Three Siblings, 3 Elite MBA Programs. Can They Make It 4 For 4?

The Momoh family at the 2018 Wharton African Business Conference. From left: Osi, Aile, mother Ketumi, David, and Lawrence Osai. Courtesy photo

Osi Momoh has a finance background, having earned a bachelor of management/finance with distinction from Lethbridge before obtaining her finance master’s from Rochester. Then came two stints as a financial editor with Investopedia, the investment and money management publication, first in Edmonton, then in Toronto. Over the course of six total years with Investopedia Osi developed an interest in emerging markets, and she broke up her time with the company by spending a year doing investment research in her country of origin, Nigeria.

“I went to Nigeria to understand an emerging markets economy firsthand and to study the country’s financial industry,” Osi says. “In the last three years I’ve gotten more and more interested in the fintech movement, especially fintech in emerging markets. And Nigeria was about learning more about how fintech is impacting the economy and so I can pivot into the fintech industry.” Osi will intern this summer at Visa Inc. in San Francisco; after she finishes her MBA at Duke, her future is in fintech.

“That’s why I’m here,” she says. 

FROM ‘WAITLIST QUEEN’ TO DUKE ADMIT

To hear Osi tell it, she might not be “here” — in the Fuqua School of Business, a top-20 MBA program — without the encouragement of her siblings.

“They both definitely encourage me. Because I wasn’t thinking about doing my MBA at all, I was done with school. We all have master’s as well, so I didn’t see what the point of an MBA was,” she says. “But when they both got in their first year I started having FOMO, and I was just like, ‘Wow, I don’t want to be left behind.’ And so I kind of jumped on that bandwagon and they were very supportive all the way.”

Their support was especially important when she got waitlisted not only at Duke but also at Stanford, Kellogg, and Michigan Ross. She was, in her words, “the waitlist queen.”

“Eventually I had to fight my way out of the waitlist, so it became a fight for whichever got me off the waitlist first, but Fuqua was definitely my top choice,” Osi says. “Which I conveyed to Natasha Gore in the admissions department consistently: This is the school. This is the school that I have been seeing in my dreams, this is the school I’m meant to be at. I really, really loved the culture and their drive to include women in the business world. Eventually I got off the waitlist. Talking to my siblings, we just put our heads together to see how we can get off the waitlist and how I can prove that I was a worthy candidate for the Fuqua MBA program. And I’m here right now.”

‘I KNEW I HAD TO CHANGE IT UP’

Osi Momoh. Courtesy photo

David Momoh is planning the biggest career switch in the family, from an engineer with Royal Dutch Shell in Alberta, Canada to a supply manager with Apple operations in San Francisco. And he’s doing it with the help of a dual-degree program at Northwestern: an MBA at Kellogg and an MS in design innovation at the Segal Design Institute of the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science — the “first-of-its-kind” cross-disciplinary “MMM” program “at the intersection of business, technology, and design.” He added a helping of corporate strategy to his CV last summer with an internship at Emerson, the industrial engineering firm based in St. Louis, Missouri.

Coming from the upper plains of central Canada, David says he quickly discovered the advantages Kellogg offered his career.

“It’s a lot different looking at American schools from Canada,” David says, “just because there is a cultural difference and there’s not a lot of similarity, or there’s not a lot of people who have gone through the experience around you. So looking at it from Canada, I read up on the school profiles and applied to Wharton, Stanford, and Tuck. But my application was not the way the American MBA application should go. In Canada, you drop an application and evaluate it, versus the more collaborative application where you have multiple iterations of current experience and conversation. So after the first round I took multiple L’s and I knew I had to change it up.”

He reached out to his family for help.

“Around then I saw Kellogg and I felt like, ‘Yeah, that sounds like me,’ especially the level of student involvement. And then my sisters kept calling me saying, ‘Have you thought about this Kellogg school? It sounds like you.’ So I was like, ‘You know what? Let me apply to Kellogg, right?'”

David applied in the second round in early 2017. He got in.

ANOTHER FAMILY MEMBER AT A TOP SCHOOL?

You may have noticed that in the photos above of the Momoh family, there’s a fourth sibling. (In fact, there is also a fifth, a sister in Calgary.) That fourth sibling is Lawrence Osai, a technology risk consultative at Deloitte who is currently contemplating business school.

Can the Momoh family make it 4 for 4?

Lawrence is the youngest of the family. According to his siblings, he hopes to join a top MBA program in the next two years. Among his target schools, they say, are Duke Fuqua, Wharton, or Northwestern Kellogg.

Basically, each is pushing Lawrence to go to their alma mater.

“I feel like we’ll be pulling him in the right direction if he tried to come to our school — because we’ll be fighting, mostly,” Aile says, laughing. “I want him to go to Wharton, but I’m sure Osi’s trying to get him to go to Fuqua. And David is trying to pull him to Kellogg. So we’ll see.”

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