Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Kayo Shonibare Breedon, Wharton School

Kayo Shonibare Breedon

Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania

“Leads by listening. Believer in all things happening for a reason. She/her.”

Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria and Atlanta, GA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I spent my summer quarantining in McCall, Idaho. In addition to tapping into my outdoorsy side (that I previously didn’t know existed), I learned that you don’t have to travel abroad to see awe-inspiring natural beauty and to have your mind opened by people very different than you.

Undergraduate School and Major: Cornell University, Industrial & Labor Relations

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Human Capital Consultant at Deloitte Consulting LLP

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Coming from Human Capital, I was looking for an MBA program that would teach me how to be comfortable running the numbers and allow me to build on my expertise in organizational effectiveness / people analytics. Wharton rose to the top of my list for both.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? Work hard, play hard! In all seriousness, I have been amazed by how quickly and deeply my class has formed community with one another, despite the virtual format.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? At Wharton, we regularly talk about the power of leaning into the things that scare you most: the “stretch” experiences. As a result, the activities that excite me are the ones that force me out of my comfort zone. For example, next week I’m participating in Storytellers, a club where students share a personal story with hundreds of their classmates.

What makes you most excited about getting your MBA at Wharton? What makes you most nervous about starting business school? I am most looking forward to the relationships! There are very few moments in life where you can develop genuine bonds with people from so many different backgrounds and walks of life. I hope to fully tap into the diversity of our class and continue the legacy of authentic community that makes Wharton so special.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest career accomplishment was helping develop and launch a client’s global diversity and inclusion strategy. This involved synthesizing quantitative and qualitative current state insights, delivering interactive workshops and engaging with numerous stakeholders to create fit-for-purpose 5-year aspirations and 1-year actionable goals. The significance of this strategy has grown as our country wrestles with the role of the workplace in driving change and advancing racial justice.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career?  An MBA provides the perfect opportunity to spend time investing in and refining your leadership philosophy. As I transition from delivering work to managing my own client relationships and team members, an MBA training will give me the tools to lead effectively amidst ongoing workforce disruption.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? HBS

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? While it was not a question, the team-based discussion (TBD) format was initially very intimidating to me.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I spoke to a ton of current students and alums while applying. Following my interview (which was my first time on campus), I also spent a few extra days in Philadelphia to explore the city.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? I had three life defining moves:

1. When I was four years old, my mother won the U.S. visa lottery and our family left Lagos, Nigeria to pursue the American dream.

2. Ten years later, after attaining our U.S. citizenship, my parents decided to move us back to Nigeria to keep the family business afloat and re-expose us to our cultural heritage. Despite my initial anxiety of moving to a country that I knew through stories imparted from others rather than my own memory, I soon assimilated, found success in the classroom and developed friendships that I will cherish for life.

3. After two years in Lagos, I had to choose between continuing in the Nigerian academic system or returning to the U.S. for an American university degree. And so, while my family remained in Nigeria, I decided to move in with a distant aunt in Atlanta, GA and chart my own path – ultimately applying to and attending Cornell University.

These moves have made me homegrown and international, and a steadfast advocate for collaboration between people of different backgrounds. I understand how this collaboration has shaped my own worldview. The moves are also why I am so drawn to the fields of human capital, diversity, equity, and inclusion. I aim to be a colleague, classmate and business leader that can lead across difference, empowering people to realize their fullest potential.

What have you been doing since you were accepted to prepare for business school? I did a remote pre-MBA internship at a start-up, and (since Greece was no longer an option) went on a road trip through the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? I absolutely love Humu, the start-up that I worked for this summer. Based in behavioral science and machine learning, Humu uses customized nudges to help companies work smarter, develop productive behaviors, and better collaborate within and across teams. Business school students can learn a lot from them about how to effectively drive behavior change and make employees happier at work.


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