2018 MBAs To Watch: Ngozika Uzoma, University of Chicago (Booth)

Ngozika Uzoma

The University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

I am a constant observer, curious about how businesses and people in the world work.”

Age: 29

Hometown: Medfield, MA

Fun fact about yourself: I love ancient Egyptian history.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Tufts University: Major in Biology & Minor in Studio Art

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Democracy Prep Public Schools, Expansion Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? Udemy, San Francisco, CA

Where will you be working after graduation? Box, Management Associate, Rotational Leadership Program

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Admissions Fellows – Interview Team, Brand Ambassador

Second Year Mentor

Booth Soccer Club – Active Member

Forté Foundation Fellow

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am very passionate about women in sports and soccer is one of my favorite sports to play and watch. In my first year at Booth, there was minimal involvement of women in the Booth Soccer Club. After playing in a women’s league, we got a group of girls together and joined the Booth Soccer Club in our second year. We’ve had a great time playing with the guys, scrimmaging every week, and playing in tournaments – all in a welcoming and inclusive environment. Next year, the Booth Soccer Club will have its first female co-chair, and I hope to see an increase in women participating in the club after I graduate. I find soccer to be an amazing opportunity to challenge myself physically and mentally each week as I bond with my classmates in a new way. I want to share this opportunity with more of my peers. Though this is not my most direct or concrete achievement, it is the one I am most proud of. I hope our example will drive and encourage a higher representation of women in soccer and extracurricular sports in business school.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? When I joined Democracy Prep Public Schools, we had four schools, and when I left we had grown into a network of 19. As Expansion Manager, I was exceptionally proud to work with a diverse group of dedicated and passionate leaders to bring new educational opportunities to predominantly lower-socioeconomic black and brown students across the country. Helping reopen a Pre-K through 8th grade turnaround school in Washington DC (on a three-month timeline, no less) was one of the most formative and challenging achievements of my professional career. It was the first time where my leadership could directly impact so many people: staff, teachers, students, and the local community. As a team, we had to dig deep to effectively reallocate resources. After an exhilarating few months working across different functional teams from finance to academics, I helped the principals to open the school doors and set the stage for an educational transformation in the local community.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? One of my favorite professors at Booth has been Professor Ozan Candogan. I took Operations Management with him and his passion for the topic and his commitment to his students’ understanding set him apart. As he shared his personal research and worked through the cases with us, you could see how passionate he was about the topic, and that in turn helped me internalize that importance of operations in running a successful enterprise. Also, after the midterm, he made the time to go over every question with me and made sure I understood the core concept behind each one. His deep level of commitment to his subject and students made him one my favorite professors.

What was your favorite MBA Course? My favorite course at Booth was Platform Competition with Austan Goolsbee. I had just completed my first microeconomics course the quarter before and was still a little fuzzy on how the concepts really applied to my field of interest in tech. Austan Goolsbee’s class actually applied abstract concepts of micro such as supply and demand curves, to the structure and impact of current major tech companies. With great passion and dynamic class conversation, Professor Goolsbee helped us understand how technology platforms functioned in and were also changing the traditional marketplace, along with the network effects that made them so effective.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Booth for its commitment to solve the toughest problems. I was inspired by the flexible and deep analytical approach across multiple disciplines that Booth offered. And when I came to visit, I was inspired by the community and the commitment students had to each other’s success. As I sat in the winter garden as a prospective student, I chatted with current students about their entrepreneurial ideas and how they would use new technologies to track customer data and update their business strategy. In that conversation, I knew this would be a community that would support and challenge me, and I knew I had to come to Booth.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Before applying, I think it is very important to identify your ultimate career goals, and think backwards about the major steps you will need to realize your aspirations. With that understanding, I would then consider how Booth or any business school would help you get there and what you could contribute to the community in turn. Having a strong end game, I think really helps you to focus your choices around the business school application process, so you can understand what you need from a business program and what you can give back to it.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I think the biggest myth about Booth is that we are solely quant focused and lack an emphasis on intrapersonal skills and community. Yeah so, we all have had to take derivatives in micro and some of my classmates have some crazy modeling skills. However, some of the best memories I will take away from Booth are moments of support from my classmates during classes and recruiting, along with the crazy adventures we’ve had together exploring Chicago and the world.

What was your biggest regret in business school? This may not be a true regret, but the two years of business school go by so quickly, and there are so many classes and clubs I would have loved to participate in, but there really just weren’t enough hours in the day to make it all happen. I could have really used a ‘time-turner’ like Hermione had in Harry Potter.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Because I can’t pick just one, I most admire Maura Welch and Wenting Xi. Maura is part of the MPP/MBA dual program, and her organizational commitment to extracurriculars from highlighting the great possibilities of socially-minded business through Net Impact to leading the organization of women in Booth Soccer, she reminds me of the amazing impact you can have when you give back to your community. Wenting is an entrepreneurial force. In her time at Booth, she has started two businesses around topics that I am deeply passionate about – sports and professional networking – and she has set an amazing example of what you can achieve when you have the courage and drive to make your ideas a reality. I am deeply excited to follow the careers of both of these awesome women.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My father has most influenced my decision to pursue an MBA. Coming from Nigeria, my father always reiterated the importance of education as an essential tool that no one can take away from you. He holds degrees in both pharmacy and finance and throughout his life he has demonstrated the importance of a savvy sense of business in building your career. At the age of 55, he decided to follow his passion and completely changed his career to start his own business. He is emblematic of how far a strong business education and true entrepreneurial zeal can take you. I hope to one day live up to his example.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…a business design specialist. I would have formalized my passion for graphic design and gone to design school with the aim of finding a way to use design to make companies more operationally efficient both internally and externally. (Or who knows… maybe I still will.).”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? If I were dean for a day, I would change the application process to be more holistic and experiential, with the aim of understanding how people really work with others and solve problems.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? I want to see the great Egyptian pyramids and go scuba diving with a whale shark.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like to be remembered as a dependable friend with innovative ideas from a less traditional perspective.

What is your favorite movie about business? I think my favorite business movie would have to be Trading Places. It taught me to never underestimate the importance of positioning and presentation.

What would your theme song beDog Days Are Overby Florence and the Machine

Favorite vacation spot: I love visiting Mexico – from Mexico City to beaches of Tulum – I love exploring the rich culture and meeting so many amazing people.

Hobbies?I love playing soccer, running, drawing with charcoal, and finding the best bakeries to satisfy my crazy sweet tooth.

What made Ngozika such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

“Ask anyone who knows Gozi and they will tell you what a wonderful person she is. Gozi has volunteered a great deal of her time to the Dean’s Student Admissions Committee initiatives, engaging with Booth’s prospective student population and serving as a resource in their MBA decision process. Coming from the public schools sector, she is very dedicated to advancing education technology and I think she will make real impact on that space. She has a promising career ahead of her.”

Stacey Kole
Deputy Dean for Alumni, Corporate Relations and Full-Time MBA Program, Chicago Booth

 

DON’T MISS THE FULL LIST:

100 MBAS TO WATCH IN THE CLASS OF 2018