2022 Best & Brightest MBA: Chikezie Anachu, Arizona State (W. P. Carey)

Chikezie Anachu

Arizona State University, W. P. Carey School of Business

“Driven professional with a love for culture, people, learning; constantly seeking opportunities for positive impact.”

Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria

Fun fact about yourself: I was once on a reality TV show.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Nnamdi Azikiwe University – Bachelor of Law

University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law – Masters in International Trade and Business Law

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Kozolchyk National Law Center – Supervising Research Attorney & Legal Editor

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? McKinsey & Company – Dallas

Where will you be working after graduation? McKinsey & Company – Associate

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Leadership

MBA Association – Co-President 2021/2022

W. P. Carey MBA Run Club – Co-Founder

Consulting Club – Special Advisor 2021/2022

Accelerated Leadership for Underrepresented Minorities (ALUM) – First Year Rep 2020/2021

Awards

Center for Services Leadership (CSL) Scholar

NBMBAA Walmart Scholar

W. P. Carey Forward Focus Scholarship

W. P. Carey MBA Net Investor

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of the support of my peers for the donation drives and fundraisers organized by the MBA Association and ALUM club in Spring 2021. These activities galvanized resources, including food and funds, to support our local food bank, as well as COVID relief for India during the height of the surge there last spring. For example, we successfully raised funds to provide over 5,000 meals for low-income families in the East Valley of the Phoenix metro area. These activities showcased what is possible when people come together with a common purpose to support their community. Every time I remember the success of those charitable endeavors during the pandemic, I feel encouraged to continue to find ways, small or big, for positive impact.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of creating a tracking mechanism for secured transaction reforms globally at my previous employer. The database tracks reforms of secured lending policies in over 70 countries sponsored by major multilateral institutions like the World Bank, United Nations, UNIDROIT, and national governments. The database enables collaboration and coordination between these institutions to avoid duplication of reform efforts but also improves the adoption of the best international standards.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose W. P. Carey for its “Business Is Personal” ethos. The culture of this business school is one of collaboration and support, as opposed to cutthroat competition. Here at W. P. Carey, my fellow students, faculty, and staff are genuinely invested in the success of each individual who enrolls in the MBA program. Students look out for one another by providing tutorials on tough class concepts for their colleagues, helping classmates prepare for interviews, making introductions to contacts who could help a colleague land the desired role, and supporting classmates through key moments in their personal lives such as childbirth or marriage. Hailing from Africa, being part of a business school that promotes a culture of “ubuntu” is special, and I am very thankful to be a part of it.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Our monthly Lunch & Learns have a special place in my heart. They feature students from the first- or second-year class giving a presentation to fellow students about their country of origin. Typically, the Lunch & Learns are accompanied with a meal from the country in focus. The Lunch & Learns are a great opportunity to learn about other cultures and peoples in a friendly environment, clear pre-conceived notions, and gain new perspectives on the world at large. In my time at W. P. Carey, I have greatly enjoyed the Lunch & Learns on Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, among others.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Honestly, my MBA experience has been amazing so there is not much I would change, except for stressing too much about the opportunity cost of an MBA and whether I would secure a job worthy of the investment. Prior to starting the program, I remember worrying about being out of the work force for two years, and whether the return on the MBA would be worth it. Looking back now, the MBA experience at W. P. Carey has more than exceeded my expectations for ROI, especially with respect to learning and personal and professional growth. The W. P. Carey MBA experience has molded me in many positive ways and opened doors to new career pathways.

What surprised you the most about business school? One thing that surprised me was the broad range of courses and interests available to MBA students. At W. P. Carey, students can choose from a wide range of courses across the Arizona State University ecosystem, including classes at the renowned Thunderbird School of Management as well as the highly ranked Sandra Day O’ Connor School of Law. The possibilities for crafting a class load that appeals to one’s interests are infinite. Curiosity is encouraged here so that each student can discover more about old interests or acquire new ones. I was able to benefit from this by taking classes at the ASU School of Sustainability towards a graduate certificate.

