2021 Best & Brightest MBAs: Stacy C. Tubonemi, Southern Methodist University (Cox)

Stacy C. Tubonemi

Southern Methodist University, Cox School of Business

“West African American, one who’s not afraid to confront the status quo and break barriers.”

Hometown: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Fun fact about yourself: I work with stakeholders in the Liberian music industry streamlining ways to help artists promote and enhance their craft as well as generate business opportunities and foster collaborations between them and those from other West African counterparts.

Undergraduate School and Degree: SMU Cox School of Business, BBA degree in Finance

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? JP Morgan Chase, in Dallas, Texas as a Chase Leadership Development (CLDP) Rotational Analyst

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? AT&T (Dallas, Texas)

Where will you be working after graduation? AT&T, Finance Leadership Development Program (FLDP) as a Senior Financial Analyst, Dallas Texas

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • President National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) SMU Chapter, 2019- 2021
  • Texas Business Hall of Fame Future Texas Business Legend Award
  • Forte Foundation Fellow
  • Diversity Scholar
  • Cox MBA Merit Scholar
  • Cox Distinguished Business Leader
  • Cox Ambassador
  • Cox Career Fellow
  • Black Alumni of SMU Scholarship Award
  • Cox Graduate Honor Council Member, 2019-2021

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? It would have to be the Texas Business Hall of Fame Future Texas Business Legend Award. This award honors up and coming business leaders who have shown an early inclination toward community involvement and a passion for entrepreneurship. It encompasses everything that I have worked for and aspire to be in years to come. I remember when I applied for the award and I had the virtual interview on my birthday last year. I remember telling myself that if I win this, this would be the best birthday gift ever. When I found out I had won, I was so happy that I couldn’t believe it. That’s because, for me, this was more than just an award, it was being able to be part of such a prestigious network and community for life.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I remember working with my manager on a very challenging project, which kept me at the office longer than usual. Although it was challenging, I learned a lot and I was happy with the end results I was able to provide to my team. Right after I completed the project, the executive director of my department awarded me with a “5-Keys Award” in recognition of the hard work she had seen me put into the project and her satisfaction with the project results. The “5-Keys Award” is the company’s highest award that a manager can give out to members of her team.

Why did you choose this business school? I knew I wanted to remain in Dallas since I had stayed here for work even after obtaining my undergraduate degree. When I looked at the best business schools in the DFW Metroplex, especially when it came to the standard of education, alumni network, job opportunities and connections, and an environment that would enable me to  improve my leadership skills and grow as a person, SMU Cox was the first school that came to mind. Not forgetting the fact that, as an alum, SMU just felt like the right fit for me. Wven during my time as an undergrad, the team at the Cox School always encouraged us to come back if we decided to pursue an MBA degree.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? When Covid-19 started, I had only completed my first semester and was in the middle of my second semester, so a lot of the events that I was looking forward to had not yet happened and they all ended up being cancelled due to the pandemic. However, right before Covid-19 happened, we as a class would have Happy Hours every Friday, which provided us with an opportunity to unwind and talk about things outside of the stress of classes and internship searches and so on. This gave me an opportunity to learn about my fellow classmates on a more personal note, like meeting their significant others and just getting to know them on a one-on-one basis. These were my favorite moments as I really enjoyed learning about their diverse backgrounds and cultures.

What surprised you the most about business school? The one thing that surprised me the most about business school was the diversity of my classmates. I honestly never expected to have formed such great relationships with so many kinds of people from so many different cultures and ethnicities. It’s a pleasant surprise to realize have formed the friendships I have been able to build within such a short period of time, especially with how everything that has changed due to Covid-19 where one no longer has that one-on-one interaction like before. This has been the biggest surprise for me. It’s amazing how, within a short period of time, one can develop such strong connections and bonds with others, even under the most stressful circumstances like studying, interview prepping, etc. I believe as a class we were really fortunate to have been all put together because a lot of us have formed such great relationships and bonds with one another.   Hopefully those bonds will extend well after business school and for a long time to come.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I attended MBA prep classes at SMU months before I even applied. I would go right after work and I never missed a class no matter how intense or busy work got. I think this showed SMU not only how determined I was but also how dedicated I was in coming back and getting my MBA degree from here.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The MBA Classmate that I truly admire is Sanyaolu Justin Agbetan. Sanya is a chartered accountant from Nigeria, a family man with wife and kids back in his home country. His passion and dedication towards not only his family but his education, his work and National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) is something that I admire a lot in him. He’s also my VP at NABA, and I have seen first-hand just how passionate he is about helping others in his own little way, Even with everything he has going on with his two concentrations and his part time job, he always finds a way to make time for others even if it is at his own expense. His ability to adapt so quickly to a new culture, style of learning, and just being so far away from his family is something that I also respect a lot in him.

Within just weeks of being in the U.S., he was able to make so many different connections with SMU alumni, various companies, and several other student organizations that I was astonished at how he was able to make time for it all. His ability to balance it all and strive for success in all aspects of his life is something that he does so effortlessly well, and I look forward to seeing all the great things he will do in the future.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? I would say the shift to an online environment was very disruptive and something that I don’t think any of us were ready for at the time. At first, it was difficult and hard to adjust because I had never taken an online class before and I wasn’t sure of what that would look like. I just remember thinking to myself that every class I was taking at the time just felt harder. It felt as though professors knew we had all the materials at our disposal, so they decided to make the course content a bit more intense. I also didn’t realize at the time that there was something called Zoom fatigue; I just knew I was getting mentally exhausted much more quickly than when I was taking in-person classes.

At the same time though, I respect how swiftly SMU made the transition to a fully-online platform. Although there were some bumps in the road initially, I believe they and we the students both took it as a learning experience and some professors were pretty understanding with the fact that it would take a little time to adapt to this new form of learning. I definitely feel like even up until today, Covid-19 has disrupted so many things about my business school experience that I will never get back. The best I can do is make the best out of the situation and look forward to better days ahead.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My dad influenced my decision to pursue a finance degree because he also got his bachelor’s in finance. I remember when I was around the age of 7 or 8, I picked up one of his newspapers as a curious child, while flipping through it I saw some information about stocks and shares. It had a lot of numbers on it and back then math was my favorite subject. The numbers captivated my attention and I remember telling my dad that I wanted to learn more about it when I grew up and he looked at me and smiled and said “Okay, that’s finance then, you will study finance.” Since then, I had my mind set on studying anything that was related to numbers and finance.

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

  • To lead and inspire others
  • To attain the C-Suite level

What made Stacy such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“Stacy Tubonemi has been an outstanding student leader since her time as an undergraduate at the Cox School of Business.  I have had the pleasure of watching her leadership skills grow over the course of her college and business career.  As president of the SMU Cox Chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants, Stacy led a group of exceptional students to participate and build their networks through conferences and corporate events.  I was excited when Stacy called to say that after a few years in corporate, she was returning to SMU Cox to pursue her MBA and I immediately put in a recommendation for her acceptance. Stacy has been an invaluable student leader and has been recognized by her colleagues and peers for her exceptional work both in and outside the classroom. She goes the extra mile with both her professional and academic pursuits. Proof of her abilities is that she named one of two SMU Cox students honored with the Future Texas Business Legend Award by the Texas Business Hall of Fame last summer. This award honors business school students with outstanding academic records and who are community-involved with a demonstrated passion for entrepreneurship. Stacy’s choice of activities beyond the classroom, the way she chooses to expand her mind and benefit the community at-large, illustrate exactly why she truly is a “Future Texas Business Legend.”

Steve Denson
Assistant Dean of Diversity
SMU Cox School of Business  




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