2019 Best & Brightest MBAs: Dapo Orimoloye, Rice University (Jones)

Dapo Orimoloye

Jones Graduate School of Business, Rice University

I have empathy for the world and always seek to leave a positive impression.”

Hometown: Ondo State, Nigeria

Fun fact about yourself: My first professional certification was in soft-serve ice cream making when I was 14. I haven’t stopped cooking or experimenting with food since.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Igbinedion University, Nigeria. BSc. (with Honors) in Computer Science and Information Technology.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Vodacom Business: Systems Design Engineer; IPNX: Project Management Consultant

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? McKinsey & Company, Houston, TX

Where will you be working after graduation? McKinsey & Company, Houston, TX

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: President, Consulting Association; CDO (Career Development Office) Chair of the Jones Student Association; Admissions Ambassador; Men as Allies

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As president of the Consulting Club, I started the first Rice Business Consulting Casebook as a body of knowledge to pass on to subsequent classes for consulting recruiting. I am particularly proud of the impact the book will make transferring institutional knowledge to Rice students over time.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Infrastructure growth has been a core driver of economic development in Africa. For Nigeria, the telecommunications sector has been the frontier of that growth. Over the last decade, I have had the opportunity to contribute to this sector in various ways – from leading the design of Vodacom’s National Broadband Wireless network to designing the largest fibre to the home network in Nigeria at IPNX. My biggest career accomplishment so far, therefore, is being able to continually impact the lives of my companies’ clients positively through the design and delivery of affordable and reliable internet access.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Alan Crane taught Core Finance in my first year. He clearly stood out in many ways: he brought his industry experience in trading financial assets into the classroom; he was entertaining (during one memorable class he orchestrated dance moves to demonstrate the fluctuations of the S&P 500), and he consistently engaged students intellectually beyond the classroom.

What was your favorite MBA Course Scott Nyquist, a senior partner at McKinsey & Company, lectured Leading Change, a case-based organizational behavior course that taught students to apply the latest industry thinking in organization health and change management to real life scenarios. I learned from experience that frameworks are great guidelines for understanding business issues, but the true value comes from having empathy for the client and taking a holistic approach to defining business strategy.

Why did you choose this business school? I had many reasons for choosing Rice, chief among which was the small class size, location in Houston, the very collaborative culture at the school, and the generous scholarship program.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? The first day you get the idea to go to business school is the day to start preparing — it is never too early. Starting early will give you the time to prepare for these four key areas:

Personal and Career Positioning: Research the schools you are most interested in and you will discover certain, although diverse candidate profiles. Discovering this early will give you time to build your personal and career profile to fit those schools. Seek out projects at your job that will allow you to build the required skills.

GMAT: Start preparing early and get help if needed. There are many free practice exams out there with which you can gauge your performance level and then choose a study plan. Median GMAT for top MBA programs like Rice Business is a moving target so plan for 120% of the current median score.

Recommendation: Choose your recommenders early and make sure to review your appraisals with them a few times so that they are comfortable vouching for all the wonderful things you have done over the years! Also, most recruiters can tell if the recommender doesn’t really know you from the “room for improvement” section.

Experience: Do some soul searching and think about the most valuable experiences you have had up to this point. This will be very important for you to anchor yourself as you go through the program, to know your personal story, and to encourage yourself as you push to achieve your goals.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? This is a tough question to answer. I had put a lot of thought into joining the 2019 class at Rice Business. I anticipated the amount of effort that would go into an MBA program, but the benefits have far exceeded my expectations.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? Prior to business school, I held roles that operated alongside or outside of a team, rather than within it. One key insight I’ve acquired is a different view of working teams. I used to think of teams as a sum of its parts, but now I see how that exponential value can be derived by leveraging of the team’s skill sets. Strength comes not from using each team member’s individual talents, but by collaborating towards a greater goal.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Heather Mellinger. When I was elected president of the Consulting Club, I had a large vision that I knew would require a great deal of work to accomplish. Heather was willing to support my vision and carry the burden of that vision as though it was her own. Despite choosing to re-recruit in the fall, she remained fully committed to executing on our strategy to create a mentorship program, casebook, and enhanced club experience for our members. She embodies the key characteristics of Rice Business: attentiveness, responsiveness, and kindness.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue an MBA? My wife, Ife, pursued her MBA (Wharton, ‘15), and I vicariously experienced the program through her. During that time, I saw the transformation she went through, which was the key driver to seek that transformation myself.

