2020 Best & Brightest MBAs: Rebecca Matey, Washington University (Olin)

Rebecca Matey

Washington University in St. Louis, Olin Business School

(Concurrently studying at Washington University School of Law)

A community builder, creating spaces to embrace cultures and engage in respectful dialogue.”

Hometown: Lanham, Maryland

Fun fact about yourself: I am very competitive and a lover of all sports. While at the University of Southern California, I was on the USC Women’s Rugby team as a tighthead prop.

Undergraduate school and degree: University of Southern California, Bachelor of Arts in International Relations with a minor in Global Communications

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? West Africa Vocational Education Academy (WAVE Academy) in Lagos, Nigeria, Client Relationship & Partnership Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2019? Summer Associate, Baker McKenzie LLP, Chicago, Illinois

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be returning to Baker McKenzie as an associate attorney in their Banking, Finance & Major Projects practice group.

Community work and leadership roles in business school:

  • Co-president of Olin Africa Business Club
  • Coordinator of the 2020 Olin Africa Business Forum
  • Met with prospective students while in Nigeria
  • Hosted DC Think Tank, Center for Strategic & International Studies, for a Debate Series on Economic Development in Africa
  • Cultivated several African and immigrant community partnerships in St. Louis
  • Executive board member of Olin Black MBA Association
  • Spearheaded the creation of the Olin Black MBA Scholarship
  • Partnered with Mastercard’s Black Affinity Group, LEAD, for roundtable discussions on leadership and diversity
  • Fellow of the Forté Foundation
  • Law-related
    • Published article in the WashULaw Global Studies Law Review
    • Media & Symposium Editor, WashULaw Global Studies Law Review

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Coordinating the Olin Africa Business Forum is undoubtedly my proudest achievement during my time in business school. Collaborating with leaders, both in the WashU and St. Louis communities, to curate an experience celebrating African culture and global impact, was a challenging and inspiring stretch project. It brings me great joy knowing that we created a forum providing insights and access to visionaries like former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the creative powerhouse that is Grace Ladoja MBE, highly successful entrepreneurs like Viola Llewellyn or Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, and all of our equally accomplished panelists. Not only did we facilitate a venue for rich conversations about Africa, but it also provided several opportunities for organic mentorship, business partnership, and even friendships among our guests and panelists. As co-president of the Olin Africa Business Club, I’m proud to have led this initiative and grateful for the amount of support we received.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Prior to starting graduate school, I worked in Lagos, Nigeria for a social enterprise called WAVE Academy. At WAVE, I built relationships with corporations to hire and retain our trained youth from underserved communities. I was an advocate for these youth and did my best to prep them for interviews and learn the soft skills that would help them excel on the job. Since returning to the United States for graduate school, I’ve kept in touch with many employers and frequently go back to Nigeria to visit family and friends. During each trip, I take the time to visit several restaurants, hotels, and offices where I facilitated job placements. Coming back to Nigeria and seeing a former busboy as a manager of a restaurant or a former personal assistant in technical roles leading office projects is evidence of the small role I played in WAVE Academy’s impact. Witnessing the growth of these young adults affirms my belief in their capabilities. WAVE’s work is vital, and I’m grateful to have worked with such an amazing team!

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? The most collaborative and culturally inclusive event at WashU Olin is its annual One World event, celebrating global diversity through scrumptious foods and drinks. Each cultural club had a room to showcase their culture primarily through food. One World allowed students to ask questions about cultures, find similarities, and discover the creative ways we make dishes with similar ingredients. I loved One World because Olin Africa decorated our room with clothing, art, and accessories while also playing music and showing pictures from different parts of Africa. Events like One World give students the opportunity to share small pieces of our identity with one another.

Why did you choose this business school? As a hopeful transactional attorney with an interest in business and leadership, I didn’t want to be an attorney who couldn’t understand the business aspects of a deal. I also wanted to strengthen the soft skills that propel leaders to have influence and impact in organizations. As a WashULaw student located right next to Olin, I was fortunate enough to have frequent conversations with business students to decide if I wanted to apply to Olin. From those initial conversations, a recurring theme was Olin’s people, support, and access to growth opportunities. I chose Olin Business School because I knew it would awaken dormant parts of me. The MBA would provide me with a strong technical foundation and help me build a strong community that could empower me to give back to the Olin community in a substantial way.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Before applying, visit Olin and get to know the people. After visiting, continue getting to know the people. Once you have a sense of the people and the school, think about how that translates to your application. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and tell your story. I’d suggest focusing on your story and overall application just as much as your GMAT/GRE score. Lastly, Olin has an amazing Global Immersion Program, so prepare yourself to see some world!

What is the biggest myth about your school? I’m not sure I heard of any myths about Olin, but I was surprised at how “seen” I felt while at Olin. 

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Looking back on my MBA experience, I realize that I didn’t get to know many MBAs at other universities. As a JD/MBA who studied abroad for a semester, my time was split between two schools and also shortened. If I could redo my MBA experience, I would plan my timeline better and attend more conferences and social events to meet more amazing MBAs around the country.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? If I must choose just one classmate, Adam Ibn Abdulai is the classmate I admire most. Adam is one of the smartest individuals I know, and he carries himself with poise and humility. Adam has been my private economics tutor, soccer teammate, idea bounce partner, and group member on several projects. I’m grateful for Adam because he has always been patient and committed to me learning material rather than just giving up and telling me the answer. I’m thrilled to see where life takes Adam and hope he’ll always be just a call away!

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? One summer day, my father came home and asked everyone in the house to define “sole proprietorship.” None of us knew the meaning, but this moment has always stuck with me. In college, I had no idea I’d want to go to business school. As an international relations major, I was convinced I’d be in Africa saving the world with an NGO. While I had no business ambitions at the time, my father has always been an entrepreneur constantly encouraging his children to consider having several streams of income. Watching him run his restaurant and pursue additional business ventures stuck with me and eventually made me curious of how business affects other industries. I’m grateful for his push and now know more than the meaning of a sole proprietorship!

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. Passing the Illinois bar exam!
  2. Being able to come back to Olin and speak or sponsor an event.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like people to remember me as the kind woman who was always willing to listen, connect, and educate people.

Hobbies? I love playing soccer and flag football, traveling, hosting brunch parties, and, most importantly, hosting my annual gingerbread house competition during the holidays.

What made Rebecca Matey such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“I had the pleasure of working with Rebecca Matey while she was a student in the Power and Politics course at WashU. Within the classroom, Rebecca brought a wonderful mix of perspectives to this class, leveraging her philosophical and law-school-trained mind alongside an understanding of some of the pragmatic realities of organizations. She is a thoughtful student and dialogue partner, one for whom I saw peers listen closely to when she spoke up.

Outside of the class and in business school student leadership more broadly, Rebecca has been similarly engaged. This year, she helped coordinate the 2020 Africa Business Symposium, an event which included the former Nigerian President,  Olusegun Obasanjo, amongst several civic and business leaders of African descent. I have been impressed with her work as well at Olin Black MBA, including spearheading the development of the Olin Black MBA Scholarship and an upcoming partnership with Mastercard to generate a discussion on workplace diversity. In short, when I think about what makes a good MBA, it is those students who are broadly involved in work to expand thinking, connect peers, and lead initiatives. In both her work in these initiatives alongside similar efforts in the School of Law, Rebecca helps her peers see the world more expansively, shaping the way Olin continues to expand globally with a particular focus on Africa and the African American experience.”

Peter Boumgarden
Professor of Practice, Strategy, and Organizations
Director, Center for Experiential Learning


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.