Meet The MBA Class of 2021: Maria Rotilu, University of Oxford (Saïd)

Maria Rotilu

University of Oxford, Saïd Business School

I’m a venture builder and operator, who loves to solve problems and help businesses scale.”

Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria

Fun Fact About Yourself: In a different world, I guess I could have been a chef. I love the art and creative expression that great food and different cultures bring.

Undergraduate School and Major: Covenant University, BSc. Computer Science

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: General Manager, West Africa,

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Oxford Saïd’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? It was the diversity of the class cohort with >90%  international students and an impressive 13% from Africa for a top business school. The College system at Oxford is also unique with both University and College experiences to leverage.

I was particularly impressed by the breadth of extracurricular activities similar to my interests such as the Oxford Seed Fund and the Entrepreneurship Center. These as well as the rich history of the city of Oxford was also attractive.

What is the most “Oxford” thing you have done so far as a full-time MBA student? I currently lead the Oxford Seed Fund, where we scout and eventually invest in two oxford-affiliated startups. It’s been super interesting connecting with startups within the Oxford Ecosystem. Ventures by Oxford students and alumni building businesses that stemmed from academia into commercial products/services across several industries, including Artificial Intelligence, Healthcare, and FMCG.

Oxford is known as a place where the world collides, be it in the classroom or the dining hall? What has been the most interesting interaction you’ve had so far as an Oxford MBA student? COVID makes it tough, but it’s great to see innovative ways the school has facilitated interaction. My most interesting interaction pre-restrictions has been a (socially distanced) walk and talk over at Port Meadow with a DPhil student from South Korea who was in my college. In the new world, happy hours on Zoom are also quite unique and interesting.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Helping to scale a technology startup that gave financial access to over 5 million users worldwide.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? Pursuing an MBA during a pandemic is itself a big accomplishment, but I’d say studying in a pandemic as well as leading the Oxford Seed Fund as the Managing Director.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Harvard, Stanford and Wharton.

What has been the biggest epiphany you’ve gained about yourself or the world since you started your MBA program? That bias for action is an amazing thing, but sometimes we need in-depth analysis and contemplation to gain a deep understanding of the problem that will yield rewards later in developing a solution.

Additionally, learning to effectively lead is great. But as a leader, learning to be as effective when not in a leadership position is just as important.


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