“I am resilient, driven, a bit too self-aware, and honest to a fault.”
Hometown: Nyahururu, Kenya
Fun fact about yourself: I am the youngest but the tallest member of my nuclear family. When people meet my family, I sometimes tell them that I was switched at birth. They always believe me.
Undergraduate School and Degree: I hold a Bachelor of Laws degree from Kenyatta University.
Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I worked at Centum Investment Company Plc, the largest listed investment Company in East & Central Africa. I held several roles within the company’s legal department, from Graduate Management Trainee to Principal Legal Associate.
Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? This was prior to joining INSEAD. I was still at Centum.
Where will you be working after graduation? It’s still too early to tell, but I am looking to transition to either management consulting or general management.
Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I am representing my class in a fundraising project that every class at INSEAD undertakes to raise scholarship funds for a deserving student in the next intake. I took up this role as a beneficiary of the INSEAD Pot Family Foundation Scholarship which is funded by Wiet Pot (an INSEAD MBA alumnus) so the project is very close to my heart.
Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As a member of the INSEAD Africa Business Club, I am mentoring prospecting students and applicants from Africa with the aim of increasing the continent’s representation at INSEAD. I do this out of the realisation that a lot of African applicants, especially first-generation MBAs, may not have access to information on what it takes to pursue an international MBA.
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? My greatest achievement is setting up the largest real estate development in East Africa. I executed the completion of a complex two-tiered land acquisition transaction involving 10,500 acres of land, setting the stage for a large-scale commercial venture that is making tremendous socio-economic impact. I led the structuring and execution of corporate social responsibility initiatives to provide full high school scholarships and mentorship to over 200 needy students, upgrade classrooms for 2 schools, and provide vocational training to over 100 previously unemployed and unskilled young people, most of whom are now gainfully employed in the company’s projects.
Why did you choose this business school? I chose INSEAD for various reasons, but one that stands out is the amazing community. Aside from the fact that my classmates come from 76 nationalities across the world, the people I have interacted with, including alumni, are very kind and helpful.
Who was your favorite MBA professor? Michele Hibon, a professor emeritus, is my absolute favorite. She tutors non-traditional candidates in the Uncertainty, Data and Judgment course with so much clarity and patience.
What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? During the first semester, all MBA students get to solve a strategic problem for a non-profit organisation that is making an impact in the society. My class was tasked with developing strategic solutions for MiracleFeet, an organisation working towards eliminating clubfoot among children in low and middle income economies through effective early treatment. This tradition affirms INSEAD’s value of advancing business as a force for good.
Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Nothing, really. I do not have any regrets so far.
What is the biggest myth about your school? You should not go to INSEAD unless you want to end up in consulting. While a significant portion of the class goes into consulting, there are many other careers options with an INSEAD MBA, and INSEAD provides a lot of help to help candidates discover their career interests.
What surprised you the most about business school? How fast the time flies!
What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? Although I applied under time constraints, I prepared thoroughly and sought help from people who had gone before me. Speaking to alumnus made all the difference for me.
Which MBA classmate do you most admire? It was one of my study groupmates, Jõao Cardoso. He is also a non-traditional candidate, but he has a way of quickly grasping even the most difficult concepts and explaining them to others in the simplest of ways.
How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? I applied to INSEAD when COVID-19 had already been declared a pandemic, so there weren’t surprises. On the contrary, my class was able to have in-person classes right from the first week subject to regular testing and contact tracing, after INSEAD negotiated an exemption with the French government.
Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? It was my Friend Kerubo Nyamwaro, who had also joined Centum through the graduate program a year before me. After she graduated with and MBA from INSEAD in 2019, we had a conversation and she encouraged me to consider enrolling into the MBA program. She further mentored me throughout the application process and she continues to guide me during my MBA.
What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? In the short term, my focus is to complete my transition from law to business. In the long run, I hope to set up a business that will positively impact my community.
What made Naomi such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?
“The Admissions Committee was particularly impressed by the fact that Noami has come a long way from her childhood to being on a leadership succession plan of a large investment company. During all these years, she grew into a confident business leader aspiring to go far. She achieved this through strong drive and hard work, humility, grit and determination.
She demonstrates a clear passion for education reform in Africa. The Committee believes that she will be a great role model for INSEAD’s Business as a Force for Good motto.”
DON’T MISS: THE FULL LIST OF MBAS TO WATCH IN 2021