Meet Oxford Saïd’s MBA Class Of 2019

Khalida Abdulrahim

Saïd Business School, University of Oxford

High-spirited, easily amused, extroverted introvert. Cake lover, eager learner, aspiring rower, and accomplished overthinker.”

Hometown: Abuja, Nigeria

Fun Fact About Yourself: I was featured in the UK national press twice last year!

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Liverpool – International Business

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: BP – Strategy Analyst

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I organized the first Africa Conference at BP, which brought together business leaders and subject matter experts from across the company to establish a participation strategy in Africa. It was a challenging project as it involved multiple business units across various geographies and required me to call on numerous technical and soft skills to successfully see it through. The event was ultimately a success. From the experience, I learned a lot about myself, people, and organizations and was proud of the impact it had across the company.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? My classmates are all highly accomplished and ambitious men and women, but what I find really inspiring and impressive about them is a great deal of character and passion they possess. They are people who want to solve problems in the private, public, and non-profit sectors, make a difference in their communities and leave the world better than they found it.

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? I engaged with a number of business schools in narrowing down my options but was strongly drawn to the collaborative feel of the Oxford MBA. I loved the deep sense of respect I felt that members of the community, both students and staff, showed for each other. I had expected business schools to be competitive settings, but Saïd Business School came across as a more cooperative and pleasant environment. This was important to me because I wanted my MBA to be a positive and transformative learning experience, which I believe comes from collaboration rather than competition.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am really excited about the Global Opportunities and Threats Oxford (GOTO) module. The GOTO project is an enabler of Saïd Business School’s mission to create business leaders capable of tackling world-scale problems, by providing a platform for MBA students to leverage on the research and expertise within the University of Oxford and collaborate with businesspeople and change agents to develop solutions to global issues. A different theme is chosen each year and incidentally this year’s topic – ‘the future of energy’ – is particularly important to me, as my background is in the energy industry. Additionally, being from Africa (the continent most affected by energy poverty), I am passionate about contributing to tackling the global energy access challenge. I feel incredibly privileged to have access to leading academic research on the subject and to be able to engage with experts and my classmates on it. I also expect that the module will equip me with a toolkit of frameworks for approaching large-scale problems, which I believe will be invaluable as an aspiring future business leader.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career?: It has always been my plan to pursue an MBA, as I wanted to learn more about business, be exposed to new ideas and perspectives, and build a global network. Now felt like the right time, as I had spent the last few years since starting my career rotating across various roles, which allowed to acquire a versatile commercial skillset. However, I wanted to deepen my strategic and leadership skills to prepare myself for the more challenging positions I will encounter as I progress through my career.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? In deciding to pursue an MBA, I engaged widely with a vast number of MBA students and alumni from different business schools with varying levels of experience post-MBA. Not one mentioned regret or disappointment in earning an MBA. The resounding message I received was that embarking on an MBA will be one of the best decisions I have ever taken – one that returns on the investment made, not just financially, but also personally and professionally.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Cambridge Judge

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I think that fit between a person and a business school is a very personal choice. The factors that were important to me include the ethos and culture of the school, the structure, and duration of the programme, and its location. I wanted a school in the UK with a one-year programme, one that promotes well-rounded responsible business leadership and has a fun and welcoming community.

To learn more about business schools, I attended MBA fairs, such as CentreCourt MBA Festival and the Forté Foundation Forum, business school open days and information events, and talks with admissions staff. I also spoke to lots of MBA alumni and current students and made use of online resources. To determine my fit with a school’s culture, I made sure to visit for open days and speak to students and staff.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My defining moment was losing my dad at 17. The experience made me grow up much faster than I had expected and sparked in me a realization of the importance of living your life to its fullest potential.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? I spent the last year working in a small but high-performing strategy team within a large multinational business. This inspired in me a belief in the impact and influence that bold and conscientious individuals and teams can have within large corporations in challenging entrenched cultures and driving change. I would like to continue in a strategic role, either in-house or from a consulting perspective, helping businesses profitably and responsibly be value creators in the world.

Where do you see yourself in five years?: I aim to be in a leadership position that allows me to develop people and organizations, as I am enthusiastic about growth, continuous improvement, and helping others be better.