Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Adewale Oduye, USC (Marshall)

Adewale Oduye

USC, Marshall School of Business

“A former prosecutor dedicated to disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline by any means necessary.”

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Fun Fact About Yourself: I enjoy watching Spanish telenovelas! They are so fun to watch. They also help with my Spanish.

Undergraduate School and Major: Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law; Columbia University, African American Studies.

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, Deputy District Attorney;

Founder & Visionary, Calafia Preparatory Academy (I did both at the same time).

What word best describes the Marshall MBA students you’ve met so far and why? I need two words because they are so awesome: Friendly & Accomplished.

What makes Los Angeles such a great place to earn an MBA?

The weather…by far. My mood is so much better when studying or hanging out in 75-degree weather…in December.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of USC Marshall’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? It was the Certificate in the Business of Entertainment, which is offered in conjunction with the USC School of Cinematic Arts. I have a sister who is an actress and I want to be able to assist her on the business side of things.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at USC Marshall? Actually, I am looking forward to starting an organization; I want to found a Cryptocurrency Club at the business school. I have a huge interest in cryptocurrency and how it can transform underserved communities of color. In fact, I was looking for a faculty advisor before I even stepped foot on campus!

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment involved my work as a Deputy District Attorney. Through my hard work and a commitment to justice, I was able to exonerate 10 people who were wrongfully charged by my office. Many of these cases were assigned to me for trial. After conducting my own independent investigations, I was able to prove that the people accused were innocent. While there was immense pressure from supervisors to go to trial, I stood my ground and followed my gut instincts. I remember one case in which a young man was looking at 35 years to life. Fortunately, I was able to work with the defense attorney to find the evidence that exonerated him.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? I would say that COVID-19, coupled with the Black Lives Movement, made me realize how important it is to speak up when injustice happens. I remember looking outside my office at the Hall of Justice building in downtown Los Angeles and seeing thousands of people protesting George Floyd’s murder. This was during the height of the pandemic—before there was a vaccine. People were risking their lives to protest a grave injustice that occurred. After seeing that, I promised myself to be more vocal when it came to racial injustice. The pandemic showed me that we have a long way to go in resolving inequality. I want to be part of the movement to close that gap.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I am interested in using business to fund nonprofit organizations. Instead of constantly fundraising, why not start a business whose mission is to fund a nonprofit? As the founder of a proposed middle school, I am looking to use business to provide economic independence for the school. I read an article about this approach written by Professor Adlai Wertman, who runs the Marshall’s Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab. Changed my world. I’ve already reached out to him about some ideas!

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I applied to two excellent programs: Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and the University of Notre Dame Mendoza School of Business.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into USC Marshall’s MBA program? I do not know exactly why I was chosen, so I am unable to give any specific insights into the admissions process. What I can say, however, is that you should apply if you have an interest in getting an MBA, regardless of how untraditional you are. There is room for you here at Marshall. Trust me.


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