What is your favorite movie about business? I love movies that vividly portray the nuances of human behavior in organizations. My favorite is Sidney Lumet’s Twelve Angry Men. The movie portrays several personalities and biases we see in the corporate world and offers strategies to gain influence and achieve objective decision-making in teams.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? MECE – Mutually Exclusive, Completely Exhaustive. I spent countless hours defending its legitimacy to my non-MBA friends.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…managing infrastructure projects in Africa and exploring the possibility of a political career.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? I was privileged to have an amazing scholarship award along with my offer to join Rice Business, and my experience has been worth much more than I would have paid otherwise. Looking through my journal, I have checked every box I had coming in, and created new ones, for the near-term and the future.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • Travel to all 50 states in the US. I’ve been to 12 and plan to visit 10 more this year.
  • Write a science fiction novel. The Adventures of…[Name Pending]

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like to be remembered as being kind, friendly and fun.

Hobbies? Soccer – I play with classmates on campus twice a week and hope to continue after graduation.

Food – I equally enjoy cooking and eating. I’m currently experimenting with infusing American recipes with West-African spices.

What made Dapo such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“When I think of Dapo Orimoloye, I recall the first time that I met him. He saw me in the hallway hustling from one thing to another and wanted to ask me about the ALP program that I run and management consulting in general. Reading my urgency and distraction, he then offered to walk with me to have the discussion. That may sound like a trite example, but wrapped within his offer to walk with me were two qualities that have defined him in my mind: empathy/understanding of others and a dogged, resourceful determination to accomplish something.

Client relationships are clearly a crucial component of having a successful consulting career. Making that connection is the difference between getting key insights to deliver high impact work and not; between winning business and not. In the high-pressure environment of a client engagement or of the first-year at a Top 10 business school, relationship building can often be superficial or relegated to the bottom of the priority list in the interest of getting everything done. But, Dapo always seems to find the time and put in the effort. This was on full display during the project that his team did in my ALP program (an applied learning/student consulting project-based program). The project sponsor was consistently trying to “over-prescribe” the actions of the team with his own thoughts of how to do the project. Project risk and frustration was mounting with the team. But, Dapo spent the time engaging with the sponsor – gaining his trust, understanding his hidden motivations, getting him to release the reins a little and give the team more information and freedom. This proved to be the pivot point in the project, albeit one that happened over a period of time. But, without his relationship-building skills, the project would have continued on its downward glide, instead of being the big success that it was for the client.

One of the big gaps in our school’s Consulting club before Dapo took over as President has been the lack of a case book, that helps students understand the different firms, how they recruit, and examples of cases that students can use to prepare. Our students have consistently overcome this and competed well against other top 10 schools, but there is certainly no reason that they should start from behind. Building a high-quality case book is not a trivial task, and is made even more daunting by trying to shepherd this project through busy club members whose minds are more on full-time recruiting than a club activity. Throw into this the challenge of chasing down alums in management consulting, and you get the picture of a big project with spotty resources to help deliver it. But, this is where Dapo’s dogged, resourceful determination shined (and likely a healthy dose of relationship building). We now have a solid, high-quality case book that was built by a diverse team of club members and alums to support the first-years’ recruiting efforts. He saw the big need and delivered in spite of the headwinds that he faced.

Dapo will very likely have a highly successful career in management consulting, and that wouldn’t surprise me at all. Two of the key characteristics that will seed that career and separate him from his classmates were already on full display over his two years at the Jones School.”

David VanHorn
Professor in the Practice of Management
Jones Graduate School of Business, Rice University

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