Meet The MBA Class Of 2022: Michael Oguike, Stanford GSB

Michael Oguike 

Stanford Graduate School of Business

“Engineer who believes technology is the elixir for the developing world.”                                               

Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria

Fun Fact About Yourself: I was a child actor on a television show in Nigeria

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Electrical & Electronic Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: ExxonMobil, Nigeria. Maintenance Supervisor

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Stanford GSB’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school, and why was it so important to you? My dream is to provide technology solutions that people and businesses use at scale. Stanford’s MBA program offers me the best environment and opportunities to explore and develop my passion for tech. The GSB’s location in the heart of Silicon Valley, vast offerings of entrepreneurship classes and clubs, and meaningful alumni impact in tech are key factors that made it the top choice for my MBA. When I consider the impact of climate change, population growth, and governance policies in Nigeria, I believe that the best future is one where technology plays a significant role in our society. I want to be a designer and advocate for that future. My ideas on design thinking were shaped by reading books written by thought leaders at the GSB even before I considered getting an MBA, so it was a natural transition for me to come to the epicenter of innovation and develop my skills for the journey ahead.                                                                  

What has been the most surprising thing that you’ve learned about Stanford GSB so far? I used to think that people who came to Stanford had superpowers like the X-Men. Surprisingly I haven’t seen any flying students so far. Of course, everyone in the class is incredibly brilliant, and many are gifted. However, I have discovered that while humans are naturally the same, it is nurture that allows our superpowers to manifest. Dedication and grit are the qualities that then allow us to do the impossible. Many classmates deal with the same issues as everyone else – family, mental and physical health, belonging, love, biases, personal finance, imposter syndrome, and being a morning person or not. Identifying and embracing our vulnerabilities makes it easier for classmates from different backgrounds to improve our interpersonal skills and become better leaders.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Collaborative. A lot of activities in business school require working in groups and teams. Every group I have been involved in – whether in academic or social settings, virtually or in person – somehow finds a way to just get stuff done. From organizing a playdate for your dog to tackling a class project that no one knows how to solve at first or forming activist groups to influence civil rights campaigns, people are willing to get to work and drive the team to deliver a common goal.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: After a few years working in various office-based engineering design and planning roles, I was assigned to a supervisory role on one of my company’s largest and most valuable offshore assets. I had to quickly adapt from being an individual contributor to being responsible for the safety, performance, and motivation of a team of over 30 people working on a platform in the Atlantic Ocean. During my time working offshore, I fostered a culture of inclusion by creating an environment where people felt comfortable speaking up and contributing to the team’s success irrespective of their perceived performance category. To succeed in this role, I received a lot of help from colleagues, other leaders, and (most importantly) my new team – who were patient with me as I tried to catch up with their decades of experience. I achieved more from leveraging relationships and communications styles than using authority. My biggest accomplishment was inspiring and motivating my team to achieve record results during a pandemic despite significant disruptions to our standard operations and their lives.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? Despite the very tight schedules at business school, I have prioritized learning two new hobbies: tennis and golf. I always wanted to learn how to play these sports, but I never made time, and accessibility to amenities was limited where I lived before. Stanford has incredible recreational amenities and classes, and I reckoned there was no better time to explore these hobbies. Classmates who are skilled in these sports also organize lessons for newbies. With a combination of YouTube videos and instruction from friends, I am on the path to becoming the best golfer in my family.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? MIT Sloan

What has been the biggest epiphany you’ve gained about yourself or the world since you started your MBA program? Visionary leadership is the single most crucial factor that can influence the destiny of countries and organizations. Stanford University’s evolution as an institution over the last century is an example of what visionary leadership can achieve. Visionary leadership isn’t necessarily driven by one person but by a group of people who decide to solve a problem and make long-term plans to sustain and improve the solution. My interactions with faculty and students from around the world have also broadened my world-view and improved my understanding of other cultures and economies. It is not the weather, genetics, or natural resources that determine a country’s destiny but the visionary leadership of its political class.

What advice would you give to a prospective applicant looking to join the Stanford GSB Class of 2023? During my application cycle, I spent time reflecting on my true essence; what really mattered most to me? I tried to communicate that persona in my essays rather than trying to fit into a mold of what I thought the admissions committee would like. I also had a few friends, MBAs and non-MBAs, review my essays and provide critical feedback, which proved very helpful.


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