2022 Best & Brightest MBA: Kelechi Umoga, Yale School of Management

Kelechi Umoga

Yale School of Management

Also: Yale School of Medicine – MD/MBA Dual Degree

“Born and raised in Abuja Nigeria, I am a Christian called to love and serve people.”

Hometown: Abuja, Nigeria

Fun fact about yourself: I love to initiate conversations with people I barely know. There’s always so much to unearth about people, and I could sit for hours asking questions, listening and chatting away. Such an easy way to learn!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Cornell University; Human Biology, Health & Society; Minor, Global Health

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Cru Global

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston MA

Where will you be working after graduation? Massachusetts General Hospital & Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

SOM Student Ambassador

Co-Chair Africa Business and Society Club

Co-Chair School of Management Christian Fellowship

Student Advisory Board Member, Believers in Business Conference ’22 (National Conference for Christian MBA Students)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Helping plan the Believers in Business Conference ’22 — an annual national conference for Christian MBA Students — was my biggest extracurricular achievement during business school. Planning this conference enabled me to shape content that led to conversations about ethics in business and the role of faith in the management of organizations, people, and the development of products and solution. Often times, “faith” and “business” are kept separate; thus, it was a fine opportunity to facilitate conversations on how they could be integrated.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Over the last few years, while getting through college, medical school, and the few years in between, I’ve had the privilege of establishing and running a primary health clinic, an elementary school, and a few local businesses in a remote village just outside Abuja, Nigeria, where I grew up. What began as a small college project in my sophomore year of college has now created pathways to affordable healthcare, education, and financial sustainability in this community. I am thankful for this opportunity as it has enabled me to see what could be possible with a series of small consistent steps!

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Yale SOM for its intentional commitment to shaping the practice of business and management for the well-being of society. As a person with strong interests in developing emergency care solutions in poorly resourced areas, I was particularly interested in being in a place that would challenge me to critically consider existing structural inequities and the needs of the disenfranchised in the development of sustainable solutions. Yale SOM and the broader Yale ecosystem provided the perfect foundation for this.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Weekly Closing Bell. At the end of every week, members of my (Red) cohort hang out at a bar or restaurant to catch up and celebrate the end of the week. These weekly intentional gatherings have helped me get to know my classmates on a deeper level!

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would intentionally make room to spend more time with my classmates. Your classmates will be your greatest teachers. They will expose you to different perspectives on the world. They will share their stories with you if you ask them, and those stories will prove instructive. You will get the most out of your MBA experience by being present and engaging with your classmates — especially those you do not agree or even get along with.

What is the biggest myth about your school? SOM always had the reputation of being the soft, nonprofit-focused school. I found this to be false, since the school attracts people from literally every sphere and space — from the highly technical to the socially oriented. Every kind of person will be found at Yale SOM.

What surprised you the most about business school? I found it surprising that business school was less about finance, accounting, money, and other things that one would generally associate with business. I found that that it was more about managing people and relationships, anticipating and managing change, and creating sustainable solutions.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I was very intentional in understanding the core mission of the school I chose, so I took special care to highlight aspects of my journey and career that aligned with the school’s core mission. I also spoke in very specific terms about the goals I wanted to accomplish with the degree and how those goals aligned with the school’s mission and specific offerings. I would highly encourage specificity in putting together applications.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? (Samuel Choi. Sam is the epitome of a servant-leader. He directed the leadership team of the Believers in Business Conference (a national conference for Christian MBA students). As a member of the team, I observed him lead with such humility and grace toward each member, while also being incredibly organized and direct with his expectations. Such a balance is often hard to find in leaders.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? J.W Betts — J.W. was my first boss, and he was so effective in casting vision and getting the people he led to feel excited about that vision. The excitement he helped create led to the intrinsic motivation that we, his subordinates, needed to get work done. While he didn’t directly encourage me to get an MBA, he got me excited about leadership, and I saw what the possibilities could be with a leadership as effective as his.

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

  1. Lead a government health agency in Nigeria, either at the national or state level
  2. Help build a healthcare startup for emergency medical care that is specific to low- and middle-income countries.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? The pandemic effectively reminded us of the very limited control we have over our lives and institutions. This inevitable lack of control and uncertainty calls for servant-leadership that reassures the people being led that their interests will remain a priority despite unforeseen changes. Thus, I desire to be a servant-leader in my career, one whose leadership reassures people that they will be seen and heard, come what may.


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