Another thing that surprised me is the broad applicability of concepts taught in business school. These days, I find myself applying my learnings in personal situations of life to solve problems or imagine more efficient processes. For example, when standing in line at a busy restaurant, I often begin to think of ways to improve the restaurant’s operations to boost efficiency, maximize productivity and delight customers.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? One thing I did, granted I applied pre-COVID was to visit the campus at ASU. This gave me a feel for the business school, including the culture, student body, and learning environment at W. P. Carey. I believe it also gave the admissions team an opportunity to get to know me better by learning about my interests. I like to think that the admissions process is not merely about choosing a business school, but rather about finding the right fit. People thrive differently; therefore, interacting with the staff and students at any given school is crucial to understand whether that institution is the right one for you. Today, this can be accomplished through information sessions, virtual campus visits, as well as in-person visits.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I am fortunate to be part of a class filled with many exceptional individuals, all of whom I admire in some way, so this is also a tough one. It’s hard to mention just one person, so I’ll take the liberty to mention two individuals I admire greatly: Robert Maloney and Sinead Haegeland.

Robert Maloney is an all-around star who has invested in our W. P. Carey community in so many ways. He constantly seeks ways to support each individual and build a culture of “we > me” in the program. He attends many club engagements while maintaining a heavy class load with top grades, provides tutoring for classmates and first years on difficult concepts, and co-leads multiple clubs. At the same time, he finds the space to train for a triathlon, travel, and host a motivational podcast called “Witness Evolution”, where he profiles the uplifting journeys of classmates, faculty, and other persons. Rob’s example is inspirational, to say the least. His energy is contagious and we are very lucky to have him in the program. He was voted “Most Likely to Make the Fortune’s 40 under 40” list.

Similarly, Sinead Haegeland, Co-President of the MBA Association Executive Board and Co-Founder of the MBA Run Club is an amazing leader with great organizational and communication skills. She is often able to find common ground on hard topics, seamlessly manage conflicting demands for her time, and launch action to implement initiatives. The full-time MBA program benefited greatly from Sinead’s bias for action, especially with respect to re-creating an in-person extracurricular calendar and building consensus around key initiatives.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My father is my strongest inspiration to pursue a business education. He grew up in Eastern Nigeria in the shadow of a civil war, only obtained an elementary education, and yet moved to Western Nigeria as a youth to build a new life from practically nothing. By hard work, apprenticeship, and perseverance, he made a living for our family and provided an education for my siblings and I through many difficult moments in the Nigerian economy. Every day, I am thankful for his example, but I also often wonder the levels of success he could have attained with a business education. He continues to encourage me to pursue education at the highest levels as a means to unlocking my fullest potential, advice that I am glad I listen to. Considering I learned so much from his business and life experiences, this degree is his as much as mine.

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

1. Reach financial independence: I would like to reach a level of financial comfort that allows me more flexibility to pursue other interests in life especially travel and greater community involvement. I really hope to invest in the communities I live in on a deeper level; financial independence would be critical to that.

2. Mentor a generation of new leaders of all backgrounds: A big passion of mine is helping people become the best version of themselves. A fulfilling career for me involves keeping the door open for young professionals from underrepresented backgrounds to walk through, inspiring them to attain their fullest potential, and sharing knowledge that empowers them to succeed. I have been very blessed and would love to give back as much as possible.

What made Chikezie such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“Chikezie Anachu is a connector and a leader. In the midst of a global pandemic during his first year, Chike saw a need for students to get out and be active in a safe way, so he and classmate Sinead Haegeland formed a running club, with 10-15 participants joining each run and a number of this group training and completing runs together both locally in Arizona and out of state.

During his first year in the MBA program, Chike desired to continue to invest and give back to the program, so he ran for MBA Association president, along with Sinead Haegeland. They were elected by their peers and wasted no time in their efforts to continually strengthen the Full-time MBA program. Chike is a strong leader. He demonstrates well-developed listening skills, evidenced in the way he helped lead a coffee chat for students to share feedback about a complicated situation within the program. Chike worked to assimilate that feedback and shared it with me, the associate dean and Full-time MBA faculty director, as well as the Program Operations staff team.

Chike is an excellent collaborator. He seems to have an innate capability of working with individuals from a variety of backgrounds and positions (students, faculty, staff, employers, etc.) to accomplish mutual goals, ensuring that the positions of everyone are heard and a mutually agreed upon solution is formed. Chike navigates challenging situations with positivity and humor and is well-respected by his peers, not only academically, but personally and professionally. Chike is a visionary leader: he articulates what an ideal world would be like, and effectively enrolls support from his peers, ensuring the whole is larger than the sum of the individual parts. It is for all these reasons that Chike is deserving of the nomination of “Best and Brightest.”

Luiz Mesquita
Associate Dean, W. P. Carey Graduate Programs; Associate Professor
W. P. Carey Management and Entrepreneurship; Faculty Director, Full-time MBA

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