2021 MBAs To Watch: Ugo Umeano, McGill University (Desautels)

Ugo Umeano

McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management

I am a tech-enthusiast who is passionate about culture, teamwork and innovation.”

Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria

Fun fact about yourself: I play six musical instruments.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering, Drexel University

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I worked as a DevOps Engineer at PJM Interconnection, USA

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? I worked at CIBC as a TLAP (Technology Leadership Advancement Program) Summer Associate in Toronto

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be working at CIBC as a TLAP (Technology Leadership Advancement Program) Associate

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I was part of the intramural MBA soccer group and helped organize game sessions. I also participated in an outreach program to provide food and other basic necessities to the less fortunate during Thanksgiving

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I joined an acapella group at McGill, where we performed at our concert and sang songs of encouragement to patients and health workers at a hospital here in Montreal

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of the handover process I managed at PJM Interconnection. I am intentional about leaving a place better than I left it as my mother always said, so I made sure to document all my daily tasks and other projects. This smoothed the onboarding process for subsequent employees.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose McGIll for a couple of reasons. My family immigrated to Quebec the same year my MBA journey was to begin. I appreciate the intentionality of maintaining the French culture in Montreal. The cohort size here is only about 70 students with 27 countries represented, which translates to an intimate and diverse experience. Finally, the alumni network at McGill is one that can be relied on for professional and personal purposes.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor is Dr. Brian Wenzel, my accounting professor. As someone with solely a tech background, I never had to make sense of a financial report or apply any accounting principles. Brian constructed a robust course outline that strategically ran through all the basics of understanding any company’s financial reports with all the nuances in play. His technique ensured I applied myself reasonably and I left the class fully equipped and confident about the concepts. Also, I received an unexpected ‘A’ in the course!

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favourite MBA tradition would have to be karaoke parties after exams.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Perhaps I would spend more time following up on current affairs in order to bring some more insight to class discussions and debates.

What is the biggest myth about your school? There was a myth that I would have to speak French fluently to thrive in Montreal, but I have been just fine with a less than intermediate proficiency level.

What surprised you the most about business school? Just how valid and timeless the answer “it depends” is to just about any question. As an engineer, things are generally more straightforward.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I believe my deep technology background was somewhat “refreshing” to the admissions. That and my wit! I like to think I am quite hilarious.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire Gabrielle Maurice the most. She has an elegance and warmth that you want to be around. She also heads the Desautels CEO Speaker Series this year, and she does so with such grace. She also appreciates the importance of camaraderie as she helped host some events for the MBA cohort.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? It did not affect my learning experience in the classroom too much as professors and fellow students were quick to adapt. The disruption is probably directed more at the in-person MBA networking events, which I quite enjoyed.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My father influenced me to pursue business. As an MBA graduate himself, he always stressed the “natural progression” from an undergraduate degree, then working for a couple of years, then to an MBA. He would go on about the endless possibilities an MBA degree would afford me, primarily noting promotions within a firm and the option to shift industries.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? Firstly, I would like to set up mentor programs, where I enlist the business professionals in my network to be a trusted resource to the younger generation. Secondly, I want to be an industry expert in business and technology on a global scale, mostly on the grounds on leadership.

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

“With a diverse professional profile in music, tech and business, and a passion for giving back to the community, Ugo exemplifies the type of future leader the world needs. A true ‘people person,’ his kindness, sincerity and charisma always shine through in a crowd, allowing him to cultivate relationships and engage with anyone, anywhere. I have no doubt Ugo is destined to make a great impact.”

Sema Burney
MBA Career Coach
Desautels Faculty of Management



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