University of Chicago Booth School of Business

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