2021 MBAs To Watch: Kofi Oppong Asumang, Ohio State (Fisher)

Kofi Oppong Asumang

Ohio State, Fisher College of Business

Believes this “not for ourselves alone are we born”

Hometown: Techiman, Ghana

Fun fact about yourself: In Ghana, most people from the Akan clan have a default nickname (sometimes becomes a legal name) that is given to them based on gender and the day of the week they were born. My name “Kofi” means I am a male and was born on Friday.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Ghana, BSc. Business Administration

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? KPMG, Audit Associate

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? Microsoft Corporation, Virtually from my apartment in Columbus

Where will you be working after graduation? Microsoft Corporation, HR Business Partner

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Well, I ran for the Vice President position for the Fisher Black MBA Association and did not emerge victorious. Notwithstanding, I have remained a strong member of the group. As part of our coursework, I led a team of four in consulting for a social enterprise in Columbus, whose mission is to help divert plastic waste from festivals and events from the landfill, and in turn recycle for reuse. In my community back home in Ghana, I am the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the GracedLife Leadership Centre, a Christian non-profit organization set up to reorient the mindset of the African youth to foster integrity, servant leadership, and generational thinking in whatever sphere of leadership they find themselves. Each year, we bring together a cohort of aspiring leaders; train and mentor them, help shape their vision, connect them with experts in their chosen field of purpose, and provide them with resources such as workspace, internet access, laptops and books. Our goal is to eliminate every obstacle that threatens their ability to realize their full potential while preparing them to lead differently – in a way that will set Africa up for true development and prosperity for its people.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? My proudest business school achievement was when my team and I placed 1st in the 2020 Strategy Business Case Competition organized by the University of Illinois Gies College of Business. I’m very proud of this achievement for two main reasons. First, I contributed to lifting the reputation of the Fisher College of Business by bringing home the much-coveted trophy of achievement and defending our victory from the previous year. Secondly, I saw it as an opportunity to represent all international students in my MBA program and I’m proud to have reaffirmed our contribution and value to the school.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? My proudest professional achievement was the last project I worked on as an Associate in KPMG before leaving for Business School. I was the lead associate in providing financial advisory services on a GlobalFund-funded project in Ghana. The project was focused on providing financial aid to support Ghana’s Ministry of Health’s effort in fighting malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDs. I’m glad to have used my skills in a way that contributed (albeit indirectly) to improving the health and wellbeing of others.

Why did you choose this business school? One of the most compelling reasons for which I decided to get an MBA was to prepare myself for business leadership, and that’s exactly what the Fisher MBA program had promised to offer. Fisher’s focus on creating and developing principled leaders attracted me to the program, and the school has exceeded my expectation. From classes on leadership to community engaging projects and coaching opportunities, every aspect of Fisher’s curriculum had a spice of leadership development. For me, the intentionality of efforts made towards developing principled leaders was unparalleled, compared to anything I had seen in the past.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Dr. Stephanie Wapner. She was our professor for Organizational Behavior and Leadership. I learned some of the most invaluable leadership concepts such as change management, team dynamics, and organizational culture from her class. However, my admiration for her grew immensely when she became the faculty coach of the Fisher case competition team I mentioned earlier. I watched her practice what she taught in class; she was of great support to the team and motivated us to victory.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite MBA tradition was the annual celebration of the Diwali festival by the Fisher Indian Students Association (FISA). Although I am Ghanaian, I was an “adopted” member of FISA and getting together during Diwali celebration was one of my fun moments in school. I enjoyed the cultural music, dressing and makeup (tattooing), as well as the spicy and aromatic Indian cuisines. My personal favorite Indian food is “chicken tikka masala with onion klucha”. The involvement of faculty, OCM and GPO staff, domestic and other international students in Diwali Celebration was a true reflection of community spirit that characterizes Columbus and the Fisher MBA program.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? One of my goals for business school was to step out of my comfort zone as an introvert and embrace the discomfort of socializing and connecting with other students. In the first few weeks, the goal was fresh in mind. Regardless of the discomfort, I was fully engaged in happy hour and other social events with my colleagues. However, by the end of my first semester, I had rolled back into my natural habitat of comfort as an introvert. Although, I have made some great friends from among my classmates, looking back, I should have spent time connecting and getting to know more of my classmates. This is one thing I would do differently.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Before I joined the Ohio State University, I had read about the school’s long-lasting football rivalry with University of Michigan. What I experienced was golden. In the week (Beat Michigan week) leading up to the game between these two schools, I found display screens on all OSU and COTA buses had been updated to read “Beat Michigan.” Additionally, I saw that students had used red tapes to cross out “M’s” from words on campus sign posts. The first time I saw the “M” crossed out of a sign post, it didn’t mean much to me. When I realize it was done all across campus and even by some shops on the High Street and at the airport, it all made sense to me. Beat Michigan week was truly fun, and even till today the thought of crossed-out “M’s” puts a question in my mind, “Who thought of this genius idea?”

