Meet Oxford Saïd’s MBA Class Of 2019

Onome Ofoman

Saïd Business School, University of Oxford

“Easy-going adventure seeker who loves a lot and wants to reform education.”

Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria

Fun Fact About Yourself: I like the convenience of living in a city but ultimately, I would like to live in a small town in the mountains surrounded by life’s simple pleasures.

Undergraduate School and Major: Stanford University, BSc in Electrical Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Google, Software Engineer

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: While working as a software engineer at Google, I spent at least 10 weeks a year on education outreach. I made these activities a priority due to my interest in education equality and I consider the effective juggling of my day-to-day work as a software engineer and my after-hours work as an educator to be my biggest accomplishment. Highlights include:

  • Teaching bi-monthly computer science classes at Google-partner universities
  • Mentoring startups and entrepreneurs in Brazil and other emerging markets on software development through collaboration with Google for Entrepreneurs
  • Creating curriculum and facilitating workshops on Google open-source tools and APIs in sub-Saharan Africa

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? I have met very few classmates so far (It is a week before the launch of the MBA at the time of writing), so my description is based on remote interactions.

In two words, I would describe the current class as proactive and helpful. They are proactive because they have been quick to set up inclusive treks spanning different interest groups and helpful because despite not knowing each other yet, everyone in the cohort is willing to disseminate any helpful information they find out, ranging from how to navigate accommodation selection to the best way to get from Heathrow to Oxford.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? Without a doubt, I chose Oxford because of its focus on social impact and how that melds with my interest in exploring ways that education can be revamped in Nigeria. Saïd Business School enjoys easy access to social impact thought leaders, research and resources through the Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurship, and is a dream for anyone interested in positively impacting the world we live in. This perfect environment attracts change leaders and I have found that many of my future classmates and past alumni share this mindset.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I have improved as a runner since the last time I was in school, and I am looking forward to supplementing my personal training by joining the university cross country club.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Over the past year, I have become less-and-less involved in technology in favor of education outreach. This, to me, signals a change in my interests and I decided, through the MBA, to take some time from software engineering to explore other career paths.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? I see the MBA as an opportunity to round out my experience in technology with the fundamentals of business and to explore alternate career opportunities.

It is an immersive opportunity to re-evaluate my career choices while learning about different fields through classes, seminars, workshops, competitions and most importantly, classmates. I decided to invest in an MBA from Oxford to explore the social impact space in a streamlined manner and to learn about venture capital.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Cambridge Judge Business School

How did you determine your fit at various schools? Reflecting on long-term goals, while necessary for my admission essays, was essential when evaluating fit. I knew I wanted a school not only with a focus on social impact but also with a strong connection to the African continent and to government and public agencies around the world.

My research tools of choice were blogs from former and current students, and admission blogs and publications. I also reached out directly to administrators to determine responsiveness and receptiveness to queries, as a proxy for culture.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? I have had several defining moments, but the one thread that perhaps connects them all is generosity.

It was generosity from my parents in providing me the best childhood and raising me to be courageous; generosity from secondary school teachers who coached me in their own time for debates and competitions; generosity from donors who enabled me to attend university; and generosity from my employer for allowing me to pursue and cultivate my passion for education outreach at work. I am obliged to pay the generosity forward and this is what I seek to do in day to day interactions and long-term through working in education reform.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? I plan to pursue non-profit work in education reform

Where do you see yourself in five years? I see myself working with educators, private sector players and the government to reform public education in Nigeria.

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