What surprised you the most about business school? I was surprised to learn how much case studies were used at business school. During my days as an undergraduate, student lectures were delivered mainly through slide decks and sometimes class discussions of required text content. Case studies were rarely used, but this was very different for business school. Every course included a case study relevant to a topic to be discussed in class. These cases enriched my experience and I personally found them to be a more powerful way to learn. Actually, my Strategy class for a full semester was entirely case-based and that was pleasant surprise to me, because I loved the rich discussion and diversity of thoughts and perspectives that came out of every single one of those classes.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I think it was my persistence. I was determined to attend the Fisher college of business and was willing to do whatever it took. I recall having been admitted with some amount of merit-based funding, but also knowing that without additional scholarship funds I would not have the financial muscle to enroll and pursue my dream. I reached out to the Admissions Office regarding my situation and I suggested that I retake my GRE test to get a better score and increase my chances of getting additional funding, which I did. I believe my persistence made real difference.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Akash Parihar is the classmate I admire the most for two main reasons. First, it is because he has a heart of gold. I recall having some administrative challenges while trying to get my F1 student visa. I asked on the class’ WhatsApp page if anyone else was or had experienced it. A few weeks later, I received a WhatsApp message from a number starting with +91, and it was Akash. He had texted to check up on my visa situation and continued following up with me until it was resolved. The thoughtfulness of his action spoke volumes to me and we became friends right from that point. Second, Akash is one of the smartest and most hard-working people I know. This guy works harder than anyone I have ever met in my MBA class. He goes the extra mile to understand technical course content and spends time tutoring some of us – simplifying and breaking it down into easily understandable nuggets.  

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? COVID-19 surely robbed us of some of the important parts of an MBA program, such as attending career fairs, networking events and having organic conversations with a classmate while buying a snack from the vending machine. Personally, I was thankful to have been in a place with systems and infrastructure that supported hybrid learning. I knew there were several parts of the world where education was halted because they couldn’t have continued online without significant disadvantage to many students due to internet connectivity problems. Additionally, there were many students, some of whom were my classmates, whose internships were cancelled as a result of COVID. So, in the midst of the unfair robbery from COVID-19, I was mostly grateful to have had the opportunity to continue my education and to still have a virtual internship.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I believe my pursuit of business education was influenced by my uncle. Growing up with humble beginnings, my uncle was the most educated and successful professional in my family. He had read business in college, become an accountant and had just moved to the UK to further his studies. With the benefit of hindsight, I believe he was my role model even before I knew what those words meant. Throughout high school and undergrad, I knew I wanted to fashion my career somewhat in line with that of the most educated and successful person I knew – my uncle. So, when the decision came, it was a pretty straightforward one to make; I had seen it, admired it, and wanted to become it.

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

To learn all I can as I venture into a new profession as an HR practitioner.

To develop strategic partnerships with organizations and individuals that will support our mission at the GracedLife Leadership Centre.

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

“Kofi joins a long list of outstanding international Fisher alumni, and will undoubtedly be a valuable contributor at Microsoft. Over the last two years, he has developed a reputation for consistent and thoughtful contribution to classroom discussion as well as strong leadership. Outside of Fisher, his passion for catalyzing positive change and solving problems in the developing world is critically important. Students like Kofi, thinking creatively about issues of equity and economic development are key to identifying impactful, multi-faceted solutions. The future of our world is indeed brighter when such students are working toward this end.”

Roger Bailey
FTMBA Academic Director



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